Investigatory Powers Bill - Second Reading (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:07 pm on 27th June 2016.

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Photo of Lord Reid of Cardowan Lord Reid of Cardowan Labour 9:07 pm, 27th June 2016

My noble friend Lord Blunkett is here. I do not think that he heard my noble friend Lady Kennedy’s comments but I have a surprise for her. I do not take the view that security overrides everything. I take the view of a need for balance. Various people have mentioned tonight that the protection of our citizens is the first duty of government, but that is a mistranslation. With my O-level Latin, I can tell your Lordships that Cicero’s “Salus populi suprema lex esto” does not mean that that protection is the first duty of government but that the welfare of the people is their first duty. That welfare combines the protection of their rights and well-being with the protection of their lives, which is why we are trying to get a correct balance on this.

I am all for examining the Bill in detail in Committee, including legal professional privilege, issues about journalists and so on. But I would plead with your Lordships: I cannot think of anything that I have seen going through Parliament, in my 30 years or thereabouts, that has had quite so much scrutiny. I therefore hope that it will get a fair wind, because of not only that prior scrutiny but that which is to come from David Anderson as well—and because of our obligation to supply the tools to our intelligence agencies and those trying to protect the people of this country.

Having said that, I have one reservation, which is about the introduction of judges to a greater degree than was previously the case. If the double lock becomes a double decision-making process on the substance of the political decision, I would be very worried. I understand why the Home Secretary did it and the perceptions in certain sections of the public—not what I would call public opinion but certainly published opinion. It therefore became a necessary element of making sure that there was a fair wind behind this Bill. I accept that, but I have some reservations with it. So, with all that, I wish the Bill well and I congratulate the Secretary of State for the Home Office. She has been extremely patient. This has been in embryo not for two years but for almost 10 years, through various people. I wish her well in her present job and in any job that she may be seeking to do in the future.