Bulk interception warrants

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 7th June 2016.

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Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay 3:30 pm, 7th June 2016

I thank the hon. Lady for that helpful and interesting intervention. First of all, I would not want to prejudge the review. In addition, if the review came back to us and said that these powers were absolutely right, and that they were vital for national security, I hope that we could look forward to the SNP’s immediate and wholehearted support. I have a funny feeling that we might not, however.

Let us not prejudge the review. As the Front-Bench spokesmen touched on in their exchange at the Dispatch Box, it is highly unlikely that if the review stated that something specific was not needed, such a measure would be proceeded with. How do we know what an independent review will come back with? If I knew, and I stood here and said so, the next accusation would be that the review was not independent because we already knew what it would come out with. That point does not support making the amendments, which remove these powers completely.

I have been satisfied by the changes that have been made throughout the process, as the Bill has come out of Committee into Report. Judicial safeguards have been strengthened, and there is now a stronger and more consistent judicial test for review of these warrants. Powers have been increased, as have the offences that apply if someone misuses data. The Government are striking the right balance between what we need in order to get hold of data that could keep our country safe, and the legitimate expectation of privacy. If data have been collected that are of no use, they can be removed and they will not be used for purposes beyond the original basis of the warrant.

Ultimately, in any unjustified use of a warrant, the Secretary of State remains answerable to this Parliament. If, for example, someone decided for some unknown reason that it would make sense to go into detail about political or trade union affiliation, they would be answerable to this House, and a Secretary of State would be most unlikely to survive that.