Power to issue warrants to intelligence services: the Secretary of State

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 19 April 2016.

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Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendments 396, 397, 398, 399, 400, 401, 402, 468, 469, 470, 403, 404, 407, 410, 411, 412, 413, 414, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291 and 292.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

The clause deals with the power to issue warrants to the intelligence services. Subsections (1) and (2) deal with targeted equipment interference warrants, and subsections (3) and (4) deal with targeted examination warrants.

We have two concerns. First, although the test of necessity and proportionality is spelled out in the clause—in particular, in subsections (1)(a) and (b) and (3)(a) and (b)—the objective and aims to which the test of necessity and proportionality are attached, which are set out in subsection (5), are broad in the extreme. They are

“national security…preventing or detecting serious crime” and our old friend,

“the economic well-being of the United Kingdom”.

We have concerns about the breadth of those powers. Examination warrants obviously allow the examination of the material as well as its interception, and they go with the bulk power.

The first batch of amendments is intended to put some rigour and independence into the scheme by replacing the Secretary of State with the judicial commissioner. We have been over this territory in depth once and in summary form at least once again. I am not sure anybody is going to benefit, and they certainly will not welcome, my going over it at great length again—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] The amendments would replace the Secretary of State with the judicial commissioner for the same reasons that I advanced a week ago today at a not dissimilar hour. I will not say more than that. In light of our discussion last week and the fact that I withdrew my amendments in relation to the scheme, I will not move these amendments; they are probing.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Simon Kirby.)

Adjourned till Thursday 21 April at half-past Eleven o’clock.