Extra-territorial application of Part 3

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 19 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 2:00, 19 Ebrill 2016

I beg to move amendment 150, in clause 76, page 59, line 26, after “Kingdom”, insert

“the notice shall be served at that person’s principal office outside the United Kingdom where it is established for the provision of services. Where it is considered unfeasible or inappropriate in the circumstances,”.

Photo of Nadine Dorries Nadine Dorries Ceidwadwyr, Mid Bedfordshire

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 151, in clause 76, page 59, line 39, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

“(4) Subsections (1) or (2) of section 57 shall not be applicable where the taking of any steps by a relevant operator outside the United Kingdom—

(a) would cause the operator to act contrary to any laws or restrictions under the law of the country or territory where it is established, for the provision of services, or

(b) could be achieved via a notice served pursuant to an international mutual assistance agreement or subject to an EU mutual assistance instrument.”.

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

We return to familiar territory here, in relation to the extraterritorial application of authorisations under part 3. When I made my observations last week, I outlined the concerns that a number of service providers and tech companies have; I do not intend to repeat them.

Amendment 150 would tighten the service provisions in relation to the extraterritorial application of part 3. Amendment 151 would introduce a restriction that had the effect of not requiring a relevant operator outside the UK

“to act contrary to any laws or restrictions under the law of the country or territory where it is established, for the provision of services,” or to take steps that

“could be achieved via a notice served pursuant to an international mutual assistance agreement or subject to an EU mutual assistance instrument.”

We reached this point last week in relation to provisions that were not dissimilar. The Minister made various points, both about service and about other provisions—particularly those relating to the way international mutual assistance agreements currently work. I will not press these amendments to a vote, for the same reasons as last week, but would indicate that the thrust and purpose of the amendments was to anticipate the agreements on extraterritorial application that it is hoped will be reached—particularly with the US—and that are being negotiated at the moment.

Let me make one or two of the wider points that came up in discussion last week and that, in fairness, I ought to deal with. When we debated equivalent provisions last week, the hon. Member for Louth and Horncastle pointed out that some of the concerned companies and service providers had not given oral evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill. She will be pleased to know that they are all listening to our proceedings or reading the transcripts and paying keen attention. They were keen to point out that it was not a refusal of principle; they were given very short notice and were asked to come as a team on the same day and at the same time, which was not available to them. I am simply putting their points. They did submit strong written evidence. They later discovered that the Committee took some evidence by Skype, but that was not offered to them.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Ceidwadwyr, Louth and Horncastle 2:15, 19 Ebrill 2016

The hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate I was not chairing the Committee, so this is very much my own impression of what went on. Lord Murphy was, as one would expect, very keen to accommodate the service providers and the Committee Clerks proposed several dates. We were grateful for the written evidence and formed the view we did, but it would have been nice if they could have fitted us into their busy schedules.

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

We probably will not gain much by arguing the detail, particularly as I was not there. The point that the service providers wanted to get across was that in principle they did want to give evidence. They gave written evidence. It was simply that the dates would not work for them as a group, rather than any unwillingness to share their concerns.

The Minister for Security raised a point about the Sheinwald arrangements and the progress being made. As I said a moment ago, these amendments are intended to foreshadow the—I hope—new world of working arrangements, which will cover not only evidence for use in prosecutions but the facilitation of the exercise of powers of this Bill in much faster time than some of the current mutual assistance agreements. The Minister made a further point about the differing views of the companies concerned. There are different views about some aspects of the Bill, but on the issues of extraterritorial application they speak with one voice.

There is an important broader issue to put on the table. As we move forward to international agreements, particularly with the US, it is very important that not only our Government but the US Government are comfortable with the arrangements, because whatever arrangements are put in place will be reciprocal.

Finally, may I hand a schedule to you, Ms Dorries, to the Minister and his team and to the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West? I do not intend to speak at great length to this document, which was prepared for me. What it points out is the inconsistency in approach on extraterritorial jurisdiction. It is quite telling in a number of respects. It tracks whether there is extraterritorial jurisdiction, which clauses give rise to it, whether there is a reasonableness test or a reference to conflict of laws built in, whether it is enforced by overseas service providers, whether there is an international mutual assistance framework and whether there is an obligation on the Secretary of State to consult. What struck me when I went through the document was the inconsistencies. If they are intentional inconsistencies that can be defended, all well and good. I am simply bringing it to the Minister’s attention that we have found these apparent inconsistencies. If they are not intentional, it might be a good idea if somebody looked at them to tidy up the provisions and ensure that where they should be consistent, they are.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer Ceidwadwyr, South East Cambridgeshire

I am looking at the hon. and learned Gentleman’s amendment 150, and of course it is necessary to serve someone so that they get notice. The provisions of service are always about the substance of whether the person gets the notice. It is clear to me from the current drafting that if there were service in accordance with any of clause 76(3), the company would get notice. I have a few concerns about the amendment. I am very wary, because people often take points of service to disrupt a substantive issue. It would be unfortunate if people could take the point that they were not properly served and therefore not comply. Does “principal office” have a meaning in other jurisdictions? If there are different services, will “provision of services” cause confusion? What is the meaning of “unfeasible or inappropriate” and how will it be applied? I believe that the clause will maintain what is desired, which is that it will come to the company’s attention, so I am slightly concerned about the amendment.

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

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Lady for her intervention. I am not pressing amendments 150 and 151. They have been put forward to draw attention to concerns. The hon. and learned Lady made submissions last week about service in relation to civil proceedings under the White Book, which I noted and could see the sense of. I do not want to push amendment 150 and accept that “unfeasible” and “inappropriate” may not be the best way to articulate the point.

What underlies both amendments is a genuine concern on the part of those who, when the Bill receives Royal Assent, will be called on to assist in relation to warrants and who want clarity on how the procedure is to operate, what they are to do and what the safeguards are, in particular when they find themselves, as we mentioned last week, required under penalty of criminal proceedings in this country to do something that constitutes an offence in the country in which they are operating. That is a very real concern for them.

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

I shall deal as pithily as is possible with the points the hon. and learned Gentleman made. The first was his helpful contribution in the form of this schematic, to which I will not respond now. He would not expect me to as I have only just seen it. It might form part of my next letter to the Committee to explain why in different parts of the Bill these matters are handled in different ways. In doing so, I will implicitly consider his point about whether that is healthy eclecticism or unhappy inconsistency.

Secondly, it is important to point out that clause 76 essentially maintains provisions on extraterritoriality as they are now, replicating the arrangements under RIPA, clarified by the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014. The hon. and learned Gentleman is right, but there is nothing new here.

Thirdly, there is a need to retain flexibility about where the notices are served. I take the hon. and learned Gentleman’s point that companies may take a view on these things, and sometimes those might be overlapping or conflicting views about different aspects of the Bill, but in those terms it is important to maintain a degree of flexibility about the communications data notice and where it can be delivered.

Fourthly, on the hon. and learned Gentleman’s point about coming more speedily to an agreement that is more satisfactory than either current arrangements or those that might be delivered through a mutual legal assistance treaty, I can offer the Committee the assurance, as I have previously, that that work is under way. We are hopeful—indeed, confident—that we can achieve the sort of outcome that he has described. He referred, as I did, to the comments of David Anderson, which were critical of the mutual legal assistance treaty process on the grounds that it is slow. It is not always the best way of achieving the objective set out in the Bill, because it is not designed for that purpose but an entirely different one.

Finally, I would say that this is really important. Although the hon. and learned Gentleman is right that this is a particular part of a particular part of the Bill and so could be overlooked, it is important to understand that, in terms of the objectives we seek to achieve—that is, those of us who want the Bill to work well, which I think applies to the whole Committee—these powers are significant. Much of what happens is now happening overseas and much of the process by which we deal with overseas organisations is vital to the work of our security services and others. Dealing with extraterritorial matters is significant, but not straightforward. It is dynamic, for the reasons that we have both offered to the Committee. In that respect, I believe we have got the Bill about where it wants to be. I do not say that these things will not evolve over time, but for the purposes we have set out, the clause works.

As with all these things, I start from the perspective of wanting to be both convivial and conciliatory; both helpful and positive. I never ignore arguments put in these Committees or on the Floor of the House, as people know who know how I operate. The House has an important function in making government as good as it can be, and that is partly about the interaction and tension between Government and Opposition. Of course I am always prepared to listen, but I think we have got this right. With the appropriate humility, I suggest that we move on.

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

I indicated would not press the amendments at this stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

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

I oppose the clause. I hear what the Minister has to say, but I am not reassured by the Government’s approach. Harking back to something I said last week, I do not think that the Government have got the balance right, because in seeking to gather to themselves an extraterritorial application through United Kingdom law, there are hidden dangers.

If international companies are required to arbitrate between conflicting legal systems, it is leaving the protection of human rights to the good will and judgment of those companies. Companies such as the ones the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras mentioned have already expressed concerns to David Anderson, for his report “A Question of Trust”, that

“unqualified cooperation with the British government would lead to expectations of similar cooperation with authoritarian governments, which would not be in their customers’, their own corporate or democratic governments’ interests.”

In my view, the most appropriate way forward is to pursue the route, which I am pleased the Minister has assured us that the Government are well down, of mutual legal assistance agreements with other states. If we do not pursue that route in the way that both David Anderson and Sir Nigel Sheinwald recommended with appropriate alacrity, and instead rely simply on clauses such as this one, which are spread throughout the Bill, we will create real difficulty for corporate entities. We will also create difficulties for the international enforcement of human rights, which I consider a bit more important than difficulties for corporate entities, although we should not set the latter to one side, because they are significant. For that reason, notwithstanding the Minister’s assurances, the SNP opposes clause stand part.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 2:30, 19 Ebrill 2016

I will not make a case again for the clause, but I shall say this, in the spirit of helpfulness and kindness. It is really important that the Committee sends out a combined message to overseas communications service providers—on which the obligations will have an important effect because their commercial endeavours have a significant relationship with the powers we are trying to cement in the Bill—so that they have a very clear impression that we as a Committee of this Parliament are clear that we expect them to do their bit to do what is right. We should not, out of a sense of good will, allow ourselves to be misled and encouraged not to have high expectations or make serious demands of those organisations.

I simply say to the hon. and learned Lady that clause 76 is about giving a clear signal, as does clause 57, with which it should be read in tandem, that telecommunications operators should comply with the notice given, whether or not they are in this country. I accept that that is difficult and challenging—I made that point at the outset—but my goodness, it is vital that we take these steps. I know that she is open-minded and a woman of great good will, but we should not allow that to dilute in any way that common message to those big companies. I do not want those companies to get away with anything that that should not get away with.

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

I am not so much concerned about the message we send out to the companies; I am more concerned about the message we send out internationally and potentially to authoritarian regimes. The difficulty is that if the British Government demand from these companies unqualified co-operation with British laws, that might encourage authoritarian Governments to do likewise. We clearly would not want that, so we need to be very careful about the messages we send out and think carefully about their full implications. That is why such matters should be approached by way of mutual legal agreement internationally, rather than the unilateral imposition of one Parliament’s will outwith the area where its sovereignty operates.

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

The Committee divided:

Ayes 9, Noes 2.

Rhif adran 23 Christmas Tree Industry — Extra-territorial application of Part 3

Ie: 9 MPs

Na: 2 MPs

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 76 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 77 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 78