Investigatory Powers Bill - Commons Reasons

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 2nd November 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Prescott Lord Prescott Labour 4:00 pm, 2nd November 2016

My Lords, this measure is not only diversionary, it is an attempt to finish off everything that Leveson proposed after an inquiry that lasted years. Everybody agreed that the hacking which occurred was terrible, particularly me as I was one of those who were hacked. I complained to the police, who did not believe me, to the Press Complaints Commission, which did not believe me, and then to all the bodies concerned with the issue, even the Crown Prosecution Office. They did not believe me. Eventually, I had to go to court to find justice on a human rights matter. Only then did all these bodies admit that they were aware of the evidence but did not declare it to me. I do not think the situation has changed. If the Government are saying that something will be different, will they please spell out what that difference is? What would happen if that situation were to occur now? I might add that the Investigatory Powers Bill will allow an awful lot more hacking than we have at present, as that is what it is designed to do. We talk about terrorism but what is to stop the police pursuing the matter, given their new technology, and perhaps not do so properly? Those affected by that action should then have a right to complain. If abuse occurs through the use of the technology, what do you do then? To whom do you complain?

The consultation went on for years under Leveson and those who played a part in it. We do not need any more consultation to work this out. I listened to the debate in the House of Commons and to all those people who agreed to this legislation and to the royal charter, every one of whom is now saying that we should start consultation. What happened? This started when Mr Whittingdale told the press that he was not minded to implement Section 40. He did not tell Parliament as by then he had moved on from the office of Secretary of State. This is a step-by-step process to get rid of Leveson’s recommendations. That is what it is really about. The next stage is to quash what he said about having a second inquiry into the relations between the police and the press. That is still ongoing. If anybody does not believe that, they can read it in the press every day of the week. The new IPSO, or whatever it is called, not only makes a judgment but also complains in the press. It made a judgment about me a few months ago when I made a complaint. That situation has not changed. Recommendations were made regarding having a new authority, but we have done nothing about it. We are locked in dispute on this. Therefore, to that extent I do not think anything has changed. When the Prime Minister met Murdoch in New York, they might have just thrown it into the conversation whether we should make these changes. It happened before with the previous Prime Minister—meeting secretly and then doing a deal. That is not acceptable. What I find most offensive of all is that we all agreed in this Chamber, and in the other Chamber when I was there, to take action. Admittedly, they wrapped it up in the royal charter. I did not agree with that royal charter argument. I always thought we wanted to keep the Queen out of politics. She is right in the middle of it now, is she not, with the royal charter?

There is a dispute among politicians about what is to be implemented. That is the reason I resigned. I was the only one to resign, apparently, from being a privy counsellor—that is, one who had not been to jail or got caught in some scandalous situation. That was a view of mine about the charter. That was the first weakening of the case for implementing Leveson. That was the first mistake we made.

We now appear to be discussing what we have already passed. We have already agreed it. I listened to the debate yesterday, in which it was said, “This is the wrong Bill”. We said it was the wrong Bill in this House; we recognised that. But it is the wrong Bill because the Government did not carry out what is already in legislation. It is there, we discussed it and we voted on it in both Houses. Nobody, as I understand it, voted against it. Then, we were told that the Minister, like all her MPs yesterday, is saying, “This isn’t the Bill. This is a serious matter”. I understand what they mean by that, but it came about only because they refused to carry out what they had voted for. That is what we are dealing with today. Now we are questioning what we in Parliament are supposed to have made a decision about, and saying that we are going to have a consultation. But it is a consultation to get out of the obligations that this House and the other place agreed to. That is unacceptable.

We have started the battle again about the reality of the press. We talk about freedom of the press, but does anybody complain about the freedom of the victims? No. They have a lot to say but I do not hear their voice. I did not hear them mentioned much in the House of Commons yesterday.