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 John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 12:45, 21 Ebrill 2016

Let me make a general point about something that has punctuated our discussions; it may to some degree satisfy the hon. and learned Gentleman. The codes of practice are, of course, vitally important. They have metamorphosed over time and continue to do so, partly as a result of the scrutiny the Bill went through before it came to the House. The codes of practice are extremely detailed in respect of interference, as he will know, and on page 21 they deal with the relationship between equipment interference and privacy:

“Equipment interference agencies must not intrude into privacy any more than is necessary to carry out their functions or enable others to do so.”

The process by which an equipment interference warrant is authorised, and the subsequent use of that warrant, are properly constrained by those necessary requirements around intrusion and privacy. Notwithstanding that general point, the purpose of the amendments is twofold. As the hon. and learned Gentleman said, the first deals with the time before the judicial commissioner examines an urgent warrant. The second deals with the length of a warrant per se. Let me, for the sake of excitement, deal with them in reverse order.

The length of time that the initial warrant pertains was not challenged by any of the Committees that looked at the Bill, and there has been no great clamour or call about it, not least because of an understanding that these investigations or cases, as I said in an earlier debate, are often complex and dynamic; as they change rapidly, they require powers to pertain and continue over time. I will deal fairly dismissively—I do not mean that with undue contumely—with the second part of this short discussion.