Bulk interception warrants

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 7th June 2016.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 4:00 pm, 7th June 2016

I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his support. I know that the Government Whips will take careful note of it. [Laughter.]

We have listened to the call for independent validation. David Anderson QC will undertake the review, so I will say no more about that.

We have debated at some length, today and previously, the amendments tabled by the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve, which contain a number of proposals. I am grateful for his contribution to the debate, generally and, more specifically, today. I am pleased that my right hon. and learned Friend has explained the purposes behind new clause 3 and amendment 24. The Government certainly accept in principle the argument that we should provide further restrictions on the use of class bulk personal dataset warrants. We also accept much of the detail contained in the ISC’s draft clause, including reference to the need for restrictions relating to sensitive personal data.

I have dealt with the issue about which—as my right hon. and learned Friend knows—we are least happy, namely the timescale within which these matters are reported to the ISC. I think that more could be done, and I think that a protocol of the kind that my right hon. and learned Friend described in his brief contribution might provide a way of doing it. We will take that suggestion away and do further work, in the spirit to which he referred.

My hon. Friend Stephen McPartland, who is no longer present but who is an old friend of mine, raised issues relating to modifications. I want to make it absolutely clear that in all modifications, a warrant will require the same double lock. Yesterday and in Committee, the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras argued that a double lock that applies when a warrant is originally sought must apply to modifications. I entirely accept that point. My hon. Friend made it again today, and I can assure him that the double lock will apply to bulk powers as well.

The hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras raised the issue of medical records. It is right for particularly sensitive data to be handled in a particularly sensitive way, and I am pleased that he Gentleman noted the Government amendment which, I think, deals with that. We will consider the technical points that he raised about social care and mental health, but I am confident that we can find a way forward.

I do not want to delay the House unduly—as you know, Madam Deputy Speaker, that is not my habit, and we have other important matters to consider—but I do want to say that one of my regrets is that we have not had more Proust today, or during our consideration of the Bill more generally. Marcel Proust said:

“The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.

The consideration of this Bill has been extensive. Three reports before its publication in draft, three parliamentary Committees once the draft Bill was published, and a very thorough examination in Committee following Second Reading have allowed us to have “new eyes”, and to see more clearly both the need to secure our people and counter the very real threats that we face, and the need to deal with the checks and balances which ensure that the powers we give those who are missioned to keep us safe are used proportionately, and only where necessary. Achieving that balance—a balance that lies at the heart of the Bill—has required the House to take a balanced approach. As I said a few moments ago, Parliament is at its best when it puts national interest beyond party interest, and this is common ground for the common good.