15 July 2014 : Column 697

1.26 pm

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I want to speak very briefly in support of the comments made by the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw). I do not believe that this House has been walked over in a roughshod manner in some sort of North Korean despotic way, as some Members have implied. Honestly, I think that is foolish. I agree with my colleague from Wales, the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Mr Llwyd), that there could have been wider consultation on Privy Council terms with some of the smaller parties. There would still have been the same complaints raging from this place, but it should have taken place.

I saw none of the crocodile tears, righteous anger and indignation we have witnessed today when, year after year and decade after decade, four or five Members in this House debated emergency provisions relating to Northern Ireland. Hardly anyone turned up or gave a toss about what was happening, yet those provisions ran roughshod over Northern Ireland. The crocodile tears we have seen today are just that—crocodile tears. I hope we can move on to the substantive motion as quickly as possible.

1.27 pm

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): I do not doubt for an instant the seriousness of the Government’s concerns about their present legislative situation. I also wholeheartedly want to ensure that the police and the prosecuting authorities have the powers they need, so long as they are proportionate, to be able to secure convictions in some cases, such as those mentioned by Ministers. However, I just say very gently to this House that the reason that we developed over centuries a process whereby every piece of legislation has to go through three readings in this House, a Committee stage and a Report stage, with gaps between each of those stages, was that people in the country had a concern about the overbearing power of the Executive over the individual citizen. The Bill is expressly about that relationship—that is all it is about—and that is why we should be very cautious about suspending and concertinaing the process.

The Home Secretary said last week that it was essential to have a fast track. Well, yes, but there are many different ways of having fast tracks. Everything does not need to be done in one day; it could be done over two days, so there could be a proper process of listening to the debate on Second Reading and then tabling amendments, rather than having to table amendments before the debate has taken place. The only reason this is in any sense an emergency is that the Government spent far too long making up their mind on what to do.

When the House of Lords considered in the previous Parliament the process of fast-track legislation, they put forward some serious and sensible suggestions. First, where there is to be fast-track legislation, the Government should, on a standard basis, publish the legal advice that they believe backs up their case. That has not happened in this case. Secondly, there should always be a sunset clause. I accept that there is a sunset clause in the Bill. The sun will take a very long time to set, but none the less that is a matter for us to debate later on. Thirdly, they made it absolutely clear that wherever possible there should be a process of pre-legislative scrutiny. I do not believe that publication of the Bill last

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Friday in draft form and the Secretary of State appearing at the Home Affairs Committee yesterday was anywhere near adequate pre-legislative scrutiny of this because we are being asked to accept, on face value, the Government’s assurances that this is merely the status quo and that there is no change. We want to be able to test that, which is why I think we should always proceed very reluctantly when we concertina the standard processes that have been with us for centuries and which have stood us in good stead.

1.30 pm

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): Like some other hon. Members, I will be opposing the motion. This House should not be microwaving legislation on to the statute book under the confected urgency about which we have been told. We seem to have had a muddle within Government, a huddle between Government and Opposition and now an attempt to hurry and befuddle Parliament under the guise of various arguments and scares.

The Government may have arguments in favour of legislating in response to the judgment. We still have not heard a proper explanation for why that has not happened before now. The assurances offered by Ministers today that this Bill is simply a carry-on data retention measure—that it is pure continuity with no extension—are not assurances that I can accept. The nature of the Bill’s provisions seems to extend the legislation in a number of areas. Ministers will say that that is simply to clarify but, in effect, it extends the effect and the strength of the existing legislation in ways that go beyond the assurances of Ministers.

Legislation that is the subject of soft consensus without due consideration usually turns out to be poor legislation and, as legislators, we find it hard to take ownership of such legislation in the face of public concern and criticism. Credible legislators in this House should send a clear message to the Government, and offer some assurance to their electorate, that we will not as a legislature be treated in this way. We can do that very simply by voting against the motion.

1.32 pm

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): What we have been asked to do today—to railroad the Bill through Parliament—is, given the sheer importance of what we have been asked to consider, nothing short of outrageous. Let us not forget that we are bringing forward emergency legislation because the European Court of Justice ruled that what the UK Government were doing was unlawful. That alone should at least take two days of debate. The Home Secretary says that this is just business as usual. It is not. There are significant and substantial new powers being added to the Bill, whether that is international ISPs being brought into the frame or whether it is, as we have heard, the inclusion of other webmail services such as Gmail. This should all be properly considered by this House.

What do the public make of this? If we are not getting an opportunity to debate this properly, the public are not getting that opportunity. They expect us to be here to debate these things properly. I do not know about any other right hon. and hon. Member but I have been besieged by members of the public this morning, asking me to come to the debate to make the points that

15 July 2014 : Column 699

they feel are very contentious and which should be raised. We have something like three hours to debate a Second Reading, four hours in total to debate the necessary amendments and one hour for Third Reading. It is an absolute and utter disgrace that we have been asked to do this today.

What about the stitch-up we have between all the main parties? It is not just a question of the minority parties not being consulted on this; our devolved Administrations have not even been given the courtesy of one conversation about this. The Scottish Parliament is responsible for policing, justice and even parts of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Not one conversation about the Bill has taken place with Scottish Ministers. They have had no opportunity to look and consider the Bill. It is an absolute and utter disgrace. I hope that we never, ever do this again on something that is so important, significant and substantial to the people who elect us to the House.

1.34 pm

James Brokenshire: May I say to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) that the Government have had discussions with the Scottish Government in respect of these provisions? What this comes down to is the assurance of security for our citizens in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Government would not be legislating on a fast-track or emergency basis if we did not think that it was necessary. That underpins the approach that we have taken on the motion.

This is about maintaining the status quo. I hope that we will be able to get into that debate and hear the Home Secretary and others, and then get into the line-by-line analysis to show that that is the issue at stake. It is about ensuring that the police and our other agencies are able to do the job that they do day in, day out; using communications data and the interception powers that they have had to ensure that the public are protected.

Yes, this is about responding to a Court judgment and about responding to the uncertainty that that judgement has created, but I say clearly that that judgment did not say that the actions of the Government or of our agencies were unlawful. It was focused on the directive itself, whereas our existing law takes into account a vast array of other issues on human rights matters. We assert, and continue to assert, that the data retention regulations remain in full force and effect. However, the uncertainty and the risk that the judgment has occasioned mean that the Bill is required. Yes, as the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) highlighted, it was a complex judgment. That is why I think it was right for the Government to consider these issues carefully before coming back to the House and to assess the representations made by industry on the uncertainty that the judgment has occasioned.

It is known that the House is able to bring forward fast-track legislation in circumstances where we have had adverse judgments. It is also why, in doing so, there are termination provisions, which the Bill sets out. There is a legal risk here. We believe that it is the responsibility of the Government to protect the public

15 July 2014 : Column 700

and to guard national security. That is why we are bringing the Bill before the House this afternoon and why we believe the fast track process is needed.

Question put.

The House divided:

Ayes 436, Noes 49.

Division No. 35]

[

1.37 pm

AYES

Abrahams, Debbie

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Andrew, Stuart

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Balls, rh Ed

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Barron, rh Kevin

Barwell, Gavin

Bayley, Hugh

Bebb, Guto

Begg, Dame Anne

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blackwood, Nicola

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bradley, Karen

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, rh Tom

Bray, Angie

Brennan, Kevin

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Bruce, Fiona

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burden, Richard

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burnham, rh Andy

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, rh Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Ann

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Geraint

Davies, Glyn

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dinenage, Caroline

Dobbin, Jim

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Dromey, Jack

Duddridge, James

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Esterson, Bill

Eustice, George

Evans, Chris

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Farrelly, Paul

Farron, Tim

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Freer, Mike

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Glass, Pat

Glen, John

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodman, Helen

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Green, Kate

Greening, rh Justine

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gwynne, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Halfon, Robert

Hamilton, Mr David

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Healey, rh John

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Henderson, Gordon

Hendrick, Mark

Hendry, Charles

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Herbert, rh Nick

Hermon, Lady

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hollingbery, George

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunt, Tristram

Huppert, Dr Julian

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Marcus

Jones, Susan Elan

Jowell, rh Dame Tessa

Kane, Mike

Kawczynski, Daniel

Keeley, Barbara

Kelly, Chris

Kendall, Liz

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Khan, rh Sadiq

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Latham, Pauline

Laws, rh Mr David

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Chris

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Loughton, Tim

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McVey, rh Esther

Meale, Sir Alan

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Miller, rh Maria

Milton, Anne

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morden, Jessica

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munn, Meg

Munt, Tessa

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

O'Donnell, Fiona

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Onwurah, Chi

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Owen, Albert

Paice, rh Sir James

Paisley, Ian

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Pearce, Teresa

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Sir John

Reed, Mr Steve

Reevell, Simon

Reeves, Rachel

Reid, Mr Alan

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robertson, John

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Sawford, Andy

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Alok

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shuker, Gavin

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, David

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Angela

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spellar, rh Mr John

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Swales, Ian

Swinson, Jo

Tami, Mark

Teather, Sarah

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Thurso, John

Tomlinson, Justin

Trickett, Jon

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Uppal, Paul

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vaz, rh Keith

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walley, Joan

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Watts, Mr Dave

Weatherley, Mike

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Harriett Baldwin

and

Jenny Willott

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Betts, Mr Clive

Binley, Mr Brian

Bone, Mr Peter

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dorries, Nadine

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Flello, Robert

Francis, Dr Hywel

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Hames, Duncan

Havard, Mr Dai

Heath, Mr David

Hemming, John

Hoey, Kate

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McDonnell, John

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mills, Nigel

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Turner, Mr Andrew

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Williams, Hywel

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Noes:

Jeremy Corbyn

and

Steve Baker

Question accordingly agreed to.

15 July 2014 : Column 701

15 July 2014 : Column 702

15 July 2014 : Column 703

15 July 2014 : Column 704

Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill

Second Reading

1.51 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

In my statement to the House last Thursday, I made clear the urgent need for narrow and limited legislation on communications data and interception. There is no greater duty for a Government than the protection and security of their citizens when we face the very real and serious prospect that the police, law enforcement agencies and the security and intelligence agencies will lose vital capabilities which they need in order to do their jobs. Communications data—the “who, where, when and how” of a communication, but not its content—and interception, which provides the legal power to acquire the content of a communication, are crucial to fighting crime, protecting children, and combating terrorism.

Communications data can be used to piece together the activities of suspects, victims and vulnerable people. They can prove or disprove alibis. They can identify links between potential criminals. They can tie suspects and victims to a crime scene, and they can help to find a vulnerable person who is at risk of imminent harm. Interception—which can take place only in limited circumstances, and with a warrant authorised by a Secretary of State—can prove vital to the investigation of the activities of suspected terrorists and serious criminals. Without those capabilities, we run the risk that murderers will not be caught, terrorist plots will go undetected, drug traffickers will go unchallenged, child abusers will not be stopped, and slave drivers will continue their appalling trade in human beings.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): Will the Home Secretary put some flesh on the bones of what she has said, particularly for the benefit of Northern Ireland, which gives reality to this? I understand that in the past three years more than 300 people have been convicted of serious and organised crimes. Can the Home Secretary confirm that many of them were brought to justice as a result of this very type of intelligence activity?

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The use of exactly this sort of data is important not just to the investigation of crime, but to the bringing of criminals to prosecution. Work done by the Crown Prosecution Service has shown that communications data have been used in 95% of serious and organised crime cases, and that that has been important not just to the investigation but to the prosecution. These are important data: they are vital to the fight against crime and the fight against terrorists.

However, as I explained last week, we currently face two immediate problems. First, the recent judgment by the European Court of Justice has called into question the legal basis on which we require communications service providers in the United Kingdom to retain communications data. Secondly, we face the increasingly pressing need to put beyond doubt the legal obligation for communications service providers who supply services to people in the UK to comply with our laws on interception, irrespective of where they are based.

15 July 2014 : Column 705

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): The Home Secretary has, I am sure, been advised that the Bill will be within the continuing scope of European Union law, and that the charter of fundamental rights and the general principles of European law will continue to apply. No doubt she will also understand that the Bill is itself subject to future challenge by the European Court of Justice. I draw attention to my manuscript amendment, which I hope will be selected, and which would remove any doubt about the fact that the Bill, if enacted, will have full effect notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972

Mrs May: I note what my hon. Friend has said, but, having examined the judgment of the European Court of Justice, we believe that UK legislation already complies with many parts of it, and we have specifically ensured that other issues that were not addressed in the judgment are addressed in the Bill.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): The Home Secretary says that she has brought the Bill into line with the EU ruling. However, the ruling made it very clear that blanket retention of data was not permissible, and that retention of data must be specific to a threat regarding a group of people or a particular time. It is precisely that blanket retention that has been ruled illegal.

Mrs May: One of the issues that emerged from the ruling of the European Court of Justice was the scope of the data retention directive. The Court believed that it was too broad, and that it was necessary to be more specific about the purposes for which data could be retained. Our legislation was already specific, but we have looked at it again, and we are very clear about its focus in terms of how it will be operated and in terms of its scope. We are addressing the very issue that was raised by the Court.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): Both today and last week, the Home Secretary has drawn a distinction between the data and the content. May I suggest to her that reliance on that distinction may not be legally valid in the future? For a start, she has already said that the data are often used to establish or disprove an alibi, and thus to prove someone’s whereabouts. They can be used to establish whether someone banks with a particular bank, or whether someone uses a particular doctor or dentist. I merely suggest to the Home Secretary that, in the world of Facebook and other even more modern ways of messaging, a reliance on the difference between data and content will not stick.

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman is right in the sense that as technology changes and people use new methods of communication, we need to ensure that our agencies’ capabilities and powers, and the legal framework within which they operate those capabilities and powers, are indeed appropriate in relation to the technology as it develops. For that reason I considered introducing a further communications data Bill in this Parliament, but that is not to be, and it is definitely not what today is about. Today is simply about retaining the status quo.

As for the hon. Gentleman’s main point, the review of the capabilities and powers that are needed against the background of the threat that we face and the

15 July 2014 : Column 706

correct legislative framework will be important in that regard. It will, I hope, look ahead and ask what legislation the House needs to pass to ensure that we can deal with the environment in which we find ourselves.

Chris Bryant: Let me take the Home Secretary up on that point. Will she tell us now, at this early stage in the debate, whether she will accept new clause 1, which has been tabled by the shadow Home Secretary?

Mrs May: Obviously we shall come to that in Committee, but I am happy to say to the House now that I recognise the shadow Home Secretary’s desire to put the review in statute so that there is no question but that it will go ahead. I want to be clear about what the review will cover, and how we can ensure that it does the job that I think we all want it to do in looking at capabilities and powers and setting the right regulatory framework, and does it in a way—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman says “Just say yes”, but I do not say yes to an amendment if I do not think that it will deliver technically what everyone wants. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman says from a sedentary position, “Oh, come on,” but he was one of the Members who earlier stood up and talked about the importance of proper parliamentary process, so I am sure that he would not want to see amendments added to Bills if they did not deliver what everybody wanted them to deliver.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): Given the breakneck pace at which MPs have been asked to come here and make decisions on the Bill, it is extraordinary that the Home Secretary cannot stand at the Dispatch Box and say yes or no about an amendment that has been tabled. What is the answer: yes or no? She wants MPs to make decisions today, but she cannot make decisions on amendments.

Mrs May: We have just had an hour-and-a-half debate in which Members have been talking about the importance of parliamentary process. We have a parliamentary process called Committee stage at which amendments to the Bill will be properly considered, and that debate will take place then. I have indicated to the House that I understand the desire of some Members to ensure that the review of the capability and powers that are needed and the regulatory framework is on the statute book to ensure that that does, indeed, take place. David Anderson, the reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, has indicated that he will lead that review and there is widespread support for that given the excellent job he does in his current role. However, I want to make sure that, in looking to ensure we undertake that review, the Bill is drafted in a way that delivers what we all want to be delivered. I would have thought that that was entirely reasonable. That debate will take place at the Committee stage, when the hon. Gentleman will be free to wax lyrical about the nature of the amendment.

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): May I bring the Home Secretary back to what she was talking about before, which is what is loosely described as blanket retention? It is not possible for the police to identify, before a crime has been committed, the range of telephone calls made and received about which it would be helpful for them to have communications data

15 July 2014 : Column 707

in order to pursue that crime. Therefore, the retention of data for a period is the only way the system can work.

Mrs May: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. People often argue, “Actually, all you need to do is retain data from the point when you’ve identified a suspect or that a crime has taken place,” but when somebody has been murdered, for example, it may be necessary to go back and identify calls between the victim and a number of people. That is why it is important to be able to retain data from the past, but that is for a limited period. Previously, under the regulations that were agreed by this House, 12 months was the set period for retention. One issue that the European Court of Justice raised was that there should not just be one period of retention for all types of data. We are addressing that by making it a maximum period of retention, so it would be possible in any notice to a communications service provider to say that a particular type of data is required to be retained for a period of less than 12 months. We are, therefore, introducing the flexibility that the ECJ required.

Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the same point she has been discussing about the retention of data in criminal and terrorist investigations will be equally valid in the police’s pursuit of child abusers and paedophiles? In a month when this issue has been so important to so many of our constituents, will she confirm that the legislation will be a critical tool in the police’s battle against child abusers and give us an idea of the implications of our not passing it?

Mrs May: My hon. Friend is absolutely right and the use of communications data is often absolutely vital in tracking and identifying that group of criminals. Without this use of communications data we would not be able to do that, and I fear that child abusers would go free as a result. The director general of the National Crime Agency has already made clear that capability is being lost in this area. From memory, I think that almost 50% of communications data used in child abuse cases are more than six months old, hence the need to be able to retain data for up to 12 months.

Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): Judging by some of the questions asked, there is a lack of understanding as some Members seem to think that in some way the use of communications data is new. Will the Home Secretary confirm that as far as the Crown Prosecution Service, and indeed its predecessors, are concerned, such use has been an absolute staple of bringing prosecutions ever since telephones came into existence? In fact there is no difference between the nature of the communications data acquired today and that which was acquired in the past in terms of showing who contacted whom.

Mrs May: I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his intervention, and what he says is absolutely right. He hits the nail right on the head. I know, Mr Speaker, that it is not normally the case that Ministers at the Dispatch Box refer to legal advice that is given to

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them, but may I say how much I valued the legal advice my right hon. and learned Friend gave when he was our excellent Attorney-General?

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab): Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mrs May: Yes, but I do need to make some progress so that others can get in.

Mr Betts: The key issue is that the Home Secretary says this Bill does not extend powers beyond existing legislation, but I understand there is some doubt whether the Bill impacts differently from the current legislation on web-based e-mails. With regard to further scrutiny of these measures, as we have only limited time to discuss the Bill now, if we pass it and it subsequently becomes apparent that there are doubts whether it extends the powers of Government, what is the Home Secretary’s position? How can she come back to this House to get matters reassessed in that situation? That is a real concern for my constituents. If it is subsequently proved that powers are extended—despite her current assurances, which I accept—there must be some mechanism for dealing with that.

Mrs May: There is no change to the definitions that are already in existence in terms of the communications data that it is possible to access. That is why I say the Bill is about just replacing the situation we have at present. On the hon. Gentleman’s second point, I note that the Opposition have tabled an amendment suggesting that there should be a six-monthly review by the appropriate commissioner of the operation of this Bill. We are willing to accept that amendment, so that a process is in place that will reassure people that the Bill does exactly what the Government are saying: it merely replaces the powers already in existence.

Mr Betts: If the commissioner finds in the six-monthly review that there are concerns that the legislation is going beyond the current position, is there a mechanism for that to be reported back to this House for further discussion and action?

Mrs May: Yes. The commissioner currently reports annually on these matters, and the Opposition proposal, as I understand it, is that he would report on a six-monthly basis. He would, therefore, not just be looking at the situation, but reporting on what was happening. Were he to find that there was any extension of powers, that would be made clear to people. However, I remain of the opinion, because this is what we intend, that the Bill is purely about enabling the powers that we have today to be continued in future.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): There is debate about whether the powers are new, and I personally do not think they are, but will the Home Secretary give the assurance I tried to get from her yesterday, when perhaps I was not clear enough in asking for it? If she were asked to sign a warrant—these are mostly warranted powers—which involved a power that it was obvious to her would not have been available other than from this Bill, would she refuse to sign it on the basis that a new power had inadvertently been created?

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Mrs May: My hon. Friend says most of these are warranted powers: of course the lawful intercept section of the Bill is in relation to warranted powers, but communications data are not subject to warrants signed by a Secretary of State. [Interruption.] I am about to answer the question. I am not quite sure who said that. [Interruption.] Oh, the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart); I might have guessed.

Certainly, I would expect only warrants that would fall under current lawful intercept powers to come to me. On the issue of lawful intercept, it has been the contention of this Government—and, I believe, the previous Government when they passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000—that that had extraterritorial application. That has been legally questioned and we have continued to assert that that is the power that currently exists. The Bill puts that beyond doubt, by putting it clearly into primary legislation, so nobody can be in any doubt that the power that we have always said existed does in fact exist. That is the entire point, and I might add that I think a number of people may take comfort from the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) does not consider there to be an extension of powers in this Bill.

Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles) (Lab): I raised this issue when the Home Secretary made her statement last week, but she is aware that some of the service providers do not accept the extraterritorial application of RIPA. She is now asserting that RIPA does have extraterritorial effect under this Bill. If some of those communication service providers maintain their current position—that it does not—what powers does she have to enforce the extraterritorial nature of the Bill and what sanctions will be available to ensure general compliance with its extraterritorial effect?

Mrs May: The point about putting this beyond doubt in the legislation is obviously that it strengthens the ability to enforce in this area. The enforcement capabilities remain as they were previously—taking out an injunction against the company concerned, with the sanctions that that might entail. The position is not changing; what is changing is simply being absolutely without doubt that the extraterritoriality is there, because it is now in the Bill, rather than it being asserted by Government as having been the intention of the previous legislation.

I will now attempt to make some progress. I have made the point that urgent action is needed—

Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): Before she moves on, will the Home Secretary give way?

Mrs May: I have been extremely generous, but I will give way to my right hon. Friend.

Mr Davis: This is more a philosophical than a practical point for the Home Secretary, but what is the implication of our demanding extraterritorial powers for the likes of Google and others for, say, China, Russia and other unpleasant powers claiming the same power?

Mrs May: What this Government are doing is putting into legislation the powers that we believe it is important for us to have so that we can protect the British public. I know that my right hon. Friend has some difficulties

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with some aspects of what the Government are doing. I think it is right that we continue with the powers that we have had to enable us to protect the public, keep people safe and ensure that we catch criminals, terrorists and paedophiles.

Action is needed to ensure that we maintain the capabilities that protect us from those who would do us harm. The Bill provides the legal clarity needed to ensure that the use of those capabilities can be maintained by doing two things: first, providing the legal basis for us to oblige domestic companies to continue to retain communications data; and secondly, putting beyond doubt the application of the law of interception to all companies that provide communication services to people in the UK, regardless of where they are based.

When I made my statement to the House last Thursday, I received considerable support from Members on both sides of the House. I am extremely grateful for that support and would like to pay tribute to everyone who has shown willingness to work together on an issue as important as the protection of the public. In doing so, let me also thank the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), the Chairman of the Select Committee on Home Affairs, which I gave evidence to yesterday and which wrote last night to say that it supported the legislation. He indicated that he was sure that a successor Committee would want to look carefully at any legislation that was brought forward, but I am grateful to the Committee for its support on this particular matter.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab) rose

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman is a member of the Home Affairs Committee, so I will allow him to intervene.

Mr Winnick: That was, of course, on a majority vote, and I was reminded that in the last Parliament the Home Affairs Committee endorsed 42 days’ pre-charge detention, which obviously I voted against. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) was the Chair at the time and, if I may say so, he is a very good chap indeed, but he knows where the wind blows.

Mrs May: That sounds to me like something that is best left between the hon. Gentleman and the Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee. Prudence suggests that I should move on rather than respond to that.

We have just had a debate on the business motion, in which my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration set out the reason for the timing of this legislation, so I will not go into that in detail, but I will talk about the provisions of the Bill. The Bill is short and narrowly focused and provides a limited response to a set of specific challenges. Clause 1 provides the clear legal basis for us to oblige domestic companies to retain certain types of communications data. Currently, those communications data are retained by communication service providers under the data retention regulations passed by Parliament in 2009, which implemented the EU data retention directive in the UK.

Although we are confident that those regulations remain in force, following the ECJ judgment, we must put beyond doubt the need for CSPs to continue to retain communications data, as they have been doing until now. If we do not do so, we run the risk of losing

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access to those data, which, as I have said, are vital for day-to-day policing. Our very strong data protection laws mean that, in the absence of a legal duty to retain specific data, companies must delete data that are not required beyond their strict business uses. The loss of those data would be potentially devastating. As I said earlier, it would impact seriously on the ability of the police, law enforcement agencies and our security and intelligence agencies to investigate crime, solve kidnappings, find vulnerable people in danger, uncover terrorist links and protect children.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Can my right hon. Friend explain for my benefit why it is legitimate to have the 12-month limit with the approval of Government, but not with the approval of the European Court of Justice?

Mrs May: The European Court of Justice did not say that a 12-month retention period was unlawful. It said that it recognised the need for access to and retention of the data, and it questioned the periods that were set aside. In fact, the data retention directive said that data could be retained for up to 24 months—we had previously used 12 months, rather than 24—but one of the issues was that it was said that requiring the retention of every type of data for the same period of time was not right and proportionate, and that it was necessary to be able to differentiate. We are introducing that differentiation by setting our data retention period at a maximum of 12 months, so that notices issued to CSPs for certain types of data can, if it is felt to be right, ask for retention to be for a shorter period.

As I have said, communications data are used in 95% of serious and organised crime investigations handled by the Crown Prosecution Service and have played a significant role in every Security Service counter-terrorism operation over the last decade. Clauses 1 and 2 will ensure that we can maintain the status quo by replicating our existing data retention regulations. As I have indicated, the Bill gives the Secretary of State the power to issue a notice to a communications service provider only if he or she considers the retention to be necessary and proportionate. As I said in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner) and other hon. Members, the data retention notice will specify the duration for which data are to be retained, for up to a maximum of 12 months. If it is not proportionate to retain certain data for a full 12 months, a shorter period can be chosen. The data types that can be retained will be limited to the strict list of data types that are currently specified in the 2009 data retention regulations, and there will be a clear requirement for the Secretary of State to keep any data retention notice under review.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): When it comes to the battle against terrorism, there is an ongoing, daily issue with the threat and carrying out of attacks in Northern Ireland, never mind all the other threats to national security. Does the Home Secretary agree that if this legislation was not passed, we would face an extraordinary situation, in that data retention powers would exist in the Irish Republic, because there they are in primary legislation, whereas in Northern Ireland, where the main threat exists, the Police Service of Northern

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Ireland and others would be deprived of a massive tool in the battle against terrorism and in co-operating with their neighbours down south?

Mrs May: The right hon. Gentleman makes an extremely important point. He highlights one of the reasons why it is important to pass this Bill and retain this capability in relation to communications data and lawful intercept. He is absolutely right: because the Republic of Ireland brought its communications data regulations into primary legislation, it does not have to respond to the ECJ judgment. It is because ours were in secondary legislation that we have to respond to the judgment.

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): Using headlines like “Terrorism” or “Organised crime” and so on obviously chimes with the public, but I have never understood why one of the reasons for retention, in section 22(2)(c) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, is if it is necessary

“in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom”.

There are accusations that these data-gathering exercises are in fact used for industrial and economic espionage by countries in the “Five Eyes”.

Mrs May: One point that I mentioned earlier, which was made by the European Court of Justice, was in relation to the scope of the Bill. We are making it absolutely clear that the purposes are serious and organised crime, national security and economic well-being, and we are clarifying the definition of economic well-being in so far as it relates to national security.

Michael Connarty: It says in the Bill that a retention notice may be necessary for one or more of the purposes

“falling within paragraphs (a) to (h) of section 22(2) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000”.

It is, as I said, economic espionage.

Mrs May: Clause 3 (1) states:

“Section 5 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (power to issue necessary and proportionate interception warrants in interests of national security, to prevent or detect serious crime or to safeguard the UK’s economic well-being) is amended as set out in subsection (2).”

Subsection (2) reads:

“(economic well-being of the UK), after ‘purpose’ insert, ‘in circumstances appearing to the Secretary of State to be relevant to the interests of national security’”.

Mr George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab): It might be worth the Home Secretary adding subsection (4) of clause 3, which explicitly links economic well-being to national security.

Mrs May: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. Indeed, subsections (2) and (4) define economic well-being in terms of the interests of national security.

The ECJ ruling in April was critical of the data retention directive because it said it did not contain the necessary safeguards in relation to retained data. I said that to the House last week and referred to it earlier this afternoon. Of course that ruling did not take into account the different structures, regimes and domestic laws that are in place in individual member states. Our communications data access regime, primarily governed

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by RIPA, has strict controls and safeguards in place. The data can only be accessed when it is necessary and proportionate for a specific investigation, and access is limited and subject to a strict authorisation regime, which was specifically endorsed by the Joint Committee on the draft Communications Data Bill. Clause 3 provides an important clarification in that it makes it clear that the statutory purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the UK can only occur when it is in the interests of national security. That is already the position, but the Bill puts that position beyond doubt.

Part 2 of the Bill deals with the question of interception. The House will know that interception can only take place when a warrant has been authorised by a Secretary of State, when he or she considers it to be necessary and proportionate and when the information sought cannot reasonably be obtained by other means.

Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab): The Home Secretary has been very kind this week. May I just ask her this question? The former head of the GCHQ told me last week that the Wilson doctrine extended to all the digital communications of parliamentarians. Will she confirm that the effect of that is that only MPs and peers of the realm are excluded from this legislation?

Mrs May: Obviously, the Wilson doctrine applies to parliamentarians. It does not absolutely exclude the use of these powers against parliamentarians, but it sets certain requirements for those powers to be used in relation to a parliamentarian. It is not the case that parliamentarians are excluded and nobody else in the country is, but there is a certain set of rules and protocols that have to be met if there is a requirement to use any of these powers against a parliamentarian.

In relation to intercept, I mentioned the need for agreement from a Secretary of State. If the National Crime Agency wants to listen to the telephone calls of a drugs trafficker, or the security service wants to read the e-mails of a suspected terrorist, agreement is needed from a Secretary of State first. I see warrant applications day in, day out, and can personally attest to the care with which they are prepared, the seriousness which those applying for them attach to complying with the statutory restrictions and the gravity of the cases with which they deal. Warrant applications provide the detailed intelligence background that forms the basis on which a person is being sought.

Ministerial oversight, which I share with the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, is a vital safeguard to ensure that this sensitive and intrusive power is used only when it is necessary and proportionate. But in the absence of explicit provisions in legislation, as has been mentioned in a number of interventions, some overseas companies have started to question whether the law applies to them. Indeed, as the Prime Minister said last week, some companies are already saying that they can no longer work with us on interception unless UK law is clarified immediately. This Bill does exactly that.

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): Will the Home Secretary reflect again on the intervention by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis)? If a foreign Government who are routine

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abusers of human rights passed the same legislation through their Parliament, could they then intervene on an internet service provider based in this country to obtain data on their citizens, in the same way that the British Government take that power for themselves in another jurisdiction?

Mrs May: The power that we are taking is to be able to serve a warrant in relation to somebody who is based overseas. There would be implications for anyone attempting to apply to serve something into the UK in relation to the operation of that under UK law.

Clauses 4 and 5 make it clear that RIPA applies to all the companies that provide communications services to people in the United Kingdom, regardless of where those companies happen to be based. The final clause contains the sunset provision, which means that the legislation will expire at the end of 2016. I recognise that a number of Members have suggested that this sunset clause should be at an earlier stage. I say to them that the reason it has been put at the end of 2016 is that we will have a review by David Anderson which will report before the general election. It is the intention that a Joint Committee of Parliament will look at his work and that of the Intelligence and Security Committee. It will then be necessary to put the required legislation in place. If anyone stops to think about that timetable, it is clear that it could not be completed by the end of this year.

Mr Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West) (Lab): Is the Home Secretary aware that many of us in the House feel that it is a very long time for a sunset clause and that, despite what she says, it could be earlier? That makes her acceptance of the Opposition’s proposal for six-monthly reviews all the more important and welcome. Will she confirm that those reviews—perhaps this is something that will be developed later—will specifically report on there being no extension to the powers in the Act?

Mrs May: Of course, that matter will be debated later when the Opposition amendment is debated. As I understand it, the intention of those reviews is to provide for a facility for the appropriate commissioner to report on the operation of the legislation such that if there were any extension of powers, it would be possible for that to be brought to the fore as a result of the work that was being done.

I talked about the timetable. If Members think about the processes that we want to go through to ensure a full and proper consideration of the capabilities and powers that are needed to deal with the threat that we face and then about the right legislative framework within which those powers and capabilities would be operated, they will realise that that requires sufficient time for consideration and then for legislation to be put in place. That explains the need for the sunset clause at the end of 2016.

I just want to make a brief mention of secondary legislation. In addition to the Bill, secondary legislation will be required to cover the detail of some of the data retention regulations. We cannot formally introduce the regulations in advance of the enabling legislation being enacted, but I have placed copies of the draft regulations in the Library—that happened, I believe, at the end of last week—for Members to scrutinise alongside the Bill.

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Our intention is to ensure that the secondary legislation can be scrutinised and approved by both Houses before the summer recess. The draft regulations mostly replicate the existing data retention regulations, which were approved by Parliament in 2009, but they also contain strengthened safeguards to respond to points raised by the ECJ judgment. They allow for data security requirements to be set out in the data retention notices, and ensure that this retention can be overseen effectively by the independent Information Commissioner. They also create a code of practice on data retention, thus putting best practice guidance on a statutory footing.

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Given that the European Court of Justice was striking down a European directive as well as our legislation, what action does the EU propose to try to sort out this legislative muddle?

Mrs May: The European Union will consider the necessity of a further data retention directive in due course, but it will take some time to be put in place. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the European Parliament has recently changed and the European Commission will be changing, so it will be some time before the issue is addressed. As anyone who has dealt with such matters at any stage knows, it can take some time for proposals to be considered and finally agreed.

Alongside the legislation, of which I have stressed the urgency and importance, it is right that we balance the use of sensitive powers against the public’s right to privacy. I have detailed the limits on access to communications data and interception that will be enshrined in the primary legislation. In addition, I announced last week a package of measures to strengthen safeguards and to reassure the public that their rights to security and privacy are equally protected. We will reduce the number of public authorities able to access communications data. We will establish a privacy and civil liberties oversight board. We will appoint a senior former diplomat to lead discussions with other Governments on how we share data for law enforcement and intelligence purposes. We will also publish an annual transparency report on the use of sensitive powers.

Hazel Blears: It is apparent to all in the House and has become increasingly evident over recent months that there is a problem with the low level of public awareness of the legislative measures, the safeguards and the framework. The interception of communications commissioner has produced an extremely good report on the use of these powers, in particular by GCHQ, rebutting many allegations about mass surveillance and considering targeting and warranting. However—I hesitate to say this—his report has probably been read by perhaps a handful of people in this country. What can the Home Secretary do to ensure that there is much more public awareness? Hopefully, the annual transparency reports and the new boards will help, but it is urgent and pressing that the public should understand exactly what the framework is, what the authorities and powers are and what the agencies are doing.

Mrs May: The right hon. Lady makes an extremely important point. She is right that Sir Anthony May produced a first-class report that set out the powers and

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how they are used and was clear about their rightful use. Sadly, perhaps because it was not a “shock horror” report, it did not receive an awful lot of publicity. I hope that the Government’s commitment to an annual transparency report will help in this regard. The Intelligence and Security Committee, on which the right hon. Lady sits, is carrying out its own review of privacy and security and I hope that it will get some publicity when it is completed. It therefore behoves all of us to try as far as possible to promote the message that effective oversight is in place.

Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con): The Home Secretary is being very generous in giving way. As she said, little of the legislation is new; it is clarifying what needs to be clarified. However, the annual transparency report is something new that puts more information in the public domain than ever before. Is that correct?

Mrs May: Yes indeed. It will be the first time that Government have published and made such information available. People will therefore be able to see rather better exactly how the powers are used by, for example, seeing the number of requests made.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): For clarification and to inform the public, would it not be better for a Minister to come along and at least make a statement and be questioned once every six months on the basis of the interception of communications commissioner’s report?

Mrs May: The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. Ministers, including myself and the Foreign Secretary, go in front of the Intelligence and Security Committee. The ISC produces an annual report as well as other reports on specific subjects. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am often questioned about such matters when I go before the Home Affairs Committee, so Ministers are held accountable in a number of ways.

I referred earlier to the review of the powers and capabilities that the police, law enforcement agencies and security and intelligence agencies need and to the regulatory framework under which they are regulated. The review will consider those matters in the context of the threats that we face. As I said earlier, David Anderson has agreed to undertake the initial phase of that review. The measures that I have set out are in addition to the considerable safeguards already in place, including the oversight, as referred to by the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears), by the various commissioners and the Intelligence and Security Committee.

As I made absolutely clear last week, the Bill merely preserves the status quo. It does not extend or create any powers, rights to access or obligations on communications companies that go beyond those that already exist. It does not address the same problems or replicate the content of the draft Communications Data Bill, published in 2012. The use of modern technology and changes in how people communicate have caused a decline in our ability to obtain the communications data that we need. I continue to believe that the measures contained in the draft Communications Data Bill are necessary to bridge that gap, but that is emphatically not what we are considering today. Parliament will need to return to those issues following the general election.

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The review to be undertaken by David Anderson, to which I have just referred, will consider the issue and I hope it will inform the debate.

I want to express my thanks to both sides of the House for the support they have given to the Bill. I would like to emphasise once again the need to get this Bill enacted before the recess. If we delay, we face the appalling prospect that police operations will go dark, trails will go cold and terrorist plots will go undetected. If that happens, innocent lives may be lost. We cannot allow that, so I urge the House to work together within this time frame to ensure that the police, the law enforcement agencies and the security and intelligence agencies have the capabilities that they need to protect the public and keep us safe. That is what the Bill is designed to do and I commend it to the House.


2.36 pm

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab): The Home Secretary will recognise that Parliament has been put in a difficult position by this week’s emergency legislation. It has been left until the final full week of Parliament before the recess and must be published and debated in both Houses in a week, and it relates to laws and technologies that are complex and controversial. They reflect the serious challenge of how to sustain both liberty and security, and privacy and safety in a democracy. This is therefore not the way in which such legislation should be done. Let me be clear that its last-minute nature undermines trust not only in the Government’s intentions, but also in the vital work of the police and agencies.

I have no doubt that the legislation is needed, however, and that we cannot delay it until the autumn. After the European Court of Justice judgment in April, legislation is needed to ensure that the police and intelligence agencies do not suddenly lose vital capabilities over the course of the next few months and that our legislation is compliant with EU law. So Parliament does need to act this week so that existing investigations and capabilities are not jeopardised over the next few months, but this is a short-term sticking plaster. As we support the legislation today, we must also be clear that we cannot just go on with business as usual, when the powers and safeguards that keep us free and safe are rarely discussed and only debated behind closed doors. I want to set out today why this parliamentary debate needs to be the start of a much wider debate about liberty and security in an internet age, why we can only pursue this short-term legislation if it is the beginning and not the end of the debate, and therefore why this legislation is needed in the short term, but also why safeguards are needed, too.

Sir William Cash: Does the shadow Secretary of State accept that the legislation will be within the scope of EU law and the charter of fundamental rights, in which the previous Government got themselves into a pretty average muddle—if I may put it that way—and that the general principle of EU law will prevail? Does she therefore also accept that it is possible that the European Court of Justice could come back to this legislation, as it did with the Merchant Shipping Act 1988, and strike it down if in fact it takes the view that it is incompatible with EU law? Would she accept the idea in principle—

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Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. This is an intervention. A large number of people want to speak. Interventions are getting a little too long and I would be grateful if they could be shortened.

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman will be aware that it is always possible for there to be court challenges and legal challenges to our legislation and to individual decisions. The Government have gone to some lengths to ensure that the legislation before us is compliant with the European Court judgment, with European law and with our own legal framework.

Dr Huppert: The shadow Home Secretary said that this will be the start of a debate about privacy and security, and those of us who have been campaigning on this issue for many years welcome her conversion. Does she accept that the debate has already started and that many of us have been pushing the issue for some time, much as we welcome her addition to it?

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Gentleman can always be relied on to pop up in these debates. I have heard that his support for the legislation has made some in this House question whether it is strong enough. Surely it cannot be, if he is supporting it.

The hon. Gentleman will know that I made a speech 12 months ago in which I talked about the need to strengthen the system for commissioners and for oversight in this area, and that I made a further speech at the beginning of March in which I raised specific issues about online security and liberty. The Deputy Prime Minister also made a speech that week which raised some of these issues. I am concerned because I think that, overall, the Government have not responded to some of the challenges. They still have not recognised the wider need for public debate and reform.

Mr Redwood: Does the right hon. Lady think that in striking down a directive that Labour agreed to, the European Court of Justice went too far, or does she think on reflection that the directive went too far?

Yvette Cooper: The right hon. Gentleman will know that the directive went considerably further than the regulations we passed in this country. As I recall, the European directive was drawn up in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in London and the terrorist attacks that took place at that time and was designed to provide a framework to ensure that different European countries could legally take the necessary action to investigate terrorism. However, the decision we took in the UK was to implement it much more narrowly, to ensure that safeguards were in place and to ensure that there were safeguards in the operation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. I think that those safeguards now need to go further in the light of changing technology, and it is important that we do that.

I recognise that the Home Secretary wants only to maintain the status quo and to ensure that powers are not suddenly lost over the summer, but the problem for us is that the status quo is being challenged by the pace of new technology, by the struggle of police and agencies to keep up, by the limitations of a legal framework that dates back to 2000, by the weakness of oversight that does not meet modern expectations, by the Snowden

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leaks, by the global nature of the internet and by private companies that, in the case of most of us, hold, access and use far more of our private data than any police force or intelligence agency might do.

Chris Bryant: Although the Government keep on saying that the status quo is remaining as the status quo, 10 years ago it was the status quo that all electronic communications of MPs were covered by the Wilson doctrine. Earlier this year the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General said quite the reverse when he stated that metadata about MPs’ communications was now being kept by the Government.

Yvette Cooper: My understanding is that the Government do not keep metadata on UK citizens and that the data retention directive is about the information that companies hold, but I would certainly be very surprised if companies were able to separate out the billing data for MPs, for example, from that of any other British citizen. It would be startling if they were able to do so. My hon. Friend is right that one would expect things such as the data retention directive to cover not just MPs but all UK citizens in that way, but my point is that the Government cannot take for granted the need to restore the status quo. We need to debate it and we need reform.

My real concern about how the Government handled the issue is not only about the delay in introducing the legislation after the court judgment in April and the limited time we have to debate it. It is bigger than that. It is about the Government’s failure to rise to the bigger challenge and debate of the past 12 months. They have said almost nothing in response to the Snowden leaks, to provide either reassurance or reform. They tried to limit the debate over the draft Communications Data Bill, drawing it too widely, and have never been clear about what they really wanted and needed to achieve. They have not faced the new challenges of the digital age and recognised the importance of changing technologies and expectations. They have not started a serious review of the legal framework or the powers and oversight needed. The Home Secretary made a speech a few weeks ago that set out some of the safeguards needed, but it has taken time for Ministers to do that.

Mr David Davis: The right hon. Lady is making an interesting point. Is not the implication of her last six sentences that the Labour party should support the sunset clause being brought forward to Christmas of this year, which would force the debate that she is asking for?

Yvette Cooper: I want to come on to that point in detail, because it is an important one. The wider considerations, the detailed review of the legislation and the public consultation that we need will take longer than just five months, and it is important that this is not simply about repeated sticking plaster legislation. We need to have a sustainable debate about how to get the right kinds of reforms to sustain the framework for the longer term and, crucially, about how we get public consent in this.

In the US, they have had a public debate. President Obama led a debate on liberty and security after the Snowden leaks, setting up an independent review group last summer. His response robustly defended much of

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the work that the US agencies do as vital to national security, but he also recognises the need for stronger safeguards. Our system has many more legal safeguards than the US system. For example, our warrant system is much narrower than theirs, and rightly so. We also have strong public support for the work of our intelligence services and the police, but that is no reason to avoid the debate and hope that it will go away. That is what I believe that the Government have done since last summer.

Mrs Anne Main (St Albans) (Con): I want briefly to reinforce the right hon. Lady’s point. I have just come back from talking to St Albans Women’s Institute and the ladies made exactly that point. They asked what the difference would be, what it was all about and what it will mean to the public. There will be a problem in getting the message across through the media and the public will not understand why there has been this sudden rush to legislation

Yvette Cooper: The hon. Lady is right. Although we know that there are issues about the Court judgment and its implications over the summer, there will be considerable concern about the pace at which this Bill has been introduced and has been debated in Parliament. The short-term debate would be easier if there had been a wider longer-term debate about the question of a sensible framework in which the public could feel involved and have their say. If emergency issues came up, as they will from time to time—for any Government in any circumstances there will be court judgments that suddenly mean that an emergency response is needed—it would be so much easier to have the emergency debate against a backdrop in which the broader issues of security and liberty, and how we balance them in an internet age, are being properly debated and discussed, with public involvement.

Those of us who believe in the vital work the police and agencies need to be able to do should be the most ready to debate both the powers and the safeguards that are needed, because they must have public consent. We cannot hide behind a veil of secrecy. Of course, that debate must be handled with care so that we do not expose important intelligence capabilities that need to be kept secret to be effective, but we can have a debate about the legal framework, about the principles and about the powers and safeguards we need.

We know the vital work that we want the police and agencies to be able to do: building the intelligence that foils terrorist attacks; providing the fast response needed to find the last location of a missing child or murder victim; and stopping online fraud and cyber-attacks, which are escalating with every month. We also know that people will only continue to support those vital powers if they also know that there are proper safeguards: protection for innocent people’s privacy; public reassurance about what that protection really is; safeguards so that powers cannot be abused; safeguards, checks and balances on what the police and intelligence agencies can do; and a Government and Parliament that recognise that this is difficult and do not try just to sweep it all under the carpet and deny the public a say.

The lack of a wider debate is making it harder to have a short-term debate today. This is not the right way to have this debate. However, I also believe that we cannot

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reject this legislation now; it would be wrong to do so. We need to support it today, but we must also use it to get the wider debate that we need.

Let us be clear about what is at stake. The Court judgment means that the regulations on data retention need to be replaced; otherwise, they will fall altogether. This is about the requirement for companies to hold their billing data and other communications data for 12 months. This does not refer to the content of the calls and messages; it just covers the communications data. If the police are investigating a crime or pursuing an emergency that involves risk to life or limb, they can get a warrant and ask the companies to hand over the data relating to the suspect. As the Home Secretary has said, these data are used to identify conspiracies, prove alibis, locate missing children and find out who is committing online crimes or sending online child abuse. The police need warrants to do this, and the data do not tell us what people are saying. They cannot tell us the content of an e-mail—that is private—but they can help us to solve crimes.

These data are particularly important in dealing with serious and organised crime. For example, they can show that drug dealers who claim not to know each other have in fact been calling each other every week. They can show who the armed robber called to help him get away from the scene of a crime, or where a missing child was when their phone was switched off. They can also help to trace who a terror suspect contacted before they went to Syria, for example, and to work out who might be grooming or radicalising more young people to go there.

These data are used in court in 95% of the serious and organised crime cases that reach prosecution. They are particularly important in relation to online child abuse, because they allow the police to get warrants, to contact companies to find out the name and address of the person who has sent vile images of child abuse and to rescue children who are being hurt. A recent Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre investigation resulted in the arrest of 200 suspects and identified 132 children who were at risk of abuse. The prosecutions and actions needed to rescue those children were made possible only through the use of communications data. A similar investigation in Germany, where communications data are not held, led to only a handful of cases being investigated.

The Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan police has described the importance of communications data to rape investigations. She has said:

“As to robberies and rapes, it is very usual for phones to be stolen. The stranger rapist, on many occasions, will take the phone from the victim and within 24 hours we find the rapist.”

The data also protect our children’s safety. In one case that the Joint Committee looked at, an online help service contacted the police, worried about a child who had posted on their website a threat to commit suicide. The police contacted the relevant companies, which helped to track down the service user’s name and address, then sent the local police to the door to find that the child had hanged himself but was still breathing. Fast action and communications data saved his life.

It is because we recognise how crucial this evidence is to so many investigations that we believe it would be too damaging to the fight against crime and terrorism for the police to lose this information this summer.

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The Government have rightly made changes to ensure that the new legislation can comply with the ECJ directive. They have narrowed the number of organisations that can access the data, for example, and introduced further safeguards to ensure that the process is necessary and proportionate.

The second part of the Bill is more complex, as it addresses the global nature of our telecommunications. Increasingly, the companies that help us to communicate with each other, with the family members we live with and with our neighbours and friends down the road, are based abroad. They should not be excluded from UK law just because of where their headquarters are based. International companies have been covered by and complied with RIPA for many years. Indeed, the legislation has always made it clear that companies should be covered if they provided services in the UK. We recognise, however, that other court judgments have made it more important to be explicit about legislation that has extraterritorial effect, rather than just leaving the arrangements implicit in the legislation. Again, it would jeopardise important intelligence if we were to ignore this factor.

Similarly, on telecommunications data, we have sought assurances from the Home Secretary that these measures are not an extension of powers and that they are only a clarification of the arrangements that already exist and of practices that already take place. It is important to recognise that this is not just about the legislation. The Home Secretary has now given the House assurances that the way in which she issues warrants will comply with that intention not to extend those powers, and that this is simply about maintaining the powers that are already in place.

This means that the safeguards are extremely important. The safeguards in the Bill and in the regulations are welcome. They ensure that the legislation is temporary, as well as restricting the purposes of the legislation so that it cannot be used only for purposes of economic well-being, and restricting the number of organisations that have access to data. We welcome the proposals for a privacy and civil liberties board, although we will need more debate about how that should work and how it should fit with our proposals to overhaul the commissioners and ensure that there is stronger oversight.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is important to have the widest possible consultation with as many groups as possible before the names are put forward for the new board?

Yvette Cooper: My right hon. Friend is right, and I would certainly expect the Select Committees to play an important role in that process. There needs to be a debate about the way in which the board should work. It has considerable potential. Wider, more substantial reforms of the existing framework are needed, including, for example, to the structure relating to the commissioners, who in theory have oversight of different parts of legislation, and to the role of the counter-terrorism reviewer, which is more effective than the work of some of the commissioners. We need to look at the whole framework in determining how the privacy and civil liberties board will fit in with the wider reforms that we need. That might need to be a two-stage process: the introduction of the board and reforms made to the commissioners’

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structure in the light of the wider review that we are calling for. We have tabled amendments to secure such a review.

The review of the legislation is particularly important. For some time, we have been calling for an independent expert review of the legal and operational framework and in particular of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. As a result of the communications data revolution, the law and our oversight framework are now out of date. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) has said, new technology is blurring the distinction between communications and content, and between domestic and international communications, as well as raising new questions about data storage. We therefore need to reconsider what safeguards are necessary in an internet age to ensure that people’s privacy is protected.

We need stronger oversight, too. We need to know how far the new technology is outstripping the legal framework, and what powers and safeguards are needed for the future. We need to determine how warrants should operate, who should have access to data, and whether the police and intelligence agencies have the lawful capabilities that they need. The police need to be able to keep up with new technology, but the safeguards need to keep up, too. All those elements should be included in the scope of the first stage of the independent review by the counter-terrorism reviewer, David Anderson.

Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): I congratulate the right hon. Lady on the long list of considerations that she wishes her party to look at, but has she considered the easy availability of strong cryptography? What is her party’s position on that?

Yvette Cooper: I will not pretend to be an expert on individual technologies or on the legal framework that is needed to safeguard them. That is exactly why we need an expert review. The honest truth is that most of us here in Parliament are considerably less expert on these technologies than our children, and we therefore need technological expertise as well as legal expertise as part of the review. That is the kind of review that David Anderson needs to lead.

We have tabled an amendment to put the review on a statutory footing and to outline some of the issues that it must cover, so that the House can be reassured that a sufficiently wide-ranging review will take place. It will need to look at the practice as well as at the legislation. We will also need to have a serious public debate on David Anderson’s conclusions, through the Joint Committee of both Houses and through taking public evidence. A public consultation must form part of that process. This is about getting the balance right, but it is also about ensuring that we have public consent. We cannot have any more sticking-plaster legislation; we need a serious and sustainable framework that will command consent for years to come.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con): Forgive me, but I am slightly confused. It is perhaps because I am a bit thick, but will the right hon. Lady clarify the current situation for me? Do we have these rules and regulations

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now? If we do not pass this Bill into law, how long can the police and the security services continue to have access to these data?

Yvette Cooper: The Home Secretary responded to a similar question earlier. The advice that I have received is that the UK regulations are still in place, but that they are likely to be challenged and likely to fall as a result of the European directive having already been struck down. The consequence of that would be that we might risk losing some of those powers over the summer, before Parliament returns in the autumn, and we should not put the police and intelligence agencies in that position. The hon. Gentleman will have heard me argue for the wider reforms and wider debate that is needed, but in the short term we should not pull the rug from underneath the police and intelligence agencies this summer as a result of a European Court judgment.

The right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) said that the sunset clause should simply be moved to five months’ time. I understand the intention of the hon. Members who have signed the amendment, and I recognise their concern and their desire to increase the short-term scrutiny of the legislation, but I fear that if we do that, we will simply be stuck with another unsatisfactory sticking-plaster legislation process. We will not have the time to obtain the conclusions of the expert review, to consult on them, to debate, to take evidence or to draw up proper primary legislation with the more substantial reforms that I believe are needed. If we continue with repeated sticking-plaster legislation, we will undermine public consent in this process even further. That is why we must not rush things; we must do it properly. We are doing quite enough rushing this week, as it is, without trying to rush through the more substantial debate that we need within five months. That is why the longer period is needed.

Hon. Members are right that we need stronger safeguards in the short term, right now. We need more reassurance that the Bill is doing what the Home Secretary has made clear. That is why we have tabled a second amendment, and why I welcome the Home Secretary’s indication that she will accept it. It is about requiring the intercept commissioner in the mean time to report on the operation of the Bill every six months. During that period, we need to know whether the Bill is simply being used to continue the work that was being done before or whether it is being used to extend the Government’s powers against the will of Parliament. The six-monthly review will reassure the House that the Bill is being implemented in the way that Parliament intended.

We also want to see longer-term reforms, including strengthening the Intelligence and Security Committee so that it has the same powers as other Select Committees and an Opposition Chair, and we believe that an overhaul of the commissioners is needed. We currently have lots of different commissioners, and even when they do excellent reports no one notices them because the reports are not public-facing. Too often, they are limited to assessing compliance with existing legislation rather than looking at whether the legislation is still appropriate or effective.

This is a difficult debate for Parliament today. We have legislation that is urgently needed, but it is against the backdrop of us all knowing that a much wider debate is called for. So we have to make sure that that

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debate happens and that sustainable reforms are brought forward. Too often, this debate becomes polarised. The hawks say that we need stronger powers to protect national security, but they will not say what and why. The civil libertarians say that it is all a conspiracy; that they do not believe the scare stories; and that privacy is paramount. But most of us, and most of the British public want both—security and liberty, safety and privacy. We want to be kept safe from fraudsters stealing our identity or our money online. We want our children’s innocence kept safe from abusers, and paedophiles to be caught. We want the police and intelligence agencies to be able to track down murderers, fraudsters and terror suspects.

However, we also want to know that, unless we are suspected of a crime or terrorism, we have a right to protection of our information and privacy. We want to know that people will not be listening to our calls, reading our e-mails or checking out where we have been surfing on the web; to know that there are fair, up-to-date laws governing what Government agencies, the police and private companies can do; and to know that there are safeguards, checks and balances in place to make sure that those laws are upheld.

Yes, we need to pass this Bill today, because the powers that it retains are too important to the protection of public safety to lose carelessly one summer. But we also need a proper debate about the balance of privacy and safety, and how we maintain both liberty and security in an internet age, because both are essential to our democracy. Today must be the start, and not the end, of that debate.

Several hon. Members rose—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. There is a six-minute time limit on all Back-Bench contributions. I remind Members of the timetable. This debate must end by 5 pm. On that basis, we have more speakers than time, unless we can make rapid progress.

3.4 pm

Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Kensington) (Con): I begin by paying tribute to the shadow Home Secretary and the Opposition for deciding to give their full support to this measure. It is always reassuring to the nation as a whole when political parties come together—we do not do it very often—on an issue of national security. Especially with emergency legislation, that has a powerful and beneficial impact, and reassures many members of the public who might otherwise be concerned.

The Intelligence and Security Committee has considered the Bill, and we have taken evidence from the intelligence agencies on its content. If we were concerned in any way that the Bill simply added to the powers available to the Government and that they were using a fast-track procedure to implement it, we would not be able to recommend its endorsement, but we are satisfied that that is not the case.

I have listened carefully to some of the comments by those on both sides of the House who are opposed to the Bill and have criticised it. Part of the argument is that it is shocking that, when the European Court of Justice has repudiated the directive, we should defy that decision. They have not taken the trouble to read properly

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what the Court said. It was clear. It did not oppose the retention of data under national laws based on the directive. I shall quote the judgment:

“the retention of data for the purpose of their possible transmission to the competent national authorities genuinely satisfies an objective of general interest, namely the fight against serious crime and, ultimately, public security.”

The Court’s objection—it was an understandable point—was that the directive contained insufficient proportionality and safeguards. The directive covers 28 countries, and some of them did not have previous legislation or experience in this area and simply implemented everything that the European directive seemed to permit them to do. However, as the shadow Home Secretary rightly said, that has not been the practice in the United Kingdom. Most of our safeguards had already been introduced, and continue to apply.

Let me remind those who have criticised the proposal what the safeguards include, which are far broader than the narrow approach of the directive. First, for any intelligence agency to use the powers, it has to satisfy not just itself but the Secretary of State and Parliament that to do so is in the interests of national security, fighting serious crime or protecting economic well-being, which is linked to national security. If it does not meet that requirement, the agency cannot use the powers in the first place.

Secondly, the European Court directive allowed data to be retained for up to two years. In the United Kingdom it has never been retained for two years; a maximum of a year is allowed. That is a considerable improvement. Many countries do not have the system that we already have of the interception of communications commissioner, who is able to examine the use of the powers and report both to Parliament and to the Secretary of State if he thinks that they are being used in a disproportionate way or not for the purpose that Parliament intended.

It is therefore an important consideration that the United Kingdom happens to have this experience and has used the powers in a proper and responsible way—we are not the only country, but it does not apply to all 28 members of the EU.

Caroline Lucas: The right hon. and learned Gentleman cites the interception of communications commissioner as some kind of safeguard, but is he aware that the commissioner has recently ruled that there has been

“significant institutional overuse of existing powers”?

That same commissioner is already warning us.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: We will have to see the context in which the commissioner made that remark, but I have read his report and he gives a clean bill of health to the intelligence agencies on communications data, which is what we are talking about here. He has answered many of the criticisms that have been made elsewhere and said that they are unfounded and unjustified. I am sure that the hon. Lady has read that report. Perhaps she should re-read it and then she will remember the point that she momentarily forgot when she intervened.

The other important part of the Bill relates to questions of extra-territoriality. This is a difficult and sensitive issue, because obviously many communications service providers are not UK companies and would be reluctant

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or might refuse to recognise any restrictions imposed on them. I shall read out one sentence from the explanatory notes that have been prepared for the benefit of the House on this part of the Bill, which explains why this is an important and justifiable provision. The explanatory notes state on page 4:

“While RIPA has always had implicit extraterritorial effect”—

the Government themselves have said that it is extraterritorial—

“some companies based outside the United Kingdom, including some of the largest communications providers in the market, have questioned whether the legislation applies to them. These companies argue that they will only comply with requests where there is a clear obligation in law.”

In other words, up till now it has been implicit that the legislation is extraterritorial—that has certainly been the Government’s view—but that has never been spelled out explicitly. That is what the Bill now seeks to rectify, and we are told in the explanatory notes that some of the communications providers based outside the United Kingdom have said that that is what they are looking for. If it is an explicit obligation, they will be willing to comply with it. If it is not, they will have to consider whether they wish to do so or not.

There will be other providers which, even with that explicit statement, still decline to co-operate. Our Government have to decide what they will do to try to change that situation, because it is a very unsatisfactory one. We are talking about companies that operate within the United Kingdom. We are not talking about what they are doing in America, France, Germany or other countries. They should co-operate in the way that United Kingdom companies co-operate and in a way in which some overseas companies are prepared to co-operate. They recognise the public interest, and they recognise the need for these provisions in the battle against serious crime in particular, not to mention terrorism and such matters.

The House and the public can be reassured that what is in the Bill is not what we have been told is in it. Its purpose is to maintain the current situation. To oppose the Bill would create an enormous risk, if indeed the provisions, which are currently in regulations, were challenged before the courts and were then struck down. Therefore I certainly and, I think, my colleagues on the Intelligence and Security Committee, recommend these provisions to the House.

3.12 pm

Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind). I am not sure whether he and I are the best people to support the Home Secretary. It seems to be de rigueur in some quarters to believe that members of the Intelligence and Security Committee and former Home Secretaries lose any sense of the need to support the noble causes of protection of privacy and promoting civil liberties as soon as they come into office. We are supposed to have all that sucked out of us as we walk down Marsham street.

Sometimes, as a non-tweeter, I am lectured about the importance of privacy by people who send a tweet every time they brush their teeth. Leaving that aside, I suppose

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that, just as it is impossible to imagine a new Foreign Secretary arguing for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, it is impossible to imagine a Home Secretary being caught up with the more fundamentalist wing of the civil liberties group. That does not mean that we do not care about civil liberties.

Leaving aside Home Secretaries and distinguished Chairs of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the people who work in the security services and the police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre are equally concerned about issues of privacy. The one thing that sometimes irritates me about this debate is the idea that we could direct them. In this country, with all our values, which we sometimes seem to believe exist only within this Chamber or within Members of Parliament and Ministers, that is a ludicrous suggestion.

For me, there is one test for the Bill—the Ronseal test: does it do what it says on the tin? Let me assure Opposition Members that the Home Secretary prior to 2010, who was me, operated entirely on the basis of this Bill. I have sprinkled rosewater on it, I have held it up to the light, I have closely examined all six clauses. Apart from the ambiguity, which others have referred to, we always believed that we had protection in respect of CSPs based overseas and that they were subject to the law on communications in the UK. We always operated in that way, and it is as well to make that clear. Would it not be ludicrous if it worked any other way?

Sir Alan Beith: It would not only be ludicrous; it would be an invitation to companies to re-site themselves outside the United Kingdom, for fear of placing themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Alan Johnson: Of course. The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) made a very important point earlier about the need for a blanket provision. We need to keep blanket information. How will we resolve the cases that the shadow Home Secretary set out so effectively without that provision?

I admit before this House that I believe these laws ought to go further. I have made that clear before. I agreed with the Home Secretary in the foreword to the draft Bill a couple of years ago, which says that we cannot allow continuing and new technologies to remove this capability, but I accept that this is not the place to argue for that. Indeed, I believe that the new provisions set up under David Anderson, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the examination that David Anderson will carry out, make it more probable that we will have an informed debate when the matter comes before Parliament.

The right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), who is not in his place, spoke about telecommunications, but before telecommunications, there was the Post Office. It has always been the case that we have used these kinds of powers to protect this country against our enemies. When I joined the Post Office as a postman in 1968—I know that is a long time ago—there was a whole unit in St Martin’s le Grand occupied by MI5, or the service, as it was called, where technicians wore rubber gloves and sat with very strong lights and large kettles, steaming open letters. I add, incidentally, that I was not one of those people. I know that by reading “The Defence of the Realm”, the splendid history of MI5 written by Christopher Andrew.

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Christopher Andrew also tells us that in 1969, 221,000 postal items were opened in this way. There had been an increase of 135,000 on 1961. The interception of communications commissioner’s report in 2013 shows the total number of interception warrants authorised by the Home Secretary. Bear in mind that 221,000 letters were opened in 1969. The number of warrants authorised in 2013 was 2,670. That shows that, although there is a more complex problem, although the challenges are more complex and, I would say, the threats to this country are more severe—that our citizens are in a more perilous position than they were in the 1960s is arguable, but that is what I believe—it is incredible that we have a much greater grip on the issue now. We have far more surveillance and far more oversight of these matters than we had, and that is very healthy.

In my view, we are today defending what is there already. If there was an addition to those powers—I was pleased to hear the Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee say that the Committee had looked at this—I would not support the Bill and I would not have supported the programme motion earlier. Members in all parts of the House see this as important. Let us not lose the capabilities that we have before we debate whether those capabilities need to be added to.

3.19 pm

Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): It is a particular pleasure to follow my old sparring partner from east Yorkshire on this as much as on any other issue.

As I have only a short time, I shall focus on one issue alone out of the four that affect the Bill. When this Government brought a different but related Bill before the House, the so-called snooper’s charter, it was, frankly, an embarrassment. It was pilloried by the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill and heavily criticised by both MPs and Lords. One clear fact that arose from that review was that many thought that RIPA, the Bill upon which this legislation is based, was simply not fit for purpose, that it was too loose, and that if the snooper’s charter came before the House at some later stage, many would use it to rewrite RIPA. Certainly many Liberals thought that, and a number of Conservatives too, and some Members of other parties. That may be one reason why the Government are uncomfortable about giving this Bill a full procedure over several weeks, with a proper Committee and Report stage, and so on; because they may find that they get a tighter definition of RIPA than they previously had.

The House knows that I am not a great fan of the British Government being told what to do by the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights. I much prefer that British liberties—our freedom, our privacy—are protected by Parliament. But the harsh truth is that Parliament has been a weak defender of our freedoms this past 20 years, and the process we face today, crashing the Bill through the Commons in a single day—even more poignantly on reshuffle day; I see the empty Benches around me—is an awful demonstration of that. One consequence of that slack attitude is that we have bumped more and more frequently into treaty obligations and international court judgments against us, where Britain should be the shining example, not the villain of the piece. The Bill does nothing to correct that.

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The Court, as a number of speakers have mentioned, branded the untargeted mass collection of our data—European rather than just ours—as a

“wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with”

our

“fundamental rights.”

It is arguably the case that, in some ways, Britain is the most extreme example of that across western Europe. Because the Bill does nothing to correct that particular aspect, it is likely to face legal challenge, and may well fail as a result. It will not be beneficial to security in this country if that happens.

Much of this failure hinges on the fact that access to communication data in this country is not subject to judicial approval. It is one of the differences between ourselves and America and some other European countries. It is approved by officers of the same organisation that request it. The result of that—the point that I think the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) was referring to—is that too many people have too much access, too easily, to too much data. That is the core point. Therefore, we use this power in that respect more often than many of our international colleagues.

There were 514,000 authorisations and notices reported in the RIPA 2013 report. It is difficult to compare countries, but to give a partial comparison—

Mr Jack Straw (Blackburn) (Lab): I thought I heard the right hon. Gentleman say that those who authorised communication data requests were the same people as those who checked it. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will find that that is not correct. There is a system of surveillance commissioners who are there to do the authorisation, and the checking is done separately.

Mr Davis: That is not correct, I am afraid. The authorisation process does not go to the commissioners. It comes back afterwards to the commissioners.

The point about this is the numbers. The Americans, with whom we can partially compare, use only 39,000 to 57,000 references in a given year. In Europe, the country that least admires the privacy of its nationals is France. Its total metadata approvals is 35,958—36,000. If we add in all the other approval processes, it still comes to less than half of ours. So access to our data has insufficient safeguards. There is no prior review to access by a court or independent body, and after-the-event oversight—the commission oversight—is incredibly under-resourced. The intention was that data be used only for the purposes of prevention, detection or criminal prosecution of offences that may be considered sufficiently serious to justify such an interference. There are 100,000 prosecutions for indictable offences that face custodial sentences in the UK each year. About 80,000 end up in prison. We are talking about 500,000-odd approvals to deal with fewer than 100,000 prosecutions.

The Government seek to diminish the importance and sensitivity of communications data by distinguishing it from the content of the communications. At one time this firm distinction stood up and was credible, but now, because of technology, rather than going the other way and making things more difficult for the agencies, the scale of the internet and mobile phone technology has provided an intimate picture of people’s personal lives. In the ECJ’s words:

“This data, taken as a whole, may provide very precise information on the private lives of the persons whose data are retained, such

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as the habits of everyday life, permanent or temporary places of residence, daily or other movements, activities carried out, social relationships and the social environments frequented.”

In other words, it is an incredibly intrusive piece of information.

As I said, I do not like taking lessons from the ECJ, but on this they are absolutely correct. These measures are just not proportionate. They were badly designed in 2000—I am sorry to say to the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw)—and they have got worse with the passage of time and technology. The Government have not listened, and accordingly have left themselves open to legal challenge. While the Bill may be law by the end of the week, it may be junk by the end of the year.

3.26 pm

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): It is a huge pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), who has an unrivalled knowledge of these issues. He is right that we should be cautious in dealing with legislation of this kind. The latest figures we have are that the number of tweets being issued every year is 150 billion, the number of mobile phone contracts has reached 82 million, the number of landlines is 24 million, and the number of broadband connections is 21.7 million. So a lot of data is flowing about. That is why it is extremely important that we consider these matters very carefully. I for one associate myself with the wish of all those who have spoken, including the Home Secretary, that we had longer to scrutinise this legislation so that we could raise the kind of issues that have been raised so far but in much greater detail.

Yesterday, the Home Affairs Committee took evidence from the Home Secretary, who was subjected to quite robust questioning from members of the Committee on this issue. In particular, the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), who is something of the expert in these matters, was able to raise a number of points that Members had concerning the speed of the legislation going through the House and its detail. Of course it is not satisfactory that we had only one session. We would have liked to have had more sessions. We would have liked to have had the Minister for Security and Immigration before us, but that was not possible given the time scale.

The Committee wrote to the Home Secretary supporting the Government’s view. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) is right: he did not support the letter being sent, nor its contents, but every other member of the Committee did, representing every other major party in the House. As he knows, he often finds himself in a minority of one on issues that are voted upon in the Committee. That in no way means that we do not take his view seriously. Of course we do. He is a very distinguished Member of the House. But that was the view of the Committee, as I correctly reported to the Home Secretary in my letter last night. It echoed what the Prime Minister said to me and other Select Committee Chairs when he said that this was not a land-grab; that this was existing legislation and not about additional powers. I and the Committee support this on the basis of the assurances given by the Prime Minister to me at Downing street, and to other Select

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Committee Chairs, and to members of the Committee only yesterday by the Home Secretary, that no additional powers are being sought by the Government. I think that that is the basis upon which the shadow Home Secretary and the official Opposition also support the Government.

There are two issues that I hope the Minister will take on board in Committee. The first, of course, is the need to ensure that the scrutiny process is as robust as possible. The Home Affairs Committee recently published a report on counter-terrorism. Its conclusions—I will not go through them all because they are too long—talked about enhancing the role of Parliament and the various commissioners. We felt that it was unacceptable that at least one of the commissioners was part time, with a part-time secretary to deal with these very important issues. We felt that some of the commissioners should be amalgamated to produce full-time people who are able to scrutinise the work of the security services.

The second issue is that the Committee felt that David Anderson should be given additional resources. A feature of our reports over the past few years has been that we have praised the role of the counter-terrorism assessor and asked that he—only men have occupied the post—be given additional support in order to do his job effectively. We rate David Anderson’s work, but we think that he could do much better if he had more resources. He has not asked the Committee for more resources; it is our view, having looked at the evidence and heard from various parties.

That is why it is extremely important that we have a privacy and civil liberties board that is widely representative of those with an interest—all the stakeholders. I urge the Government to consult widely, including with the Select Committee and others outside Parliament, before the names of the board members are announced so that they can work with the independent assessor and do a job that is robust, fair and has the confidence not only of this place, but of the British public.

Reluctantly, given the time scale, we support the Government, accept the assurances that have been given and hope that they will return to Parliament frequently to inform us of any additional information or powers they seek so that there can be proper and appropriate scrutiny, which we have recommended should be conducted by our successor Committee once it is formed in the next Parliament.

3.32 pm

Simon Reevell (Dewsbury) (Con): I accept that the timing of the Bill is unfortunate. This is the second time in three years that a court case that was known about well in advance has produced a result that has caught the Government flat-footed and necessitated emergency legislation. It is also unfortunate that this is being done so quickly, because there is great cynicism about the state among the general public, and dealing with these matters in this way does nothing to address that problem. However, it is the content of the Bill, rather than the timing, that is the central issue.

The content of the Bill maintains existing powers, and those powers are important where it counts, which is at the sharp end of these things; at the criminal trial of the person accused of serious criminal activity, where the sort of evidence that these powers produces can

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mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. I know that because I prosecute those cases and have used the evidence produced as a result of these powers.

It is worth bearing in mind the alternative. It is worth thinking about what would happen if it was not possible to have access to that sort of information. Imagine two alternatives. First, consider an individual who is stopped by the police and has his telephone on him. Nobody would suggest that his telephone should not be looked at. Nobody would suggest that it should not be plugged into a computer so that the content can be interrogated. Nobody would suggest that, if his telephone was known to be in his house, the police should not be able to go through his front door, break the lock on a cupboard and retrieve it if that was necessary for the purposes of evidence.

Secondly, consider another individual who has no telephone on him but in whose home the police find a telephone bill. Is the suggestion that they could not use the telephone bill to go to the service provider and see whether they can find the same sort of information that they would have been able to take from the telephone had it been in the individual’s jacket pocket? Is it really being suggested that we should not use technology at all in the investigation and prosecution of serious crime? If that is not being suggested, and there is therefore no difficulty about the use of the technology, then the only issue is the extent to which that is fettered by regulation and law, and that is not a matter for this debate, because the Bill is about provisions that already exist.

In serious criminal trials up and down the country today, people are using evidence that deals with the fact of a text message and its content, the fact of a telephone and information that has been retrieved from answer phones, information from social media, and the fact of an e-mail and its content. However, there is a distinction between what can be taken from a computer, if a computer is found, and the data that can be retained and accessed if the hardware is not there, but that is a debate for another day.

As far as the Bill is concerned, its effect, which is to maintain powers that have previously existed, to allow access to data that have previously been accessed and to prosecute people in the same way they have been prosecuted in the past, does not deserve the general challenge that it is receiving from those who simply do not like the idea of retaining data, and the criticism that it somehow opens Pandora’s box as far as privacy is concerned. The idea that the police should be able to identify someone who might become a criminal so that only their data are retained is absurd. The idea that data need be retained for only a short period of time ignores the way in which drugs conspiracies, for example, are investigated, where the drugs are traced from the individual on the street back to the wholesaler, from the wholesaler to the central supplier, and then from the central supplier to the importer. That all takes time, and if the data are not retained for a period, by the time the importer is identified, all their data have gone and the link cannot properly be established.

It is all very well to talk about the importance of privacy—I completely understand and respect those who prioritise that—but there is a conflict between the effective use of data to prosecute serious crime and privacy in the sense that the fact of something or the existence of something will not be made available to law

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enforcement bodies and a recognition that with that will come an inability on the part of the police and the prosecutor to deliver convictions that, at the moment, go a long way to keeping people safe.

3.37 pm

Mr Jack Straw (Blackburn) (Lab): I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Simon Reevell), because although none of us remotely underestimates the difficulty of finding a proper balance between liberty and security—some might come down in different places on that—I say with respect to those who are criticising the data retention practice in the United Kingdom, rather than the policy of the EU, which is greater, that there is a fundamental logical fallacy in what they are arguing, as the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) exposed powerfully. It is this: where there is a suspect for a crime, it is for a crime that has been committed in the past. The police will not know who that suspect is until they come to the police’s attention, at which point they have to get historical evidence. These days, part of that historical evidence will be in data records. They have to be able to access everybody’s data records in order to find those of one particular person, because the police, no more than the rest of us, are not given powers of clairvoyance with which to anticipate who is and who is not to be a suspect. Unless or until I hear from opponents of this Bill and of data retention how the police can be expected to identify in advance those who are going to be suspected of crime, I have to say that the whole logical basis of their argument completely falls away.

I always listen with interest to the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis). Indeed, there are areas where I have been in concert, if not conspiracy, with him. I think I am correct in saying that he said that Parliament has been a weak defender of our liberties in this field over the past 20 years. With respect, I beg to differ. Forty years ago, almost to this month, after six hours of questioning by former police officers as part of my security vetting procedure, I was interviewed by a senior officer of the Security Service. He explained to me that a file had been kept on my family at least since 1961, when I was 15 and my sister, who was the subject of one of the original reports, was 17. In order to identify a discrepancy that had arisen between what I had said and what they thought they knew, he had to show me my file—a big, thick manila file was produced.

He went on to question me as to what contact I had had as president of the National Union of Students at the end of the 1960s and the early ’70s with the student national organiser of the Communist party. I said that I had met this man from time to time at a pub in Covent Garden. “Oh yes,” he said, “You met that man at the Sussex Arms in Covent Garden on these dates, and this is what you discussed.” I mentioned that in my book and it is a great tribute to the modern Security Service that it and the Cabinet Office approved of my relaying of the story.

At that stage, however, we were in the area of the secret state. There was no parliamentary oversight whatsoever of the intelligence or security agencies. The telephone tapping that happened to me and my family was the subject of no statutory warrant whatsoever. The past 30 years have seen this House progressively doing its duty by the citizen—from the Telecommunications

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Act 1984 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994 through to, I am proud to say, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000—to ensure that the necessary powers of the state to detect and prevent crime and to secure national safety are the subject of proper controls.

Of course, as technology changes, the law should take account of it—both sides of the House are agreed on that—but RIPA was a huge advance in terms of human rights, and that was how I introduced it to the House back in 2000. It is simply a matter of record that that Act applied overseas and there has been dispute subsequently about its exact wording. That is all that is being corrected by this Bill and I defy anybody to challenge that.

There is one area in which this Bill will, indeed, change the law. Clause 3 will change the basis for obtaining a warrant for intercept on grounds of economic well-being. At the moment, in RIPA, economic well-being is the sole criterion without condition. In future, it will be subject to the interests of national security.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind: The right hon. Gentleman may be unaware that there has been a European directive since the late 1990s that links economic well-being to national security issues. It has been implemented in the United Kingdom through a code of practice, which is unsatisfactory, and it is that code of practice that will now appear as primary legislation.

Mr Straw: I am aware of that, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be the first to accept that there is a world of difference between something in a code and something in a Bill. I note that not one critic can find the words to commend the fact that this Government, with support from the Opposition, are going to strengthen provisions, rather than diminish them.

As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has generously given me an extra few seconds, I will also address data records. Before the Telecommunications Act 1984 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994, data communications of all sorts were collected without any statutory control. That, too, has been the subject of repeated strengthening of the law, to protect the citizen. I hope this House will pass this sensible, necessary and very modest measure.

3.45 pm

Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): May I declare an interest at the outset? My wife works for Google, albeit in a role entirely unrelated to this debate.

It was US founding father Thomas Jefferson who declared:

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

He meant vigilance not by the state but by lawmakers, citizens and civic society. As the Government grapple with an undoubted problem—the proliferation of the means, and the volume, of communications used by terrorists and serious criminals—this House must exercise its duty of vigilance, particularly when legislation is being rushed through at lightning speed, increasing the risk that we get the balance wrong.

I for one would like to see Parliament remain in Session until the summer to make sure that we get this right. I urge the Government to look very carefully at

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the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson) and others, which would allow us to sunset this Bill by the end of the year, to give us time to put some proper legislation in place. That seems to me to be the one point in this debate that is utterly unanswerable—we must surely be able to enact a better piece of legislation in six moths than in one day. If not, what would that say about hon. Members on both sides of the House?

Last Thursday, this House debated giving the European Court of Justice the last word on powers relating to crime, policing and extradition, yet today the Government are lamenting the ECJ’s ruling on UK surveillance powers. I hope that all hon. Members will wake up to the wider democratic erosion by the European Union of our ability to strike the right balance for ourselves through this Parliament and our courts.

Equally, I recognise the concern of the intelligence agencies about the capability gap between communications between nefarious individuals and groups and our capacity to keep track of them. However, even if legislation itself can provide a framework for collecting this rising tide of data in a safe way with adequate checks and balances, the real problem, to be frank, is not the gathering but the challenge of sifting through an exponentially increasing amount of communications data to find the missing piece of the security jigsaw. That is why, while they are invaluable in police investigations and prosecutions after criminal activity has occurred, the role of comms data in monitoring real-time plots by terrorists and criminals posing some kind of imminent public threat is, frankly, pretty minimal. I wish Ministers and shadow Ministers would be a bit more explicit and honest about that.

In that context, I want to make five points. First, it is not strictly correct to say that we are merely reasserting the legal status quo. Until recently, internet providers and other IT companies held communications data voluntarily, and the key issue was the terms on which the Government could access those data. They no longer need to retain those data for commercial purposes, so the nature of the relationship between the state and commercial operators has fundamentally changed from a voluntary to a coercive one. This is the first time that we have in effect put our legislative imprimatur on that change, and it will have major implications for the IT companies. There is a very real risk that they will be perceived by their customers as the privatised wing of an increasingly powerful surveillance state, and they are understandably very anxious about that.

The second issue is the extent to which we can retain our communications capability at least at the same level as before. I do not doubt that the technological revolution has dented our ability to track criminals, but I question whether we can realistically expect to maintain this particular operational capability, at least in the way we have in the past, just by gathering more and more data on every citizen. There is a world of difference between gathering the rising tide of communications data and the effective use of such data to improve our security. If our challenge is to look for a needle in a haystack, increasing the size of the haystack will not necessarily make that task any easier. The only way in which the authorities will be able to make effective use of the increasingly vast quantities of data is through data

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mining and profiling, which—mercifully—no Minister has avowed; it would have major ramifications for the relationship between the citizen and the state.

With that in mind, my third point is that our strategic approach to surveillance should focus our finite resources and our intrusive powers on national security and the most serious crimes that threaten public safety. Yet the Bill will retain powers not just for national security, crime and public safety, but for a long list of other purposes—from tax collection to economic well-being and public health—and, indeed, any other purpose that the Secretary of State may order. I appreciate that Ministers will say they are just copying RIPA, but that legislation is fundamentally flawed, and it is regrettable that we are just nodding it through again in such a rushed time frame.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): Is my hon. Friend suggesting that he wants those aspects of the Bill removed before Third Reading?

Mr Raab: Rather than the Bill just being nodded through, the key thing is to take advantage of a fairly light legislative timetable between now and the end of the year: we could pass the emergency legislation, and then get the job done properly and correctly, with the right balance.

The fourth issue is the extension of interception and communications data powers to cover foreign companies under clause 4. It is a new power, or at least there is an increase in the extent of the power. Have the internet and phone companies concerned agreed to this substantial assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction? If not, how do the Government plan to get round the encryption and other security mechanisms in which many such firms take pride for the purpose of protecting their customers’ privacy? In practice, there are only three possibilities: that foreign firms co-operate voluntarily, which would be brand suicide; that that part of the Bill becomes utterly ineffective, because those with a malevolent intent quickly work out which providers will leave them immune to the powers that are enacted; or the nuclear option of the Government considering Chinese-style blocks or bans on offending modes of communication by overseas providers. Such unanswered questions are fundamental to the Bill, as they were to the draft Communications Data Bill before its demise. For all the legitimate concerns about privacy, it can equally be questioned whether clause 4 has any realistic hope of dealing effectively with the problem at hand.

Finally, as so often in this House we are yet again reaching instinctively for legislation to deal with issues that really require a stronger law enforcement capability. The annual Home Office statistics released last September showed that total terrorism convictions had fallen by 57% compared with the level in 2006-07. I have long called for a more robust prosecutorial capacity to fight terrorism and serious crime, such as lifting the ban on the use of intercept evidence, more plea bargaining and a stronger Crown Prosecution Service.

I am very conscious of the time, but the fundamental point is the need to recognise that there is a problem with communications data, but that we do not need to rush through the Bill or to repeat the mistakes of RIPA. I hope that Ministers will respond to the points made so that we can avoid passing in haste yet another piece of

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clumsy surveillance legislation that will erode our privacy as citizens without effectively tackling the undoubted security threat we face.

3.53 pm

Mr George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab). I listened to him carefully, and there is a problem with what he said. His starting point was that something needs to be done, but he then listed a whole lot of reasons why nothing can be done. Although he made a very fluent speech, I do not think that it took us any further, except in saying that he wanted more time to consider the Bill.

I will start by discussing the time we have to develop our arguments and consider the Bill. One factor to be borne in mind is whether there is enough time for this House and for concerned experts and members of the public to get their heads around what is being proposed and to have a say. That is an important question that needs to be answered.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Andrew Miller) reminded me earlier that I was responsible for a piece of legislation called the Disqualifications Act 2000, which you will remember, Madam Deputy Speaker. Although the content of that legislation has no bearing on this Bill, it is comparable because it was a five-clause Bill that went through all its stages in the House in one 26-hour sitting. The quality of the debate as we got into the 23rd, 24th and 25th hours was probably not that good. I am not convinced that we got better legislation after sitting for 26 hours than we would have done had we sat for five or six hours.

In the time left to me, I will cover two clauses of the Bill. The first is clause 3. I will not speak about it for too long, because I tabled an amendment to it, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) and other hon. Friends, that will be debated later. Amendment 1 covers the whole issue of economic well-being. The only thing I want to say at this point is that we at least need to have a debate about the scope of economic well-being. The purpose of amendment 1, which is a probing amendment, is to get the Government to give us some idea of the dimensions of economic well-being. The amendment tries to restrict it to three main areas, but there may well be other areas that should be considered. If there are, we ought to hear about them.

Clause 4 is the extra-territoriality provision. I well understand the need for it and will not speak against it, but I just fear that it might prove to be unworkable. I am looking for reassurance about how it will be carried out in practice. Let us imagine that there was a billing office for Google in Liverpool and that some relatively junior person in the organisation turned out to be the sole representative of Google in the United Kingdom. I am sure that that is not the case, but I am using it as a hypothetical example. My fear is that somebody who is well down the pay grades could, by virtue of being in an office that is owned by a parent company that is registered in Ireland or the United States, be the person on whom the notice is served to enact the warrant. That would be disproportionate. I might have misread clause 4. I will be quite happy if the Minister can ease my mind on the subject, but it does pose a bit of a worry for me.

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In conclusion, when we are debating issues such as this, a couple of considerations must be borne in mind. The first is the amount of time that is available, which I have covered. The second is whether the provisions break new ground in policy terms. My reading of the Bill—I have read it carefully several times—is that it brings the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 up to date slightly to address the problem that arose as a result of the European Court of Justice decision. In so far as it breaks no new policy ground, I do not think that there is necessarily a problem with what is proposed. I am quite prepared to support the Bill on Second Reading.

Several hon. Members rose—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. I am setting the time limit at five minutes in the hope that everyone in the Chamber will get their five minutes before the winding-up speeches start.