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

I think the hon. and learned Lady is probably considering a different matter from the one I am talking about. I may have been insufficiently clear, so let me briefly make my case again. I am speaking about the second aspect of the amendments, which is to change the length of time for which a warrant lasts. She will know that, on that issue of duration, David Anderson argued that a serious crime warrant should be extended to last for six months rather than three months, bringing it into line with national security warrants. He explained that, when a warrant lasts only three months, it is often necessary to start preparing a renewal application without a full understanding of the impact of the original warrant. It is important to point out in that respect that equipment interference is not necessarily more intrusive than other techniques. The amendment is out of line with David Anderson’s view in that it seeks to curtail duration of a warrant.

That brings me to the first part. I think I may have confused the hon. and learned Lady by dealing with the points in reverse order, but I come now to the first part of what the amendments will do, which is the matter to which she refers—the five days or three. She will know that there was considerable discussion about that in the earlier stages of scrutiny in the Joint Committee.

The hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras queried whether it is reasonable for a warrant to be sought, granted and actioned for a longer period before the judicial commissioner looks at it—he mentioned weekends and bank holidays. That has been the subject of considerable debate, but my view is that there has to be sufficient time to put a warrant application to the Secretary of State and in turn to the judicial commissioner. The same individuals in the law enforcement and intelligence agencies who investigated the urgent threat will of course be producing the case for the renewal application. This is really about practical and operational issues, and our judgment is that on that practical and operational basis, we have got the time right.