Subject-matter of warrants

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:15 pm ar 19 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 6:15, 19 Ebrill 2016

I will return to that point because it is important and fair, and I will return to the Anderson critique in a moment, but before I do so, I want to be clear about the second thing that I said I would speak about—speed.

The kind of cases that I have outlined can move rapidly. The information that becomes available from the kind of initial inquiries that I have described, when the character or names of individual actors may not be known but will become known through these techniques, may require law enforcement agencies to act very quickly to avert further serious crime. Owing to the need for speed, it is vital that those missioned to protect us are able to exercise all the powers when they need to, with confidence and lawfully. The Anderson critique is why the codes of practice limit specifically how thematic warrants can be used. I draw the Committee’s attention to page 25 of the draft code of practice, which deals with such warrants and defines again, in some detail, exactly how they should be as specific as possible, given the breadth and speed requirements that I have set out.

I hear what is said about the David Anderson criticism. I think that we have gone further in being specific in the code of practice than we might have been expected to by our critics, but, rather as I said in relation to our consideration of an earlier group of amendments on warranting, I do not want to inhibit what is currently done; I do not want the Bill to leave the agencies and law enforcement with fewer powers; I do not want to leave them emasculated as a result of our consideration. It is right that we should have safeguards, definition, constraints and, where necessary, specificity, but these powers are vital to protect us from those who want to exploit our children and do us harm. Criminals are increasingly adaptable and sophisticated, rather like terrorists. We must outmatch them at every turn and I believe that those powers are vital for us to be able to do so. So I am unapologetic about making the case for them to the Committee and to Parliament.