Overview of Act

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 12 April 2016.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 10:00, 12 April 2016

I am grateful that the Minister will give further consideration to the matter. The reason it is of great concern is because, first, we are being asked to approve new powers in the Bill. I accept that some of the powers are obviously avowal of existing powers, but there are new powers and internet connection records is one. Of the avowal powers, this is the first time that Parliament has had the chance to debate them, so they are new to Parliament in that sense.

I take the point that members of the Committee have been briefed and some of us have experience of the operation of some of these powers, but therein lies part of the problem. I think there is a democratic deficit if we proceed only on the basis that a select number of people can know the detail, but the public cannot. Of course there are sensitivities. I do not think anyone is suggesting that a full operational case without any modifications, redactions and so on, could be published. I ask for consideration of something more than what we have that allows for independent assessment, which does not necessarily need to take place in the public domain, but can be viewed through the eyes of the informed member of the public who wants to be assured about the necessity of the powers without having to listen to politicians or others saying, “We’ve been briefed; trust us”, because in this day and age that approach is no longer acceptable. I hope the Minister and others will try to see this through the eyes of the informed and concerned member of the public who wants to be assured about what the Bill is actually bringing forth for the security and intelligence services and law enforcement.