Duration of warrants

Part of Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:45 pm ar 21 Ebrill 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 12:45, 21 Ebrill 2016

The clause deals with the duration of warrants, and amendment 635 deals with subsection (2), which is concerned with urgent equipment interference warrants that, because they are urgent, have not been through a judicial commissioner. Under the subsection, warrants cease to have effect at the end of five working days after the day on which they are issued. I have a number of observations on that. We touched on the urgent provision. Up until now in the Bill, the provision has been for urgent warrants to remain valid for three working days. For equipment interference, we leap to five. I would certainly like an explanation why. A warrant that allows interference with computers and laptops for obtaining communications and other information suddenly moves from three days to five—not just five days, but five working days. That means that on occasion it could be seven days, and with a bank holiday it could be eight days, so we are moving well beyond the realms of an urgent warrant.

This amendment is similar to one relating to other urgent provisions that aimed to bring the duration down to 24 hours. There is a real concern about urgent warrants and how long they last. Very strong justification is required for allowing an urgent warrant that has not gone through the double lock to continue for between five and eight days. If the Minister is not about to provide that, I hope he will accept the amendment.