Bulk interception warrants

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:00 pm on 7th June 2016.

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Photo of Tom Elliott Tom Elliott UUP, Fermanagh and South Tyrone 3:00 pm, 7th June 2016

I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate and to follow Seema Kennedy. I fully support this legislation. If anything, I am beginning to worry that it is already being watered down. I want to make it even stronger. That is why I oppose the Scottish National party’s amendments. I heard the point made by Keir Starmer about health records; I appreciate that thought process and will support it if relevant amendments are proposed.

I have to say that I and some of my colleagues from Northern Ireland, and indeed on other Benches, have lived through the troubles and seen what terrorism has done. But we face a different type of terrorism now, and a different type of world criminality, much of which is conducted through technology—for example, via mobile phone signals and satellites and on the internet. We now have a totally different perspective. We therefore need a different mechanism, and we need it to be proactive, which is what I believe the Bill will do. It is about being much more proactive.

With regard to bulk capabilities, I do not see what the problem is. We have to have trust and faith in the people doing that surveillance and collecting that intelligence. If we do not have trust and faith in them to have the bulk capabilities, why do we have trust and faith in them to do other things? I think there is a real challenge out there for the wider public to realise what is actually going on in society. I do not realise everything that is happening, and I know that the wider public do not. That is why I have to have trust in those people who are carrying out these actions.

I am also aware that there needs to be a balance; I accept that. There needs to be a balance for the public, to avoid snooping and going into too much detail with these investigatory powers. However, that must be balanced against the wider public information that is required to deal with terrorism, criminality and the fraudsters in our society. For me, the priority in that balance is to deal with those people effectively. If that means people using those investigatory measures to look into some of my details, so be it. If I have nothing to hide, then I have nothing to fear. I have no difficulty with people looking at the details that are held on me, and that should be the same for the wider public if they have nothing to hide. There must be real opportunities here for the Government and the people who are carrying out the investigatory work to deal with those details. That is why I think the amendments we are debating overstep the mark and would reduce the effectiveness of the people dealing with those causes. My speech has been brief, but I think that it has dealt with the amendments succinctly.