Clause 1 - Authorisation of criminal conduct

Part of Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 15th October 2020.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament 2:30 pm, 15th October 2020

I am obviously hoping that the Minister will convince us in the course of this afternoon that we can indeed trust the Government on this matter. If he wishes to do so, he needs to clear up the point I am about to raise concerning current operations.

Although sometimes the Government share information voluntarily with the Committee about current operations, we cannot normally demand such information. The danger with a letter and the slight amendment to the regulations is that it could still leave a loophole whereby the Government say, “We would like to give you these statistics and these categories, but unfortunately some of them relate to operations that are still ongoing.” Perhaps there have been 15 such authorisations, and one or two of them relate to current authorisations. That could be used as an excuse not to tell the Committee about the total of 15. In reality, I do not think that would be within the spirit of the understanding of the reasons why current operations are normally excluded from the purview of the work that the Committee does.

In order for the Minister to develop the degree of trust that we wish to have in the Government’s intentions, I hope that when he comes to address the arguments that have been put forward in support of new clause 3, he will rule out any suggestion that the fact that there might be one or two current operations included in a statistic will prevent the Committee from seeing those statistics that we have urged the Government to provide by tabling the amendment. I look forward to the Minister’s comments on that later, and I earnestly hope we will be able to reach a satisfactory outcome.