Clause 14 - Powers to obtain communications data

Part of Investigatory Powers (Amendment)Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 9:14 pm on 25 March 2024.

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Photo of Stuart McDonald Stuart McDonald Scottish National Party, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East 9:14, 25 March 2024

I, too, thank all colleagues who have taken part in the proceedings today, in Committee stage and before, especially members of the ISC whose expertise really does benefit our scrutiny processes. I also thank all the various organisations that have provided written evidence and briefings, both in support of, and in opposition to, the Bill. Finally, may I also thank the Committee staff and the Clerks of the House for helping us through what has in some ways been quite a technical Bill?

The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 set out a detailed framework for use of investigatory powers. The existence of such a legislative framework was welcome, as were some aspects of the framework itself. We worked hard to try to improve that framework, but, ultimately, believed that it fell short of what was required and so we voted against that Bill on Third Reading. We are in much the same place today. We get the motivations for this Bill; they are understood and we are sympathetic with some of what the Bill seeks to achieve. However, we are not convinced that all the powers are shown to have been necessary and proportionate and that there are not other ways to get to where those seeking the new powers need to be.

At the same time, with more extensive powers and more extensive use of those powers, there should come greater oversight. In our view, the Bill heads us in the opposite direction, watering down or failing to put into place necessary advanced judicial oversight. Such oversight, we believe, is of benefit in providing reassurance not only to members of the public concerned with implications for their private lives, but to the very people who need to navigate these powers—members of our security and intelligence services and other public bodies. Instead, they are left to make difficult almost impossible judgments as to their lawful use, necessity and proportionality. Therefore, we do not take this step lightly, but for those reasons we will be voting against Third Reading tonight.