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

Yes, but I am not so sure that, in the modern age, we do not live in precisely the opposite circumstance to the one the hon. and learned Lady sets out. All kinds of information are put into the public domain, whether for right or wrong and whether for good or bad reasons. That information cannot then be withdrawn and it is often taken to be fair and true, when it is anything but. I am not so sure that we do not need a process that is sufficiently rigorous that the commissioner is better placed to take a view on what is, or is not, in the public interest.

I will go further than that. It seems to me that, if we are going to have the commissioner, we have to vest power in his or her hands. If we then created all kinds of other means for dealing with these issues, I suspect that would undermine the commissioner’s significance and discourage people from taking their concerns to the commissioner.

However, I think perhaps we can reach a synthesis around the way we make the route known. In clause 203, we have done what the Joint Committee asked us to do—I note that there are distinguished Members sitting behind me who were on that Committee. But I am not sure that we have thought enough about how to inform people about the route they can take under clause 203, so I will ask my officials to look at that again. There is an information challenge here, because it is all very well for the cognoscenti—there are many of them in this room—to know about such things, but I am not sure that that is good enough. So I will meet the hon. and learned Lady halfway—halfway in my judgment, at least, even if not in hers—by ensuring that we look closely at how well informed people are about their ability to go down the route I have set out. On that basis, I ask her to withdraw the amendment.