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Investigatory Powers Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 19th July 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat 6:45 pm, 19th July 2016

My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, feels that she got an adequate response to her equivalent amendment the other day. I had a look at the Official Report this morning and I thought that it was quite telegraphic—quite brief. So it is understandable that she would raise the matter again in this context. I see that she has expanded subsection (3)(d) with regard to the public interest. On the noble Baroness’s previous amendment on interception, my noble friend Lord Paddick made the point that if ever there was a need for political accountability regarding the target of a warrant, it is when that target is a parliamentarian. He acknowledged the tensions and dilemmas in all this.

I am a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, which, when it considered these issues before the Bill had its Report stage in the Commons, expressed concern about the separation of powers, which is what underlies this, at any rate as regards parliamentarians—the need to be able to communicate freely with constituents and others because of the distinction between the Executive and the legislature.

Perhaps I might say a word about government Amendment 173—although not to argue with it. It is about modifications and the Committee knows our concerns about those, but I accept the need to define “designated senior official”. But I wonder about the wording that this is for,

“the purposes of this section”.

Presumably it is also for the purposes of the modification and is case by case. I am not really sure about that but I can see the need for an audit trail. I think that the phrase “designated senior official” is used elsewhere, not only in this clause—I found it in Clause 112(7)—and not only as a senior official designated by a public authority. So I wonder whether there is a need to look at the definition throughout. Of course, the Bill is not really long enough as it is, so maybe we should have additional definitions collated in Clause 236. My principal point is whether there might be some confusion about using the phrase only for the one section.