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I am very grateful to the noble Lord. He is right: in some small public authorities there will be only a small number of staff sufficiently senior to take on this important responsibility. Where he and I part company is over the question of whether the rank of the designated senior officer should be lowered to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of them to always be independent of the investigation. I do not feel able to agree to that, because to do so would lower the safeguards that form an integral part of the communications data regime. Equally, I am afraid the Government are not prepared to remove these powers from some of the smaller authorities. They may be small, but they often do vital work in keeping the public safe and investigating crime.
I would be happy to discuss this further outside the forum of Committee, if that would help the noble Lord. I understand where he is coming from, but we have a fundamental disagreement of view on this.