New Clause 1 - Report on the Prime Minister’s engagement with the Intelligence and Security Committee

Part of Investigatory Powers (Amendment)Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons am 6:08 pm ar 25 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 6:08, 25 Mawrth 2024

My right hon. Friend is undoubtedly right: we do need to be very careful. In the end, the Government have to take a view about where they draw the line. These are very difficult decisions that have to be made. We had really useful and constructive debates in Committee about where the line should be drawn, but the issue will no doubt continue to be debated in the future.

Before I draw my remarks to a close, I will briefly speak to other amendments on the Order Paper, including those tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham, other members of the ISC, and Sir David Davis. We support amendment 23, which stands in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham. It is very similar to the amendments we proposed in Committee regarding the Prime Minister’s delegation to a Secretary of State to issue a warrant to interfere with equipment relating to a Member. The amendment sets out that the Prime Minister must be informed of a decision taken by a designated Secretary of State on their behalf as soon as the circumstances that prevented the Prime Minister from approving a warrant in the first place have passed.

We believe that the Prime Minister’s overall involvement in those warrants must be retained, even if it is retrospective in designated cases, so it was a positive step that the Minister said he would look into including such a provision in the statutory guidance, in response to the very sensible points made by the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings. However, we believe this does not go far enough, when this important notification arrangement should be on the face of the Bill.

This House should consider as many scenarios as possible when it comes to arrangements for prime ministerial power delegation on investigatory powers, even if scenarios of Cabinet members desperately trying to undermine the Prime Minister by any means possible perhaps belong more appropriately in “House of Cards” or “The Thick of It”. [Interruption.] I am sure that Conservative Members would have no idea about those kinds of activities; I am happy to take their word for that. But these are important matters, and we must seek to legislate carefully. The amendments tabled by the ISC are thoughtful and constructive, and I hope that, even at this late stage, the Government will consider accepting them.

I will move on briefly to new clause 3, which stands in the name of the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden. I first want to take the opportunity to pay tribute to his long-standing work on these incredibly important matters. Some Members will know that I have occasionally worked with him on challenging the UK Government on the use of intelligence in foreign countries that has resulted in torture. Britain’s role in the world to lead by example is defined by our actions, and we therefore think that new clause 3 raises important issues of accountability when sharing intelligence with foreign Governments that could result in torture, not least in relation to the parameters of the decision-making process by Foreign Secretaries.

New clause 3 also raises important questions about the sufficiency of the Fulford principles to ensure that there is not merely a presumption that these decisions are taken in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European convention on human rights. The Government will always need to carefully consider the nuances and the risk of inaction when there is a clear and credible threat to life. We hope that they will reflect carefully on the important principles put forward in new clause 3, and I hope that the Minister will consider coming back to the House with their conclusions.

To conclude, this important Bill has demanded strong and careful scrutiny through its journey in the other place and in this House. Our personal liberties and our national security depend on it. It is in the national interest to get it right and to ensure that legislation like this is both appropriate and proportionate in its scope. It must also be effective in maintaining the powers that our police and security services already have to disrupt and defeat criminals and malign actors who seek to harm us and undermine our way of life. I hope that the Minister will listen carefully to the points made by Opposition Members and to the other right hon. and hon. Members speaking after me, all of whom will be working in the national interest and wanting to ensure that the Bill protects both our safety and our liberty.