Enforcement of notices and certain other requirements and restrictions

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:30 pm ar 19 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General 4:30, 19 Ebrill 2016

I was coming to that. We are talking about a duty here; the earlier clause the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to is an offence. That will, I think, explain the importantly different context.

To deal with the question of “reasonable excuse”, the problem is that once the information is out in the public domain, it cannot be withdrawn—whether that information has been introduced with good or bad intentions does not matter. It cannot be right for the Bill to allow a person to release sensitive information in that way and then subsequently rely on a “reasonable excuse”.

May I deal with clause 84(4), which is relevant to this provision? It provides an exemption where the Secretary of State has given permission for the existence of the notice to be revealed. The Government intend that such permission would be given, for example, where a provider wishes to discuss the existence of their retention notice with another provider subject to similar requirements. Should the operator wish to reveal the existence of the notice, they should discuss the matter with the Secretary of State, and in such circumstances permission is likely to be given. There will be those sort of scenarios, as I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will understand, and they will help improve the operational model.

My concern about using the “reasonable excuse” provision in the context of a duty would be that it would undermine the important policy objective that I have set out. For that reason I would urge the hon. and learned Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.