Approval of warrants issued in urgent cases

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 21 April 2016.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs) 12:30, 21 April 2016

I beg to move amendment 439, in clause 98, page 75, line 25, leave out “considered” and insert

“had reasonable grounds for believing there was an emergency situation posing immediate danger of death or serious physical injury or that the physical security or integrity of the nation was endangered”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 440, in clause 98, page 75, line 27, after “must”, insert “immediately”

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs)

Amendment 439 pertains to the approval of warrants issued in urgent cases. Simply, the amendment would provide that an urgent warrant can be issued only where there is a reasonable belief that it is necessary to do so for the purpose of protecting life or preventing serious injury. That is a recurrent theme, which I have addressed previously, and I will not repeat the arguments.

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

Our amendment 440 is modest and would insert the word “immediately”. I need say no more than that.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

May I deal with the amendments in reverse order? On amendment 440, I am happy to consider amending the relevant draft codes to make it clear that the notification of judicial commissioners should happen as soon as is reasonably practical. That wording is more appropriate than “immediately”, given that it may take some small period of time to draw together the materials that the commissioner would want to review when considering whether to approve the issue of a warrant. On the basis that we might return to this issue at a future date, I invite the hon. and learned Gentleman not to press his amendment.

The amendment tabled by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West, to which she spoke with admirable brevity, is well understood by the Government, and the arguments remain as they did in our debate on clause 22. We want to create a workable framework, and if we limit the grounds, my concern is that the scenarios and case studies I set out in that debate—the drugs case and the Daesh case—would not be caught. We have a clear definition of “urgency” in paragraphs 41 to 44 of the draft code. The draft code also has a helpful flowchart that clearly sets out the parameters within which those seeking such warrants should operate. For those reasons, I respectfully urge her to withdraw her amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 98 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 99