Offence of making unauthorised disclosures

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:00 pm ar 14 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 3:00, 14 Ebrill 2016

This is an interesting amendment. It deals with the tension, which I think all Committee members recognise, between allowing the proper opportunity for those who have legitimate concerns to bring them forward to be dealt with and encouraging feckless complaint. Much of what we do in this House in framing law means dealing with that dilemma, and this is a good example.

The hon. and learned Gentleman—I think that the hon. and learned Lady said it first, actually—drew particular attention to the Joint Committee report. I refer to paragraph 629, which recommends that

“the Bill should contain an explicit provision for Communication Service Providers and staff in public authorities to refer directly to the Judicial Commissioners any complaint or concern they may have with the use of the powers under the Bill”,

and goes on similarly.

That is precisely what we intend and what we have tried to set out. That said, the hon. and learned Lady will understand that it is important to create a duty, as clause 49 does, not to make unauthorised disclosures. Clause 50 sets out the exceptions to that duty, and clause 51 provides for the offence of making an unauthorised disclosure. Providing a public interest defence of the kind that she discussed is unnecessary in light of the exceptions already in the Bill. In my view, it might even encourage feckless or unlawful disclosures.