Relevant documents: 5th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights, 8th Report from the Constitution Committee, 14th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee
Clause 12 agreed.
Clause 13: TPIMs: travel measure
Moved by Baroness Hamwee
70: Clause 13, page 8, line 28, after “restrictions” insert “and what restrictions to impose”
Under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, the Secretary of State can impose restrictions on an individual leaving a specified area—the so-called “travel measures”. Clause 13 provides that the Secretary of State must publish factors to be taken into account when deciding whether to impose such restrictions on an individual. My amendment would add not only the restrictions but “and what restrictions to impose”. The area to which I have just referred is not defined, quite understandably, but it could be anything from a small postal district to a very large region. This is a probing amendment, seeking reassurance about the factors that will be applied to the decision as to what the area is, as well as whether to impose the travel measure. I appreciate that the Secretary of State’s decision will have to be a reasonable one, but I am looking to find a way not only to make the criteria objective, but as far as possible, transparent.
Amendment 71 would add to proposed new subsection (1A) of Section 23 of the 2011 Act the provision that, where there is a travel measure, an individual who breaches it is not guilty of an offence—because breaches of the TPIMs measures are offences—if he contravenes the measure,
“with reasonable excuse and in exceptional circumstances”.
I have in mind, again in probing, how an individual who leaves a fairly confined specified area will be dealt with if, for instance, there is a medial emergency involving either himself or a family member living with him, or if there is a sudden severe illness of a family member who is living at the family home and not at the place where the individual has been relocated. Quite understandably, he will want to get there as fast as possible and not have to take time seeking a permit allowing him to do so. It is a humanitarian and reasonable matter that one might well have in legislation. If my noble friend gives me assurances about how these things have been dealt with in the past—they are not new—and understanding has been shown so that a prosecuting offence has not been pursued, I will be happy with that. I beg to move.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for tabling these amendments, which allow us to have a discussion on the travel measure that can be imposed on a TPIM subject.
Amendment 70 would amend the requirement for the Secretary of State to publish factors to take into account when deciding whether to impose restrictions under the travel measure. This would add an additional requirement to publish factors on “what restrictions to impose”. The purpose of the requirement in the Bill is to indicate the types of factors that the Secretary of State may consider when deciding whether to impose the travel measure. In each instance the location and size of any boundary will depend on the individual case. The factors that the Secretary of State may consider could include: national security considerations necessary to prevent or restrict involvement in terrorism-related activity; the original location of the TPIM subject, and by virtue of that, their family connections; the ability to access services and employment; the proximity to airports or ports; and the proximity to other TPIM subjects or prohibited associates. Any restrictions would have to be necessary and proportionate, as the noble Baroness rightly reminds us. The Secretary of State will publish these factors at Royal Assent and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Amendment 71 would allow a TPIM subject to use a “reasonable excuse” in exceptional circumstances to justify leaving the United Kingdom. In such circumstances, a prosecution for breaching the TPIM notice could not be brought. All other breaches of a travel measure—or any other measure—already allow for a reasonable excuse. The reality is that, if a TPIM subject leaves the UK without permission, they will be absconding from their TPIM notice. This is a very serious matter, as I am sure the noble Baroness would agree. It was the problem of absconsions which led to the creation of TPIMs as a successor to control orders. These individuals may very well pose a danger to the public in this country or overseas. We maintain that there is no reasonable excuse for leaving the UK without permission.
If a TPIM subject has a legitimate need to leave the UK, they can seek permission from the Secretary of State. There should be no circumstances where they leave the country without prior agreement. This morning, I discussed with officials the length of time that such measures might take. The experience is that these exchanges, permissions and interactions tend to take place on a very speedy basis. In the circumstances, we would not anticipate that there would be a problem in securing that permission.
I trust that, with that explanation and those reassurances, my noble friend may feel able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, that is very helpful. I wondered whether my noble friend might refer to the need to have a passport to travel outside the UK, which would probably have been dealt with as part of the arrangements for the individual. I will read through the list of considerations which my noble friend gave in response to my first amendment. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 70.
Amendment 70 withdrawn.
Amendment 71 not moved.
Clause 13 agreed.
Clause 14 agreed.
Clause 15: TPIMs: appointments measure
Moved by Baroness Hamwee
72: Clause 15, page 10, line 3, at end insert—
“( ) The individual may request a person or persons to be specified in place of the person or persons previously specified.”
My Lords, in moving this amendment I will speak also to Amendment 74. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, also has an amendment in this group.
Clause 15 deals with appointments which an individual can be required to keep. Following comment from the current Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, this takes advantage of the legislation in order to require individuals to attend appointments, for instance, in connection with deradicalisation. I really do not like that term: perhaps I might say appointments that would help the individual return to or lead a more comfortable and normal life. Amendment 72 would add that the individual could request somebody other than the specified person.
Different individuals respond in different ways to different counsellors, if I can use that term in a very wide sense. This work has to be dealt with case by case, and it would be a pity if it were to fail because of the individual and his counsellor simply not getting on and there not being a sensible opportunity to change the personnel. We all know of people who we simply cannot rub along with for reasons that sometimes we cannot even quite identify.
Amendment 74 would provide, in connection with such appointments, that the Secretary of State would be deemed to have given permissions for travel to enable the individual to attend appointments and, crucially, will not unreasonably withhold permissions to attend appointments relating to deterring other people from involvement in terrorist-related activity. We are all aware—it is a matter of common sense—that returning fighters may have a positive role in deterring other people. In the debate on Thursday on the latest proscription order that has been introduced, the noble Baroness gave an example of a woman trying to return to this country who was disillusioned with what she had found—I think—in Syria. That sort of disillusionment should be harnessed, and I would like to find every way of making this legislation positive as well as inevitably negative. I hope that my noble friend can assure the Committee in that connection.
I gave the Bill team notice of this matter this morning—if it has not yet reached the Minister, I will understand if he cannot answer—and will pick up an issue that the independent reviewer raised. This matter was also taken up by the JCHR: the question of privilege against self-incrimination. The Government’s response to the independent reviewer’s report was to say that this would not be appropriate. The Government referred to a “blanket approach”. Can the Minister unpack that a little today? I beg to move.
My Lords, our Amendment 73 is in this group. As has been said, Clause 15, on appointments for people on terrorism prevention and investigation measures, allows the Secretary of State to require an individual to attend meetings with such persons as the Secretary of State may specify, at such locations and at such times as the Secretary of State may by notice require. The specified persons may choose the time and place of the meeting. The clause is expressed in general terms and the purpose of the amendment, which is a probing amendment, is to give the Government the opportunity to say more about what kind of meetings an individual would be required to attend, for what purposes or objectives and over what period of time. It would also be helpful if the Minister could say if assessments will be made of the outcome of these meetings and to whom the assessments, if they are made, will be given.
Our probing amendment provides for the Secretary of State to be able to instruct an individual on a TPIM to attend deradicalisation programmes, since we think it is important that the Secretary of State should be able to require people to attend Channel meetings and appointments and possibly those relating to other parts of the Prevent programme. However, I hope that in his response the Minister will not only address the specific point covered in this probing amendment but will talk in more depth about how the Government envisage using powers under Clause 15.
My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. I will put some remarks on record that I hope will answer some of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and then deal with some of the points made by my noble friend Lady Hamwee. I am grateful to noble Lords for raising these matters.
Amendment 72 seeks to amend the appointments measure by overtly stating that a TPIM subject may request an alternative person to the individual specified by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will consider whether an appointments measure is necessary for a TPIM subject for purposes connected with preventing or restricting the individual’s involvement in terrorism-related activity. If a TPIM subject wants to meet a particular person, such as a counsellor, there is nothing to prevent them from making their own arrangements to do so, as long as the measures in their TPIM notice are not breached. In addition, the TPIM Act 2011 already provides the ability—under Section 12—to vary the measures in the individual’s TPIM notice, or for the Home Office to grant permission for the subject to do something they would otherwise be prohibited from doing.
The choice of people or organisations—a point touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser—that a TPIM subject is required to meet will be decided on a case-by-case basis. To develop that a bit further, the types of people who it might be appropriate to recommend particular meetings with include probation officers, somebody from a job centre, if, for example, they are looking for work, or another of the individual’s mentors. As my noble friend said, the point is that we want people who return to the UK to be reintegrated into mainstream society because we believe that they can be very important elements in the prevention strategy aimed at those who might follow in their footsteps. This consideration would include whether such requests might lead to more genuine engagement or were aimed at undermining the effectiveness of this measure, or whether any national security concerns were raised.
Amendment 73, in the name of the noble Lord and the noble Baroness opposite, would amend the appointments measure in Clause 15 that allows the Secretary of State to require an individual to attend meetings as specified by the Secretary of State. The appointments measure is a broad power that allows the Secretary of State to require a TPIM subject to meet relevant organisations or people who can contribute to their ongoing management and integration. The measure includes the ability to require TPIM subjects to meet specified people to assist with their deradicalisation, including, but not limited to, providers of the Channel programme, for example. It is therefore unnecessary to specify explicitly that this is available via the appointments measure.
Amendment 74 seeks to specify that the Secretary of State may not unreasonably withhold permission for a TPIM subject to attend appointments related to deterring other people from involvement in terrorism-related activity. The purpose of the TPIM notice is to protect the public from terrorism and to prevent the TPIM subject from engaging in terrorism-related activity. If the measures are no longer necessary, the TPIM notice must be revoked. Therefore, anyone on a TPIM notice remains an ongoing national security concern. This being the case, we do not consider TPIM subjects necessarily to be good people to mentor others. However, if a TPIM subject chose to speak at a meeting to deliver a deterrent message, he or she could do so as long as it did not breach any of the measures in his or her TPIM notice. If it did breach any of the measures, or he or she encouraged people to engage in terrorism, of course they could be prosecuted.
Turning to the specific point—I am grateful to my noble friend for sending the notice to the Bill team ahead of this debate—about David Anderson’s report on TPIMs, the new measure will be an important part of the management of TPIM subjects and will mean that they must meet organisations and other persons as required by the Home Secretary. Its primary purpose is not to gather evidence to prosecute TPIM subjects. Nevertheless, it would be undesirable to create a situation where a TPIM subject provided clear evidence of committing a crime—including terrorism—but where, due to a statutory bar, that evidence could not be relied on, in any circumstances, in criminal proceedings.
In addition, the criminal courts have the power to exclude evidence where to allow it would have an adverse effect on the fairness of proceedings. We consider this to be a sufficient safeguard to ensure that information obtained in these meetings cannot be unfairly used against the individual. However, we will consider on a case-by-case basis whether appropriate assurances can be provided about how information obtained through the appointments in these measures will be used.
I was asked whether the assessments would be reported back—and, if so, to whom. Where appropriate, assessments will be provided to the Home Office. The ongoing necessity for meetings to continue will be kept under review depending on the nature of the meetings. Some may be one-off while others may be regular over a prolonged period. I think that the overarching message of the response to these amendments is that each case will be different and therefore, in order to be effective, each TPIM will need to be tailored to the individual concerned. With that additional information and explanation, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful for the response. On the last point which is not the subject of an amendment, I am glad to hear that questions of reassurances about evidence are and will be dealt with case by case. I had perhaps not understood the context of this, and that that might be the case. I am glad to hear it.
I hear what my noble friend said on my other amendments in the group and I do not think that it is necessary to detain the Committee, other than to comment that a change of counsellor/mentor/adviser will be within the provisions for review, which I think is how my noble friend explained how a change might be made. It is useful to understand that that might be the procedure. However, I am glad to see that it is appreciated that, for this to be successful, it must be a very personal matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 72 withdrawn.
Amendments 73 and 74 not moved.
Clause 15 agreed.
Clause 16: TPIMs: miscellaneous amendments
Moved by Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood
75: Clause 16, page 10, line 10, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
“( ) At the end of section 9(2) (review hearing) and section 16(6) (appeals) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, insert “save that, in the case of a TPIM notice which requires the individual to reside at a specified residence which is not in an agreed locality and with which the individual has no connection, in reviewing the Secretary of State’s decision that condition A continues to be met, the court must reach its own decision whether, on the balance of probabilities, the individual is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity”.”
My Lords, Amendment 75 is not a probing amendment. This is for real. Perhaps the most challenging feature of Part 2 of this Bill is the reintroduction of internal relocation orders into the TPIM regime, which many of us would regard as a regrettable necessity. Amendment 75 concerns what should be the appropriate level of judicial oversight in these cases and would, I believe, go some way to take the sting out of the highly toxic question of internal relocation.
The amendment is designed to give effect to one of the independent reviewer’s 10 recommendations made in his March 2014 report into TPIMs—recommendation 3. Put simply, although I fear I shall have to explain the amendment a little more fully in a moment because, on its face, it is less than crystal clear in its effect, the position is this. Under the present TPIM regime, one of the four conditions that has to be satisfied before a TPIM order can be made—it is called Condition A—is that the Secretary of State “reasonably believes” that the person concerned,
“is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity”.
At present, if a TPIM order is made, the courts can review it or hear an appeal ultimately against it only on a limited basis. The court is expressly required by the statute to apply the principles of judicial review. In other words, the court decides only whether the Secretary of State was acting reasonably or perversely in reaching her belief. The court does not have the jurisdiction to reach its own conclusion. This would continue to be so if Clause 16(1) is enacted in its present form.
Personally, as I made plain in what I regret was my rather overlong speech at Second Reading, I can see no true distinction between the Secretary of State reasonably believing something and her being satisfied of it on a balance of probabilities. But the more important point for present purposes is this: even if there is a difference, the decision as to the person’s involvement in terrorism under Clause 16(1) as it stands, subject only to the limited scrutiny of judicial review, is one solely for the Secretary of State and not for the courts. Like the independent reviewer, David Anderson, I believe that the decision should be for the courts, especially—I emphasise “especially”—in those cases where the Secretary of State is to deploy that most disruptive of measures, now to be made available to her, internal involuntary relocation—“internal exile” as it has been called. Indeed, that was the term used at Second Reading by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham.
Make no mistake, these orders—because we used to have them in control order cases—are deeply resented, not least, of course, by the persons’ families, who can be very severely and very harshly affected. They contribute worryingly to what some civil liberty and minority groups call the “folklore of injustice”. At Second Reading , the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, called it the “folklore of oppression”. It was, said David Anderson, perhaps unsurprisingly, only “with a heavy heart” that he came to the recommendation that this measure should be reintroduced as now is provided for by Clause 12 of this Bill.
My amendment is tailored simply to apply to those TPIM orders that require relocation. It provides that in these particularly troubling cases it will be for the court to reach the final, substantive decision, on the balance of probabilities, as to whether the person being internally exiled is, or has been, involved in terrorism-related activity.
I should make it plain that there is nothing particularly novel or radical about this proposal. The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 introduced control orders in place of the original discredited Belmarsh regime of the internment of foreign suspects without charge and without trial on an indefinite basis. The 2005 Act, by Section 4(7)(a), provided in terms that the court could confirm a derogating control order only if,
“it is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the controlled person is an individual who is or has been involved in terrorism-related activity”.
That is precisely the position which, I suggest, should be achieved here.
As Mr Anderson pointed out at paragraph 6.16 of his 2014 report, the Government had already accepted in relation to the earlier proposed ETPIMs legislation—the enhanced TPIMs scheme, which in the event never came into being—that at the High Court review of such enhanced orders the Home Secretary should be required to prove the suspect’s involvement in terrorism on the balance of probabilities—again, just as I suggest should be the position here.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights, at paragraph 4.14 of its report on the Bill just this month, welcomed the introduction of the balance of probabilities test, but added that,
“in order for this change to make a real practical difference, we recommend that the TPIM Act be amended to require the court also to consider whether the balance of probabilities standard was satisfied, in place of the current, lighter-touch judicial review standard. Such an amendment would give effect to the unimplemented part of the Independent Reviewer’s recommendation”.
Mr Anderson himself, at paragraph 6.17 of his 2014 report, having doubted whether his proposed change—from the Secretary of State reasonably believing the suspect’s involvement in terrorism to the court being satisfied of this on the balance of probabilities—would have made a difference in any of the earlier TPIM cases, importantly added:
“It would however help reinforce the legitimacy of TPIMs, by enabling the Government to say (as it cannot at present) that a TPIM notice may only be upheld if it is proved to the satisfaction of the High Court that the subject has been involved in terrorism”.
My proposed amendment, as I have explained, is in fact rather more limited than Mr Anderson’s recommendation. Rather than applying to all TPIM orders in future, it would apply only when internal relocation is one of the measures ordered. There is of course no such phrase as “internal relocation” or “involuntary relocation” in the Bill—it is not used in Clause 12 or indeed in paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the 2011 Act, which Clause 12 amends. Therefore my amendment, I hope accurately, has had to spell out the particular circumstances which constitute the internal relocation and where it would apply.
I hope that the House will support this amendment and indeed that the Minister may himself come to see its merits. It would, I suggest, send out an important message that we in this House recognise the very real problems that result from internal relocation orders and are concerned to balance the need for them, as best we may, by strengthening the safeguards against their inappropriate use. The court should be given this additional responsibility in its oversight role. The independent reviewer’s recommendation ought not lightly to be rejected. The fact is that I have yet to hear or read of any cogent, coherent basis for rejecting it. I beg to move.
My Lords, I have spoken about internal exile, as I choose to call it, on a number of occasions in this House. I am persuaded by the independent reviewer that, because of the threat faced by this country at this time, there may be the rare occasion when one would want to disrupt the connections and associations in a particular place of someone subject to a TPIM order. It should be used on the rarest of occasions, and the standards that the courts should look to in making the decision should be high.
I support what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, has said. We should see this idea as a huge departure from what we would consider normal. For people to be taken away from their families and the place that they know and sent to live somewhere else in the country is a very hard thing. We have to recognise that sometimes it will disrupt good associations as well as negative ones, so that they are no longer with their mother or father, or with some of the people who are voices of sanity as distinct from siren voices. It surely makes sense to say that this is such an exceptional step that there should be this additional safeguard, which has been proposed by one of our most senior retired judges.
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, has moved his amendment with his customary cogency and clarity, and I agree with him and with the remarks that have just been made by the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy. Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit people who were subject to relocation orders under the control orders regime. I have seen that, in some cases, the relocation was accepted with good grace; in other cases, however, particularly those where children were involved, it caused great disturbance and much resentment. I have also taken the trouble to read all the judgments in the relocation cases that went before the courts under the control orders regime. My instinct is the same as that of the judges who heard those cases. If you read the judgments, although the judges were not required to do so, I think in every single case—from memory at least—they applied the standard that is set out in this amendment for completeness and in order to make it clear that they approved of the relocation in the circumstances of the case.
I agree with the comments that have been made, that we should be extremely reluctant to order people to relocate, because of the disturbance that it causes to their family and because they are very dislocated as a consequence of that relocation. As a general proposition, all restrictive measures under counterterrorism legislation should be exercised only when there is a clear necessity to do so, and the balance of probabilities is a good test. With those comments in mind, I hope that the Minister will at least accept the principles behind the noble and learned Lord’s amendment, whether it be probing or otherwise—it is the principle that counts.
My Lords, I would like to strongly support the amendment by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown. These measures are things that you only do in very, very special circumstances and under very controlled conditions, but the removal of them from the old control orders regime—we realise now—was a mistake and an error. I absolutely think that we have to put these measures in place to ensure that people are protected in these circumstances.
My Lords, I wish to add just a small point in support of what my noble and learned friend Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood has said, and that is to stress the word “legitimacy” which he used in the course of his address. It is crucial that this particular system should not be open to challenges in the court to any extent; one must try to the maximum to minimise the risk of challenges. This is a very difficult area, as shown by these cases to which the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, just referred. It is the interaction between Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights, which deals with detention, and Article 8, which deals with respect for the family life of everyone. Where you get these human rights in play, it opens up the possibility of arguments being raised by way of challenge to orders of this kind.
The strength of the amendment which is being suggested is that it cuts back the open door—if I might put it this way—to challenges, and limits them in the most sensitive of all areas, which is the kind of relocation to which the noble and learned Lord has drawn attention. It is right that this is not a probing amendment. It is actually a very important point to try to secure these TPIMs in a way that makes them robust enough to stand up against possible challenges which, if the amendment was not made, would be very likely to come.
My Lords, my support for the noble and learned Lord’s amendment is for real, to use his own term. I was reading a little—obviously I do not have the experience of other noble Lords, including my noble friend—about control orders at the time they were to be abolished and TPIMs introduced. One could not help but feel quite disturbed by some of the experiences undergone and the impact, as has been said, not only on the individuals subject to the orders but on members of their families so, as I say, I support this amendment.
I have just one question for the noble and learned Lord. It is about whether it is necessary—he must consider it is because he has included them—to have the words about the individual having “no connection”. As I read it, but I might have missed something, the amendment to Schedule 1 to the 2011 Act takes out the references to having a connection with a locality because the 200-mile limit is being introduced. If that is so, and we are losing references to there being a connection in the Schedule, is that reference necessary in the amendment?
My Lords, I think noble Lords on all sides of the Committee have acknowledged that, because of the situation in which we presently find ourselves, powers of this sort are regrettably necessary. However, as noble Lords have said, their legitimacy is critical, and the rigour with which conditions are examined before they are imposed and the nature of that imposition itself are of the utmost importance. For all those reasons, I support the noble and learned Lord’s amendment.
My Lords, I apologise that I was not here at the beginning of the noble and learned Lord’s remarks. I support the amendment and the remarks made by my noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws. I have a question for the Minister. Members of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am one, with heavy heart agreed that we had to agree with the independent reviewer, but we said:
“We look to the Government to be proactive in bringing forward ideas about how to mitigate the alienation and resentment likely to be caused in some minority communities”,
by relocation. I would be very grateful if the Minister could give the Committee some idea of what ideas might be brought forward by the Government.
My Lords, it is always with some trepidation that I rise to speak in a debate where I am the only non-lawyer to contribute, so I was particularly grateful to hear my noble friend speak, so I am not the only non-lawyer contributing to this debate. All noble Lords have made the point that relocation with a TPIM should be an exceptional provision. That has been the case. We were very disappointed when the Government removed the relocation part of TPIMs and the old control orders. Nobody likes the idea. As the independent reviewer said, this is something that has to be done in the interests of public safety. My understanding is that they are used only rarely. If my information is correct, currently only one person is subject to a TPIM provision.
Not being a lawyer, I have a couple of questions for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown. I think one of the reasons why the Government have made changes here is because they consider that substituting,
“is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities”,
for “reasonably believes” is a higher legal test. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, said that is not the case. I am not a lawyer, so I leave it lawyers to have that debate, but it would be helpful to have some clarity about whether that is in law a higher legal test than “reasonably believes”. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, said that in effect this is already happening and is how the courts see their role at present. If that is the case, it would be helpful to have some facts on that.
My other point was alluded to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. It is about individuals subject to the relocation part of a TPIM having no connection. My understanding is that part of the reason would, in some circumstances, be that the person would have no connection with the area they were going to to ensure that they were not associating with people they had engaged with in the past who had led them into terrorism-related activities or potential terrorism-related activities. That is not an easy thing for anybody, and nobody welcomes somebody being moved to an area where they have no connection, but if we were to rule that out in all circumstances, that might be quite difficult. I would be interested to know a bit more about this. I think there is widespread support for a very high test that should be used only in exceptional circumstances, but I am interested in the Minister’s comment and welcome further clarification from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown.
My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords for having spoken in this debate. I say that I am grateful as a general courtesy. It has not been an easy debate to speak to, and I ponder whether my response will be sufficient to ease noble Lords’ and the noble and learned Lord’s concerns. I shall just raise some points with the noble and learned Lord on his amendment, but I give advance notice that this is one issue on which we need to reflect more.
I am particularly cognisant of the support that the amendment has received from my noble friend Lord Carlile, as a former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, as well as from my noble friend Lord Macdonald, who reviewed the legislation in 2011. He looked at its adequacy, which led in a way to the introduction of the more focused TPIM. Then, of course, there is the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. So there has been a range of voices. I shall put some points and answer some questions and then take it from there.
I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for raising this matter; he has tremendous expertise in this area. Replacing the previous text at the point in the Bill does not amend the standard of evidence that the Home Secretary must apply when considering whether the person is or has been involved in terrorism. I underscore the point that all noble Lords have made—the noble Baronesses, Lady Smith and Lady Kennedy, made it—that this is a regrettable necessity. The amendment would therefore have the effect of requiring, for TPIMs that include relocation, the court and the Home Secretary to make independent judgments on whether the person is or has been involved in terrorism, but on different bases. It is therefore highly likely to lead to some confusion. It also removes the enhanced safeguard of raising the standard to that of the “balance of probabilities” for TPIMs which do not include relocation.
The Government recognise that the enhancements to the TPIM Act in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill were not part of the package of measures agreed by Parliament in 2011. It is therefore right that we consider whether the current legal threshold of reasonable belief continues to be the appropriate test for the imposition of a TPIM. We have concluded that the threshold should be increased for all TPIM notices to recognise the stringent preventive measures that may be imposed. Given her remit in relation to a range of aspects of terrorism, the Home Secretary remains best placed to make the decision to impose a TPIM notice to protect the public from terrorism. It is therefore right and proper that it should continue to be for the Home Secretary to decide whether a TPIM notice should be imposed, as it has been since 2011 and as it was under the previous system of control orders established in 2005.
I well remember the noble and learned Lord’s speech at Second Reading. He apologised, but I think that we were all immensely helped when he talked about his experience of how control orders were often struck down by the courts when they were actually brought forward. The TPIMs were therefore an attempt to limit the incidents in which they could be introduced on that basis, by introducing time limits and raising the threshold test, as well as allowing them to have access under supervision to the internet and telephony.
The court will continue to be required to review the Home Secretary’s decision as to whether the conditions for imposition of a TPIM are met—and the court must now, as part of its review, satisfy itself that the Home Secretary could make that decision at the higher legal threshold. This comes to the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, who asked whether it is a higher legal test to have a “balance of probabilities”.
Although I tread deferentially in the company of distinguished lawyers, certainly my understanding is that you have reasonable suspicion, then reasonable belief and then, above that, a higher threshold of the balance of probabilities, which is where we are heading now. The courts will continue to apply an intense level of scrutiny to the decision-making process on the issue.
I turn to some of the specific points that were raised. A relocation measure will be included in an individual’s TPIM notice only if it is necessary to prevent or restrict the individual’s involvement in terrorism-related activity. This is in line with the long-standing use of this type of power under both the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and currently under the TPIM Act 2011.
This clause also implements the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation’s recommendation that the definition of terrorism-related activity in the TPIM Act should be narrowed. As David Anderson stated, at present a TPIM notice could be imposed on someone who is three stages removed from actually committing a terrorist act: the giving of support to someone who gives encouragement to someone who prepares an act of terrorism. Therefore, we have tried to narrow this down in the TPIM.
Clause 16 amends the definition of,
“involvement in terrorism-related activity”,
so that it does not include conduct which gives support or assistance to individuals who are known or believed by the individual concerned to be involved in conduct which facilitates or gives encouragement to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, or which is intended so to do.
On the courts’ involvement, there is general cross-party consensus that the Home Secretary is best placed to make the decision to impose a TPIM order to protect the public from terrorism, given her remit in relation to a number of terrorism-related activities. Following the increase in the legal threshold to a balance of probabilities, the court must, as part of its review, now satisfy itself that the Home Secretary could make that decision at the highest legal threshold—which is, in a sense, judicial oversight of the review of the Home Secretary’s decision.
As regards relocation, a TPIM’s subject’s family may move with them if they wish to do so. On a purely humanitarian level, support would be available to the individual and their family to assist in their move and with the costs of obtaining any additional property that they may have to acquire.
It is correct that enhanced TPIMs would be imposed to a higher standard of the balance of probabilities. This is exactly the same as the change being made in this Bill. The function of the court in the ETPIMs proposal is essentially the same as in this Bill. Therefore, I reassure the noble and learned Lord that there is no difference between the model in the draft ETPIMs Bill, to which he referred, and the measures which we are debating today.
I realise that I have skipped through a number of points. I have given an undertaking to reflect on the contributions made by noble Lords in this debate and perhaps to meet the noble and learned Lord before
Report, should he be willing to do so. In view of that, I ask him to consider withdrawing his amendment at this stage.
I am grateful to the Minister for that considered response. I am perhaps even more grateful to all those who spoke in support of this amendment. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that I will, of course, look afresh at the correct matching of my wording with that of the amended paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the 2011 Act when we come back to that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon, asked whether there is a higher test involved in balance of probabilities than that in reasonable belief. This runs parallel to a point made by the Minister just now. When we come back to that, I would be very grateful if the Minister could give us an illustration of where, on the facts, you could reach a different conclusion on reasonable belief from that on the balance of probabilities. I maintain that there is no distinction.
However, that is, frankly, almost an irrelevance. Regarding my amendment, I do not in the least mind—I am completely agnostic on this—whether one leaves in Clause 16(1) as it stands and adds the wording suggested in my amendment after it, or, as the amendment proposes, leaves out the subsection and inserts my wording in its place. I do not mind whether the Secretary of State makes a decision—as initially she is bound to do—by way of reasonable belief or as a conclusion on the balance of probabilities. What matters is that the decision of hers should then be subject to review or appeal by the court, not on the basis of judicial review but on the different basis of her having to establish to the satisfaction of the court, on the balance of probabilities, that the person concerned has been engaged in terrorism-related activity. That is a real difference, and I will say, with the greatest respect to the Minister, that if he looks back at Mr Anderson’s 2013 and 2014 reports on TPIMs he will see that that was the position that was going to be arrived at regarding enhanced TPIMs; it was going to be for the court—whatever the Minister decided—then to reach its own conclusion on the balance of probabilities.
The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, who brings huge expertise, having been a distinguished independent reviewer, suggested that actually there is not all that much distinction between the judicial review standard that a court is presently required to adopt and an appeal by which the court would have to be persuaded on this issue and reach its own decision. The court does its best by way of judicial review and, in an area as sensitive and relevant to human rights as this, the court will of course go out of its way to adopt as intrusive a standard of judicial review as it feels it can. However, it simply cannot—it would be disobeying the statute if it tried to—substitute its own decision for that of the Secretary of State.
I hope that that meets most of the points that were raised. Of course I am prepared—and am grateful for the offer—to talk to the Minister. We have only a week between now and Report on this part of the Bill. Of course I am not going to press the amendment today, but it may well become necessary to do so a week today, unless the Minister sees the light—if I may put it that way—and is prepared to shift the Government’s position. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 75 withdrawn.
Clause 16 agreed.
Clause 17: Retention of relevant internet data
Moved by Baroness Ludford
76: Clause 17, page 10, line 32, after “or” insert “is necessary to”
My Lords, the amendment stands in my name and those of my noble friends Lady Hamwee and Lord Paddick. I shall speak also to Amendment 77. In this grouping, there is also Amendment 78 of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon.
The Explanatory Notes refer to data that are “necessary” to attribute internet protocol addresses to a person or device. However, that word does not appear in the Bill; I believe that something similar happened in the draft Communications Data Bill in 2012, which was picked up by the committee on the draft Bill. There is a tendency to put “necessary” in Explanatory Notes but not to transfer that to the Bill. Amendment 76, therefore, at least seeks to apply the test of “necessary” to communications data that could,
“assist in identifying, which internet protocol address … belongs to the sender or recipient of a communication (whether or not a person)”.
At least it tightens up, somewhat, the scope of communications data—relevant internet data—required.
I have seen an itemisation of possible data—I confess that I do not know what the origin was, but it refers to possible data which would be required to be retained. I state just for interest that it includes,
“MAC addresses from end-user equipment”.
This is above my technical pay grade and I think we need some clarity about what sort of information is being required. Therefore, in Amendment 77 we are requesting that when the term “other identifier” is used, meaning an identifier used to facilitate the transmission of a communication, what qualifies as “other identifier” should be specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State.
I have seen it cited that there has been consultation with industry on these matters. Certainly, the Internet Services Providers’ Association has complained that it was not consulted on this section on the collection of IP addresses. It posted something on its website on
I mentioned at Second Reading that the Bill refers to,
“the sender or recipient of a communication (whether or not a person)”.
I still believe that it is somewhat misleading to suggest that a person can be identified from an IP address. Even with a static IP address allocated to a particular device or subscriber, you would at best know who the subscriber was, but you would not necessarily know who was using the device at a particular time. It may not have been the subscriber; it may have been a friend, a relative or a business associate. If it is a dynamic IP address I understand that there can be tens of thousands of people who could have used it. Even with this other information, even if you can identify the device that was using it at 4.12 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, it is still not clear that you can, of itself, then identify the person using it. You would need other investigations—police investigations—to ascertain who precisely was using the device.
I hope that I have conveyed the meaning of Amendments 76 and 77, which seek to put greater precision into the Bill as to what further communications data are being required to be kept.
My Lords, our Amendment 78 in this group seeks to make it explicit that the extra data retention provided for in Clause 17 does not extend beyond that which is necessary for the purpose of identifying a user from the internet protocol address. The amendment is not meant to impact on the rest of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act.
Clause 17 amends the definition of “relevant communications data” in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014. The clause expands the definition of “relevant communications data” to include an extra category of data—described as “relevant internet data”—in Section 2 of the DRIP Act, to allow the Secretary of State to use powers under Section 1 of that Act to bring in regulations to ensure that this “relevant internet data” is retained by communications service providers. Essentially, the Government are using this fast-track primary legislation to amend emergency primary legislation from last July to enable the Secretary of State to bring in secondary legislation relating to a clause in this Bill, which extends the current provision on data retention.
The change in the rules on data retention is, it seems, a response to the increasing incidence of one IP address being allocated to numerous devices. I stress that we accept that this extra category of data will be an important tool for law enforcement, including protection of national security. Many providers currently have no business reason for keeping a log of who has used each address. It is therefore not always possible for the law enforcement agencies accessing the data to identify who was using an IP address at any specific point in time.
Amendment 78 is designed to ensure that the text of Clause 17 matches the explanation given in the Explanatory Notes: that the extra data is only that needed to,
“allow relevant authorities to link the unique attributes of a public Internet Protocol (IP) address to the person (or device) using it”.
In Committee in the other place, the Home Office Minister said that the Bill already limited the scope of Clause 17 in the way proposed in this amendment. The Government also said that they did not intend to issue new regulations following on from this Bill because the change in the definition of “relevant communications data” would alter the meaning of the 2014 regulations. Therefore, the combination of this primary legislation and the existing secondary legislation is meant to be sufficient to bring about a change in the types of data retained by communications service providers. Our view is that this could create confusion in interpreting the regulations, which we surely want to avoid. We believe it would be better if the Government accepted the amendment to achieve clarity.
We also have concerns about how we can allow for the retention of internet protocol address information without demanding the retention of web logs. Clause 17 is meant to cover the identifier for the recipient of a communication. That is supposed to cover e-mails, but not web logs. Can the Minister explain how communications will be separated from web logs, bearing in mind that, for example, a distinction would have to be made between visiting a web page and using that page to send an e-mail?
In addition, what is the definition of “a communication”, including in relation to contact on social media? Does receiving a Facebook “like” or a Tinder “match” count as “a communication” for these purposes? I hope the Minister can provide assurance that the legislation is sufficient to make distinctions of this kind regarding the apps and websites that so many people now use. On Report in the other place, the Home Office Minister said in response to the points we made, including the need to define a communication:
“A communication can include any message sent over the internet”.—[Hansard, Commons, 6/1/15; col. 236.]
That begs the question of what is the definition of a message in this context: does being tagged in a photo on Instagram count as “a communication”, which the Government now define as any message sent over the internet? What about being mentioned in a tweet: does that count as “a communication”? I hope that the Minister will be able to give a definition of what is and is not included as any message sent over the internet, now that the Government have given that as the definition of a communication.
At Report stage in the other place the Home Office Minister said that if he had any further reflections on the points that we had raised, he would write further. No subsequent letter has surfaced from him. As well as responding to the questions I have raised, perhaps the Minister here will say whether we will or will not be receiving a further letter from the Minister in the Commons.
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for introducing this amendment. I will try to address the key points and then come back to the questions that she and the noble Lord have raised.
To be clear, communications data are the who, where, when and how of a communication, but not its content. They are a vital tool in the investigation of serious crime, including terrorism, and in safeguarding the public. Gaps in communications data capability are having a serious impact on the ability of law enforcement and the intelligence agencies to carry out their functions. We shall talk about these wider issues in the next group of amendments, but it is significant that communications data have played a very important role in every security service counterterrorism operation over the last decade. The data are used in 95% of serious and organised crime investigations handled by the Crown Prosecution Service. That is what we are talking about at present.
On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, Clause 17(3)(c) contains a statement about what is not data for the purposes of the Bill. I think that that is a legal definition of a web log; so there is specific mention in the Bill of what cannot be accessed under this provision.
However, the provision in the Bill is on the issue of IP addresses. Every internet user is assigned an IP address to ensure that communication service providers know which data should go to which customer and route that accordingly. Addresses are sometimes assigned to a specific device, such as a broadband router located in a home or company. However, as my noble friend Lady Ludford referred to, they are usually shared between multiple users—hundreds or even thousands—and allocated automatically by the provider’s systems. The amendments seek to ensure that the scope of this provision is limited to the retention of data that are required to allow the identification of a user from a public internet protocol address, and I am very pleased that on that principal issue there is not a great deal of difference between us. It is important that this provision goes no further than is absolutely necessary to ensure that communications service providers can be required to retain the data necessary to link the unique attributes of an internet connection to the person or device using that data at any given time.
At this point, I should say to my noble friend Lady Ludford that in essence we are talking here about adding another essential piece of the communications jigsaw. We are not actually saying—and I do not think that anyone is making this claim—that somehow an IP address on its own will be sufficient to identify what has happened. However, alongside other communications data—for instance, other CCTV footage or other surveillance evidence that may be there—this could be helpful in identifying who was where on a particular device and communicated with whom at a particular time.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked for examples of access data that may be required. An example is port numbers, which are akin to a house number, where an IP address is akin to a postcode. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, could probably give us a tutorial on the technical points; I could probably do with one at some point. Other types of data include the MAC address—the identifier of a particular computer—the time, the location and so on. Those are the types of data covered by “or other identifier”, and that is set out in the Explanatory Notes which accompany the legislation and in the addendum to the draft data retention code of practice, on which the Government have recently consulted. The code of practice sets out very detailed safeguards concerning how data can be collected. The consultation began on
The way in which an internet service provider identifies its individual customers varies from company to company depending on how their systems work. It is therefore important that the legislation is drafted in such a way as to enable us to work with individual communications service providers so that they retain only the data that they need to resolve an IP address. Our ability to do so would be limited by the amendment, which specifies the items of data to be retained in secondary legislation. For that reason, we cannot agree to the amendment.
The amendments seek to ensure that the provision goes no further than IP resolution, and I am able to confirm that the provision is already limited in this way. Clause 17(3), to which I have already referred, defines the data to be retained as data which,
“may be used to identify, or assist in identifying, which internet protocol address, or other identifier, belongs to the sender or recipient of a communication”.
At this point I should say that, although we are talking about the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, this provision will be of significant assistance to those who are seeking to tackle, for example, the worrying growth in accessing child sexual exploitation online. That is an important element here.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked whether the Minister for Security, my honourable friend James Brokenshire, will be writing. The Minister in the Commons dealt with all the salient issues. We of course reflected on the points raised in the debate, but there is nothing that we see as requiring further clarification at this stage.
The noble Lord also asked whether the combination of primary and secondary legislation is confusing. This legislation is accompanied by a retention of communications data revised code of practice for those implementing the legislation. The Government also work closely with communications service providers. This will ensure that there can be no confusion about how the legislation can be applied.
My noble friend Lady Ludford asked whether any consultations with communications service providers have taken place. The answer is yes—probably not at the time that she was talking about, when the Bill was going through the other place, but certainly since then. We regard communications service providers as an integral part of this whole process and we want to work very closely with them.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, asked how we define a communication and whether it includes messages sent by social media. Any messages sent over the internet, including via social media platforms, will have associated communications data. That has always been the case under existing legislation. Where those data are generated or processed in the UK by a company subject to the data retention notice, they can be used to resolve an IP address—that is, they can be retained under this Bill. Those data could then be accessed only where it was necessary and proportionate to do so for a specific investigation. However, that is quite separate from the content of a communication. What was said or written in, for instance, a Facebook message or a FaceTime call could not be retained under the Bill.
Similarly, the Bill ensures that we cannot ask internet access companies to keep a record of internet services that a given user account may have accessed, known as web logs, even where the data could be used to help resolve IP addresses. Any data which cannot be used to identify or assist in identifying the user of an IP address are already outside the scope of this provision. A requirement to retain data may be imposed only where it is necessary and proportionate to do so.
Accordingly, while I agree with the sentiment behind these amendments, I do not agree that they would add to the tightly drafted provisions that we already have. With the explanation that I have given and with my responses to the questions, I hope that I have offered sufficient assurances to noble Lords and that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, I appreciate my noble friend’s extensive reply and explanation. I am still somewhat uneasy that the terms of the Bill are permissive in that the data may need to be retained if it may “assist in identifying”, which is quite loose language. Will my noble friend explore whether there is any way of getting further precision? Presumably the limit of the extent of the kind of data we might be talking about is known, and I feel that what the data are should be spelt out somewhere, even if it is a broad list, so that everybody can understand this matter—I shall join him in the tutorial that he has invited the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, to carry out, as I have already frankly admitted my own ignorance. It is not helpful to have potential legislation when people do not know what data on them will be retained. It seems reasonable to ask my noble friend to reflect further on the idea of importing the words “necessary and proportionate”, which I think he used, into the Bill and/or to consider further whether it is possible to spell it out in regulations. In awaiting, I hope, that further reflection, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 76 withdrawn.
Amendments 77 and 78 not moved.
Clause 17 agreed.
Moved by Lord King of Bridgwater
79: After Clause 17, insert the following new Clause—
“Part 3AEnsuring or facilitating availability of dataEnsuring or facilitating availability
Power to ensure or facilitate availability of data
(1) The Secretary of State may by order—
(a) ensure that communications data is available to be obtained from telecommunications operators by relevant public authorities in accordance with Part 3B, or
(b) otherwise facilitate the availability of communications data to be so obtained from telecommunications operators.
(2) An order under this section may, in particular—
(a) provide for—
(i) the obtaining (whether by collection, generation or otherwise) by telecommunications operators of communications data,
(ii) the processing, retention or destruction by such operators of data so obtained or other data held by such operators,
(iii) the entering into by such operators of arrangements with the Secretary of State or other persons under or by virtue of which the Secretary of State or other persons engage in activities on behalf of the operators on a commercial or other basis for the purpose of enabling the operators to comply with requirements imposed by virtue of this section,
(b) impose requirements or restrictions on telecommunications operators or other persons or provide for the imposition of such requirements or restrictions by notice of the Secretary of State.
(3) Requirements imposed by virtue of subsection (2) may, in particular, include—
(a) requirements (whether as to the form or manner in which the data is held or otherwise) which ensure that communications data can be disclosed without undue delay to relevant public authorities in accordance with Part 3B,
(b) requirements for telecommunications operators—
(i) to comply with specified standards,
(ii) to acquire, use or maintain specified equipment or systems, or
(iii) to use specified techniques,
(c) requirements which—
(i) are imposed on a telecommunications operator who controls or provides a telecommunication system, and
(ii) are in respect of communications data relating to the use of telecommunications services provided by another telecommunications operator in relation to the telecommunication system concerned.
(4) Nothing in this Part authorises any conduct consisting in the interception of communications in the course of their transmission by means of a telecommunication system.
(5) In this section—
“processing”, in relation to communications data, includes its reading, organisation, analysis, copying, correction, adaptation or retrieval and its integration with other data,
“relevant public authority” has the same meaning as in Part 3B.
(a) section (Application of Parts 3A and 3B to postal operators and postal services) for the way in which this Part applies to public postal operators and public postal services, and
(b) section (Interpretation of Parts 3A, 3B and 3C) for the definitions of “communications data” and “telecommunications operator” and for other definitions relevant to this Part.”
This is an exceptional series of amendments that has been tabled in your Lordships’ House today, and I recognise that for some it seems an unacceptable use of parliamentary time. I make no apologies at all for doing this, as we face a very serious situation indeed in our country at present. Our legislation is not up to date to meet it, and it is the duty of Parliament to ensure that it is at this critical time. It is common ground across the House that the threat is now very significant. We are in the front line and we need to address that.
I start with a bit of history. Noble Lords who have taken an interest in this subject will be familiar with my amendments because they have been lying around for the past two and a half years. They are part of the Communications Data Bill that the Government published in draft two and a half years ago. In keeping with best parliamentary procedure, they invited the Joint Committee of both Houses to examine and report on the Bill, under the distinguished leadership of my noble friend Lord Blencathra, who I am delighted to see in his place today. If I say that that Joint Committee reported two years ago, and in terms of dealings in Parliament, nothing has happened since, it might be thought that the problem has gone away but, of course, the opposite is the case.
I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Weardale, is in his place. In his maiden speech, the noble Lord, a distinguished former director-general of MI5, said that after an extremely difficult period, by 2013 he thought the worst was over. He now admits that he was wrong. The threat in many ways is obvious. Before Paris and Belgium, the Government raised the threat level to severe. Intelligence showed what might be coming. We could easily have been Paris or Belgium. Thankfully, so far we have not been exposed in the same way, except for the tragedy of Fusilier Rigby, but it is a very brave man indeed who says that at the present time we would not be.
I believe that it was Andrew Parker, current director-general of MI5, who said that there are probably about 2,000 people in this country who are either supportive of or actively involved in promoting terrorist activities. I have lived a little bit of my life in the field where terrorism was a major challenge to this country but I never had to deal with suicide bombers. Some of the developments that now exist are of a scale and a difficulty—and a fanaticism, in the jihadist threat—that is of a different dimension to that which we previously faced.
It is easy to think that perhaps we are going through a rather bad phase, but I do not think anybody would seriously believe that about the current problems, particularly in the Middle East. The events just this last weekend in Yemen show yet another country that seems to be in chaos and confusion. I saw with interest—I had forgotten—that we are now in our fifth year with Syria in a state of chaos. If anybody in your Lordships’ House is brave enough to say when any of those countries presently in chaos will return to some measure of normality and peace and calm, I simply do not believe them. The evidence is that, with all the current distress and difficulties, it is going to get worse.
How do we face this challenge? How do we face the explosion of new technology that means we are up against terrorists who are extremely adept at using any new means of communication that is, perhaps, beyond our reach or, certainly at the present time, beyond our legislation? It is interesting that, at the moment, we are facing this challenge on the basis of legislation that is 15 years old. It is worth remembering that this is the 25th anniversary of the internet. We have to take on board the explosion in new developments since then and the possibilities for communication under new technologies.
I want to deal with one point straightaway. As soon as we start talking about access to communications data, people think—I am certain some very distinguished noble Lords think—somebody is going to listen to telephone calls. However, it is nothing to do with the content. It is to do with who, where and when certain contacts and certain patterns of contact are established. It is on that basis that the intelligence plays such a vital role. It includes the use of things that not all your Lordships—that certainly includes me—are masters of. I am not a tweeter. We have Facebook and Twitter. Somebody tried to explain WhatsApp to me; somebody else tried to explain Snapchat. I do not know about them, but it is absolutely clear that the terrorists and jihadists do. The understanding is that part of the reason for ISIL’s amazing advance across Syria and into Iraq was that their communications were so good and the way they kept together was entirely due to one or other of the last two systems that I mentioned, which they handled with great intelligence.
The problem that we now face is not boots on the ground. That never was the answer to this sort of situation. It is the problem of getting good intelligence. I have tabled what was available to me and my noble friends who have joined me in this enterprise. It is the original draft Bill that was carefully examined by my noble friend Lord Blencathra, and the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, who I am delighted to see in his place. He was another distinguished member of the Joint Committee that examined that Bill, as was the noble Lord, Lord Jones. They proposed a number of important amendments. The Joint Committee submitted its report to Parliament two years ago. I understand that those criticisms were then considered carefully by the Home Office and were largely, if not totally, accepted. I also understand that amendments have now been suggested that go a very long way to meeting the important observations of that Select Committee. But they have not been available.
We face a crisis in security. There is a major threat and at the same time we have antiquated legislation that badly needs updating. We have done our best by drawing the attention of the House to this issue and by tabling amendments to include complete clauses of the previous Bill that were available to us. I hope that before Report the Government will either table amendments themselves or otherwise make the revised Bill available to Back-Benchers in this House to examine. Amendments could then be tabled so that this House has the opportunity to debate the matter. It will be the only opportunity that we will have in this Parliament and for this year, while the nation is at risk and the threat to our citizens is real. This is the only time in which we can tackle that.
I have carefully read the excellent report of my noble friend Lord Blencathra. It carries a number of criticisms which are covered in our amendments, some of which are quite significant. The most significant is what was called the snoopers’ charter. It covered far too wide a range of purposes. It not only covered national security and crime but made data available to local authorities to pursue things such as abuse of fly tipping, housing benefit and a whole range of other matters. It was also made available to the Inland Revenue to pursue tax offenders of one sort or another. Against this crisis and because of the quite exceptional nature of what we are proposing, my colleagues and I who tabled these amendments propose deleting all of those additional purposes in the Bill. We have included only national security and serious crime. I hope that everyone in your Lordships' House will agree that those are the critically important issues. Let us remember that what we are doing is not completely new and unprecedented. The principle has been established of data collection. We are bringing it up to date with the new challenges that the new technologies have brought.
I am not alone in having serious concerns. In another place, when the Home Secretary made her Statement two weeks ago following the events in Paris, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Foreign Secretary and current chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee said that new technologies were preventing the agencies from exercising the capability they used to have. Jack Straw, who was, unusually, responsible in his time for all the agencies because he was both Home Secretary and then Foreign Secretary said that it was,
“beyond argument that the legislation … has to be revised … so that we can resolve this issue as soon as possible”.
In his further remarks he asked for close co-operation to resolve this communications data issue,
“as soon as possible, and ensure that the intelligence and security agencies and the police have the capabilities today and tomorrow that they had in the past under legislation freely agreed by this House?”.—[ Official Report , Commons, 14/1/15; col. 875.]
I say “Hear, hear” to that.
I quote—also from this report—a very good response by the shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, to the statement made by the Home Secretary two weeks ago. She said:
“Governments need to keep our people safe so that we can enjoy the very freedoms that our democracy depends on”.—[Hansard, Commons, 14/1/15; col. 871.]
She went on to say:
“We agree that the police and the agencies need to get the intelligence to keep us safe and that they need updated legislation”.—[Hansard, Commons, 14/1/15; col. 873.]
I very much agreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, when she said that she had a strong preference for targeted investigation and data collection, rather than blanket surveillance.
I quote another supporter of this cause: the Home Secretary herself said:
“Let me be absolutely clear: every day that passes without the proposals in the draft Communications Data Bill, the capabilities of the people who keep us safe diminish; and as those capabilities diminish, more people find themselves in danger and—yes—crimes will go unpunished and innocent lives will be put at risk”.—[Hansard, Commons, 14/1/15; col. 871.]
Unfortunately, a bit of a hiccup in the coalition government situation has prevented this happening. It is the duty of Parliament to resolve that: first, your Lordships’ House and then the Commons, because this is not just a House of Lords matter. It has been suggested that with these amendments the House of Lords is usurping the position of the House of Commons. Any amendments that we carry will go to the House of Commons and they will have time—looking at the hours being spent there at the moment—to give it proper consideration. I hope that is not too unkind. In this situation Parliament should act.
There is undoubtedly, from all the advice that we get, a very real risk of a serious outrage in this country. If there was an attack here like the one in Paris, and it became apparent that if the powers of the agencies had been kept up to date it could have been prevented, huge criticism of Parliament would follow—and rightly so.
I hope that people realise that this is an all-party amendment. I do not regard this as a party-political issue, I regard it as an issue of national security. I hope very much that your Lordships’ House will recognise the responsibility of us all as Members of these Houses of Parliament and take urgently needed action while we have the opportunity—because of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, for which these amendments are fully in scope—to carry this through. So I will listen carefully to the debate. In the light of the contribution by my noble friend Lord Blencathra, I very much hope that we can carry this forward along the lines that he proposed so well and that we take the necessary action. I beg to move
My Lords, I placed my name in support of Amendment 79 with those of the noble Lords, Lord King of Bridgwater, Lord Carlile of Berriew, and Lord West of Spithead. I echo what the noble Lord, Lord King, has said. I am not a party politician but this issue is far beyond politics. I put my name down in order to place in the records of the House the significance of communications data to the police and security services, which are now specifically mentioned in subsection (6) of the new clause proposed in Amendment 87. Those three agencies and the police are the agencies—the only ones—to which this communications data section will now apply.
Those agencies’ needs must be understood. They have been subject to a great deal of obfuscation, both witting and unwitting. The police and the security services are not asking for new powers. Rather, they are asking for the retention of what they already have but are now losing. They need the ability to determine, in specified circumstances, which telephone or other device has been used where, when, and to communicate with whom. This is an investigative tool of equal significance to DNA and fingerprinting, but changing technology is eroding that ability.
This is not the first time we have faced such a threat. I first met the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, in the early 1990s, and we were then discussing the fact that mobile telephones were appearing and were destroying the ability of the police and the security services to carry out lawful interception. Fortunately, that technology was overcome and new measures were brought in—and that is what people in these services are asking for now. The situation is that mobile telephones and the internet are merging. All the different apps for phones mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord King, along with all the other services, are increasingly being used across the internet via something I now know more about than I ever wanted to—a system known as VoIP, the Voice over Internet Protocol. This makes all those transmissions untraceable. I will not specify them, but they are being used in methodologies that Members of this House will be using most days. They are already changing things and we are losing our technological edge on terrorists and criminals.
We are not asking, as I heard a senior politician say on the radio recently, to listen to or to read every message, phone call and visit to an internet site by every person in Britain. A moment’s thought would show that that is completely and utterly impossible. We want to retain for one year data about where and when a particular device has been used, and to communicate with what. If suspicion emerges about a device or its user, that data can be interrogated.
I want to point out the reason for our insertion of the words “serious crime”, because this is not just a terrorist matter. Let me give two examples of capabilities that are now disappearing. A teenager goes missing in Sussex. She has had episodes of self-harm and she was last seen heading towards Beachy Head. All teenagers, whether or not they are capable of self-harm, are likely to have their phone with them. That phone will locate the child—but in a few years’ time, it will not. I cite the example of a dead body found in a field with signs of violence. One of the first things that the senior investigating officer will say is, “Get me the phone data”. What he or she wants to know is which phone has been carried across that field in the past few days. Which phone has been within a few hundred yards of the site of where the body was found? That information is what the police need in order to be able to identify the murderers by the technology that betrays them. At the moment, we can do it in most cases, but we are gradually losing that capability.
I turn to an actual case. Noble Lords will remember the terrorist attack on Glasgow airport. It had been preceded two days before by an attempted atrocity in central London, at the Tiger Tiger nightclub. The Metropolitan Police were 20 minutes behind the bomber when he reached Glasgow airport—and the way they did that was through tracing the phones.
The noble Lord, Lord West, recently mentioned the phrase “snooper’s charter”, and referred to it as sanctimonious claptrap; I agree with him. In this amendment we have limited those who could exercise this kind of power to the security services and the police when investigating or preventing serious crime. They are not snoopers but lifesavers. Perhaps I may add to what the noble Lord, Lord King, said. I could usefully put before noble Lords how the Home Secretary finished her Statement to the House of Commons:
“It is too soon to say for certain, but it is highly probable that communications data were used in the Paris attacks to locate the suspects and establish the links between the two attacks”.—[Hansard, Commons, 14/1/15; col. 871.]
Given my professional background, I, along with my colleague and noble friend Lord Condon, can say, “Almost certainly”. The Home Secretary went on to say:
“Quite simply, if we want the police and the security services to protect the public and save lives, they need this capability”.
My Lords, my name is also on this amendment in support of the noble Lord, Lord King, along with those of the noble Lords, Lord Carlile and Lord Blair. I will mention some history as well, which is important because of the time lags and time. In 2009, when I was Minister for Security and Counter-Terrorism, I was made aware that changes to communications technology meant that a record of communications information would no longer be held by the communications service providers and that technology was changing the type of data that was available. This information was held purely as it was needed for the companies’ billing procedures—that is why they kept it—and, as such, was available for use by properly authorised state officials, in particular for prosecution of serious crimes and in terrorism cases. New technologies and methods of communication meant that firms were beginning to, and going to, charge differently.
Over time, communications material, which, as has already been said, was used to help to gain convictions in over 95% of serious criminal cases, was going to be lost—a very serious and irrevocable loss that would impact on the security and safety of our nation and our people. To try to ensure such information would be kept, and to access these new technologies, we started to draft a new communications data Bill. There was then an election, the coalition came into power, and the coalition drafted a new Communications Data Bill which was passed to Parliament for pre-scrutiny, as has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord King. It had many flaws and underwent considerable redrafting—the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, will, I am sure, talk about this later—to ensure that there were sufficient safeguards and so on. Indeed, the Home Office, as the noble Lord, Lord King, has mentioned, did a considerable amount of work to rectify all the faults with that Bill. Subsequently, for political reasons, it was kicked into touch. We find ourselves today, some six years—not two and a half years—after we started to try to draft legislation that would ensure no loss of what we already had, having done nothing but expend a great deal of hot air. Week by week we are losing the ability we once had; for example, to place a criminal close to the scene of a crime on a certain day, as has just been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Blair.
The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have both said in the past few weeks that this legislation is needed urgently—and they are right. So why is nothing happening? Well, yes, there are reviews going on, not least by the Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Mr Anderson, and that is very sensible. But perhaps as a nation we should move more expeditiously on such a crucial matter.
One of the great strengths of this House is that it contains globally admired experts on almost every issue under the sun, and it can also act as a conscience for the elected Chamber in the other place. The noble Lords, Lord King, Lord Carlile and Lord Blair, are acknowledged experts in this field and clearly their advice has to be taken very seriously. They have identified this window of opportunity to rectify the growing shortfall in our ability to prosecute crime, whether criminal or terrorist. Do we really want murderers, people traffickers, serious organised crime and terrorists to be able to communicate and plot out of the reach of our law enforcement agencies? Do we want them to be able to avoid detection and prosecution in a way that they have not been able to in the past? The answer, surely, has to be no.
That does not mean that there do not have to be sufficient safeguards; for example, to ensure data that are properly looked after, as the communications providers have indeed always had to do, and to decide how long such data need to be held for. In addition, we need to investigate the costs because companies will be keeping data they no longer require for themselves so will want to charge us—they will probably want to overcharge us—for the privilege. The Government should be very hard-nosed on this point.
Much has been, and will be, said about individual privacy but, as the European human rights legislation points out, privacy is not an absolute right. There is much emotive claptrap using words such as “snooper”. It is, in that context, interesting to note that the judges at the tribunal looking into the allegation that GCHQ is involved in mass surveillance have just reported and were all absolutely clear in their judgment that there is no “mass” but rather only highly “targeted” surveillance properly authorised. Indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord King, mentioned, the data we are looking at here are not the contents of the letter, but what I would call the outside of the envelope. To be quite honest, the people we should be really worried about looking inside the envelope are various private companies, firms and ne’er-do-wells—not the Government.
I am sure that numerous amendments to this amendment need to be debated, as the noble Lord, Lord King, mentioned, and added before this can become law. But if we have the will, there must be time to do it. The other place, more so than the Lords, has almost no serious business before the general election and can surely create time to get this legislation right and put into law. The urgency over communications data legislation, described by the Prime Minister as “crucial” for national security, is pressing. Do we really need more studies? They sometimes seem to me to be a way of kicking difficult issues into the long grass. Our nation’s security is too important to play that game. It has been six years so far, with almost no movement. This could end up making even Chilcot seem fast. Surely, in the two months available, Parliament, in particular the other place, can mobilise itself to pass legislation, with all the right protections, that ensures that we remain able to prosecute those who would do society harm but which looks after the privacy of the individual.
My Lords, I am afraid that it falls upon me to be the first to break the all-party consensus. I disagree, reluctantly, with the amendments in the names of my noble friends Lord King and Lord Carlile and the noble Lords, Lord Blair and Lord West. The 21 amendments would incorporate practically the whole of that original draft communications Bill—called at the time the snoopers’ charter—into the Bill before us and into law. Before any noble Lords think I have gone soft and wet on terrorism, I will quote the introductory remarks of the conclusions of the Joint Committee’s report:
“It is the duty of government—any government—to maintain the safety and security of law-abiding citizens, so that they may go about their lives and their business as far as possible in freedom from fear. This is not only in the public interest; it is in the interest of law-abiding members of the public. For this the law enforcement authorities should be given the tools they need. Reasonable access to some communications data is undoubtedly one of those tools”.
That is what we said two years ago; I stand by it today. What we said in looking at that draft communications Bill is relevant today because, with 21 proposed new clauses, this is almost a Second Reading:
“Our overall conclusion is that there is a case for legislation which will provide the law enforcement authorities with some further access to communications data, but that the current draft Bill is too sweeping, and goes further than it need or should. We believe that, with the benefit of fuller consultation with CSPs than has so far taken place, the Government will be able to devise a more proportionate measure than the present draft Bill, which would achieve most of what they really need, would encroach less upon privacy, would be more acceptable to the CSPs, and would cost the taxpayer less. We make detailed recommendations accordingly”,
on how to do that. That is what we said two years ago; I still stand by it.
The problem we faced a couple of years ago when looking at the Bill was that, with the best will in the world and with the right intentions, the Home Office misdirected itself. Its main concern was to make sure that the Bill was future-proof. RIPA was passed in 2000, while our Joint Committee was looking at this in 2012. The Home Office concluded that it was not going to get a new RIPA every year, so if we were to pass a Bill in 2012 or 2013 it would have to be so wide-ranging in scope that it could encompass every new technological gizmo which might come along. Bear in mind that the ghastly—that is not the committee’s opinion but mine—Facebook and Twitter were invented only between about 2005 and 2007, years after RIPA was passed. The Home Office rightly considered that, if we passed a Bill in 2013, we should make it so that it could encompass any future technological change which came along. That was a fatal mistake at the Home Office and, because it made the breadth of Clause 1 so obscure and so wide to capture everything, people called it the snoopers’ charter. That was not pompous rubbish. The way the Bill was drafted meant that it could be called the snoopers’ charter if the agencies wished to make it so.
Initially the Home Office could not tell us what its real concern was on the grounds of confidentiality, and not letting the terrorists and the bad guys know. Within a couple of weeks most organisations that came before us, including the police, said that all they wanted were “who”, “where” and “when”, the things they used to get from the original telephones and the mobile telephones. They did not want all the wide-ranging theoretical powers which Clause 1 and the proposed new clauses here could give them. When we came to look at that in terms of the internet, we came across the crucial areas of contention, which were IP addresses and web logs up to the first forward slash. It would seem quite straightforward for someone on my committee to say yes to permitting access to web logs up to the first forward slash. Even if someone was checking up on me and I logged on to bbc.co.uk, that is all you could get. You would not know what else I was on to because after that came the content—the “what”—of the communication.
It was also pointed out to us that if I was logging on daily to Alcoholics Anonymous, you could not see the rest of the pages, but that in itself could give a message that this person was logging on to that website on a daily basis, and there was a bit of content involved in that. My committee determined—absolutely rightly, in my view—that it was for Parliament to decide on those issues. We could not allow the draft Bill with its very broad-ranging Clause 1—which my noble friend has replicated here—to stand without Parliament being able to say specifically, “Yes, we like that bit and we want to have IP addresses and web logs” or not. It was impossible to extricate that. If noble Lords wish to put down an amendment to ban web logs, it would be impossible to draft the amendment because we have no clue to which bit of Clause 1 we should do it.
Our recommendation was that that clause should be split up, with a specific sub-clause to give the House of Commons and us in this House a chance to vote yes or no on whether we want IP addresses or web logs. I took the view that if we did it that way then on balance, with a bit of grumbling in both Houses, the Government would probably have got web logs and IP addresses in that Bill, because Parliament would have been deciding. My committee did not want to pass some general obscure Clause 1, pat ourselves on the back that we had balanced freedom and responsibility and given the security services the powers they needed, to find a few months later a policeman or someone from the Security Service popping up and saying, “Aha, what you did not realise is that we have this additional power hidden in here”.
That was what caused people to call the provision the snoopers’ charter. We were very fortunate in that the Home Office took on board most of our recommendations. I was privileged, and I believe my noble friend—well, I call him my noble friend—Lord Armstrong of Ilminster was also privileged to see some of the revisions that the Home Office made. I would say that it took on board 95% of what the Joint Committee recommended. If that measure had then gone on to become law—it hit political problems in the coalition—no one could rightly call it the snoopers’ charter.
In paragraph 292 of our report we said:
“Whether clause 1 should allow notices that require CSPs to retain web logs up to the first ‘/’ is a key issue. The Bill should be so drafted as to enable Parliament to address and determine this fundamental question which is at the heart of this legislation”.
I believe that the revised Bill the Home Office were working on would have given us that opportunity. We do not have that opportunity today and it is damaging to go forward with these proposed new clauses—
I am interested in why the noble Lord believes there is no opportunity for us now, within this two-month period, to actually utilise the work that the committee has already so admirably done, and the work that has been done in the Home Office, so that it can be incorporated into a sensible new Bill that covers all these worries?
If the Home Office were to come along with a whole range of those clauses as proposed in our Select Committee report, I would be the first to commend them and to propose them. In the political climate coming up to the election, it may not be possible to produce those clauses and get the consent of both Houses of Parliament. There may be time, but there is severe political difficulty in trying to bounce those new clauses on an unsuspecting public or legislature at this stage.
I congratulate my noble friend on some other key issues in his proposed new clause. He is right to dump all those extraneous public bodies which our committee was very concerned about. The Home Secretary repeatedly says, and rightly so, that she needs the data Bill to tackle terrorism, paedophilia and serious crime. That is the mantra. The committee agreed, but there should not be 600-odd public authorities in the Bill which are allowed to use some of the powers. They do not have the full powers of MI5 and M16—of course not—but it tarnishes the importance of the big players getting access to data if local councils are in there. Of course local councils say that serious crime is involved. They say that fly-tipping is not just someone chucking an old mattress over the hedge of a farmer’s field because gangs are making millions from it, so it is serious crime and local councils want to be in there. I say that they should use other measures rather than a Bill which has constantly been touted as dealing with paedophiles, terrorists and serious crime. In that case, the organisation which is responsible for putting the little lion on British eggs should not be included either. It is: it made a case to be included because apparently, if it is done improperly or wrongly, the EU may cut off £20 million of our funds, and therefore it is serious crime. A distinction has to be made between serious crime related to gun running, people trafficking and big money and the rest of crime.
My noble friend has included the police and the two security services. My committee recommended that we should include the National Crime Agency, HMRC, which also does a lot of work on this, the United Kingdom Border Agency—or whatever we call it now—and the FSA, whatever that is called now too. Those big bodies make up 99% of all requests for data. The other 1% are all the extraneous other bodies.
The committee also made some other very important recommendations which touched on many other aspects of my noble friend’s proposed new clauses. The committee believed that the SPOC—single point of contact—system is far better than anyone ever expected. Nearly all of us on the Joint Committee felt that we could not have the SPOC system as it would be one policeman going up to another and saying, “Hey, Sarge, sign this on the nod and we’ll get access to data”. When the committee visited the Metropolitan Police, we were delighted—perhaps I should have said amazed first—to find that the system was exceptionally good and exceptionally well run and should be no cause for concern. The police, being the police, of course invented a computer program. No one officer can move on to the next stage to authorise the collection of data until all the boxes have been filled in—not ticked, but filled in. Then another policeman has to review it. In some ways, we should have guessed that the inevitable bureaucracy of the police would come up with a system which was pretty fool-proof and pretty safe. In fact, the committee recommended that the police system was so good that the other extraneous organisations should go through the police and the system should go out to tender. I hope the Met would get it. If the Met got that tender, it would be running a rather good SPOC system in the rest of the country. I hope that placates the noble Lords, Lord Blair and Lord Condon, because I am opposed to some of the rest of the proposed new clauses.
If we go ahead with my noble friend’s proposed new clauses, I am very concerned that we will hit a huge storm of criticism that we are introducing the snoopers’ charter by the back door.
So far, no one who has spoken in this debate has referred to the final amendment in this group, Amendment 99. It is the sunset clause for
The noble Lord makes a very good point about the sunset clause, which might reassure many of us in this House and perhaps in the Commons, but I do not think it would reassure the masses outside, who are concerned about the so-called snoopers’ charter coming back. If a sunset clause introduced all the flawed measures—and they were flawed in nearly every clause of the draft Communications Data Bill—some would be concerned that that sunset clause would be added to a year later, amended and put in again and again. Once those flawed measures were on the statute book, I would have little confidence that any Government would wish to remove them. After a huge battle, when they had got them on to the statute book, why would they go back and rewrite it? Perhaps I am being slightly too cynical there.
We would do enormous damage to the cause of getting a proper rewritten RIPA if we went ahead with these new clauses today. Of course my noble friend is right: I would be subject to enormous criticism if, by opposing these amendments today, there were some terrorist incident in the next 18 months that could have been prevented if the Security Service had access to some Facebook pages that my noble friends’ amendments would have facilitated. However, I am more concerned about the long-term damage. If we go off at half cock with these clauses today, we may create a climate whereby it may not be possible to bring in a proper, rewritten RIPA in a few years’ time. Everyone agrees that RIPA needs to be rewritten; it is long past its sell-by date. We need a really good new Bill, and these new clauses should not be part of it—with all due respect to my noble friend.
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow such a cogent and interesting speech by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, who has immense knowledge of this area of work as a result of his chairmanship of his committee, which produced an excellent report. I will return to what he said presently.
I do not know how many of your Lordships have had the opportunity to watch the remarkable German film, “The Lives of Others”, which depicted the dangers that the Stasi brought on its whole country of a society bedevilled by surveillance at every level. It is a lesson to us all. Surely we all start from the position that any unnecessary surveillance and invasion of privacy by surveillance, interception of communications or looking at metadata that illegitimately affects the rights of individuals must be avoided. That is certainly the position that I start from. I think that almost everybody in this House starts from that position, whether or not they agree with these amendments, which I support.
The fact is that there is a gap in the capacity of the relevant services at the moment, as the noble Lord, Lord Blair, with his great experience of the police, illustrated very clearly. That gap has not been filled. I am not sure why it has not been filled, or why the Government are so reluctant either to take on board these amendments or to produce an alternative. I hope that it is not party politics. My plea to your Lordships, whether they belong to a political party or not, is not to allow party political considerations to interfere in an issue about national security, which surely must be judged only on the merits and without political prejudices taking part. That is certainly my approach to this matter.
We heard during the course of the very helpful opening speech from the noble Lord, Lord King, that for the country to be safe, a very limited number of relevant authorities, for a limited purpose, should have these powers. The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, as he so often does, put his finger on an important aspect of the amendments: we are not asking that these amendments should endure for ever; we are simply filling a gap that exists until the sunset clause comes into effect. That gives plenty of time after the election in May for both Houses of Parliament to reconsider these matters and to produce what may be more enduring provisions.
There is one peculiarity about what has happened in recent months. In July in this House, both the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, and the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, referred to the fact that the Home Office—indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, said this earlier—had been very co-operative in considering and dealing with his committee’s criticisms of existing proposed legislation. As he reminded us just now, and as he said in the House in July, it had accepted 95% of the changes recommended by his committee. The noble Lords, Lord Blencathra and Lord Armstrong, told us at that time that they had seen a draft Bill, and they put that on the record. Nobody else has seen that draft Bill, but the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, said at that time that he had seen a draft Bill that by no stretch of the imagination could be called a snoopers’ charter. Those were his words. I see him nodding in agreement.
It is my view that the Government should now produce that draft, amended or replacement Bill so that we can see what was offered, and so that if they object to the provisions in these amendments we can come back next week and table amendments which the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, and others have agreed are not a snoopers’ charter, meet requirements and fill the gap of which I have just spoken. Indeed, if that draft Bill was made available, and we were able to consider it, and possibly table amendments by next Monday, there may be no need to reconsider matters after the general election, although, speaking for myself, I would still prefer to see a sunset clause requiring an affirmative resolution of both Houses so that we could be sure that what had been enacted was fit for purpose and was safe.
I close by, I regret, repeating something which I said a few days ago in your Lordships’ House, because I think it merits being repeated. I absolutely congratulate whoever thought up the term “snoopers’ charter”. Rather like the term “poll tax”, it was a piece of branding genius. Unfortunately, unlike the term “poll tax”, it does not remotely accurately describe what was being suggested. It presupposes malignancy in that distinguished service that has served this country so well and that was recently headed by the noble Lord, Lord Evans, who I am glad to see in his place opposite. The term “snoopers’ charter” implies that the noble Lord would rub his hands in the morning and say, “Now let’s have a look at Alex Carlile’s shopping list and credit card purchases—oh, and who he’s been calling and what internet sites he has been on, because it would be fun to know what he’s been up to”. That is simply a caricature of what the Security Service and the police do.
Today, some figures have been published on the number of people who have gone to take part in violent jihad in Syria in recent months, country by country. I will not trouble the House with the full table, but it is alarming because it shows that there are other countries in the European Union and elsewhere from which violent jihadists have gone in greater proportionate numbers than even the United Kingdom—the Netherlands is one example—although the United Kingdom figures are alarming. When the successor to the noble Lord, Lord Evans, Mr Parker, who has given us his warning on these matters, gets up in the morning, they are the kinds of people he is concerned about. They are the kinds of people to whom attention is given in attempting to ascertain the metadata and, as a result, their movements.
Your Lordships will recall that as a result of the Paris incident, it was revealed, as the newspapers rather naively put it, that the wives of the two brothers involved had communicated about 50 times with one another on their mobile phones. I doubt very much that it was the wives who had been communicating, although certainly their mobile phones had been used for the purpose of communication. I venture to suggest that if that information, given the history of those two brothers, had come to the attention of the Security Service here and had been acted upon—and, of course, those are two important ifs; I do not mean to criticise the French services, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Evans, would confirm are generally very competent indeed—it is just the sort of information that could have prevented an attack in the United Kingdom. However, there is a gap and it needs to be filled.
I close by saying to the Minister that if he is not prepared to accept these actually rather restricted amendments, which have been offered in good will to try to protect the national security of this country and the safety of its citizens, let him now tell us what alternative the Government have agreed to so that we can now deal with this issue once and for all, without darning the sock.
My Lords, I thank the four noble Lords who have put their names to these amendments for renewing and re-energising the parliamentary debate about these issues. I will be relatively brief.
I think everyone agrees that there is a gap in the legislation that needs to be filled. I do not disagree with any of those who have spoken so far, not because I am vacillating but because they are all right in what they are trying to say and in their ambitions. We desperately need a clear legislative road map that leads to filling the gaps that are putting our country at risk. Ideally, that road map would lead to legislation before the general election, and that is the spirit of the amendments before us. However, I accept the reservations put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, and his committee.
The fight against terrorism and serious crime is not a police and agency fight but a whole-country fight and an international fight, and in the context of our own country we need a critical mass of public and communications industry support for new legislation. The legislation cannot be too far ahead of the wide feeling of support and that they are the right measures at the right time for what we need. I hope that the Minister in his response will be able to give us a sense of how this road map might be laid out. As I say, that would ideally be before the general election, but I suspect that more realistically it will have to be after it. We will therefore be looking to the major parties to set out just what they are prepared to do in this field.
What is absolutely certain is that there is a horrendous gap that gets bigger each day and prevents the agencies that we task with keeping our country safe from doing their best in this field. So I thank again those who brought forward these amendments. This is a vital time for our country to get this matter right.
My Lords, I declare an interest as a non-executive director of the National Crime Agency. Unfortunately, I can neither confirm nor deny the contents of the shopping lists of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, but he is quite right in saying that we are not here talking about what would amount to a snoopers’ charter.
I have some considerable sympathy for the purpose behind the amendment. It seems to me that there has been a failure in the system to provide the appropriate powers alongside the appropriate controls that will enable the agencies and the police to continue their jobs of keeping us safe from terrorism, as well as, importantly, from serious and organised crime. It was always my view as regards the draft Communications Data Bill that it was at least as important for law enforcement as it was for the intelligence agencies, because the evidence provided by communications data is enormously important and is used again and again in the courts. This is not just an intelligence issue; this is an evidential issue to ensure that justice is properly done in the courts.
Nevertheless, I have some caution about the amendments and I shall explain why. My first note of caution is that we should not imagine that this solves the problem. This is a very specific, small part of the technical challenge that we face in the new digital era in which we are living. This provides one part, but the most important element, as has been reflected in some of the public statements by members of the intelligence services in recent months, is to do with internet services which are not provided through traditional telecommunications, but are provided in other ways; the data and the legal jurisdiction are held not in this country but overseas. It is over the interception of those that many of the problems arise. Even if we were to accept these proposals, it would plug one particular gap among a very significant number of gaps.
It is important to note that it does fill part of the gap. I know, having been a Minister for three years, that in the security world the agencies always say we need so-and-so and then they say, actually we need this and we need that. Yes, we do need to do these things with the various servers and providers abroad, but this is also an important part.
I accept that this is a very important element, but it is not the answer to everything.
My second note of caution is that we need to maintain public confidence as we go down this route. That is as important for law enforcement as it is for counterterrorism. The noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, referred to the masses who are concerned about the snoopers’ charter. I have to say that the polling evidence I have seen does not necessarily demonstrate that the masses are enormously concerned about this issue. On the whole, the masses seem to be more concerned about their security than about the human rights issues that some people focus on. Nevertheless, there is an issue of public confidence and I do not wish to diminish that.
Despite those notes of caution, I support the amendment. I support it because it is, as the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, said, a restricted measure, not a blanket measure. I support it because it is drafted with a sunset clause, so that we are filling, as it were, a legislative gap until the totality of the issues can be properly considered in the light of the subsequent publication of various reviews that are under way. I think that it will fill a gap for that period. It seems to me to be a useful, rather than a hugely expansive measure, and one which has appropriate safeguards, so I support it.
My Lords, I am not speaking here on a party-political, but on a personal basis. I want to tell noble Lords, first, about my personal experience of terrorism. It is not first-hand, either in terms of being a member of Special Branch or the security services, or having seen the aftermath of what took place directly. However, part of my role in the Metropolitan Police following the
In our earlier discussion on Amendment 75 and internal exile, as some put it, noble and learned Lords, in particular, as well as other noble Lords, emphasised the need for legitimacy. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, talked about the European Convention on Human Rights and the right to a private and family life. My concern is that the introduction of these amendments in this way may not be seen as legitimate by many people outside this place. A process has been set in motion. There is a process for reviewing RIPA, for example, and the whole landscape of the intelligence services. That process is in place.
The other issue that noble Lords—and, indeed, two who tabled this amendment—talked about in relation to internal exile is the danger of alienation and resentment. This follows the comments by my noble friend Lady Warsi in yesterday’s Observer about how engagement is essential. We need to engage with communities, not create alienation and resentment. My fear is that the way in which these amendments are drafted is likely to cause exactly that negative effect. My noble friend Lord King, in his opening remarks, said that we are facing a very serious situation. That is common ground. As I have said, I know from personal experience the sorts of dangers that we are facing. However, there is no common ground, I suggest, about the best way to deal with that serious issue.
There has been a lot of talk this afternoon about events in Paris. My understanding is that the information and intelligence that security services got was through mobile telephone communication between the two groups of terrorists which co-ordinated their attacks by that means. There is nothing in these amendments that would give the security services or the police the powers to identify that sort of communication. It exists already. Every day, not only the police and the security services, but other agencies specified in the amendments also have the power, as we speak, to identify who called who on a mobile phone, where and when. So despite all this talk about Paris and how the attacks could have been prevented, these amendments would not appear, on the facts as I know them, to make any difference to the situation.
Terrorists may be adept at using technology, as my noble friend Lord King said, but my understanding is that a lot of terrorists, particular the sort responsible for recent attacks—whether we are talking about the tragic death of Lee Rigby or about Paris—are using very old technology. The problem, as my noble friend Lord King rightly said, is getting good intelligence. That is about developing links with the Muslim community and with communities where the extreme right wing operates, and gaining their trust and confidence in order to get that intelligence.
Does the noble Lord not agree that in, I think I am right in saying, 100% of all the cases where we have stopped a terrorist plot in this country, it has been intelligence via the web or by some SIGINT means that has enabled us to identify the group in order to then carry out action?
My understanding is that that is absolutely not the case. There were numerous cases—though it may be going back some years to Irish republican terrorism—where most of the plots were foiled because of intelligence from communities, not because of anything that was intercepted. I understand that the situation is changing, but the noble Lord was not correct when he said that in 100% of cases of terrorism that were thwarted in this country it was as a result of intelligence interception of that kind.
I am sorry, but I have not yet finished, noble Lords will be alarmed to hear.
Noble Lords have said that there is a gap in the capability of the security services and the police in terms of getting similar intelligence that they get from cell site analysis at the moment using mobile phones. My understanding is that the emergency legislation that this House passed towards the end of last year and the measures contained in this Bill, unamended, help to bridge that gap. Intelligence on who is communicating with whom at what time and where can be secured using the IP address provisions contained in the Bill, without the proposed amendments. I am not technically advanced enough to say whether that is the case; perhaps the Minister will be able to tell us whether, or to what extent, the gap that has been identified by other noble Lords will be filled by the Bill as it stands.
The noble Lord, Lord Blair of Boughton, talked about the significance of communications data. Again, my understanding is that the legislation, as put forward by the Government, is designed to fill that gap.
The noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, then spoke about how the draft Communications Data Bill was kicked into touch for political reasons. If the noble Lord means a balance being achieved between human rights—the right to privacy and a private life—and the powers being given to the security services and the police, I would say that that is an absolutely legitimate political reason.
On mass surveillance, if we are talking about internet service providers retaining web logs and information about every website visited by every individual based in the UK, so that the information can subsequently be accessed in a targeted way by the police and the security services, are we saying, if we accept these amendments, that that can be done simply by the security services or the police providing some legitimate reason why they want to access that information—without any judicial intervention or a judge deciding that there is a legitimate reason to access that data? Are we saying that that is what we want and accept?
People have made fun of the fact that the security services are not going to access where people have done their online shopping. But who in this House believed, when they passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, that the police would use that power to establish the identity of confidential press sources? If we pass this very broad legislation, how can we say that there will not be some reason found in the future for the police or the security services to use the legislation in a way we never intended for it to be used?
If noble Lords think that I am being party political, that is a matter for them. I was a police officer for 30 years. I encountered terrorism on a second-hand, rather than first-hand, basis. Unless we have the right balance between rights to privacy and powers for the police and security services, large swathes of communities in this country will no longer co-operate with the police and the security services. That will be an even greater loss of intelligence than any gap that currently exists in the powers of the police and the security services.
My Lords, the House faces three choices. The first would be not to accept these amendments and not replace them with anything else—in other words, do nothing. I think that the “do nothing” option is the worst that we could possibly follow. In the current situation it is not possible to argue that we do not face growing danger as a result of declining capability against the background of a growing threat. It seems to me that we have a duty to respond to that. I think it a pity that the Government have not brought forward their own amendments on this, but they have not done so yet. I believe that doing something is what this House ought to do. I commend those who have brought forward these amendments.
The other two options are: follow these amendments and vote them into law—it would then be important to accompany them with a sunset clause—or wait for the Government to bring forward something else. That choice depends on the Government’s intentions. It would be preferable for us to be able to vote on something more refined and which incorporated more of the work done by the Joint Committee. I have not been privy to any of the legislation as redrafted. The draft data communications legislation has remained with its poor reputation as a result of the Government not having indicated what they might do to refine the powers therein.
I hope that we will not do nothing. So the options that we face lie between the Government indicating what their intentions are, whether those powers would meet some of the objections—there are some objections to the raw powers in the draft amendments—and whether legislation and the refined powers the Government might bring forward would adequately cover the points at issue. I am not particularly concerned about whether we include organised crime at this stage. This is a counterterrorism Bill. The issue that we are tackling is national security. We should stick to our last and focus on national security. We should ensure that the powers, in so far as they will do the job, are directed at that and do not try to stray wider.
I agree with those who say that, even when we have legislated more powers into existence, we will probably have to come back to this in data communications legislation—and even when we have done that, we will not cover all the possibilities that could arise. It is beyond this country’s capabilities to cover all the contingencies by law. We require international co-operation. There will still be things that we will not be able to cover, even with that. We can go a good deal further to increase our citizens’ security by passing into law some legislation that we badly need. I was not a fan of the data communications legislation when it came out; I thought it far too sweeping. So it is very important that it responds to those who are concerned about the erosion of civil liberties.
It is perfectly possible for the House, with the Government’s help, to pass a piece of legislation that is apposite, which takes us further forward than we are now and which gives us some powers that we do not currently have. I hope it will. I am sure that we will then return to this issue in the data communications legislation—there will be matters there that we cannot cover in this legislation. It is not simply a matter of removing from the future data communications Bill all the legislation applicable to terrorism and national security, but we could take an important part of those powers and incorporate them into legislation in the Bill. I hope the Government will help us to do that.
My Lords, the issue raised by this group of amendments, long as it is, is straightforward enough. We rely on the police and the intelligence and security agencies to protect us and our liberties from the threats to our way of life presented by terrorism. Their ability to do so depends to a large extent on their ability to have access to the data derived from the use of communications by the would-be terrorists.
The regulation of the use of communications data was last reviewed 15 years ago. Since then there have been great changes, as many speakers have said, in the technology of communications, the significance of which, for the regulation of communications, needs urgently to be reviewed.
The threat from terrorism has unquestionably increased. The sophistication of those who use communications for malign purposes has also increased. As we have been told, the efficacy of the activities of the police and intelligence and security agencies in this area have been impaired by the activities of Mr Edward Snowden.
The Government published the draft of a new Communications Data Bill earlier in this Parliament, two or three years ago. That was scrutinised by a Joint Committee of the Houses of Parliament, chaired by my noble friend Lord Blencathra—since I was a member of that Committee, perhaps I may call him that. That committee made extensive criticisms of and recommendations for the draft Bill and the Government accepted almost all of them.
There is reason to believe—indeed, as my noble friend Lord Blencathra has already said, he and I have seen—that the Home Office produced a revised version of the draft Bill, to take full account of the Joint Committee’s recommendations. Unfortunately that revised Bill has not been allowed to see the light of day, let alone been submitted to Parliament for consideration. That will not now happen until there is a new Parliament. If a revised Bill is not introduced until after the election, it might be that it cannot be passed until well into 2016. That would be another year’s delay, which we can ill afford.
The present Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill provides an opportunity to put into effect, within the next few months, the measures proposed in the revised Communications Data Bill, insofar as they affect the response to the enhanced threats from terrorism and the agencies responsible for countering those threats. That is what the amendments seek to achieve. The amendments also provide for a sunset clause that would ensure that the whole matter is reviewed early in the new Parliament. Since we do not have the revised version of the draft Communications Data Bill, those responsible for these amendments have had to rely on the original Bill. No doubt the amendments are to that extent defective. But Parliament should not be denied the opportunity of considering whether and how to achieve the changes required immediately and without the delay consequent upon waiting until the next Parliament.
I expect—though I cannot commit them—that those who are putting forward these amendments would be prepared to withdraw them if the Government would undertake this evening to introduce on Report revised versions, taking account of the criticisms and recommendations of my noble friend Lord Blencathra’s pre-legislative scrutiny committee, but also adopting the proposals in the amendments for confining the changes to the police and intelligence and security agencies and providing a sunset clause ensuring that the issue has to be considered in the wider context of a review of the regulation of communications data by the new Parliament. With that qualification, I fully support the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord King, and his colleagues.
These amendments provide an opportunity to address without delay acknowledged shortcomings in the effectiveness of the present regime. It is suggested that they would be an unacceptable intrusion on the liberty of the citizen. That can be much exaggerated. It is not government agencies that will store the data, and those agencies will be able to obtain access to the stored data only subject to demonstrable need and justification and subject to rigorous procedures and controls that were examined and found fit for purpose by the committee—as my noble friend Lord Blencathra has said.
Even so, they will of course represent some potential interference with the freedom of action of those whose data are extracted from the store. But those are or may be the people whose freedom of action we wish to limit or restrain, because their intentions are malign and, if realised, will compromise the life, liberty and happiness of the rest of us. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, but if vigilance fails or is frustrated, it is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that pay the price.
My Lords, I confess that I do not really know where to start. I think it is true that all the previous speakers are former members of what I would call the security establishment: they are former policemen, former Home Office Ministers or former spies—I am not sure in which category I would put the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong. I think I am the first to speak more as an individual and a non-politician; my history before I came to this House was quite outside of politics, in business.
As we have heard, these amendments regurgitate large parts of the utterly discredited draft communications data Bill. They seek to slip into the Bill large parts of the highly controversial snoopers’ charter, word for word. With just one exception, the amendments fail to correct any of the many significant, fundamental and deal-stopping flaws identified by the Joint Select Committee on the draft Bill that reported at the end of 2012. I had the honour of being a member of that Select Committee under the very able chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Blencathra. The committee sat for five months; it met 20 times, including three times in the Recess; it interviewed 54 witnesses and received 19,000 e-mails from members of the public. As we have heard, its members included two former Cabinet members, Lady Thatcher’s Cabinet Secretary, one noble Lord who has since become a government Minister, an ultra-loyal Conservative MP and a former Conservative Home Office Minister. That was hardly a hotbed of lefty liberals. The committee reached a unanimous verdict that the draft Bill was badly written, far too broad in scope and badly costed, and noted that the security agencies would do better to make better use of the information they already had.
That last observation is made particularly pertinent by the revelations following the atrocities in Woolwich and Paris, in which all the terrorists were well known to the security agencies long before the events. In all, there were about 100 criticisms of the draft Bill in the Select Committee’s report and many of them were serious and fundamental. As far as I can see, these amendments deal with just one of those criticisms, which means that they are still infested with the remaining 99 flaws. I will not detain the House by going through each of them, but noble Lords may read about them at their leisure in the report, which I commend to the House.
When Edward Snowden released his revelations, about six months after the Select Committee reported, we learnt that GCHQ’s Project Tempora is the world’s first “full-take” data interception system, collecting 100% of internet traffic—content as well as metadata. Former committee members were surprised, and some were angered, by that revelation because during the committee’s proceedings Home Office officials had three times claimed that there was a 25% capability gap in what the agencies could collect—although those same officials were not able to justify that figure of 25%, even in private sessions. Snowden showed that the 25% so-called gap probably does not exist at all and that in fact the agencies are already, and have been for some time, acquiring far more data than the draft Bill would have delivered—and without the knowledge or consent of Parliament and the people.
However, the biggest reason that this Committee should have nothing to do with these amendments is that they are a gratuitous affront to parliamentary democracy. These 18 pages of amendments would have huge implications in terms of intrusion by the state into the private lives of innocent citizens. The Select Committee found it very hard to believe the Home Office figure of £1.8 billion as the cost to the taxpayer, and, as I have said before, there are serious doubts about the efficacy of these proposed measures. Yet here they are, with a proposal to slip them into this Bill—I remind the Committee that this is a fast-tracked Bill—at two days’ notice and after the other place has completed its deliberations on the Bill. All that is left is ping-pong, which I cannot believe provides the right circumstances in which legislation of this importance and of such controversy should be considered.
Notwithstanding the many faults that these amendments inherited from the snoopers’ charter, the Committee must consign them to the dustbin of history because Parliament cannot possibly give them the consideration they absolutely need.
My Lords, I apologise for not being able to speak at Second Reading. I was detained at a board meeting.
This House has given me many occasions to feel both alarmed and surprised. Today is no exception, first, in describing Tinder to my Back-Bench friends during an earlier part of the debate and, secondly, in rising to speak against four noble Lords for whom I have the greatest respect and who have offered me enormous friendship since I entered your Lordships’ House. I should like to cite three brief reasons why I oppose the amendment.
First, I wholeheartedly agree that we need a more detailed, complex and timely debate around this enormously complicated issue. The Government were slow to react compared to the quick review by America of the oversight and security services post-Snowden. This Government have looked lacklustre in their response. However, different processes are under way.
I declare an interest as being part of a panel set up by the Deputy Prime Minister and administered by the Royal United Services Institute. The Information Commissioner work is also continuing and we have the emergency legislation referred to as DRIP, which has already been talked about this afternoon. I believe it is very important that those pieces of work reach the next stage and that the debate in Parliament puts all of them into the mix.
Secondly, it is easy to underestimate the power of the public’s view on this subject. The noble Lord, Lord West, mentioned that he thinks that the public are fairly disinterested in this issue but I disagree wholeheartedly. A YouGov survey found that only 6% of people believe that the Government have a coherent data strategy but that it affects them directly. Another poll whose results I saw recently said that just 2% of people trust the Government when it comes to their data. That is immensely important for the reason that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, most eloquently espoused earlier—to build trust and engagement among exactly the groups that this legislation is trying to reach.
More than that, perhaps I may give two technical examples that make me believe that such trust is so vital. There is now a move towards more and more use of the dark web—a place where it is very difficult to collect any data—and towards more and more encryption. At one end of the spectrum is a small start-up—actually it is not so small any more—called Wickr. This was started by a woman in the US and it enables communications to remain completely secure. Imagine sending a message that is never stored on any server anywhere. Not only does it disappear remotely in your hand but also it never stays on the network. She has had enormous success in building her app—quite understandably for many people, who believe that they should have a private mechanism for communication and that the Snowden revelations have shown that systems are not safe or secure. Then, more in the mainstream, we have Facebook, which has recently asserted that it is starting a sub-site on the dark web—the unregulatable and uncontrollable web—so that its customers can feel safe.
If we do not listen to what the world is doing and move and engage with it, allowing people to feel that their concerns around security are being addressed, there is a danger that we will take a retrograde step with communications Bills, such as with this amendment.
Finally, I believe that we need to engage much more deeply with both civil liberties groups and the industry itself. Here, I agree with a recent statement by President Obama, which I hope the Committee will forgive me for repeating. At the press conference in Washington which he shared with our own Prime Minister, he said in answer to a question about surveillance and about whether there was a swing to security from privacy:
“In six years I and the Prime Minister have seen a constant threat stream across our desks—the pendulum doesn’t need to swing but we need a consistent framework. There needs to be a debate about the laws and the discussion needs to involve the tech industry, who have responsibilities not only to security but also to the customers who use their products, and it also needs to involve the civil libertarians who are tapping us on the shoulder”.
I urge the Government to address the very real concerns of the general public on the one side and the security services on the other, particularly about the boundaries and framework for data collection, but I urge them not to do so by way of this amendment.
My Lords, there are objections of both process and substance to these amendments which make it inopportune and injudicious to cut and paste this amendment into the Bill—to “bounce” it into the Bill, in the words of my noble friend Lord Blencathra, whose speech I thoroughly commend. As the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, has just mentioned, there is an issue of trust. We all know—it is commented on with great regularity—that there is very little trust in politicians and parliamentarians.
The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, even though she would like an updated communications data Bill, referred to the poor reputation of the existing model. However, it is the existing model, shorn of the safeguard of judicial authorisation and scrutiny and the safeguard of restrictions on the exercise of powers, that it is proposed should be inserted in the form of these amendments.
I have counted five current reviews of investigatory powers, which make it bad timing to proceed with the substance of these amendments. As I understand it, there is one by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson, another by the Intelligence and Security Committee, another at the request of the Deputy Prime Minister by the Royal United Services Institute, another by Sir Nigel Sheinwald on the international aspects, and one by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, into the use of RIPA to identify journalists’ sources. With all those reviews going on, I think it is rather disrespectful to them to say, “Well, we won’t wait for those conclusions but we’ll stick into this Bill all this new capacity to collect communications data”.
Mention has been made of the capability gap. The 2012 committee report said that the Government failed to share with the committee the research findings behind their assertion of a then 25%, going on 35%, capability gap, and that such a figure was “unhelpful and potentially misleading”. Therefore, we simply do not know what the capability is. My noble friend Lord Strasburger mentioned the revelations of the Tempora programme. I am not sure why we bother to legislate half the time, as GCHQ seems to go a great deal beyond the scope of any Bill.
The report also said:
“Part of the gap is the lack of ability of law enforcement agencies to make effective use of the data that is available”.
That is not my assertion but the assertion of a very thorough and wise Joint Committee report. I agree with it that addressing that ability should be a priority.
There was also mention of the failure to consult communication service providers and internet service providers, and there have been recent complaints, which I mentioned earlier, by the Internet Services Providers’ Association about the lack of consultation. Before any redrafted legislation is introduced, the Joint Committee recommended extensive and meaningful consultation,
“once there is clarity as to the real aims of the Home Office”,
which would be quite useful.
While I understand what the noble Baroness is saying about the various studies, does she agree that over six years, which is how long it has taken us to address this starting to lose data, is rather a long time? It is slightly longer than it took us to defeat Hitler, and it is a long time to keep on looking at other things. Do we not have to take some action if we are to achieve something?
I thank the noble Lord for that remark, but I understand that the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has a target date of May—four months away—to produce his report. I am sure that we can wait four months.
I would also mention the huge expense that these amendments would produce. One can also query the value of a sunset clause. If hundreds of millions of pounds had been spent on the project by December 2016, it is likely that Parliament would say, “We have spent so much already, so we might as well carry on”.
The noble Lord, Lord King, quoted me as preferring targeted to blanket surveillance. What I meant was not what he has put forward in his amendments. He has removed some of the organisations, but I understand that there is still no specification that it is the security services and the police; the reference is to “purposes”. Other agencies could be pursuing matters for the purpose of serious crime, so the provisions would not be limited to the police and security services. By targeting, I meant not limiting it to certain “purposes”; I meant it to limit the scope of Amendment 79, which replicates Clause 1 of the draft Bill.
As my noble friend Lord Blencathra said, it was the huge breadth of that Clause 1, which is now reflected in Amendment 79, which was so objectionable. The Joint Committee said:
“It is hardly surprising that a proposal for powers of this width has caused public anxiety”.
Even the Intelligence and Security Committee said that more detail was needed on the face of the Bill, but that detail is not in the amendments put forward today. The Joint Committee concluded:
“Clause 1 therefore should be re-drafted with a much narrower scope, so that the Secretary of State may make orders subject to Parliamentary approval enabling her to issue notices only to address specific data gaps as need arises … We do not think that Parliament should grant powers … on the precautionary principle”— the idea was that new ways of communicating would come along. That was an extremely wise conclusion, yet the amendments consist of precisely the breadth of that Clause 1.
The Joint Committee was particularly exercised over the possible requirement to keep web logs and, as the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, said, wanted,
“Parliament to address and determine this fundamental question”,
specifically. Amendment 79 does not allow us to address that specific and fundamental question. In the mean time we are legislating on IP addresses in this Bill. Neither I nor any of my colleagues have objected to that, although we wanted to tease out some of the detail.
The Joint Committee also said that there were huge technical and civil liberties concerns about the collection of third-party data and the lack of detail on that in the Bill. The report states:
“United Kingdom CSPs are rightly very nervous about these provisions”.
They simply could not understand the implications of having to collect data from third-party suppliers who happened to cross their networks.
For all the reasons of both process and substance, it is impossible to consider putting theses amendments into the Bill. For example, the filtering arrangements are fully reflected in the amendments put forward today. The Joint Committee characterised this as a “request filter”, and said that it was really not so different from the single, centralised state database proposed by the previous Government in 2008 that both coalition parties opposed. The report said that the reason why it was not so different from the centralised database, even though the data would be stored by all those private companies, was because it,
“can be equated to a federated database”.
It would not be in one centralised place, but essentially it was very similar. It would make it possible to perform profile searches and to do data mining. It would involve risks amounting to general monitoring, which would be contrary to the EU e-commerce directive—I am sure that everyone is very unhappy that we could be in breach of EU law—and there would be a temptation to go on fishing expeditions.
We need to take that report very seriously. Parliament appointed a committee of both Houses to look at the draft Bill. It did a painstaking and thorough job and said that the Bill would not wash. It is far too broad and dangerous to privacy and civil liberties. Yet the amendments today simply cut and paste. I realise that part of the exercise is to try to provoke the Minister into saying something that noble Lords might consider helpful—or not quite so helpful—but we are faced simply with a cut and paste of the 2012 Bill, with its huge breadth, lax definitions and terminology rooted in a pre-internet age. We should not accept the amendments. Whatever case there might be for a redrafted communications data Bill—my noble friend Lord Blencathra called it a snoopers’ charter, so I feel able to call it a snoopers’ charter, whatever some noble Lords might say—that case has not been made today. We have the old version and it is highly inopportune to accept it.
My Lords, I rise to oppose the amendments for many of the reasons outlined here today. First, they are unnecessary. We have heard a lot about gaps, targeted and not blanket surveillance and bringing things up to date. This is, of course, absolute nonsense. As the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, the Met and presumably the other agencies already have the powers they need—powers that, I suggest, go far beyond what they need. We heard a lot today about Paris and Lee Rigby, but in fact all my information says that the shortcomings of the pre-investigation in Paris and in the Lee Rigby tragic murder were due not to a lack of surveillance but to a lack of good police work. That is what was fundamentally missing. It was not about not having enough recordings or surveillance. It was about a lack of information and a lack of talking to marginalised community groups. The cross-party committee which reported in November on the handling of the Lee Rigby killers exposed major internal failings in the way that agencies pursue leads. It found that both men had been known to the agencies for years—one had even been considered a priority—but basic issues such as delays, poor communication and bad record-keeping caused the problems, not the surveillance of the suspects.
Although these amendments are obviously within the letter of the law, they seem to me to be fundamentally undemocratic in the way that they are being brutally pushed into our parliamentary process. This seems to me a way of short-circuiting real scrutiny. It is great that they were looked at before, but they still need looking at again; if they are—I hope the Minister is listening—they absolutely must be looked at by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It should look at these amendments before there is any more discussion in either of these Houses.
For me, this snoopers’ charter reduces our rights, and surely that is exactly what the terrorists are after. Terrorists want to impact on our society and on every single person who does not believe the way that they do. That is what we are letting happen here. It is absolutely mad. The Mayor of London recently referred to “this civil liberties stuff” in the most dismissive way, as if that is negotiable—that civil liberties are not terribly important when we compare them with the threat of terrorism. That is exactly when we need our civil liberties. That is what we in the West should be known for.
There is also the cost. My experience of the Met over the past fifteen years is that it cannot deal with the data that it already has. I have asked many questions about its databases and the information that it gets from them. The Met does not know how many databases it has—it cannot tell me how many to the nearest hundred. Also, it often cannot search its databases. For example, I had the dubious pleasure of being on its domestic extremist database, I think under the regime of the noble Lord, Lord Blair, and I hope that I am not on the database anymore—the Met has changed its definition of what a domestic extremist is—but who knows because I cannot get the information. However, the Met cannot search that database for serious criminal activity. Because the definition was changed to relate to serious criminals, if you ask, “Can you look through the database and find out how many serious criminals you have?”, you will be told, “Oh, we haven’t logged that, so we can’t do that”.
Not only are we expecting the Met staff to deal with more data when they cannot sort and file the data that they already have, but, I would argue, they have enough powers. The noble Lord, Lord Blair, talked about some very tragic incidents where more surveillance might actually solve a crime or find a lost child. In fact, the police already have these powers. They have them under RIPA and, in my view, they are already misusing them. Under RIPA they do not have to go to a judge to ask if they can put surveillance on somebody; they just have to go to a chief inspector in a nearby unit and ask, “Could you sign this for me? It’s surveillance on somebody or other”.
We should not be thinking about giving more powers to our spies and to the police. We should be very careful about this. We should think about taking back some of those powers and making sure that we persist in keeping our civil liberties and human rights and do not let the terrorists take them away from us.
My Lords, I was surprised that at an early stage in his speech the noble Lord, Lord West, suggested—until he revised the figure—that communications data were employed in some 95% of criminal cases. My experience from the years when I was responsible for prosecuting serious crime and terrorism was that the figure was 100%. I cannot remember a serious criminal case, and I certainly cannot remember a terrorism case, in which communications data were not used. Of course, there is a difference between data which are employed to detect terrorism and data which are then used as part of a prosecution to convict terrorists. Certainly, so far as the latter is concerned, there was a vast amount in every case.
The noble Lord, Lord Evans, will remember some of those cases which occurred when he was director-general of the Security Service. The men who tried to commit mass murder on London’s Underground are serving long prison sentences. The men who wanted to detonate a bomb containing radioactive material in Oxford Street are serving long prison sentences. The men who wanted to put a bomb in Bluewater shopping centre at half-term when it would be particularly busy are serving long prison sentences. In the case of the men who wanted to put a bomb in a nightclub—the Ministry of Sound—two were recorded by members of the noble Lord’s service. The leader of the gang said to one of his colleagues, “No one will be able to criticise us for blowing up a nightclub; all those slags dancing around”. This is material which is of the utmost importance in criminal prosecutions.
It is also true, of course, that technology is changing and our capacity to monitor this sort of material must change with it. I accept that, but I do not believe that these amendments are the right vehicle for achieving that change. These amendments suffer from the deficiencies which the original Bill suffered from; in particular, they are insufficiently specific. I agree with everything that the noble Lord said in his compelling speech a few minutes ago. These amendments are deficient for the same reasons that the original Bill was deficient and I shall not support them. This is not, as my noble friend Lord Carlile said, a party political matter. It is a matter of analysing the material and determining whether it is fit for purpose. With respect, I do not agree with my noble friend Lady Neville-Jones that we must do something. We must do the right thing and I do not think that this is the right thing. In everything, we must maintain balance and proportionality. No one has argued in this debate that we should not have a mechanism whereby the security services can access material of this sort. The question is what sort of mechanism.
The security services in recent years, and perhaps in years long gone by, have been led by people who understand the tension between security and rights. When I was DPP and the noble Lord was the director-general of the Security Service, I enjoyed the discussions we had on this topic. Sometimes we disagreed about precisely where the line was drawn, but we agreed that there was a line. One of my fears about these amendments, as with the draft Communications Data Bill, is that they draw the line in the wrong place. One result of that would be an adverse impact on our great security institutions. There is no doubt that the security services in this country enjoy enormous public support, which is unfamiliar even in democracies such as France. It is clearly understood by people in this country that the security services are after “them and not us”. In other words, they are interested in targeting those individuals who are trying to do us wrong rather than the rest of us. The danger of breadth in legislation of this sort is that, if the idea gets about that the security services are interested in everybody’s communications, not just the material of those subject to investigation who are being targeted because it is believed that they are involved in crime, then the sense which the British people have of their security institutions will begin to alter in subtle ways, and not for the good. I would caution those who argue that legislation of this breadth is needed because it is future-proof. We must take great care with legislation that is enacted in the context of the sort of public confidence issues that the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, indicated.
People are interested in these issues. They express their interest in different ways, but there is a feeling abroad that the Government and the security services are becoming nosy. I do not believe that that is true, but if we enact legislation that appears to people to be unnaturally broad, we run the risk of feeding that monster. I shall oppose the amendment.
My Lords, I sense that the House probably wants to come to a conclusion, so I will not delay noble Lords long. Very powerful speeches have been made both in favour of the powers in these amendments and against them. But I note that the speeches that have been made against have been made against these particular amendments—the ones that were taken out of the Communications Data Bill. Something else has happened in the mean time. An admirable process was followed on this Bill. It was submitted to a Joint Committee and that committee reported on it and its defects. The Intelligence and Security Committee also considered the Bill with classified evidence and we similarly identified some defects. Since then, a revised Bill has been prepared. The noble Lords, Lord Blencathra and Lord Armstrong, have seen that Bill and they consider that it meets 95% of the criticisms that were in the original Bill. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, went so far as to say that if those clauses had been presented he would not have objected to them.
There is therefore a Bill waiting. The urgency has increased. The threat is now much higher. If the Government consider that this is a serious threat—they say that they do—it is their duty to produce that Bill and take action on it quickly if that can be done before the election. The arguments that have gone against these amendments do not go against taking that course.
The noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, made another powerful argument, which was that if legislation were hastened it would create resentment and possibly opposition among the people whom we need to carry with us. But I disagree with her in this respect. She said that that may accelerate the bad people going to the dark web, but I think they will go there anyway. We are dealing with very sophisticated people. The argument that she makes simply underlines the fact that we are running behind the development of technology. The fact that we cannot go all the way to dealing with it should not prevent us doing what we can. That is an urgent matter.
The House will not be surprised to hear that I could not find myself in agreement with a lot of the things said by the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, but in one respect I do agree with her. What worries me most is the cost of this legislation, which, if I recall rightly, is put at £1.6 billion. That is money that could be well used on other aspects of the Prevent process. I am torn about whether this is the best use of the money. But I take the view—the noble Lord, Lord West, argued about being hard-nosed with the providers—that it ought to be a duty of the providers to retain these records. It is not something that the taxpayer ought to pay for. The providers make a great deal of money out of these services. If they are required to keep these records at a cost, they may bid a little less for the licences, but I am prepared to take that risk. It should be a condition of the licences that records of this sort should be retained which can be consulted.
My final point underlines something said by the noble Lord, Lord Armstrong. We are not talking about the Government or the authorities holding these records. If people are writing to Alcoholics Anonymous, the Government will not have access to that information. They will access these records only when they are looking for people they have reason to believe are preparing terrorist acts or serious crimes. People who are going to Alcoholics Anonymous have no serious cause to be concerned.
My Lords, I am curious about two of the sources of opposition to what my noble friend Lord King and others have proposed. One is that we somehow have plenty of time and that we do not need to rush. Terrorism is time-related, but it is not time-limited. The terrorist threat was there yesterday and the day before. It is certainly there today and it will be there tomorrow, I am afraid, and I fear the day after tomorrow as well. We do not have the luxury of time that many have suggested.
The other point that surprised me so much is the one about public concern. Of course, it is very easy to say to the public that there is a danger of a snoopers’ charter, which will interfere with everything that you are communicating and is very much against your interests. We know that technically that is simply not true. It is a fear and concern that has been fanned by politicians, quite often for their own purposes.
The noble Lord, Lord Butler, was so right to draw attention to the fact that a draft Bill has been prepared. As far as I can make out, that has been deliberately suppressed by one party for presumably some sort of political reason. It has not been brought forward for discussion. If you ask the public to choose between reducing the risk of death from terrorism to themselves or others whom they do not know, or a possible invasion of their privacy or the privacy of others whom they know or do not know, I have little doubt as to what they would choose.
There are ways in which the security of this country is not being maintained when the Government would like to maintain it. I take one example. It is clearly in our interests in the world of terrorism that we should know who crosses our borders—out as well as in. We have been given an example of the people who go to do jihad and all the rest of it. The fact is that a big attempt was made with the e-Borders programme. A contract worth £750 million was given to Raytheon in 2007. It ran into tremendous difficulties and in 2010 the contract was cancelled. Since then there has been a great deal of judicial toing and froing and arbitration. The net result appears to be a debt to the taxpayer to be paid by the Home Office to Raytheon of £200 million. Something like that failed when it was tried. Let us at least do things that we think can be done. Do not let us say that we have until the day after tomorrow as things may happen tomorrow.
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Butler, I appreciate that this debate has gone on for some time, so I will try to keep my intervention short. These extensive amendments have been proposed in many ways by people whom I consider to be institutions, so I am therefore hesitant to stand up and speak on them. They have been proposed by people for whom I have much admiration. But it concerns me that they are being bolted on to what is already a difficult and in many parts controversial Bill, at the end of a Parliament in what will be a toxic political year and in an expedited way. It is probably not the best way in which to bring these matters forward. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, that if there is a better version of this Bill out there in the ether of government it may have been better to have considered that version rather than the one before us today.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, for her expert understanding of the IT community and developments in that community. It always surprises me that just when we think that we will be able to deal with an issue the industry finds a way that leads us to think—after that legislation has been passed—that we probably will not. In those circumstances it is important that we ask whether what we are going to do is needed.
The noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, made some very important points about evidence gathered and the basis on which we secure prosecutions and convictions for people who are now serving sentences. Is it absolutely true that this kind of communication is the missing link, right now, in preventing terrorist actions being successful? The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, raised the issue of the two ladies who are married to the two men in France and were communicating with each other, how we did not have those data, and how, had we had that information, it might have provided the missing link that alerted the French security services. I, for one, am not convinced. Sisters-in-law spend hours gossiping to each other all the time. I am not sure that that would have been the moment when the bright light came on to say that a terrorist act was going to be committed—because two women married to two men are speaking to each other.
The gathering and retention of these data is for the purposes of national security. Again, noble Lords, or the Minister, may be able to clarify what this means. I was talking to the noble Lord, Lord King, earlier, about the definition of national security as it relates to this amendment, or part of the Bill, and we could not find such a definition. Perhaps somebody could bring one to my attention. However, for the purposes of national security something that could be interpreted as very wide and broad, and which could change depending on the political persuasions of Ministers at any time, is a very wide provision and so requires consideration.
I hear the point which has been made: “We do not have the time”, but I also think that our security services have, through the number of plots they have foiled up to now, shown that they are able to operate within current constraints and keep us safe. While we need to give them more power, over time, to make sure that they continue to keep us safe, it is important that those powers work and are needed, by the people who are an essential element of our fight against extremism and terrorism.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Weardale, who, in many meetings, used to be the biggest voice of reason on these issues. He spoke of the amount of support and co-operation that was received from the British Muslim communities in the fight against terrorism, and how that was an essential element of ensuring that we were kept safe. I speak as somebody who has been on the receiving end of what could be described as profiling or as a general concern about keeping us safe. I probably get more random checks than many Members of this House and my husband is never going to catch an internal flight in the US. He never arranges a meeting on the day he arrives in the US, because he knows he is going to miss his first internal flight. It is, therefore, important, that whatever powers come into play are effective, and that they do not send out a general sense of alienation among those communities which we need to keep on board. I made that point in my piece at the weekend, saying that we must seriously look at how the Government start to engage in a much broader and deeper way with the British Muslim communities, who are going to be part of the solution.
A recent radio phone-in asked whether, if your husband, wife, partner or “relevant other half” asked you to hand over your mobile phone to him or her right now so that they could look at absolutely everything on it, you would be prepared to hand it over immediately. Or would you think: “I probably need to delete a few things from this phone before I hand it to them”. Perhaps that is a question that we should all go away and think about. If we cannot just hand things over to those who we consider to be our “relevant other halves”, knowing that our data are completely safe with them, although there may be consequences, then we should be much more careful about handing over that power to government—the different colours of government—who could, over time, go into realms that we would not want them to go into.
My Lords, this has been a long debate with some powerful and informed speeches. I take issue with one thing that the noble Lord, Lord King of Bridgwater, said at the beginning of his comments. I think he was referring to something that had been said to him about this being an unacceptable use of parliamentary time. I totally disagree. In fact, my criticism is that we do not spend enough parliamentary time discussing issues that are of primary importance to both our security and our liberty and to finding the balance between them. Your Lordships’ House has enormous expertise, interest and experience on these issues, which this debate has shown very clearly.
Whatever one’s views on specific amendments, it has become clear that the general view is that legislation is being outpaced by the speed of change in technology. We have had a serious and very thoughtful debate today about the balance between security and privacy in what our security services and police require, and how we can legislate most effectively from an informed position, with public understanding and consent. Technology changes rapidly. That means that we, as parliamentarians, have to respond to those changes and ensure that legislation meets the challenges that those changes bring.
Last July we brought in emergency legislation, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act. My noble friend Lord West referred to a six-year delay. Some of the points he was concerned about were brought forward in that legislation, which was due to a European Court ruling that struck down something that we had put in secondary legislation rather than primary legislation. We were able to address that in DRIPA—as it is affectionately known—and we supported that Bill to ensure that the existing capability was maintained. However, we were then highly critical of the Government's use of the fast-track procedure, as they had ample opportunity to bring that legislation before the House sooner. We said then—and it was very evident—that an ad hoc, piecemeal approach to such serious and important issues using fast-track processes was unacceptable.
At our instigation all parties agreed on a thorough statutory review, to be undertaken by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson, into the capabilities needed to meet changing technology, and on the oversight and the safeguards that are necessary to ensure that any legislation is both necessary and proportionate. In addition, the Intelligence and Security Committee is examining how we can properly balance both security and liberty in online communications.
However, a theme of this debate since we started it is the question of where the Government's plans to tackle this issue are. Over two years ago the Government withdrew their Data Communications Bill following serious criticisms from the Joint Committee of both Houses which had set up, which was chaired, as we have heard, by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra—a highly qualified committee of parliamentarians, including future and former Ministers. I reread this report over the weekend. The committee’s criticisms of the Government’s Bill were serious and far-reaching: the Bill’s provisions were too sweeping and too broad, it paid insufficient attention to privacy issues, and it went much further than it needed to. The report criticised the safeguards and the definition of communications data, and it was highly critical of the Government’s analysis of the costs and benefits, describing some of the figures as “fanciful” and “misleading”. It was also critical of the additional personal powers provided to the Home Secretary. That is very serious criticism.
At the same time, the committee was explicit about its necessity. The noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, in his powerful contribution, quoted it. It said that,
“legislation which will provide the law enforcement agencies with some further access to communications is needed”.
The committee suggested a more balanced proposal to be brought forward for consideration and recommended improvements to the Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, said, that information would be presented to Parliament and it would be for Parliament to decide that balance and where the line must be drawn. But that was over two years ago, and the Government have not brought forward any further proposals to give Parliament that opportunity to decide. Last week the Home Secretary told the other place that she had accepted the recommendations, but we have had no explanation as to why she has not come forward with revised provisions other than the limited measures in this Bill and those in the 2014 DRIP Act.
Now, as the general election looms and despite the excellent work of the Joint Committee, the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary have started to speak out about the need for new powers but have not produced any evidence to Parliament, have not initiated a serious debate on the detail, and in more than two years have not produced, so far as I am aware, a new draft Bill. But we have heard today that there is a draft Bill. The noble Lords, Lord Blencathra and Lord Armstrong, have seen it, but has anyone else? Has the Minister seen the draft Bill which apparently the Government have sitting on the shelf?
I say to those who want to characterise this debate as being about either those who care about security or those who care about liberty that they are doing the public a serious disservice. I really do not like the term “snooper’s charter”; the issue is bigger and far more serious than that. The police and our agencies need the capacity to capture intelligence information that will foil terrorist attacks. They need to be able to respond quickly to identify, for example, the last known location of a missing child or a murder victim. They need to know who sends abusive images of children, and they need to monitor potential terrorists. They also need to build their capability to tackle online fraud and cyberattacks, which are escalating all the time.
Some of the tools, particularly in relation to the retention of communications data, are controversial and cause concern. If we want the public to support such powers, we need to provide more information about why they are needed, how they will be used, and how privacy will be protected. That is why we have to be prepared to have an open and honest public debate about the framework, the principles and the safeguards to ensure that these powers cannot be abused. Obviously such a debate has to be sensitive to the necessity of not exposing intelligence capabilities and should recognise the fact that some details must remain secure so as not to endanger national security or criminal investigations. Any legislation has to be necessary and proportionate, and it has to strike the balance between security and liberty. It is not an either/or. The public are entitled to expect both, and they are entitled to expect us to determine that balance from an informed position.
It is widely accepted that there has been a technical revolution in how we communicate and that the law and the oversight framework are now out of date. We need to understand how far and how quickly new technologies are outstripping the legal framework. We also need to understand how the use of new technologies has blurred the distinction between communications and content, as well as between domestic and international communications using mobile phone and tablet apps. The last debate we had on this in your Lordships’ House showed that many noble Lords are still confused about the difference when communicating through web apps. The noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, referred to the challenges posed by the dark web. How many of us here today, apart from the noble Baroness, can claim to have the expertise that is needed to consider all the details of these issues? We need to understand not only the legal implications but the privacy and technical implications.
David Anderson’s report examined the details of issues such as authorisation, access, storage, technical capabilities, checks and balances, safeguards and so on. We are clear that following both that report and the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Government must take action. Indeed, there is a time imperative to do so before the DRIPA provisions expire in 2016, at which point new legislation must be in place and fully operational. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill introduces further measures to address the issue of identification of a device that is used for communications at an IP address, given that in many circumstances multiple users will be sharing the same IP address. We support those changes. We have been clear that we are willing to work with the Government to discuss capabilities and safeguards, the powers that are needed, and the checks and balances that are required to ensure that the detail between protecting our liberty and protecting our security is right, and we want to engage the public in that debate.
But the Government have not initiated that debate. They have had the opportunity to do so, and apparently the legislation for that is on the shelf in the Home Office, gathering dust. That is why noble Lords have tabled their amendments today. However, what they have been unable to do in the time available and without access to the resources and information of government is what the Home Secretary has promised, and that is to adapt the original proposals to take account of the concerns and criticisms of the original Bill. I appreciate that the noble Lords have made the judgment, which is justified in part, that people are more accepting of measures that deal with terrorism and serious crime. However, when we look at some of the detail and examine the report of the committee, we can see that there are a number of other issues to which the attention of the Committee should be drawn.
Interestingly, one of the criticisms in the report was not of the purposes of the Bill, although the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, did say that the number of organisations that can have access should be limited, but of something that goes much deeper. The Government’s view was that wider powers may be needed in the future, but the committee rejected the notion that Parliament should grant powers on the precautionary principle and thus without a current and pressing need.
I will not go into the detail about the individual clauses before us today because other noble Lords have spoken about them, but it is clear that they have not been able to take into account the recommendations for changes made by the Joint Committee. Perhaps I may mention just one because it raises a serious issue. In the detail of the amendment before the Committee today, no provision is made for the recommendation of the Joint Committee that any legislation should provide for the wilful or reckless misuse of communications data to become a specific offence that is punishable, in appropriate cases, by imprisonment. That is a recommendation of both the Justice and the Home Affairs Select Committees of the other place. Although if passed these amendments would be returned to the Commons, they have not been properly discussed and debated. This is complex and detailed legislation that requires proper scrutiny and expert advice. To have such clauses in fast-tracked legislation whose Report stage will be taken next week makes that difficult.
I have already referred to the assessment being undertaken by the independent reviewer, David Anderson. His review needs to address the serious points that have been raised by the noble Lords, Lord King, Lord Blair and Lord Carlile, and my noble friend Lord West. He also needs to deal with the points raised by the Joint Committee more than two years ago. We insisted on that statutory review and all three parties supported it. It is extremely unfortunate that we are in a position today where the Home Secretary has made no proper public or parliamentary response to the Joint Committee on the independent review, which was started just last summer at our instigation and where currently we have no proper process for consultation or the detailed scrutiny of proposals. That was yet another complaint of the Joint Committee.
The noble Lord, Lord Condon, talked about a road map. The Government need to set out a proper process for this. We need to see detailed legislative proposals from the Government, along with a summary of the capabilities and the safeguards to take account of the issues raised last time. We need to ensure that the measures are sustainable and enjoy broad public consent, otherwise we will undermine confidence in the vital work that the agencies do, and companies whose co-operation is needed will find themselves under pressure from their customers to find ways around the legislation. So although we do not think that these amendments are the right ones—I think this was acknowledged by the noble Lord, Lord King, who spoke of the amendments that he would be prepared to incorporate for the Joint Committee report—because they do not fit into a wider government process, we do think that this is an extremely serious debate. I look forward very much to the Minister’s response.
My Lords, this has been an extremely good debate, and in that spirit the actual sequence of events here is worth considering for a moment.
The Government brought forward the Bill currently before the Committee seeking a broad, cross-party approach to these matters. I and the Home Secretary are grateful that the Opposition agreed to the semi-fast-tracked procedure and a shortening of the intervals between the various stages so that it could make its way on to the statute book and thus give the security services and the law enforcement agencies the extended powers which they have been seeking. These include the temporary seizure of passports, temporary exclusion orders, the right-to-carry schemes on the air side, the IP addresses that we have been talking about, as well as the Prevent strategy measures. Basically, in approaching this, we have tried to listen to the various bodies that have spoken to us. We have listened to the views of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and we have brought forward the legislation which is now before your Lordships’ House.
Going further, we of course recognise that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, as was mentioned by several noble Lords, is something that is desperately in need of review. People recognise that. The world has moved on since the year 2000. There is a real fear that the pace of technology, in the phrase of a number of noble Lords in this debate, is outstripping the legislative and security capabilities of our country to keep us safe. That is the context in which we find ourselves.
In that respect, I pay tribute to my noble friend Lord King for the opportunity that his amendments have afforded the House to reflect again at some length on these very important measures. He does so, having been five years as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland or Secretary of Defence—
His seven years’ experience there, as the noble Lord tells me, and seven years as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee add additional weight to what the noble Lord says. We will listen very carefully to what has been said.
There does not seem to be much doubt about the threat that is faced. The threat that we face was very eloquently put in a number of contributions: the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, talked about the evidence used in real convictions; cases of communications data were given by the noble Lord, Lord Evans; and some practical, real-life examples were given by the noble Lord, Lord Blair. There are some very strong arguments that show that there is a need for us to look again at communications data.
Then of course we heard from my noble friend Lord Blencathra and we heard from the committee which reviewed the original legislation. It is important to get on record that elements of the original draft Bill considered by the Joint Committee are contained in this Bill. The IP resolution element was something that was in the draft Bill. It is not something that has been shelved; we felt that we could bring it forward with the necessary safeguards and it was brought forward. The noble Lord’s hesitations and questions very much remain, and we are very much committed to working with him and will seek to address his particular concerns.
I want to come back to the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, mentioned. I preface these remarks—context is all with this—by saying that, first, we have to get a message out to people that we are talking about, in all of these things, the actual communications data and not the content. The content of the data will rightly require, whether it is an e-mail or a telephone call or an envelope, a warrant in order to be looked into. What we are talking about is tracking the communications data.
In the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, which went through last year on a fast-tracked basis, Section 7 of that relatively short Act provides that:
“The Secretary of State must appoint the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation to review the operation and regulation of investigatory powers. … The independent reviewer must, in particular, consider … (a) current and future threats to the United Kingdom … (b) the capabilities needed to combat those threats … (c) safeguards to protect privacy … (d) the challenges of changing technologies … (e) issues relating to transparency and oversight … (f) the effectiveness of existing legislation (including its proportionality) and the case for new or amending legislation. … The independent reviewer must, so far as reasonably practicable, complete the review before
If we had such a review from David Anderson before your Lordships’ House at this point, that would be of immense benefit in reaching these judgments. Your Lordships have touched on all the areas on which the independent reviewer has been asked to undertake a review and report. Those are the pertinent issues which have concerned Members who have spoken in this debate.
In the view of the Home Secretary, in the view of the Prime Minister and certainly in my view, the case is made for a communications data Bill to come forward. The noble Lord, Lord Condon, asked us to set out the clear road map as to how we were actually going to proceed. The road map has already begun. It began with the data retention elements in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act last year and it continues in the counterterrorism Bill which is before your Lordships’ House. As a result of that legislation, it will require action once the report from the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is received. In reality, that will probably mean that, very early in the new Session of Parliament, the House is will have to turn its mind to this. Certainly, it is the absolute intent of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary that it should do so as a matter of urgency.
Some people have said that that will necessarily take a year, or a year and a half, to the period of the sunset clause, but we do not anticipate that it will be necessary to take that long at all. In fact, as far as this counterterrorism Bill is concerned, which is perhaps a wider measure as far as others are concerned, we have managed to move this through, albeit at pace, but it will still have gone through scrutiny in a period of, say, three to four months from its introduction in the other place to its receiving Royal Assent, should your Lordships choose to pass the Bill.
So our position would be one of being deeply appreciative to my noble friend for introducing these amendments and of being particularly grateful for the quality of the debate and the contributions—
I can certainly say in response that a copy of the Bill will be, if it has not already been, made available to him. It would be unthinkable for him to undertake this review into this serious matter without actually having sight of it. So I will certainly put that on record as the government position. As to our ability to share it more widely at this stage, I would be grateful if I could come back to the noble Lord on that when I have an opportunity to check—
I am sorry to interrupt again, but can my noble friend confirm that, in coming back to us, he will do so in time for us to be able to consider tabling further amendments to this Bill?
That is a more difficult question, which I am sure is why the noble Lord has pressed me on it. That is not something I feel able to give a commitment on at this stage. However, he is certainly right to put his finger on the point that we have someone there in David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, who we have charged in statute with a particular responsibility. Of course he should have sight of all information which would be relevant and pertinent to the requirements that we asked him to undertake on our behalf last year.
I note the Minister’s response to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. Can I ask for an assurance that the Official Opposition will also be given sight of the draft Bill? When we return after the election, whichever Government are in power, they will want to start work on this immediately. It would help if all sides of your Lordships’ House and the House of Commons had access to the detail of the draft Bill.
The noble Baroness will perhaps understand if I need to just check with people on a slightly higher pay grade whether that is a commitment which I can make. I will certainly look at the issue with regard to the independent reviewer. I will certainly give an answer by Report to the very reasonable question which has been put forward.
A number of questions have been addressed in this debate, but I am conscious that we have spent considerable time on it. I will give an undertaking and say that this is not something that we want in any way to be seen to be distancing ourselves from. We want to put it under active review, and it is under active review. The contributions which have been made in the debate this afternoon on these amendments have afforded us an opportunity to air these issues and to identify where the gaps in agreement are, as well as where the gaps in capability are. We will reflect on those. I may have more to say at Report on that, but in the interim—
I do not want to delay the Minister, but let us not beat about the bush. I do not speak for anybody other than myself, but I listened to every single speech, and those opposed to these amendments seem to be in favour of them being amended in line with the views of the committee that looked at the draft Bill. Will the Minister go back to the Home Secretary after this debate and make the request on behalf of this House for us to see, if not the draft Bill, the amendments to the amendments by Wednesday or Thursday this week, so that this House can make its mind up as to whether or not it wants to debate them and ask the other place? At the end of the day, Parliament has to decide but, as he knows, we are up against a time limit. Will he go back and say to the Home Secretary—these need not be his views, as he can just say he is the Minister with the message—that the House has asked whether it can see this information in time to do something with it?
My Lords, before my noble friend responds, and without making any comment about whether we should or should not be shown things, I do not think it is appropriate to characterise all the opposition to these amendments as solely being about the way in which they have been put. My noble friends have made points of principle which we should not ignore.
I also acknowledge the noble Lord’s experience as a former Minister—I am surrounded by former Home Office Ministers and Security Ministers in this debate. The specific point is whether there could be further provisions. The noble Lord says we should not beat around the bush. The issue here is that we are contemplating measures at a fairly late stage in a Bill which contains a number of measures which we desperately want to make sure get on to the statute book. We do not want to risk this Bill and all the provisions in it at present, as we think they are vital. In fact, we consider that they are more vital than the simple addition of these amendments—as desirable as we may see them individually—to the Bill. We do not want to do anything which would jeopardise the process. There has to be a recognition that the other place—I am sure the noble Lord, as a distinguished former Member, would recognise this—would feel that it was being required to look at 21 amendments, running to some 19 pages in a 53-page Bill, on a fast track and with ping-pong between the two Houses on consideration of Lords amendments. It might feel, rightly from a constitutional point of view, that that would be a difficult thing for it to agree to. I am simply airing the issues.
The noble Lord asked specifically whether the draft Bill which has been shown to the noble Lords, Lord Blencathra and Lord Armstrong, can be shared more widely. I have undertaken to the noble Baroness that I will go back to the department and discuss that, and I will certainly come back with an answer as to whether that is possible. However, for the reasons which I have articulated—while recognising and appreciating the spirit in which these amendments have been put forward, which we absolutely share—I ask the noble Lord to consider withdrawing his amendment at this stage.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for the way in which he has responded to the long and very important debate that we have had on these amendments. It was a model ministerial reply, for which I am extremely grateful, particularly at the last minute.
Nobody would accuse the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, of ever beating around the bush, and the directness of his approach to the Minister was extremely helpful in elucidating one point, as to whether this would possibly jeopardise the other Bill. A senior and distinguished former holder of the office that the noble Lord, Lord Evans, held said to me that she thought that this amendment was more important than all the measures in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. The Minister has advanced the alternative view—so obviously views can differ on that—but I do not think that we should underestimate why we are doing this Bill at all on a fast track, which is down to the recognition by the Government of the seriousness of the threat that we face. There is no question but that the situation has changed very significantly indeed and we are suddenly aware, in a way that we were not perhaps even six months ago, of the gravity of the threat. Nobody in this House has any excuse for not knowing what “severe” means in the threat level that was introduced by the Government a little while back: an attack is likely, if not necessarily imminent. That is what we are facing up to today.
I thank all noble Lords who contributed to this very important and very difficult debate. I entirely endorse what the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said. I respect entirely the views of other noble Lords, who are desperate to protect civil liberties, privacy and the ancient traditions of freedom in this country. All that is very important indeed. The Minister referred to my previous experience, and what I do know is that the moment you get a terrorist outrage is when all the wrong things are decided. The pressure comes on that something has to be done, and it is much better to have decided in advance what you are going to do, in a measured way. Otherwise, whatever people say about privacy, the rights of the individual, freedom of speech and all those things, if there is a serious outrage, the criticism then will be: “Where are the security services? Why has Parliament not done its job? Why have they not got what they need to meet the situation?”. It is common ground in the current situation we face, I think, that there is a serious threat, because two things have happened: the threat has increased very significantly and, at the same time, technology has galloped forward. We are very fortunate to have the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, in the House. She illustrated just how grave that threat is from the new technologies. I do not begin to understand the dark cloud, but those are the threats that we may now be facing.
The intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Butler, was extremely helpful. He said one thing which I would rather like to repeat: I think some people have criticised the criticisms of the amendments that we have tabled. I did that myself; I was the first to say that these are the only ones we could table because they are in the draft Bill, but we know that it is within the
Government’s capability to actually insert improved amendments and clauses which would even pass the scrutiny of my noble friend Lord Blencathra and the members of his committee.
The challenge we all face in this very difficult situation, with this awful evil of terrorism that is imposed on us, is to strike a balance between liberty, security and privacy in a civilised, democratic society. It is not just me saying this; I quoted those distinguished Members of another place as well, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, who have supported the position we are aiming for from the offices that they held. Of course some people say they are just all the securocrats, but what you will find about securocrats is that sometimes we know a little about it. Sometimes we know what some of the problems are when you try and improve security or some of the problems you get when you fail to improve security.
I think the discussion we have had today has been very helpful and worth while. We have Report coming in a week and we must think very carefully about where we go. One thing I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, who said we could have a report by May, is that of course in May we have the small matter of a general election. This House is rising late in March. I notice the Minister’s optimism that once we come back, depending on who is in government, this could be whistled through. Realistically, if the opportunity that this Bill gives us is missed—and it is completely within the scope of this Bill to make these provisions—we are going to have another year in which we put our nation at risk, when terrorist outrages could be prevented if the security forces and the security agencies had the support they need. There have been a lot of tributes to the security agencies here and in this instance, with the threats that they face, I believe that the balance comes in favour of ensuring these additional abilities to deal with the new technologies which the out-of-date RIPA arrangements do not provide; I believe we need to look at this very seriously. In the mean time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 79 withdrawn.
Amendments 80 to 99 not moved.
House resumed. Committee to begin again not before 8.20 pm.