Approval of warrants issued in urgent cases

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:30 pm ar 12 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Justice and Home Affairs) 5:30, 12 Ebrill 2016

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for being so precise and clear about that. Essentially, the concern about clause 22 is that the scope of the urgent mechanism is extremely broad and ill defined. In my view, it could fatally undermine any safeguard provided by a mechanism for judicial authorisation or indeed judicial review in the double lock.

The Bill provides that an urgent warrant can be issued by the Secretary of State in a case where she considers there is an “urgent need”, which is not defined. We then have the three-day period. As the hon. Lady said, no specific reason has been given for the selection of three days. The Joint Committee took the view that it should be shortened significantly to provide for approval within 24 hours. I think the ISC suggested 48 hours—I apologise if I have got that the wrong way round.

The purpose of the amendments is to remove the urgent provision in the Bill altogether or to restrict it to very limited circumstances, with the urgent authorisation having to take place during a 24-hour period. The concern underlying the amendments is that in their absence, the provisions for urgent warrants in the Bill will drive a coach and horses through even the double lock provision, because they will enable the judicial authorisation part of the procedure to be bypassed in very loosely defined circumstances. That is the case as precisely as I can put it.