[Sir John Butterfill in the Chair] — A Surveillance Society?

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:25 pm on 19th March 2009.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Crime & Security) 4:25 pm, 19th March 2009

That is my understanding of the situation, and I hope that that reassures my right hon. Friend.

This is a huge debate. If my maths is right, I have spoken for about half an hour. However, one could spend hours on each topic alone. Let me finish where I began. I made some commitments, and outlined some concrete proposals, that will help to bring about the change that we all want. By those commitments, I can be held to account, and we can see where change is happening. If, in one, two, five or 10 years, we are still debating the need for greater data protection and worrying about surveillance in our society, we will not have done our job as effectively as we should have done.

Surveillance and data retention play important roles in protecting society and in reducing and tackling crime, including serious crime. However, that does not alter the fact that such behaviour brings with it serious invasions of privacy and compromises with respect to the individual liberty of the citizen. We have to ensure that we get the balance right.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting adjourned.