Overview of Act

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 12 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I welcome you to the Chair, Ms Dorries. It is a delight to serve under your stewardship. I also welcome all members of the Committee.

Clause 1 provides an overview of the Bill and, for that reason—and with your indulgence, Ms Dorries—it is perhaps worth my setting our consideration in context. The Bill is significant, bringing together as it does for the first time a set of powers currently used by the intelligence agencies and law enforcement. It adds checks and balances regarding authorisation and oversight, and provides a degree of certainty regarding those powers and those checks and balances, which up until now has not been there in that form. It certainly provides greater navigability. Many of the powers are contained in a variety of legislation passed over time, so the point made by the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee on Second Reading of the draft Bill—that it is hard to navigate the legislation that supports the powers—was well made. The Bill provides greater transparency and, I hope, greater clarity.

It is important to understand that privacy is at the very core of the Bill. Clause 1 deals with that core. There have been calls, and we may hear them again during our consideration, for privacy to be defined more explicitly, but my counter view, without wishing to be unnecessarily contentious at this early stage, is that privacy runs through the very fabric of the Bill and that to separate it out—to desiccate it in that way—would weaken the commitment to privacy that is at the heart of the legislation. The protection of private interests and the protection of the public are at the heart of all we seek to do in the Bill. In my view, it is therefore unacceptable to limit the privacy provisions to a single clause.

Perhaps it would be advisable for me to give a little more detail about what the Bill does in respect of privacy. By underpinning the powers and sensitive capabilities available to law enforcement and security services, the Bill provides—as successive Governments have, by the way—an appropriate degree of oversight of those powers. Furthermore, through the change to authorisation—for the first time and in groundbreaking terms—they answer the call of those who have argued that both the political masters who drive these things and the judiciary should play a part in reinforcing those safeguards, based very much on the core principle of necessity and proportionality which applies to all such powers.

It is fair to say that in sweeping away some of the cobwebs that surrounded the powers I have described—certainly in the view of some of their critics—the provisions here shed a light on some of the most sensitive powers available to our intelligence and security agencies. It follows absolutely the direction provided by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson QC, that the capability examined in the Corston review of investigatory powers should be avowed and put on a statutory footing.

It is important that the public and Parliament understand that the powers I describe are there to keep us safe. It is also important that those powers are constrained in the way I have briefly described. The Bill places very strict controls on the use of those powers. They reflect the proposals of the 2015 report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee on privacy and security. They include limitations around who can use each of the powers; for what purposes and in what circumstances; how information can be obtained under the powers must be protected; when it can be shared and in what circumstances it must be destroyed; and, perhaps most importantly, the penalties—including criminal sanctions—for improper use of the powers.

In addition, the Bill delivers the strongest possible safeguards for the way the powers are authorised. I have spoken about the groundbreaking introduction of the double lock which means that politicians and the judiciary are involved in authorising powers. This maintains democratic accountability and adds a new element of judicial independence. No doubt we will discuss this in subsequent consideration of the Bill. Indeed, I note that amendments have been tabled that will allow us to do just that. However, I remain of the view that it is very important that this House and Ministers play a key part in the business of authorising these powers. The introduction of judges into the process of issuing warrants represents a highly significant change to the way the security and intelligence agencies operate—perhaps one of the most significant changes since they began in the last century. These things are not done lightly and should not be taken for granted. It is a very important change.

I spoke earlier about oversight and the Bill also introduces world-leading new oversight provisions, drawing together some of what is done already but adding visibility and transparency in the way that I mentioned. This is an opportunity for the new Investigatory Powers Commissioner to be an effective advocate for the public. The commissioner will have unfettered access to the work of the security and intelligence agencies and new powers to inform people who have suffered as a result of serious errors. He or she will leave no question in the minds of the public or that of Parliament that these powers are used within both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Returning to my initial point about the clause, let us reflect on what the privacy safeguards amount to. In essence, they reflect the collective consideration of the three independent reviews and three Parliamentary Committees that preceded the Committee’s consideration of the Bill. There have been those who have surprisingly—some might say remarkably or incredibly—argued that the Bill has been rushed in some way. My goodness, I cannot remember a single other piece of legislation in my time in Parliament that has been published in draft preceded by three independent reports; has then been considered by three separate Committees of the House; and published in its full form and debated on Second Reading. The Bill is about to have consideration of the most serious kind—I say that, looking around at the cerebral members of the Committee—and will then, of course, proceed to the other place for similar scrutiny. I hesitate to say that it is unprecedented, but it is quite unusual and reflects the Government’s absolute determination to get this right. I hope that the Committee will move ahead as one in our determination to put both these powers and the safeguards—the checks and balances—in place.

The consideration of the Bill that has already taken place covers the vast proportion of the clauses. No doubt we will refer to some of those reports during the next few days and weeks. I am absolutely sure that all members of the Committee want what I want—for this legislation to be in a form that engenders complete confidence that those whose mission is to keep us safe have what they need to do so, but that the checks on the exercise of their powers are rigorous, robust and transparent. In that spirit, and with that hope about the further consideration, I commend clause 1 to the Committee.

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

I, too, welcome you to the Chair, Ms Dorries. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship.

Our starting position is that in the aftermath of attacks such as those we have recently seen in Brussels, which are only the latest in a series of similar attacks, there can be no doubt that the security and intelligence services and law enforcement agencies need all the powers that are necessary and proportionate to deal with serious threats. That is the starting position on the Bill, so far as the Labour party is concerned.

As the Minister has said, it is a good thing that the powers that had previously been exercised by the security and intelligence services are now avowed on the face of the Bill. That is welcome, but those powers also need to be justified, clearly defined and limited, and there must be proper safeguards. The Opposition’s proper role in the process we are about to undertake is to robustly challenge the Bill’s provisions where they do not meet those criteria and to push back and probe. Through that process, we hopefully will improve the final product so that the Bill achieves what it needs to achieve, but goes no further than what is necessary and proportionate.

On justification, as the Minister no doubt knows, the shadow Home Secretary wrote to the Home Secretary on 4 April making a number of points, one of which was the need for a better assessment of the operational case and, in particular, an independent assessment of bulk powers. He said:

“Whilst I accept the broad argument advanced by the authorities that powers to extract information in bulk form may provide the only way of identifying those who pose a risk to the public, the operational case for bulk powers which accompanied the Bill’s publication has significant gaps. This was clear from contributions made at Second Reading from both sides of the House.”

Anyone who reads the operational cases will see that they are slim indeed, and more than half the printed case is introductory matter.

The shadow Home Secretary suggests in the letter that

“the simplest way to proceed would be, firstly, to produce a more detailed operational case and, secondly, to accept the recommendation of the Joint Committee and commission an independent review of all the bulk powers.”

The Labour party suggests that that review should conclude in time to inform Report and Third Reading. Obviously the Minister will probably not want to deal with the matter here and now, but I ask that a reply to the letter be prepared as soon as possible so that we can move forward on that issue.

The letter also deals with concerns about internet connection records, which we will deal with when we come to the appropriate clauses, but it particularly highlights the problems of definition in clause 54 and the question of the threshold for accessing internet connection records along with other comms data.

The letter also talks about the

“definitions of ‘national security’ and ‘economic well-being’”,

which we will probably start to debate today. The letter also raises meaningful judicial authorisation and oversight and the need for an overarching criminal offence of deliberate misuse and for effective protections for sensitive professions. Can a reply to the letter be prepared as soon as possible so that we can move forward, particularly on the operational case? If there is more work to be done, the sooner it starts the better. With luck it can then be finished in time for the next stage, which is Third Reading. Will the Minister ensure that there is a speedy response to that letter?

On the question of privacy provision, I listened carefully to what the Minister said. The recommendation of the Intelligence and Security Committee was that there should be general safeguards on privacy. Clause 1 does not provide that. The Minister says that the safeguards run through the Bill. I will make the cheap point, but I will make it quickly. The only amendment to part 1 in response to the Intelligence and Security Committee was the insertion of the word “privacy” in the title. It used to say “General protections”, and it now says “General privacy protections”. However, clause 1 in itself is clearly not enough. It is true that there are safeguards in the Bill, but there is also considerable inconsistency, and that is where overarching principles would play their part.

I will flag up for the Committee three examples of that inconsistency. It is the sort of inconsistency that an overarching provision would deal with. The first is in the draft code of practice on the interception of communications that is before the Committee, which we will consider further this morning. There is a strong proposition in paragraph 4.7 of the draft code, under the heading:

“Is the investigatory power under consideration appropriate in the specific circumstances?”

It states:

“No interference with privacy should be considered proportionate if the information which is sought could reasonably be obtained by other less intrusive means.”

So there is a clear proposition on necessity; it is not necessary if information can be obtained by other less intrusive means.

It is welcome in the code of practice. It should be in the statute, but there is an inconsistency. For example, clause 17(4), which we will get to later, sets out the power of the Secretary of State to issue warrants and sets out what the Secretary of State must take into account. Clause 17(1) sets out in clear terms the necessity test and the proportionality test, but subsection 17(4) in this critical clause states:

“The matters to be taken into account in considering whether the conditions in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) are met”— the necessity of proportionality—

“include whether the information which it is considered necessary to obtain under the warrant could reasonably be obtained by other means.”

We have an inconsistency that should not be there. The code is clear: a measure cannot be necessary if information could reasonably be obtained by other less intrusive means. On the face of the statute, that is an inconsistency because the Secretary of State is told that it is a matter to take into account, but not an overarching rule. We will obviously debate that, but that is precisely why an overarching provision is needed.

I will give two other examples. The filtering clauses—clause 58 and following—set out how filtering arrangements are intended to work, but there is no reference to privacy or the weight to be given to privacy. It is similar, by way of example, in clause 67, which deals with single points of contact. I use those as examples, but the point is that it is easy to say that privacy runs through the Bill. The question is whether, in its practical application to each section, it is adequately dealt with. In our view, an overarching provision would help in each case where there is either an absence of a specific reference to privacy or in some cases inconsistency. We will table a new clause towards the end of the process, but it may be that in discussions with the Minister and others we can seek to advance this in a way that is acceptable to the whole Committee. However, the inconsistencies are there.

I would like some indication from the Minister as to how the Committee is to approach the code of practice. I say up front that we welcome the fact that the code is available. We asked for it to be available for the Committee—I do not think the Committee could do its work without the code of practice, and I appreciate that a huge amount of effort will have gone in behind the scenes to ensure that the material was available to the Committee on time.

A lot of detail is in the code of practice and the Committee does not have the ability to amend it. It will not be consulted upon until the Bill becomes law, so there is a practical problem. Where we identify a deficiency in the code of practice or suggest an amendment—it is not a formal amendment, of course—how does the Minister propose that we deal with that? To some extent, I suspect that some of my points about definition and clarity and the setting out of powers will be met by the argument that such points are in the code of practice. The problem is that we cannot amend the code of practice in Committee. When it comes to be considered after consultation, the whole of the code will be up for the vote and not the individual provisions, so there is a gap that we need to find a practical way through.

You will have noted, Ms Dorries, that many of the amendments tabled by the Scottish National party and the Labour party are identical. The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West and I have divided up the work on those amendments. I hope that is not objectionable in any way—it at least puts the whole of the amendments before the Committee. One of us will lead on the amendments and the other, with your permission, will follow immediately on so that we cover the whole of the amendments. Everybody will therefore know the points we are making before we proceed to the open debate. It is intended to assist the Committee and to save time, but I ask your indulgence.

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs) 9:45, 12 Ebrill 2016

I welcome you to the Chair, Ms Dorries and it is a pleasure to serve under your chairwomanship. I would like to make some brief opening remarks on behalf of the Scottish National party in response to the Minister. We acknowledge the attempt to codify and modernise the law, and we think that the attempt is laudable. However, we think that the execution of this attempt is not laudable. We believe that there has been a rush to legislate, and it is not only we who say that. Members will remember that, when evidence was given to the Committee by Jo Cavan, the head of the Interception Commissioner’s Office, she spoke of an aggressive timeline for the Bill. When I asked her to elaborate on that, she said:

“It is a really complicated and significant piece of legislation. Although I broadly support the Bill, because it is a good thing to put a number of the powers used by the intelligence agencies on a clearer statutory footing and to try to improve transparency, I do think that the scrutiny process has been very hurried. That is of concern because there are some significant privacy implications to the clauses in the Bill. There is still a long way to go towards strengthening some of the safeguards. Also, a lot of the operational detail is in the codes of practice. It is really important that those are scrutinised properly, line by line.”––[Official Report, Investigatory Powers Public Bill Committee, 24 March 2016; c. 70.]

She agreed with me that the time afforded for scrutiny of the Bill is inadequate, particularly with regards to the international legal implications of aspects of the Bill.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I have no wish to delay us unduly or indeed to embarrass the hon. and learned Lady, but I remember the evidence that was given. As she will remember, I challenged the witness on it because, as I said earlier, I cannot recall another piece of legislation that has enjoyed such close scrutiny over such a period of time. Can the hon. and learned Lady think of another such piece of legislation?

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

I do not recall legislation of such detail and such constitutional significance. I have only been in this House for nine months, but I have followed the operation of this House closely since I was a teenager. This is a massive Bill, and it is its constitutional significance that matters. I chaired an event last night at which the chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales spoke. She raised her concerns about the rush to legislate because of the constitutional significance of the legislation and its implications for the rule of law. The Minister does not embarrass me at all. I wholeheartedly stand by what I say. It is a widely held view, across parties and across society, that there is not sufficient time for the scrutiny of this legislation.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Ceidwadwyr, North Dorset

Will the hon. and learned Lady give way?

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

I will make some progress, if I may. I would like to echo the comments of the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras about the proper role of the Opposition, which I spoke about on Second Reading. As he said, it is the proper role of the Opposition to robustly challenge the legislation, to push back on it and to probe, hopefully with a view to improving it. That is why my party did not vote the legislation down on Second Reading. We are honestly engaged here in a process of improvement, but if the Government are not prepared to listen to us then we may well vote against the legislation at a later stage.

I echo what the hon. and learned Gentleman said about the failure to amend the draft Bill to deal with the ISC concerns regarding the lack of overarching principles on privacy. I also strongly echo what he said about a request for the Minister to clarify how the Committee is to approach the codes of practice which, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, this Committee does not have the power to amend, and which contain some enormously important detail. Jo Cavan, the head of the Interception Commissioner’s Office, also drew attention to that in her evidence.

On Second Reading on the Floor of the House, I promised to table radical amendments. The SNP has tabled radical amendments to the part of the Bill we will look at today. We want to ensure that surveillance is targeted, that it is based on reasonable suspicion, and that it is permitted only after a warrant has been issued by a judge rather than by a politician. We want to expand the category of information which will be accessible only by warrant, and to ensure that warrants may not be provided without proper justification. We also want to remove the widely drafted provisions of the Bill that would allow modification of warrants and urgent warrants without any judicial oversight. Those provisions, if they remain in the Bill, will drive a coach and horses through the so-called double-lock protection in the legislation.

We have also laid amendments to ensure a proper and consistent approach to the safeguards afforded to members of the public who correspond with lawyers, parliamentarians and journalists. We want to put a public interest defence into the offence of disclosure of the existence of a warrant. Those are the sort of radical, principled amendments that we believe are required to render parts 1 and 2 of the Bill compliant with international human rights law, bring the Bill into line with practice in other western democracies and meet the concerns of the UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy. We recognise that the security services and the police require adequate powers to fight terrorism and serious crime, but the powers must be shown to be necessary, proportionate and in accordance with law. If the House is not about the rule of law, it is about nothing.

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Ceidwadwyr, North Dorset

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. I do not agree with her and her party that the Bill is the constitutional earthquake they represent it to be. However, she has just referenced a point that would mean constitutional upheaval, if I heard her correctly—namely, to remove any political input, and therefore democratic accountability, to this House and to elected Members, and to bypass it all to unelected, unaccountable judges, though I mean that in no pejorative sense. To effectively create massive cleavage between democratic accountability and the day-to-day action allowing those things to go ahead would be a constitutional upheaval. Have the hon. and learned Lady and her party colleagues considered that viewpoint in that context?

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

We have considered it in detail and I will be addressing it later in my submissions to the Committee. The hon. Gentleman and I will have to differ in our view on this. I do not consider that there is anything constitutionally unusual in judges being solely responsible for the issue of warrants. That happens in a lot of other western democracies—it is called the separation of powers. The idea that Ministers are democratically accountable to this House for the issuance of warrants on the grounds of national security is nonsense. I will explain later why I consider that to be so.

I was trying to stress that the SNP position is that we recognise the necessity of having adequate powers. I hope to be writing the security policy for an independent Scotland before I am an old lady and I would want to have a responsible, modern security policy that dovetails with that of England and other countries in these islands, but I want to model it on what other western democracies are doing, rather than going as far as this Bill, which, without proper justification, goes beyond what other western democracies do. The SNP intends to table amendments to deal with what I called on Second Reading the fantastically intrusive provisions of this Bill regarding internet connection records and bulk powers. We also want to look at ensuring a proper oversight commission, but that is for a later date. I look forward to addressing amendments on parts 1 and 2 of the Bill.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

The shadow Minister raised a number of issues, some of which related to the letter he mentioned—I have a copy—which the shadow Home Secretary sent to the Home Secretary. This consideration is an answer to the letter; I might even go so far as to say that I am the personification of the answer to the letter. None the less, it is important that a reply is drawn up, not least because that reply will be useful to the Opposition in helping to frame their further ideas. For that reason, I will ensure that a reply to the letter is sent in good time, so that all members of the Committee, mindful of that response to the original letter, can form their consideration accordingly..

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

I accept that we will deal with most of the points in the letter when we get to specific clauses—that is an appropriate way forward. The issue of most concern in the letter, which I ask the Minister to consider, is that of the independent assessment of bulk powers. The Committee will not be looking at the operational case in the way that is called for in the letter. It is simply a timing issue: if there is to be any movement here, it needs to be quick. A speedy response would be welcome.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 10:00, 12 Ebrill 2016

Let me deal with that specific point. It is true that there will always be a debate about what is on the face of Bills and what is in supporting documentation. The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned the codes of practice. I emphasise these are draft codes of practice and, of course, it is important that the consideration by the Committee informs how their final version will be framed. The reason we published them was partly so that we could have a better debate here and learn from it in drawing up the final codes of practice.

The hon. and learned Gentleman will know very well that there is a perennial argument about how much is placed on the face of the Bills because of the problem that creates in terms of rigidity, particularly in highly dynamic circumstances, such as those we face in relation to some of these matters. However, I accept that from a legal perspective what is on the face of the Bill adds additional weight to the protections that the hon. and learned Gentleman seeks. I understand that argument and have no doubt it will permeate much of what we consider. I re-emphasise that the codes of practice are themselves not set in stone and will undoubtedly metamorphose as a result of our considerations.

The hon. and learned Gentleman raised a second point in respect of bulk powers and particularly the operational case that needs to be made for such powers. This is a highly sensitive issue. All Governments of all political persuasions have recognised that, because we are dealing with some matters that cannot be debated publicly. That applies to the operational case that the Security Services might need to make when requesting powers to intercept communications, for example, but it could be the case with a number of other powers.

Furthermore, I accept that there are particular sensitivities in respect of bulk powers. The hon. and learned Gentleman and the Committee have been briefed by the intelligence and security services as part of our considerations. He will know that GCHQ use bulk powers very extensively in a number of highly sensitive operations, and there is a limit to how much of that can be placed on the face of the Bill or even made available more widely.

The hon. and learned Gentleman will also know that the Intelligence and Security Committee has privileged access to more information than the House as a whole. It exists, in part, for that purpose. It provides a means by which the Government can be held to account by a Committee made up of members of all political parties in this House. The case that the shadow Home Secretary makes on the definition of the operational case for exercise of these powers is something that we will consider. However, I emphasise that we are treading on quite sensitive ground here and there may be a limit to how far the Home Secretary or I can go. I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will want to acknowledge that.

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

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.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

I do not want to get into a great debate about this now because we are at the beginning of the Bill and this will come up again during further consideration. I acknowledge that the hon. and learned Gentleman has recognised there is a sensitivity about how much can be put in the Bill and how much can be debated in a public forum. He is right that we tread a tightrope between making sure that we have public confidence that the system is fit for purpose, but also proportionate, and on the other hand not tying the hands of those wishing to keep us safe. That is the tightrope that every Government of all persuasions has had to walk.

Whether the hon. and learned Gentleman is right about a changing public mood is more debatable. Most surveys of the public mood suggest a very high level of confidence in our intelligence and security services and the powers that they exercise, so I am not sure there is a great public clamour for them not to be able to do some of the things they have to do. Contextually, given the threat we now face, I suspect most of the public would say they need absolutely all the powers necessary to face down that threat, so I am not absolutely sure that we do not occasionally see these things through the prism of a chattering class view of what the public should think, rather than what the public actually think. I am committed to the idea of politicians continuing to be involved in these things, because we have a regular and direct link to the British public and are in a pretty good position to gauge what their attitudes to such matters might be. So the issues are sensitive, but I appreciate the spirit and tone of the hon. and learned Gentleman and I am determined that we get this right in a way that we can both be comfortable with in the end.

The hon. and learned Gentleman asked how we might subsequently deal with issues around authorisation. We will have a chance to debate that at greater length as we go through the Bill, so it would be inappropriate to do so now. That point was made by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West. I think we are going to disagree about quite a lot of these matters, not because I do not want to move ahead in the spirit of generosity and unanimity where we can possibly do so, but I think that my position is more like that of the former Home Secretaries who gave evidence to the Committee, Lord Reid and Charles Clarke, who were very clear that the involvement of Ministers in authorising powers is an important way in which the public can be represented in these areas. Ministers bring a particular insight to such work. I was unsurprised by their consideration, but pleased that they were able to reinforce the view that I know is held by almost everyone who has been involved in the warranting process in modern times.

We heard from the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my right hon. Friend Mr Paterson, in similar vein. Indeed, he was doubtful about giving judges any role in the process at all, and many others take that view. The Government, however—always anxious to achieve balance and compromise—developed the double-lock, which the hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned. It retains the involvement of Ministers, as Lord Reid and others argued we should, but introduces judicial involvement and, one might argue, adds a greater degree of empiricism to the process, as David Anderson recommended in his report.

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

The Minister will recall that, under questioning by the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras, Lord Judge, in his evidence to this Committee, expressed concern about the phrase “judicial review”. He said that it

“is a very easy phrase to use. It sounds convincing, but it means different things to different people…Personally, I think that when Parliament is creating structures such as these, it should define what it means by ‘judicial review’. What test will be applied by the judicial…commissioner, so that he knows what his function is, the Secretary of State knows what the areas of responsibility are and the public know exactly who decides what and in what circumstances? I myself do not think that judicial review is a sufficient indication of those matters.”––[Official Report, Investigatory Powers Public Bill Committee, 24 March 2016; c. 69, Q220.]

What are the Government going to do to take on board what that distinguished judge had to say about this matter?

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

Yes, but Lord Judge also went on to say in the same evidence session that what really matters is what Parliament actually wants. He wanted to be clear about what Parliament wants and to respond accordingly. I heard what Lord Judge said, but I also heard what Lord Reid and Charles Clarke said. Frankly, I see no evidence that the warranting process is not considered carefully by Ministers, that they do not take that work incredibly seriously, that they do not seek all the information they need to exercise reasonable judgment and that they do not apply the tests of necessity and proportionality diligently. Neither this Committee nor the Joint Committee heard evidence to suggest that there is anything faulty in that system.

I am a conservative, so I would be expected to say that if something works there is no good reason for changing it, but because I want to be moderate and reasonable—notwithstanding my conservatism—we introduced the double-lock. My goodness, we have already gone a very long way down the road.

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

We are going to get to this issue in due course. I will not take long, but it is important that I set it up, because the more thinking that can be done now, the more quickly we can deal with it when it comes up. There are two different issues. Lord Reid talked about whether the judiciary should be involved at all. Lord Judge asked, assuming that they are involved, about the test that they are to apply. He was concerned about judicial review because, as everybody knows, there are different forms of judicial review. Sometimes it involves close scrutiny, where the judges virtually make the decision themselves. In other circumstances, there is much more deference. He was concerned that, within that range, it is not clear what the judges are being asked to do.

There were a number of references in the questioning and on Second Reading to the necessity and proportionality tests. Of course, that is what the Secretary of State considers, but the judges’ function is different. On the face of the statute, their function is to review. The question is, what does that mean? We tabled amendments to that end. It is important that we do not confuse this matter. Lord Judge identified something very important, and when someone as distinguished as him says that what is on the face of the Bill is not clear enough, we have all got to go away and have a good, hard look at what the words are.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

The hon. and learned Gentleman is right that we should not debate things that are going to be debated later—Ms Dorries, you will draw me to order if I do so anyway. The important issues around judicial review principles will be debated when we come to a subsequent amendment. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General will deal with those matters. Lord Judge drew attention to the basis on which the double-lock will operate. The hon. and learned Gentleman is right about that. My point in response to the hon. and learned Lady’s argument was about whether politicians should be involved in the process at all. I do not mean to be unkind to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I certainly do not want to start off in anything other than a convivial spirit. However, given that the shadow Home Secretary’s letter talks about an equal lock, given that he has argued for the simultaneous presentation of the material to both parties and given the a great debate about the same information being available to the judicial commissioner and the Home Secretary, I was slightly surprised to find that amendments had been tabled that would take the Home Secretary out of the process altogether.

That is an extraordinary proposal, given that the Government have tried to strike a reasonable balance, as I say. As the hon. and learned Gentleman will say—and if I do not say it I am sure he will recognise that I am avoiding the issue—we did so in part because that is what the independent commissioner recommended. As the hon. and learned Gentleman will know, the commissioner made the argument in his report before the draft Bill that it was important to have judicial involvement in the process. We listened to that. It was not the status quo position, and it was not the position that previous Governments had adopted, but we felt that it was right to use the Bill to add that additional check to the system. It is a very significant change. I repeat what I said earlier, that it is perhaps the most significant change in authorisation since the intelligence and security services began in their modern form.

We are beginning to stray into areas that will be debated later. I will end by saying that it has already become clear that the Committee recognises that we are all doing a highly significant piece of work, because this is a very significant change—indeed, it is a landmark change. It is important that we get this right, and that we come out of this Committee having given the Bill the consideration it requires to allow it to be in as good a form as possible as it continues its passage through this House and beyond. This Bill is iterative, as are all Bills. It must both give the powers that are necessary to those who need them, and put into place those vital checks and balances that guarantee the public interest and maintain proper privacy.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2