Clause 1 - Authorisation of criminal conduct

Part of Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:15 pm on 15th October 2020.

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Photo of Conor McGinn Conor McGinn Shadow Minister (Home Office) 3:15 pm, 15th October 2020

It is a pleasure, as always, to follow Joanna Cherry, and to speak with you in the Chair, Dame Rosie. I rise to speak to the amendments in my name and that of my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition and other honourable colleagues.

As I said on Second Reading, my right hon. and learned Friend has made it clear that security is a top priority for the Labour party under his leadership. We will be robust in supporting the fight against terrorism and crime in all its forms. We consider it our first responsibility to keep this country, its citizens and our communities safe, and we are grateful to those in the police, the security services, the National Crime Agency and wider law enforcement. They put their own safety and lives at risk to protect us, and we will meet our duty to support them.

It is worth noting that, since 2017, 27 terror plots have been uncovered and attacks foiled, and last year covert human intelligence sources helped to disrupt 30 threats to life. That is the sobering context of the debate, so we acknowledge and understand the Bill’s purpose, and recognise the need to put on a statutory footing the activity of those working to disrupt some of the most vile crimes imaginable, including terrorism, the activities of violent drug gangs, serious and organised crime, and child sexual exploitation.

It cannot be right, for those we ask to undertake that work, for those who might be affected by it or indeed for society as a whole, that that work continues in the shadows, and without boundaries and safeguards. In that vein, our amendment 7 seeks to ensure that the granting of criminal conduct authorisations may not take place until a warrant has been issued by a judge. We believe that it would provide reassurance to have independent judicial oversight of that process.