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My Lords, I will speak in support of Amendment 156A but I also support Amendment 147A, which was moved by my noble friend Lord Strasburger. I will not go into all the details set out so ably by my noble friends Lord Paddick and Lord Strasburger but there are some key issues which really have to be addressed. It is not good enough, frankly, to say that the Joint Committee may have said this or that; we need answers to the questions that have been posed.
The first question is: why is it that the United Kingdom, as far as I understand it—I hope that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—uniquely among the “Five Eyes” countries requires this power? Indeed, as far as I understand it this is unique among any equivalent western democracies. I hope the Minister will tell us what is so unique about the situation we find ourselves in. It is not shared by the United States, Canada, New Zealand or any other western democracy.
Secondly, it is important to understand that, at the moment, 25 countries around the world are considering investigatory powers legislation—countries such as India, Pakistan and many others. They are looking towards us and at what we do. We have to think extremely carefully about what we are doing and we must ensure that our questions are answered. It is incumbent on the Government to do that.
We are also in a time of quite a lot of political upheaval. As a result, I doubt many people have been paying a huge amount of attention to the Bill. I imagine the public will be absolutely horrified when they discover that Parliament has granted a power to government to insist on the retention of the details of every single person in this country’s access to every single website. They will want to know why and they will want to know under what conditions of security such information is to be held. They will want to know the cost and whether this Parliament rigorously examined the cost and the need for their data—the data of innocent people—to be held in this manner. It is not good enough for us just to say that this power might be desirable or useful at some point; we have to be clear that it is proportionate, that it can work and that it can be held securely.