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Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill

Volume 584: debated on Tuesday 15 July 2014

Proceedings resumed (Order, this day) .

Considered in Committee (Order, this day).

[Mrs Eleanor Laing in the Chair]

Clause 1

Powers for retention of relevant communications data subject to safeguards

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

As the House has heard, communications data are information relating to the who, when, where and how of communications, but not to their content. These data are crucial to the work of both law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies.

As a result of the recent European Court of Justice judgment, we need to ensure that communications companies in the UK continue to retain this key information. The Bill will replace the data retention regime currently set out in the UK’s Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009, and preserve the status quo in relation to the retention of data, while responding to certain points made in the European Court judgment. Let me make it clear that the Bill will not create any new powers or obligations on communications companies beyond those that already exist.

Clause 1 will create a power for the Secretary of State to give notices to communications service providers to require them to retain relevant communications data. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already made clear, the Bill does not enable the retention of any data which cannot already be retained by communications service providers under the existing data retention regulations.

Will the Minister make it absolutely clear that there will be no change for data retention by overseas providers and that overseas companies will not be ordered to retain data?

As I have said, the law will be exactly as it now stands. My hon. Friend will know that there are provisions relating to extraterritoriality, and we will come on to the relevant clause later. He will understand that we have a relationship with communications service providers in the UK about their retention of data and that, in the regime under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the Security Service, the police and listed bodies can make specific requests for the purposes set out in RIPA.

It is important to stress that those defined purposes are contained in existing law. To emphasise a point I made on Second Reading, the Bill is not about extending the current situation. Although the European Court of Justice commented on the data retention directive, we had already legislated in a number of ways to ensure that issues of proportionality and necessity are considered in framing requests. We have obviously reflected carefully on the judgment; hence some of the provisions, which I am sure we will come on to in Committee.

I just want to ensure that I understand the Minister’s answer. Perhaps I did not phrase my question well. Does the clause provide the power to issue a retention notice to an overseas provider in respect of information that is flowing overseas? That would be something new and I would be grateful if he could rule it out. That is not currently the practice and I hope that he will confirm that it will not be the practice.

It is certainly not our plan or intention—indeed, it is not part of our process—to make those sorts of requests. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we make requests for communications data to be retained by companies in the UK. He knows of the processes and the safeguards that exist in respect of the specific requests that are made by the different agencies, and of the tests that need to be satisfied.

Does my hon. Friend accept that the impact of the European Court of Justice judgment is enormous because, in a nutshell, it will continue to be the law of the European Union irrespective of whether we pass the Bill?

Obviously, we have considered carefully the impact of the European Court of Justice judgment, the European convention on human rights and other parts of the law in examining the position. That is why we have considered the Bill so carefully. The additional safeguards and provisions that have been written into the Bill reflect that consideration. We remain confident that the provisions meet the legislative requirements.

May I refer the Minister back to the question that was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash)? Does this debate not underline the importance of the report of the European Scrutiny Committee on establishing the supremacy of Parliament? I am afraid that the Minister’s response was not absolutely clear. I think he said that the Government are “confident”. Surely on matters as important as the freedom of the individual and national security, we should be more than just confident; we should be sure of the supremacy of Parliament.

As my hon. Friend knows, legislation is always subject to court challenges. That is the nature of our constitution. The House often reflects on changes that are made to the law as a consequence of decisions that are made in our courts. There is a separation of powers between the legislature, the Executive and the judiciary.

We have reflected carefully on the European Court of Justice judgment on the directive. It is important to state that that judgment related not to our domestic legislation, but to the directive. Obviously, the Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations 2009 were made to implement the directive. We believe that the regulations remain in full force and effect, but the questions, doubt and risk have arisen because of how the industry and others have looked on the judgment and the regulations. Although we assert that the regulations remain extant and in full force and effect, it is essential, given the questions and points that have been raised, to deal with the risk and put the matter beyond doubt.

The Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights made the extremely valid point that it would have been useful if the Government had published details of how the legislation complied with each of the points that was raised in the judgment. May I take the Minister back to the point that I made earlier about paragraph 58 of the judgment? Will he point me to the place in the legislation, the regulations or the Bill that addresses the point in the judgment about providing exceptions for

“persons whose communications are subject…to the obligation of professional secrecy.”?

I know that point has been raised, and the hon. Gentleman will see that clause 1(4)(f) enables the provision of

“a code of practice in relation to relevant requirements or restrictions or relevant powers,”.

The intent is to have a statutory code of practice that will sit alongside the regulations, and there is scope to ensure that the issues relating to confidence highlighted by the hon. Gentleman are addressed in that manner. We are putting in place a legal mechanism to address his concerns and the points raised by the court.

We are seeking to ensure that the code is drafted effectively, and we are looking at ways that that scrutiny can take place, given the import we have mentioned. We will certainly look to engage appropriately to ensure that issues such as those highlighted by the hon. Gentleman on confidence, professional positions and matters such as legal professional privilege are contemplated and reflected on. Codes of practice already exist and it is now about putting that on a more statutory footing to give it statutory teeth, but I recognise his point.

My hon. Friend referred to our courts, and I am sure that by that he meant our domestic courts. Unfortunately, that is not what we have to grapple with here. The issue is what our courts may be able to do, because they are bound by section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972, which states that we must have regard to, and indeed implement as an obligation of European law, judgments of the European Court. The data retention directive is European Union law, so the regulations and replacement regulations are all derived from that assertion of the supremacy of European law. As my hon. Friend will know, I am deeply concerned about that and I hope we will come on to it later. The bottom line is that we are not able to ensure that the Bill will be effective against any European Court judgments.

Part of the reason we are introducing the Bill is to give that fundamental statutory underpinning in primary legislation. The questions raised have been as a consequence of the linkage between the old data retention regulations, and whether they are reliant on the data retention directive being in force and effect. We have asserted clearly that we do not accept that that is the case, but because of those questions we judge it important to deal with that uncertainty and risk, and ensure that that is stated clearly in primary legislation.

I am happy to support the legislation, but I would like to clarify one small but important point in relation to Northern Ireland. The Bill makes it clear that it extends to Northern Ireland, but the Minister will be aware that policing and justice are devolved matters. Which aspects of policing and justice or reserved matters does the Bill cover?

Given the nature of the legislation, we are clear that it is reserved, so it does not require a legislative consent motion, for example, to be passed. It clearly has that approach, given the interception powers and the communications and national security issues inherent in the powers under RIPA and reflected in the Bill. We are clear that it is a reserved piece of legislation, so it will be passed by the House without the additional requirement that may otherwise be the case.

In the light of that, the Government accept that this is a reserved matter and I am happy that that is so, but were discussions held on that with the Northern Ireland Executive before the Bill was brought to this House?

We have kept the Northern Ireland Executive up to speed with the proposals, sending them details and setting out our legal analysis. As this is a reserved matter, we have a slightly different relationship than might otherwise be the case if it were a devolved matter. I hope that that is helpful. It is important to state the benefits of the clause and the regulations that will sit underneath it in respect of the whole of the United Kingdom. It has effect in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, and will be instrumental in guarding our security and bringing those who may harm us to justice. I recognise the particular interests that have, understandably, been raised by representatives from across the United Kingdom.

The clause creates a power for the Secretary of State to give notices to communications service providers requiring them to retain relevant communications data. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made clear, the Bill does not enable the retention of any data that cannot already be retained by communications service providers under the existing data retention regulations.

Clause 1(2)(b) states that it will

“require the retention of all data or any description of data”.

Should the Bill have said, “require the retention of all communications data or any description of communications data”? As drafted, it seems broad and completely open to interpretation.

My hon. Friend needs to understand that clause 1(2) is framed in the context of clause 1, which makes it clear that it relates to “relevant communications data”. It has to be read in the context of the interrelationship between clause 1(2) and clause 1(1), which I think provides the necessary clarification and context.

The Secretary of State may give a notice only where she considers the retention requirements are necessary and proportionate for one or more of the purposes set out in RIPA. These include national security, preventing or detecting crime, and the interests of public safety. The clause also enables the Secretary of State to make regulations that will replace the existing data retention regulations. Those regulations will, among other things, set out the process for serving a data retention notice and the safeguards that must be put in place to protect the data. To give Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise the details of our proposals, we have published a provisional draft of the regulations. They are available in the Vote Office and have been made more widely available.

Is my hon. Friend aware that Professor Steve Peers of Essex university—he is an expert in this field, as I am sure my hon. Friend knows—has drawn attention to the objection by the Court of Justice to the requirement to retain all communications data? The fact that the directive required all data to be retained from all subscribers was the first of the considerations taken into account by the Court in reaching its conclusion that the directive was disproportionate.

If my hon. Friend reads the judgment, he will see that the Court upheld the principle of retention of data as contemplated in the Bill. A number of frameworks on the purpose for which data are retained were referred to, but we are clear that the regime the House is contemplating this evening, in the context of the Bill and how it sits alongside the existing regime of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, does provide a legally robust approach to enable our police, law enforcement and security agencies to combat organised criminality and to provide the national security that is needed. The powers we already use are intrinsic to delivering on that. The Bill makes it clear that regulations cannot specify a retention period longer than 12 months. We reflected on the judgment of the Court. As the Home Secretary said in her opening statement on Second Reading, different time periods could be allowed in relation to specific types of data.

We are maintaining that focus on proportionality and necessity not simply in terms of giving a notice, but in keeping it under review. The European Court considered that the period of retention should be based on objective criteria to ensure that it is limited to what is strictly necessary. On the basis of law enforcement surveys in 2005, 2010 and 2012, we consider that a maximum period of 12 months strikes the right balance between the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to investigate crimes and an individual’s rights to privacy. Unlike the current regime, under which all relevant communications data is retained for 12 months, this approach will mean that data could be retained for a shorter period than 12 months if considered appropriate, and that different types of data could be retained for different periods.

My hon. Friend is making a perfectly good and sound case and I am pleased that he used the phrase “the necessity of proportionality”, which is crucial. But does he accept that there is no longer a clear-cut distinction between data and content? The worry of many outside this House, therefore, is that there will be an opportunity for ever more power to be retained by CSPs and thus by the state. Can he give us some assurances that the Government will keep this matter constantly under review?

My hon. Friend has expressed his views on a number of occasions on the need for continued focus on the balance between individual freedoms and collective freedom, because that collective freedom relies on our being able to conduct our affairs and to live our lives free from those who would do us harm. Sometimes people have sought to describe them as if they were in parallel, but I see them as mutually reinforcing; security and liberty must go hand in hand to develop and defend the fundamental principles that we have as a society, so to frame it separately misses the point.

My hon. Friend raises the important issue of how technology is evolving; it is constantly changing. That is why we see the import of the review by David Anderson, the independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, to look at the issues more broadly, and at existing legislation and capabilities. We will come on to that, I am sure, in some of the subsequent debates in this Committee where that might be teased out in further detail, but my hon. Friend makes an important point.

I am extremely grateful. My hon. Friend is pursuing doggedly what I believe to be a fundamentally and ultimately erroneous assumption, as will be discovered in due course, Does he accept, as everybody else appears to, that this Bill will be within the scope of EU law and that the charter of fundamental rights and the general principle of EU law will continue to apply, and that, as he correctly pointed out when he referred to primary legislation, the only way in which we can avoid running into difficulties with European Court judgments that we do not want—which, clearly, is what the Bill is about—is by using primary legislation, such as this Bill, to disapply the provisions of European law that come through sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act, and that it has to be notwithstanding those provisions?

I know the clear position that my hon. Friend has enunciated on many occasions in the House. There will be wider debates and discussions on the position of the European Convention and a British bill of rights, with which my hon. Friend is very familiar and which I personally support to ensure that our domestic law is framed properly in the context of convention rights. However, we have reflected carefully on the judgment—the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) described it as dense and complicated—which the Bill reflects on in the nature of the obligations set out therein. We have judged that primary legislation to avoid any uncertainty is appropriate and necessary, given the huge reliance that is placed on communications data and the right to be able lawfully to intercept for the prescribed purposes. I am sure that the wider debate—and the Select Committee that my hon. Friend chairs—is focused on the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over matters that are opted into and the position post-December 2014. We have reflected carefully on the application, scope and enforceability of the Bill and its compliance with relevant legislation of whatever kind, and we are confident that it meets that challenge.

Given that the European Court was considering only the data retention directive and not how member states implemented it, it did not take into account the rigorous controls in place in the UK as part of its judgment. Access to communications data in the UK is stringently regulated and safeguarded by the Regulatory and Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Data are retained on a case-by-case basis and must be authorised by a senior officer, at a rank stipulated by Parliament, from the organisation requesting the data. The authorising officer may approve a request for communications data only if the tests of necessity and proportionality are met in the particular case.

Our system was examined in detail by the Joint Committee on the draft Communications Data Bill, and it was satisfied that the current internal authorisation procedure is the right model. However, to ensure that communications data cannot be accessed using information-gathering powers that are not subject to the rigorous safeguards in RIPA, the Bill ensures that data retained under this legislation may be accessed only in accordance with RIPA, a court order or other judicial authorisation or warrant.

Hon. and right hon. Members who followed the discussions surrounding the draft Communications Data Bill will be aware that communications service providers are also able to retain communications data on a voluntary basis under a code of practice made under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. This clause ensures that the regulations made under this Bill can apply the same security safeguards and access restrictions to data retained under that code. I therefore believe that the clause should stand part of the Bill.

I welcome you to the Chair of this important Committee, Sir Roger. I shall not detain the Committee for long because, given that we broadly agree with the Government’s approach on this key issue, the Opposition have not tabled any amendments to clause 1.

As the Minister said, the stated context for the Bill is the continued threat from serious organised crime and potential terrorist activity. Given that the European Court of Justice struck down the regulations because they were neither proportionate nor objective, we have taken the view that we need to look at how to frame legislation that will be proportionate and objective in respect of the retention of data.

I would be interested to know the Opposition’s view on the issue of our laws being trumped by section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972, as suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) in the report of the European Scrutiny Committee. Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that, in the event of a Labour Government, there might be a case for passing legislation to proclaim the supremacy of Parliament so that we can protect ourselves from European legislation?

I take the view that we are part of the European Union, so we have to respect our obligations within it. I come to this particular piece of legislation, however, on the basis of what will best prevent activities by terrorists, child pornographers, paedophiles or serious organised criminals. Given the actions of the European Court of Justice, we have to examine our obligations as the United Kingdom Parliament and to frame legislation that we believe will have the support of the Government—and, in this particular case, of the Opposition—to ensure that we meet our European obligations but in a way that also meets our obligation to tackle the serious and organised criminals and others who would damage the fabric of our society. I will probably have disappointed the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) with that answer, but I believe it is consistent with our positive approach to Europe and our involvement in the European Community.

I believe that clause 1, which is the main focus of our debate, meets those obligations. It gives the Secretary of State powers to issue a retention notice requiring organisations that have data to hold those data, with which they will have to comply. Strict criteria are set out in subsection (2), which specifies who the operator could be, what the data being retained should be, for what periods the data should be retained, and whether there is different proportionality within different types of data.

Clause 1 includes two important words to which we shall return later: “necessary” and “proportionate”. It allows the Government to set minimum requirements for a retention notice. It specifies

“the maximum period for which data is to be retained”.

It also “firms up” an important constitutional aspect, confirming that access to data information sources is possible only in terms of notification rather than content, and must be supported by

“a court order or other judicial authorisation”.

I think that, for those who have been concerned about these issues, the clause clarifies the powers that the Government will have, the time for which data must be retained, and the circumstances in which a court order will be needed.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that all the provisions in subsections (1) and (2) are desirable, although some people will disagree. Surely what is most important from the Opposition’s point of view is to judge whether the provisions will be effective. The right hon. Gentleman says that he wants all this because it is a good idea, but if—as is more than likely—the provisions are challenged in the European Court, where will the Opposition stand if the European Court judgment that follows the implementation of the Act eventually overturns the Act itself?

I think that the hon. Gentleman would expect me to say that if we were the Government and the legislation were in force, we would defend it in the European Court, and would put up a case for our arguments. Ultimately, however, we are part of the European Union, and the European Court is considering the impact of legislation of this kind throughout the EU. We must defend our parliamentary procedures, defend the decisions that we make and defend the legislation that we have, and we must argue for our the position in court. Ultimately, however, we must also take on board our European obligations.

I wonder whether, at this point, we are pursuing the personal obsession of the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash). This is emergency legislation. Surely, if it were struck down, a Labour Government would introduce, in a timely manner, properly considered legislation that would deal with the problem.

My hon. Friend has made an important point. As the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) will observe, further amendments have been tabled, and I hope that the Government will consider them. We cannot discuss them now, but they would ensure that the provisions in clause 1 would be reviewed regularly, and that we would have an opportunity to make representations to the European Court if it chose to mount a challenge. However, let me respectfully say that I think we are being sidetracked into issues that do not concern the Bill as such. I consider that it fulfils an obligation to ensure that we give powers to the police and other authorities to check data and examine the conduct of that data. It establishes a definitive time scale for the holding of the data, and enables us to frame in legislation, in this United Kingdom Parliament, the mechanisms that are required to achieve that through court orders. That is why I support the clause and why the Opposition have tabled no amendments to it.

The European law on which this legislation is ultimately based is a retention directive. We anticipate there will be replacement regulations, but it does not matter whether the original regulations or replacement regulations are involved. Ultimately, the authority on which this Bill is based, and on which the whole of this general issue is based, is European law and the charter of fundamental rights and principles of European law which apply. As the shadow Minister just said, it so happens we have voluntarily accepted the obligations imposed under section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 in respect of compliance with a directive and any further directives that may or may not be made, and we have also voluntarily accepted that the United Kingdom will accept all judgments of the European Court under section 3 of that Act.

It so happens that we are providing in our own domestic legislation for certain safeguards, modifications and changes—based, it would appear, on the fact that we are now discussing a Bill of this Parliament—which interfere with, cross over, interweave with and—

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows me well enough to know that I know that we are discussing clause 1, not the Bill as a whole.

In respect of clause 1, we are also stating that a retention notice may relate to particular operators, and there is a whole set of subsections and paragraphs dealing with the basis on which a retention notice can be provided. It also goes on to say, in subsection (3), that the Secretary of State can

“by regulations make further provision about the retention of relevant communications data.”

Subsection (4) deals with certain provisions relating to

“requirements before giving a retention notice”,

and a code of practice and a range of other matters regarding

“the integrity, security or protection of, access to, or the disclosure or destruction of, data retained by virtue of this section”.

I entirely accept your point, of course, Sir Roger, that this is a debate on this clause, but this clause contains the essential powers that are being proposed under this piece of domestic legislation, and I am certain—this is not an assertion—that this has to be compliant with European law and it has to be compliant with the charter.

All I am saying is simply that there is an opportunity to make sure this law is effective—that clause 1 is effective. If Parliament wants clause 1 to be effective, it will want to be sure that it is bomb-proof against any challenges that may be made in respect of powers being conferred by clause 1, and in order to do that we have to get around the problem of the European Court, which has already issued an objection to the original proposals—the original regulations and the original retention directive on which the regulations are based, and, indeed, on which any subsequent regulations will be based, because I have not heard anyone yet say that the retention directive, which is the subject of clause 1, is going to be repealed by the European Union. There was some talk from the Home Secretary that she was looking at it, and there was talk about consultation, but I have not heard anybody suggest that the retention directive is going to be repealed in whole or in part. It may be that that will happen, but we are considering this Bill as it is now, and as we speak clause 1 is derived from European law and the charter of fundamental rights.

In a nutshell, this is what I am saying: section 2 of the 1972 Act requires the implementation of the requirements prescribed by the European directives and European law, and the Bill falls within the scope of European law, and the charter and the general principle of EU law will continue to apply. I will respond to the shadow Minister and the Minister in one simple statement, and it is this. If they want the legislation in clause 1 to be effective, it is imperative to make certain that arrangements are made in the primary legislation that the House is now discussing to ensure that sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 do not apply in this context, because that is the only way—by primary legislation—to ensure that the powers in clause 1 will not be vitiated by a further Court challenge in future. This is a fundamental question that pertains to the supremacy of Parliament. We want the legislation to pass—or many Members of the House do, judging by the majority that we have just witnessed—but if that is the case, why not insert the formula

“notwithstanding sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972”

to ensure that clause 1 will survive? Otherwise, I fear that it is at risk.

The Home Secretary talked about wanting to remove the risk of uncertainty. All I would say is that what we are doing on the Floor of this House is compounding and creating the very uncertainty that she said she wanted to avoid. The uncertainty will come simply and solely because of the ideological obsession with not making provision in an Act—which otherwise would make it a good enactment—to include the words

“notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972”,

and then legislating on our own terms. If we do not do that, this clause and all that follows from it will be at risk, and there will indeed be uncertainty arising from it.

If I may make this final point, Sir Roger. When the charter of fundamental rights was going through, I tabled an amendment to include the words “notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972”. The charter applies to this clause, and as I said to the Prime Minister the other day—and it is understood—the only thing we can do is either to accept that the charter is applicable in the United Kingdom or to displace it. By including in the Bill the words “notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972”, the charter will not apply. I tabled such an amendment to the Lisbon treaty legislation. That amendment was declined and the result is that we now have a series of European Court judgments saying that the charter does apply to the United Kingdom. If my amendment had been accepted—back in 2008, I think it was—we would not be having to face the fact that the charter is now applicable.

The charter arises in relation to this provision, and all I am asking is for the Minister and those on the Opposition Benches to listen and to act to ensure that we are not trumped by a challenge by the European Court, guided through the legislation and case law, to override legislation that is passed in this House of Parliament. It is very simple.

This clause is about retention; it is not about access. That distinction is an important one, not least to anybody reading these debates or drawing conclusions from them. It is also something that might profitably have been considered at greater length by the European Court when it reached its judgment.

There is a big difference in the impact on somebody’s human rights between the retention of data and having access to those data, which we will deal with in subsequent clauses. Of course, companies retain data for their own commercial purposes, such as billing and a variety of other reasons. They are constrained by the Data Protection Act—they have to have a legitimate purpose for doing so—but they have many purposes that can enable them to keep data. It is important to recognise that the problem from a human rights and privacy point of view arises when access is made—when a Government body can go into that mine of data and discover a lot of things about somebody’s life. It might have a number of good reasons to do that—to identify whether that person is involved in a serious crime—but those reasons have to be justified by some kind of procedure. We can consider that aspect later, but we must recognise that this part of the Bill is confined to the power of retention.

The Government’s answer to the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) is that, in framing the retention provisions, they will not be obliged to make the same provision for every kind and every aspect of data. That should satisfy the European Court provision. If ever this comes to a legal challenge, I hope that there will be some attempt to make the Court think a little more carefully about the fact that retention and access are not the same thing.

My right hon. Friend has been in this House for many years. Does he recall that a situation similar to the kind that I have been describing arose in relation to the Factortame case? The European Court, through our own courts, ended up by striking down the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 because the Government did not get the legislation right, which they could do this time round.

I have only remembered the case because my hon. Friend made the same point on a previous occasion. He has not been slow to point that case out. It is worth remembering—this may not be an approved thing to say—that the European Court is not always entirely consistent from one judgment to the next in the way that it applies its principles. It is important that we make it absolutely clear that we have a set of rules to ensure that the Government only require the retention of data when they have good purpose for doing so, and they only retain those kinds of data for which there is good purpose. Access to that data should be the subject of stringent conditions. In essence, that was what the European Court judgment was about, and the Government are meeting those conditions in the way that they have framed this legislation. That is not to say that they could not be open to challenge; perhaps they will be at some point. If that challenge is made, we should make it quite clear how important the distinction is between retention and access to data.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) makes his point well. He talks about the retention of data, the security and assurance that is provided and the separate regime that relates to access to data and how that is reflected in the Bill’s provisions. Those provisions relate to the retaining of data, the safeguards that exist and some of the steps that we propose to take in relation to the Information Commissioner and the powers that he has to ensure that the data are retained securely. Then there is the separate regime that relates to the rights of different agencies, as set out in legislation, to gain access to that data. My right hon. Friend understands that concept and expressed it well.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) has highlighted the point about seeking to put beyond doubt that any legal challenge to this Bill should be considered by this Parliament and by the courts of the United Kingdom. Given the backdrop to this legislation—the data protection directive—and the approach that the European Court of Justice has taken in striking down the directive, I suppose I can understand why he is motivated to raise these issues in the Committee this evening. His comments raise broader points about the European Communities Act 1972. Our membership of the EU is wider than this Bill, and I respect the consistent way in which he has advanced those issues in the House.

We have considered carefully the existing law and legislation, and we have reflected on the European Court of Justice judgment in seeing what further measures can be put into effect to reduce the risk of challenge. That risk of challenge is most likely to heard within the UK courts than the European courts, as that is where challenge to the legislation might be flagged up in the first instance. Legislation is challenged in our courts from time to time. We believe that we have considered carefully the compliance of the Bill with the necessary regulatory requirements and remain confident that it meets those requirements.

I simply ask the Minister whether he accepts—he has more or less done so—that there is a risk that the sort of principles that were applied in the case of the Merchant Shipping Act could apply to the Bill as drafted, and that the only way of dealing with that would be to employ the “notwithstanding” formula to ensure that the Bill actually survives for the reasons of terrorism, national security, child pornography and child abuse that were properly mentioned earlier. Does he accept that what I am proposing is effectively to sustain the provisions of this domestic enactment and that I am not just making a general speech about the sovereignty of the UK Parliament?

I understand my hon. Friend’s points. I am always sympathetic to the aim of having clarity in legislation, which is why we are taking the Bill forward this evening. I do not want to discuss an amendment that we have not yet reached, so I hesitate to engage further in that context, because it would be inappropriate. However, amendments need to be considered carefully for their unintended consequences. Legislation is always subject to legal challenge of whatever kind. I am talking about not only this Bill, but all forms of legislation. The separation of powers between this place, the Executive and the judiciary is part of our constitution and part of how legislation, of whatever nature, can be challenged in our courts. While I understand his desire to try to avoid that through express language, I do not think he is able to rule out challenges before our courts for a whole host of different reasons.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Before we move on to clause 2, I should inform the House that the Home Secretary has tabled new clause 7 and amendments 7 and 8, which the Chairman of Ways and Means has selected. They will be debated with the amendments and new clauses relating to clause 6. I am advised that copies are available in the Vote Office.

Clause 2

Section 1: supplementary

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 sets out the meaning of various terms used in clause 1 and includes provisions that underpin and support the application of the powers contained in that clause. In particular, the definition of “relevant communications data” in clause 2 limits the communications data that can be retained to those specified in the existing data retention regulations: the data that are already being retained by service providers in the UK. To be absolutely clear, the Bill does not extend in any way the types of data that we will be asking service providers to retain.

The capability gaps identified and discussed during scrutiny of the draft Communications Data Bill will not be addressed and will continue to grow, impacting on UK law enforcement. As important as that matter is, I am sure that the Committee will agree that fast-track legislation is not the appropriate vehicle for considering addressing such gaps. The Prime Minister has made it clear that it is important that the issue is addressed in the next Parliament.

The clause also provides that the regulations made under clause 1 must be made under the affirmative procedure. We have placed in the Library a draft of the regulations that we intend to make, which will give Parliament the maximum possible opportunity, given the urgency of the matter, to consider the detailed contents of the regime before secondary legislation is taken through.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3

Grounds for issuing warrants and obtaining data

I beg to move amendment 1, page 4, line 19, at end insert—

‘(5) In section 25 (interpretation of Chapter 11), subsection (1), after “in accordance with subsection (2);”, insert— ““economic well-being of the United Kingdom” is defined as the security of critical national infrastructure, the conduct of defence contracts, the development, manufacture and design of UK defence systems, and the stability of the UK currency, banking and financial systems.”

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause stand part; there will be no further debate on clause stand part.

It was said on Second Reading, but it bears repeating that clause 3 does move things on slightly on the question of economic well-being. We keep saying that the Bill is based on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, but explicitly relating economic well-being to national security is progress, because the relationship was previously implicit. I accept that clause 3, even as it stands, is progress from where we stood previously.

I constructed this amendment, which is intended as a probing amendment, because I thought it was as well to have a debate about the range and scope of the term “economic well-being”. I wanted to try to work out the range of concerns that should be taken into account when it comes to that concept. In the amendment, I have effectively highlighted three areas that I think are of concern and that ought at least to be taken into account in this context. The first is critical national infrastructure, and I shall say a little more about that in a moment. The second is the conduct of defence contracts and the development, manufacture and design of UK defence systems. The third is the stability of the UK currency, banking and financial systems.

On the question of critical national infrastructure, an organisation that has some responsibility in this regard is the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, which provides protective security advice aimed at reducing the vulnerability of critical national infrastructure to national security threats. It categorises national infrastructure into nine sectors: communications, emergency services, energy, financial services, food, government, health, transport and water. Not everything in that list is considered critical in nature, so the CPNI contends that within those nine sectors

“there are certain ‘critical’ elements of infrastructure, the loss or compromise of which would have a major detrimental impact on the availability or integrity of essential services, leading to severe economic or social consequences or to loss of life.”

It draws attention to broad descriptions of the types of infrastructure that would be categorised at different levels. That infrastructure can be physical, which means sites, installations or pieces of equipment, or it can be logistical, which includes information networks or systems. It is important that economic well-being takes into account critical national infrastructure, because it directly relates to the continuation of daily life that electricity, water and all the things that go with them should be available.

I do not propose to speak for long about defence, but I am aware, as I am sure others listening to the debate will be, that there have been attempts in the past by hostile nation states or individuals to compromise defence systems. There have been attempts to break into companies’ design systems and so on. Without proper controls to deal with that, there could be serious consequences for our national security. It is therefore self-evident that we should take into account defence systems and their design, manufacture and so on when we consider this matter.

The amendment also refers to

“the stability of the UK currency, banking and financial systems.”

It is interesting to look at what the Serious Organised Crime Agency has to say. It concludes by talking about cybercrime and the effects that it can have. It says:

“Financial crime can jeopardise the integrity of our financial markets and institutions.”

That is not just a question of protecting individual firms or interests. It really is related to our national security. It is interesting that the International Monetary Fund has said that

“Money laundering, terrorist financing and the related…crimes can undermine the stability of a country’s financial system or its broader economy in a number of ways and may have adverse spillover effects on global instability.”

So SOCA and the IMF have stated their concerns. The National Security Council has talked in terms of

“Transnational organised crime which threatens economic interests and can cause significant damage to the world financial system through its subversion, exploitation and distortion of legitimate markets and economic activity”.

It lists such things as bribery of key officials, money laundering, disruption of global supply chains, criminals leveraging their relationship with state-owned entities, industries or state-allied actors, allowing them to gain influence over key commodities markets, and potential exploitation of the transportation sector.

I have tried to illustrate that this issue is not something that only I am concerned about. National and international agencies and, indeed, the Government are on the record as expressing concern. I would be interested to hear from the Minister, if he thinks my definition of “economic well-being” is defective, examples of things that should be covered that are not encompassed by the amendment.

The right hon. Gentleman serves on the Intelligence and Security Committee, and I used to serve on it. When I did, I was a little concerned that the definition of “economic well-being” was extremely broad and could refer to things that might generally promote Britain’s economic interest, rather than matters related to national security, as the Bill helpfully defines economic well-being, or things that should be dealt with under other categories such as serious crime. There are serious threats, and the right hon. Gentleman is right to identify them. They are what this should be about.

That intervention was helpful. I said at the outset that the wording of clause 3 took us slightly further. It relates economic well-being explicitly to national security, whereas previously it was related implicitly. The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that that is the conditional element of it all. I do not think that I am drawing the definition too broadly; the interpretation could be even broader. My purpose is to find out what other factors fall under that broad heading of economic well-being. I do not for one minute think that I have included all the considerations in the short amendment that I have put together; it is merely a vehicle to allow us to discuss matters more fully.

It was interesting when we discussed the timetable for the Bill—you may rule this comment out of order, Sir Roger—that everyone said that there would not be enough time to discuss it. As far as I am aware, nobody else is due to speak on my amendment, and I do not think any other speeches are intended on clause 3, so perhaps we do have enough time.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that perhaps most of our colleagues have not had time to read his amendment because of the timetable that has been set?

I am interested to hear my hon. Friend’s concern. I went to the Vote Office at half-past 8 this morning just to make sure that the amendment had been tabled. Anybody who was interested enough would have been able to see it from half-past 8, and it was tabled in accordance with the procedures of the House yesterday evening. I do not want to labour the point, but there was enough time, if anybody was interested enough, to check what amendments had been tabled. I am sure that my hon. Friend, as the author of another amendment that we will discuss later, took the trouble of checking this morning that his had been included as well. We do have a responsibility to check what we are debating.

This is my small attempt to bring further enlightenment to the proceedings, particularly as regards clause 3. I hope that the Minister will be able to allay my fears that the provision may be too widely drawn.

I fear that it was wishful thinking on the part of the right hon. Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) to assume that there would be no other speakers on this matter. As he will know, because we discussed it yesterday as members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, I wholeheartedly approve of this amendment.

I am grateful. I will keep my contribution as short as possible, because other Members want to get on to some of the more important amendments to clause 6 and it is clear that there is no appetite to divide the Committee on this matter.

As the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) said, it is worrying that, all too often, the “economic well-being” head has been drawn so widely that many aspects of it could be seen as part and parcel of something that could fall within the ambit of RIPA and this Bill. One need only look at the controversy around the alleged bugging of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, by the National Security Agency, if the Snowden reports are to be believed. On the grounds, presumably, of economic well-being, there was an opportunity to listen to particular conversations. That is not a healthy state of affairs.

Many of the public concerns about the Bill that are close to all our hearts reflect an understanding and an appreciation from many of our constituents that certain intelligence needs to be picked up, but the process needs to be necessary and proportionate. Therefore, trying to draw a narrow view—not an overly restrictive view, but as narrow a view as possible—will command more public confidence.

“Economic well-being” is one of the various heads that come under the auspices of RIPA—the 2000 Act that controls most of the surveillance that is dealt with in the Bill. Rather worryingly, permissible purposes under the Bill, as under RIPA, will include

“any purpose (not falling within paragraphs (a) to (g)) which is specified for the purposes of this subsection by an order made by the Secretary of State.”

That is almost a Henry VIII-type provision that relates to the issue of public confidence that is close to all our hearts.

I agree with the right hon. Member for Knowsley that we should be trying to define the terms more narrowly. Perhaps now is not exactly the right time to do it, but I hope we will be able to do so in the months and years ahead when it comes to having a fully fledged Bill on these very important matters.

I agree that we have to look at economic well-being as focusing on the security of the critical national infrastructure, defence contracts and—something close to my own heart—the stability of the UK currency, banking and financial systems, particularly with the ongoing and likely to become more acute issue of cybercrime, and cyber-security issues that will come as part and parcel of that.

I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer. It is important that we put some of these concerns in place. As I say, they have a more general bearing on the idea that if we are to get a sense of public confidence about this sort of legislation, we need to try to define it as narrowly as possible rather than having broad definitions in place. I think that that is what the right hon. Gentleman had in mind in tabling the amendment and I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.

I have heard several comments that clause 3 does not need to be in fast-track legislation, and it does not relate to an impending emergency, but I would not like to see it removed. It is a good, pro-civil liberties, pro-privacy clause, which just trims down what was always quite a bizarrely broad definition. It restricts the issuing of interception warrants on grounds such as national security—fair enough; serious crime—or the UK’s economic well-being, which is a broad concept, as was being discussed. The wording is taken from article 8(2) of the European convention on human rights, which is why we have that idea, but it could be interpreted broadly. There have been a number of discussions about whether, for example, it would enable lawful intercept to be used to find out what other companies are bidding against British companies. That is something that I think the House would be clear now is simply not acceptable—the Government have a stated policy on that—but it is not excluded by law. I think we would all say that it is simply not appropriate, so I am pleased that we are taking the opportunity of this legislation to trim this down; to try to make sure that it is only economic well-being as it relates to national security.

I appreciate that this is a probing amendment, but I have a number of issues with it. In particular, I am concerned that some of the language around

“the conduct of defence contracts”,

and the

“manufacture and design of UK defence systems”,

sounds worryingly as though it is saying that the House believes that it is okay to have interception to win defence contracts against a foreign bidder, or to make sure that we do well. I hope that that is not what is intended.

The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, so that is clear. But I would be very worried about anything that suggested that.

My concern was not to empower interception for those purposes, but to empower countermeasures in cases where hostile states or hostile individuals sought to break into those systems. I think I did say that. As I said, I do not claim for one moment that it is a perfectly worded amendment, but that was my intention.

That is helpful. There is general agreement, but it was something that struck me when I read the amendment earlier this morning. I note that there are not many Members in the Chamber. Sadly, the House is often like that, however much time has been given for debate or however much notice.

There is a question as to whether it is helpful to define economic well-being. It may be that it is just too hard. Perhaps scholars of the future will look at this discussion and many others to try to work out what is meant. It should relate to things that would be catastrophic; where the effect of failing to stop something would be equivalent to a national security problem or a serious crime. It is that sort of level.

There is a huge amount of concern that the legislation as it was previously and has been presented today could be used for political or industrial purposes. For example, it could be used to intercept information when a trade union was organising industrial action. Is his reading of the amendment such that it could be used in a situation such as the miners’ strike of 1984-85?

I do not know the answer to the hon. Lady’s question. That would seem inappropriate if it was about a trade union problem. If it was about ensuring that there was not a catastrophic failure of national infrastructure, there might be some grounds, but I would be alarmed if it was used for what were clearly political arguments. From my perspective, the miners’ strike would seem to be an inappropriate use of anything like this. I do not think we should ever see anything like that.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity to reassure my hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark) that it was certainly never my intention that it should be used for the purposes she described. I believe strongly in free trade unions and can think of no circumstances in which the state should intervene in that way.

I am always delighted to enable two Labour Members to talk to each other. Having facilitated that conversation, and as I agree with what both of them said, I will end my remarks there.

I will make a short contribution in support of my right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth), who I think made some extremely valid points in relation to amendment 1. I believe that the Government should at least look at it favourably and give a positive response covering the issues he raised. He indicated that issues such as defence contracts and national infrastructure are crucial to the United Kingdom’s infrastructure. I simply want to endorse his points.

I have one question for the Minister on clause 3. I think I know what it means, as I think most people do, but it would be helpful if the Minister outlined what he believes the statement

“relevant to the interests of national security”

means in practice. The clause gives the Secretary of State powers

“in circumstances appearing to the Secretary of State to be relevant to the interests of national security”.

An explanation from the Minister would be helpful, because I have received some representations on what it means, and my hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark) has made the point that it could be defined very widely. I think that it would help to reassure those outside the House if the Minister could give some clarity today by putting on the record what I think we already know.

I thank the right hon. Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) for tabling the amendment and giving us an opportunity to look in detail at clause 3 and at the importance of the economic well-being purpose currently retained in RIPA. Let me set out a little more context. Clause 3 translates into primary legislation a constraint—it is intended to be a constraint—on the exercise of this purpose that is already provided for in the codes of practice issued under section 71 of RIPA. It effectively puts those statements into primary legislation. It requires that an interception warrant is only issued, and access to communications data only authorised, for the purposes of economic well-being where there is also an independent national security justification for the authorisation. It is intended to be read in that context. I hope that explanation is helpful as we explore some of the language in the Bill.

Clause 3 does not mean that economic well-being for the purposes of RIPA is synonymous with national security, but the amendment gives us the opportunity to underline the fact that there has to be that connection between the two, which obviously is relevant in determining whether or not the powers under RIPA can be exercised for the statutory purposes. Along with national security and the prevention and detection of serious crime, protecting the UK’s economic well-being is one of the statutory functions of the security and intelligence agencies, which are set out in the Security Service Act 1989 and the Intelligence Services Act 1994.

I understand and recognise the points made by the right hon. Member for Knowsley. I think that this debate has been quite useful in airing some of the cyber-security and cybercrime issues that I know he has raised in the House on a number of occasions. It has also highlighted our reliance on information communications technology, which is now a core part of our national infrastructure. I think that there is read-across into other legislation. I understand that he tabled the amendment on a probing basis, but I think that it requires careful thought.

A definition of economic well-being is reflected in the legislation I have mentioned—RIPA being the key focus for this evening’s debate—but it is also important to acknowledge its context as a well-established principle in law. Its origins lie in the European convention on human rights, which provides for exceptions to article 8—the right to a private and family life—when it is in the interest of the economic well-being of the country. Many aspects, therefore, are wrapped up in the broad context of how the definition has come about and the interpretations of it. Case law may also sit alongside this provision in determining the scope and ambit of the definition, so seeking to clarify it may have unintended consequences.

The Minister will be aware that in the past the security services have taken a great interest in political campaigns and, indeed, industrial matters. I mentioned the miners’ strike in my previous intervention. Will he give an assurance that the proposed legislation will not be used against political activists or, indeed, trade union activists in situations similar to last year’s Grangemouth dispute and the miners’ strike?

It is always difficult for Ministers—not just me; this has been the case with successive Governments—to comment on security and interception matters. Perhaps it will help the hon. Lady if I explain that what we are doing tonight is strengthening the position by underlining that the purpose has to be connected to national security, so it is not simply a question of economic well-being. The fact that we are putting that into legislation is an important development, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) has said.

I am sympathetic to the amendment in principle, as it seeks to provide clarity on the meaning of economic well-being in law. In many ways, I think it seeks to address some of the points raised by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark). David Anderson may wish to reflect on it in his review of existing legislation and new legislation capabilities. Indeed, the privacy and civil liberties oversight board may also wish to address the issue of clarity. My simple point is that it needs to be done with care, given the other legislation I have flagged up and the broader context of the European convention on human rights.

Ought we and the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark) not to be celebrating the fact that for the first time in statute we are narrowing and specifying the circumstances in which economic well-being can be used as a justification? In other words, there has to be a national security element to it, not just a general feeling that some piece of information would be helpful for our economic well-being.

The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. We are putting this provision front and centre in primary legislation. I hope that that is helpful in giving an assurance. National security is clearly a pretty high bar to reach, so framing the economic well-being argument in those terms should give an assurance that this is not something that would be relied upon lightly.

The concern that many have is that, in the past, national security has been considered to be a catch-all. Indeed, the miners were considered to be the enemy within, and much of the rhetoric we hear from Government Members considers trade union activity and people who use democratic means to assert their rights to be a threat to the state. That is what I am trying to seek assurances about from the Minister. He is asking us to pass emergency legislation, but he seems unable to provide any assurances as to how it will be used in industrial situations.

I am genuinely surprised that the hon. Lady has made her point in that way, because the Bill is about strengthening governance and oversight. Sitting alongside the Bill in relation to the retention of communications data, there will, in addition, be a statutory code of practice, while the Information Commissioner has the right to look at further audit and oversight of data retention, and the interception of communications commissioner can consider the use of the powers. That should give independent assurance to not just the hon. Lady but others who, reasonably and legitimately, want to know that such powers are not abused or expanded.

Our governance and oversight of communications data and interception have been strengthened and enhanced over the years, as the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) said on Second Reading. Equally, in relation to wanting to know that the tests are adhered to in relation to a Secretary of State effectively authorising a warrant for interception, the oversight of the interception of communications commissioner should provide a great deal of assurance.

I have always recognised that people should be able to uphold their industrial rights, including the right to form a trade union. I certainly do not in any way intend this debate to get into such an issue. Indeed, from his speech, the right hon. Member for Knowsley understands that the Bill’s provisions will tighten important rights in existing law. The point concerns whether there is a need for any further clarification. The comments of the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran on the right hon. Gentleman’s amendment highlighted the tricky nature of trying to frame the Bill correctly and the potential for unintended consequences in that context.

May I just hammer the point home? Economic well-being would not be mentioned in the Bill were we not providing a greater safeguard than has ever existed before or under RIPA to ensure that the power is used only in relation to national security.

Absolutely. My right hon. Friend makes a very good comment for me to conclude on. Clause 3, which will provide such strengthening, has given us the opportunity to have a constructive and helpful debate.

The debate has been worth while. I have some sympathy for the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Katy Clark), who made a legitimate point. Equally, however, it is quite right that the Minister cannot give a categorical assurance along the lines that she ideally wants. Clause 3 tries to ensure that economic well-being must be underlined by national security. I hope that it goes some way to giving confidence not just to the Members in Committee, but to our many constituents who feel very strongly about this matter—trying to narrow the scope of the Bill and therefore of the power of the state.

My hon. Friend makes his customary point about ensuring that there is such clarity. I am sure that we will return to this issue, but for the reasons I have outlined, I hope that the right hon. Member for Knowsley is minded to withdraw his amendment and that the clause will stand part of the Bill.

I will be brief. I am happy to withdraw amendment 1, which I tabled as a probing amendment. The Minister’s last point is perhaps the most significant one. I do not think that we have a clear enough understanding of the scope of economic well-being, although it is reassuring to know that in this context it must be related to national security. We have had a reasonable debate. We have not reached any firm conclusions, but I am comforted by the fact that the issues will be discussed by David Anderson and others, and I hope that we can move the issue further along before there is any fresh communications data legislation. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 4

Extra-territoriality in Part 1 of RIPA

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 allows the Secretary of State to issue interception warrants and allows those warrants to be served on persons who can assist in giving effect to them. Anyone who is providing a public telecommunications service who is served with a warrant is obliged to give effect to it. It has always been the case that that applies to any company that offers services to customers in the United Kingdom, irrespective of where it is based.

The territorial extent of RIPA has perhaps never been as explicit as it should have been. As a result, some overseas companies have started to question whether they are obliged to comply with warrants that are served on them. Our judgment is that that situation has reached a dangerous tipping point, and that it is necessary to put it beyond doubt that RIPA applies equally to public telecommunications services that are located overseas and those that are headquartered in the UK.

The clause makes clear Parliament’s intention that RIPA should have extraterritorial jurisdiction. It does that in three ways. First, it specifies that an interception warrant may be served on a company that is located overseas, and that a company providing telecommunications services to customers within the United Kingdom, but which is located overseas, has a duty to provide assistance when served with that warrant. Secondly, it specifies that a notice that is issued under section 12 of RIPA may be given to a company that is providing telecommunications services to customers within the UK, but that is located outside the UK. Such a notice would require the company to put in place the necessary infrastructure to give effect to interception warrants. Thirdly, it specifies, as has always been the case, that a notice under section 22 of RIPA for the provision of communications data may be served on a company outside the UK.

The clause specifies the means by which the serving of a warrant or the giving of a notice may be effected. It also makes clear the obligation to comply with a warrant or notice, and the means by which that obligation may be enforced.

Will the Minister make clear what consequences the clause might have for overseas providers? Is there any possibility that a section 12 order could require a foreign company to install surveillance equipment on its network? Does the Minister have the powers to do that?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will understand that I cannot comment on surveillance techniques. However, I restate clearly that the Bill and, in particular, clause 4 do nothing more than is already the case in respect of the requirement to serve notices and the ability to issue warrants to overseas providers.

May I confirm, for the benefit of the Committee, that what the Minister has just said about the intention being that RIPA should extend extraterritorially in these respects is entirely accurate? If hon. Members look at RIPA itself, they will see that section 2(1), which provides definitions, states that

“‘telecommunication system’ means any system (including the apparatus comprised in it) which exists (whether wholly or partly in the United Kingdom or elsewhere)”.

That is but one example—there are many to which I could point—that shows that the clear intention of this House and the other place was to make this part of the Act extraterritorial. Indeed, we thought that that would be the effect of the Act.

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for providing that clarification and for highlighting that provision in section 2 of RIPA, which gives a sense of the extent and nature of the provisions that were contemplated when it was introduced. It was thought that it would have extraterritorial effect. Given legal challenges, other court cases and the language used in the legislation, we think it right to put that beyond doubt. That has always been the intent and practice for this measure; I repeat that the Bill does not extend the position but restates and asserts what has always been the case in the legislation. Those who may be subject to notices or warrants should understand clearly that it will apply to them if they are outside the UK.

I am interested in the practical application of this measure. What happens if a foreign IT provider refuses to comply, and uses encryption or another security mechanism effectively to flout the relevant order? What practical steps will the Government seek to take?

The approach we have taken is to promote co-operation, and stating as clearly as possible that the legislation has extraterritorial effect is a key part of that. Ultimately, given the clarity provided in the legislation, a company that did not comply with a warrant or notice served on it would be open to court challenge.

Perhaps my previous question was not clear. A number of companies are concerned about the important issue of how section 12 orders would be interpreted. RIPA currently deals with powers to enable companies to make lawful intercepts. Will the Minister confirm that if a company—a webmail provider, or whoever—can provide legal intercept, he is not claiming powers to require them to put specific equipment on their networks?

Perhaps I did not explain this clearly to the hon. Gentleman, but we are not intending to add additional powers to compel. I suppose he is trying to elicit whether the measure is a means of getting more data retained outside the UK—he raised that point in the previous debate on this issue, and again I may be misunderstanding him. I reassert that the Bill contains nothing that in any way extends the existing reach of section 12 of RIPA. Other than reasserting the position on extraterritoriality, it does not in essence change section 12 at all. If that does not answer his point, he may wish to write to me on the matter.

The clause provides that where a warrant has been served on a company outside the UK, the law in the country where the firm is located must be taken into account when determining whether it is reasonably practicable for that company to give effect to the warrant. The clause also makes it clear that the court should consider what steps the company has taken or could take to avoid such a conflict arising. It does not extend the powers of law enforcement or security and intelligence agencies. It simply puts beyond doubt the fact that sections 11, 12 and 22 of RIPA apply to telecommunication service providers that are based outside the UK but provide services to customers in the UK.

I raised this point on Second Reading but I do not think the Minister had an opportunity to respond. In clause 4(6), proposed new subsection (3B)(a) and (b) covers the circumstances of delivering a notice to the sort of companies he has just described. Paragraph (a) states

“by delivering it to the person’s principal office within the United Kingdom or, if the person has no such office in the United Kingdom, to any place in the United Kingdom where the person carries on business or conducts activities,”

and (b) states

“if the person has specified an address in the United Kingdom as one at which the person, or someone on the person’s behalf, will accept documents of the same description as a notice, by delivering it to that address.”

I am sorry to read that out, but it provides the context.

The example I used earlier was of a relatively junior member of staff in a billing office in Liverpool for Google or one of the other communications service providers, and my concern is that they could end up having a notice served on them and be put in an invidious legal position. I hope that I am wrong about that and that the Minister will be able to reassure me. The provisions seem entirely appropriate for a senior member of staff.

Provisions on a person having a specified address, such as proposed new subsection (3B)(b), refer to a situation where lawyers accept service, proceedings or notification on a person’s behalf. In essence, the Bill gives effect to such clarification.

The Minister has provided the reassurance I was looking for, so at this point I can say that I am perfectly happy with the clause as it now stands.

My hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Mr Raab) asked an important question: what will the Government do when a company does not wish to co-operate? I would like to put on the record something that I cannot attribute to a particular individual, other than to say it was a comment made by a very senior member of one of the main communications services providers in modern media. In relation to the question of his medium being abused for serious criminal or terrorist purposes, he said:

“We don’t want to frustrate the access of law enforcement agencies; only, that they should come through the front door and ask us, not sneak in by the back door.”

The companies want something that is clearly laid out in a proper legal format, so that they can fulfil that promise not at the whim of some private or backstairs approach by some unnamed Government official, but through a proper on-the-record procedure.

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. There has been a lot of talk about privacy, but if we do not get this right and the providers are not comfortable, the risk is that the Bill will be flouted. If that happens, the use of foreign providers by every paedophile and jihadist group would drive a coach and horses through clause 4 and render it utterly useless.

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, who is a fierce defender of the rights of individuals. I hope he agrees that if we can build on the attitude I have described from one of the most senior providers, then, by consensus, we ought to be able to set an example of an agreed arrangement whereby providers can be satisfied that they are assisting the law enforcement authorities in a proper, open and legitimate way, with no question of their being party to underhand arrangements.

Finally, may I apologise to the House for my late entry to this important debate, and, indeed, for my attire? I spent the entire day at the Farnborough air show, where the screaming of fast jets must have excluded the noise of my telephone ringing repeatedly from Downing street, offering me an alternative way to serve the nation.

I have two questions and I would be grateful if the Minister provided a written response to them, to ensure we get a clear answer. First, may we have a written confirmation that there would be no power to force foreign companies to install surveillance equipment on their networks if they are able to provide the intercept that is needed? Secondly, will he confirm the impact of subsection (4) and make it clear that, if a foreign company is under an obligation not to provide such data—if it would, in fact, be a criminal offence for them to comply—no such requirement would be made by the Government? That would put people in the invidious position of having to face criminality on one front or the other. If the Minister wrote to me with confirmation on those points, that would be very helpful.

I will respond briefly to the points made in the debate. On the latter point, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) will have noted the reference I made to companies’ reasonable ability to comply and the consideration that would have to be given in particular to conflict of law issues, but I will see if I need to supplement that in some way.

My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) highlighted the point of having proper procedures and being able to make proper requests. Putting the extraterritoriality provisions in the Bill to allow notices and warrants to be given to overseas providers strengthens that position and the ability to make requests, which would specify further details. I see this as a means of strengthening the regulatory regime, and I hope that clause 4 will stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5

Meaning of “telecommunications service”

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5 is a simple but necessary part of the Bill that puts into law an important clarification. Today people communicate using a range of web-based services and applications. As the scale and diversity of these services have grown, there should not be any uncertainty about whether a communications service provider to users in the UK is covered by the definition. RIPA was written in a technologically neutral way to allow for developments in the way in which services are delivered. We believe that web-based services such as web-based e-mail, messaging applications and cloud-based services have always been covered by the nature of the definition. Clause 5 simply clarifies how this definition should be interpreted and makes it clear that these services are covered by the definition of a telecommunications service.

Some have asked whether this is extending the definition in some way. I want to make it absolutely clear that that is not the case. We are not changing the existing definition, which remains absolutely as it stands in RIPA. The Bill clarifies how the current definition should be interpreted, but a clarificatory provision of this kind cannot change or extend the meaning of the definition in RIPA to capture new services. This provision simply makes it explicit that the existing definition includes so-called over-the-top services such as webmail and instant messaging for the purposes of that interception. In many ways, it has been the industry itself that has welcomed this clarification and restatement of the existing legislation, which is why I think it is important to give that clarity to the House and to the industry generally. It does not extend the scope of RIPA; instead, it restates and provides clarification in terms of the existing definition, which remains as it was before.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6

Commencement, duration, extent and short title

I beg to move amendment 3, page 6, line 41, at end insert

“and is subject to a reporting requirement as set out in subsection (1A).

(1A) The Commissioner for the Interception of Communications must report on the operation of this Act six months following commencement of this Act, followed by subsequent reports every six months.”

With this it will be convenient to take the following:

Amendment 4, page 7, line 1, leave out “5” and insert

“(Half-yearly reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner)”.

Amendment 5, page 7, line 2, leave out “5” and insert

“(Half-yearly reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner)”.

Government amendment 7.

Amendment 2, page 7, line 2, leave out “2016” and insert “2014”.

Clause 6 stand part.

Government new clause 7—Review of investigatory powers and their regulation.

New clause 1—Review of the powers, regulation, proportionality and oversight for communications and interception—

(2) The Secretary of State must arrange—

(a) for the operation and future of the powers, regulation, proportionality and oversight for data retention, access and interception to be reviewed, and

(b) for a report on the outcome of the review to be produced and published.

(3) Subsection (1) does not prevent the review from also dealing with other matters relating to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, the Intelligence Services Act 1994, oversight of the intelligence agencies and data privacy.

(4) The arrangements made by the Secretary of State must provide for the review to begin as soon as practicable, be carried out by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and include public consultation.

(5) The full terms of reference must be established in consultation with the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and relevant Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament.”

New clause 2—Oversight by the Interception of Communications Commissioner—

(1) The Interception of Communications Commissioner must report on the operation of sections 1 to 5 of this Act within six months of this Act coming into force and on six-monthly intervals thereafter.”

New clause 6—Half-yearly reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner—

(1) Section 58 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner) is amended as follows.

(2 In subsection (4) (annual reports) after “calendar year” insert “and after the end of the period of six months beginning with the end of each calendar year”.

(3) In subsection (6) (duty to lay annual reports before Parliament) after “annual report” insert “, and every half-yearly report,”.

(4) In subsection (6A) (duty to send annual reports to the First Minister) after “annual report” insert “, and every half-yearly report,”.

(5) In subsection (7) (power to exclude matter from annual reports) after “annual report” insert “, or half-yearly report,”.”

Amendment 6, in Title, line 7, after “Act;” insert

“to make provision about additional reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner;”.

Government amendment 8.

This goes to the heart of the key amendments that the Opposition seek to impress on the Government to improve the Bill. The Minister will know that we have supported the Bill to date at Second Reading and in the discussions we have had so far, but we have had, and continue to have, some concerns over the need for two aspects in particular. The first is to ensure that there is in place a mechanism for a review of the role of the Act that may or may not be passed ultimately by this House and by the other place shortly. That review lies with the interception commissioner for communications, who could look at the Act and see whether the intention of the House was being met and whether there were developments or amendments that needed to be brought to the attention of the Government.

You will note, Mr Hood, that several amendments relate to this aspect. My initial amendment 3, which I tabled with my right hon. Friends this morning, would add the following at the end of clause 6:

“The Commissioner for the Interception of Communications must report on the operation of this Act six months following commencement of this Act, followed by subsequent reports every six months.”

That was intended to ensure an element of review to meet some of the genuine concerns raised by hon. Members of all parties. You will also see, Mr Hood, that we tabled new clause 2, which is a variation on the same theme. We did so to ensure parliamentary debate, given that we were not sure at that stage what amending provisions would be selected. The new clause effectively provides for the same activity.

We have helpfully tabled new clause 6, too, which provides for half-yearly reports by the interception of communications commissioner. It is linked to amendment 6 and to amendments 4 and 5, but all have the same purpose in life: they are all designed to ensure that the communications regulator is able to review the Act and has a statutory responsibility to do so, not just in six months’ time, following Royal Assent—given the Government’s timetable, that could be as early as Thursday this week—but formally. That would enable the commissioner to examine some of the concerns raised across the House, including by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson).

There is a menu of options for the Government to look at and for the Minister to comment on. I would be happy if he supported any of those amendments; I have tabled three options for him to examine in detail and to establish whether any of them meet his particular obligations. He has an opportunity to give a commitment to establishing that one or all of them would be appropriate.

The second aspect relates to new clause 1, which I tabled this morning with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and other right hon. Friends. It would establish a “review of the powers, regulation, proportionality and oversight” and other issues that have been of concern to Members of all parties. Members were troubled about a number of longer-term issues, which need to be resolved before any action by a future Government on the storing of data and proportionality. We wanted to ensure that arrangements would be in place as soon as practicable for a review to be carried out by the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson. It should include public consultation, and we need to ensure that the full terms of reference are published in consultation with not just Mr Anderson but the relevant Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament. That means the involvement of, for example, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz) and the Home Affairs Committee and, indeed, that of the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind) and the Intelligence and Security Committee, which could contribute to the discussion.

Since we tabled that new clause this morning, the Government have helpfully examined it and tabled their own new clause 7, which covers many of the long-term issues that I feel are necessary for us to consider. Crucially, it covers areas that my right hon. Friends and I are concerned about, particularly the point that the independent reviewer of terrorism must review the operation and regulation of investigatory powers and take current and future threats into account. We accept that there are current threats and there will be future threats. We need to examine our ability to deal with those threats, and, crucially, to think about how we can safeguard our privacy, given the challenges of new technologies.

I have been in the House for—dare I say it?—22 and a bit years, and when I was first here, we did not even have mobile phones. Now, time and pressure are moving on. I arrived late at Twitter, which I took up after the 2010 election, and I arrived at Facebook even later. There may be other technologies out there which I am not yet aware of.

My daughters tell me that I should get involved in Instagram, but it is a foreign country to me at the moment.

The point that I am making—perhaps in a jocular way—is that new clause 7 refers to “changing technologies”, which include technologies that we would not have envisaged even a few years ago, and others that may be coming down the line over the next few years. Those are the technologies that the independent reviewer should be considering.

I am warming to new clause 7. It also refers to “proportionality” in relation to

“the effectiveness of existing legislation”,

and requires the independent reviewer to make a case

“for new or amending legislation.”

Helpfully, the new clause requires the independent reviewer to report to the House by 1 May 2015. Mr Hood, I suspect that you and I will be focusing on other matters on that day, given the potential date of the general election, but it is handily placed in that any incoming Government, of whatever colour and composition, would be able to pick up the report. I hope that that helps my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East. The report would be published by the Prime Minister of the day, it would be possible to ensure that it was open to the public and laid before Parliament, and any new Government could act on it in a way that I hope would be proportionate to whatever Members wanted to happen at that particular time.

Let me say, in summary, that there are two issues that I want the Committee to examine. First, may we have a regular review of this Act? There are many options, and I hope that the Minister will respond positively to one of them shortly. If we can agree on that, we shall have taken a major step towards meeting some of the concerns that have been expressed by people outside the House who have contacted us today.

The second issue relates to the longer-term review. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I have tabled new clause 1, and the Home Secretary has tabled new clause 7. My warm feeling towards new clause 7 suggests that the Minister could persuade me to support it. All that remains is amendment 2, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East, which would shorten the life of the Act by changing the welcome sunset clause date of 2016 to 2014. I do not want to say too much at this stage, because my hon. Friend has not yet spoken, but I will make one point that I think deserves consideration and a response from him.

We are engaging in what is admittedly a very speedy procedure, involving a day and a half of debate, and the House of Lords will do the same when it debates the Bill over the next two days. My hon. Friend is proposing that the sunset date should be, effectively, December this year. That means that we would go through this procedure again in December, and in January and February next year, after only a short period during which the new arrangements will have been in place.

I suggest to my hon. Friend that the amendment that we have tabled, in three forms, proposing a formal review by the independent reviewer in December and every six months thereafter, would meet the concerns about the legislation and any flaws and faults that we see in it. I accept that my hon. Friend may not take the same view, but I am making him that offer. I think that there is a mechanism that can enable a report to say, in six months’ time, “This has worked well”, or “This it has worked badly”, and to suggest tweaks that can be made.

The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 was also subject to a six-monthly review, but it went on for 10 years having six-monthly reviews before eventually being replaced by the Terrorism Act 2000, so that did not actually end the Act at all.

My hon. Friend has done long service in this House and will have been through many debates on that topic, but I say to him again that there is currently a sunset clause in the Bill until 2016. The two amendments and new clauses that I have tabled give a review in December 2014 and a six-monthly review after that on this legislation. If the Government are minded to move new clause 7—they must be as they have tabled it—we will have a wide review of the legislation to report by 1 May 2015. We will have a general election presumably on 7 May 2015 after which a new Government can look at the review new clause 7 will bring forward, and they will have the benefit of an independent review, if any or all of the relevant amendments are approved by the Government today, after six months of the operation of this legislation. Both of those give an opportunity in nine months’ time for any new Government to review the whole gamut of this legislation and the operation of this Act should the Bill be passed in both Houses of Parliament shortly.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East that the effective impact of his amendment 2 would be to bring the sunset clause forward to December of this year, but that would not give sufficient opportunity for us to consider the impact of this legislation or the implications of the very difficult issues the Government face. Although he may not heed me, despite the fact that we went to the same university and have known each other for a long time, I urge him—[Interruption.] I am just trying my best on this. I urge him at least to consider whether the two measures we have brought forward would meet his objections. At least he can say I have tried, if nothing else!

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hood, and to take part in this debate and speak to amendment 2, which has been tabled by about 25 MPs across the House, representing seven different parties.

We have been told that there is a legal emergency and this Bill needs to be passed through both Houses of Parliament in three days. This huge Government steamroller has revved up the engine and driven into town with my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) in the back seat and Liberal Democrat Members in the passenger seat, and we have been told we have very little choice. It has been hard to have time to consider this Bill, to pass amendments and to have proper debate and scrutiny, yet a curious thing will happen when this Bill is finally steamrollered through on Thursday or Friday, which is that the Government will take out the keys of the steamroller and say, “Relax, this legal emergency will only last for two and a half years.” That seems peculiar to me.

A little earlier the shadow Minister, who went to the same university as me, but many years before—I will not share the rumours about him that were passed down for many years—said he was new to social media and that his metadata footprint was smaller than those of many other citizens in this country, but many people are deeply concerned about their data being held in this way and they are following this debate. What they might not know is that if we do not complete this debate by 9 pm, even on the timetable we have, the amendments we are discussing now will fall, so I cannot speak for too long without jeopardising an amendment that has been supported by MPs representing seven different parties and a significant minority in this House.

What our amendment does is say to the Government: “Okay, we’ve not seen what you’ve seen; we will compromise with you. We will let you say you have a legal emergency and give you these powers for the summer.” That would allow the time for proper debate and scrutiny in the normal way that this House debates legislation. Earlier my good and hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) made a powerful case for why we have the systems we do in this House—proper Bill Committees that can scrutinise, pre-legislative scrutiny, Select Committee scrutiny, Second Reading followed by a period in which people can reflect on the debate, a decent time for people to table amendments, Third Reading, and the like. A six-month sunset clause would allow for that.

A six-month sunset clause might also allow for a little bit of research to be done over the summer and for civic society to engage in a public debate. The shadow Home Secretary declared that this was the start of a debate in the country about the lines that could be drawn between privacy and liberty, and security. For me, six months is a long time for us to do that.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. What our constituents really want is proper scrutiny of legislation in this place. Having scrutinised the Bill properly, we may find ourselves in disagreement with our constituents, but at least we would have the opportunity to exercise our judgment and to reflect on that exercising of judgment.

I completely agree. It has been mentioned that there have been few MPs in the Chamber for some of the debate—the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), who has been in his place all day, reflected on that. The honest truth is this: are we really surprised at that, when Back-Bench MPs have been treated in this way by the Executive, when MPs did not even know that this Bill would be published until last Thursday and when they had 47 minutes to table amendments when the business motion was passed last night? Thankfully the Speaker has said that he would accept manuscript amendments today, under these unusual circumstances. If it is baffling for Back Benchers, how on earth can our constituents have any comprehension or faith in today’s process?

What our amendment would do is simple. It does not ask for a report—I know that the shadow Minister has said we can have a report, but that is not the same as discussing clauses in Committee and allowing elected representatives to tease out the issues. He knows what this is: it is a fudge, and it is an unacceptable one. What I am saying is that we should give the Government the benefit of the doubt tonight with a six-month sunset clause, which would give us plenty of time to discuss a Bill in the proper way.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hood, and to follow the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson). I hugely admired his stance on the Digital Economy Act 2010, just before I became an MP, when I watched as he stood alone against his own Government, who were trying to ram a piece of legislation through the House in something like an hour or 90 minutes—he will, I am sure, remember the exact time. He had Liberal Democrat support, but we lost every vote on that occasion. I hugely admire him, and I saw his articles in The Guardian on that occasion and his frustration at not getting responses to letters from those on his own Front Bench, although that is perhaps an issue for him.

I have to tell the Committee that I am tempted by what the hon. Gentleman said about looking back in six months’ time. It sounds quite attractive—[Interruption.]

Thank you, Mr Hood.

What the hon. Member for West Bromwich East set out is very tempting. I hear what he said and he made a strong case. However, although I have huge respect for why he is trying to achieve that, I am worried about what it would actually mean, because to get a new piece of legislation through in time it would, essentially, have to start now. I looked up the Identity Documents Act 2010—the first Act passed by this Government—which got rid of identity cards, something I am very proud of. It was obviously much easier to deal with, because it was getting rid of something, rather than creating something, so less scrutiny was necessary—we know what it is like not to have something. That was introduced in May and was not passed until December. It was very short—14 clauses, so only slightly longer than this one will be once we have added a couple of clauses. It took quite a long time to get it through the House, so if we were to get a replacement Act through in time, we would have to start now.

May I parry the hon. Gentleman with another Act? The Academies Act 2010 was introduced on 26 May and received Royal Assent on 27 July. The complex Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Bill had First Reading on 15 July 2010 and received Royal Assent on 16 December. If we can pass legislation in three days in an emergency, it is not beyond the wit of man and woman to pass legislation in six months.

I agree that it could take six months, which is shorter than the normal time scale, but it still means that we would have to start very soon. I passionately want to see—I think the hon. Gentleman and I agree completely on most of the issues around this space—something better than what we have with RIPA and with lawful intercept. I am clear about that. I have outlined on other occasions where I would like to see substantial improvements, some of which we have secured now but the vast majority of which we have not. But I do not think that that work can be done in time. Even if we were to wait until after the summer, we would still have a very short period to get a Bill through on the normal timetable. That is my big concern. I do not think that we could have the review that the Royal United Services Institute is doing at the Deputy Prime Minister’s request. I do not think that we can have the review that we all want to see from David Anderson QC, who has done such a great job. We would not be able to have that done in time. What we would find—I know that this is not what the hon. Gentleman wants to see—is that it will be exactly the same Bill being taken through again at a slightly slower pace.

The hon. Gentleman is trying very hard on this. I am stuck with the very basic point of why, if he and other Members can vote through something in three days, we could not possibly wait six months at least to improve it substantially this side of a general election. Is that not what his constituents and mine would expect of us doing our day-to-day job in this House?

As I have said, I would be very happy to stay longer and have a less rushed Bill. We need to get this passed properly, with enough time to get the review going before the summer. I am happy to stay here next week; I have said that quite publicly and I have said it in this place. I take my hon. Friend’s point on that issue.

Let me make a little more progress. The type of change that I want to see is fundamental to how RIPA works. I wish to have a system that retains communications data for a very short period—a week or a month—so that we can find out, say, what happened just before somebody died yesterday. It should not be available for any longer unless a preservation order is applied for. That sort of system would massively reduce the amount of evidence that is kept on people, but would allow it to be available for those very serious cases that all of us want to see investigated. That is the sort of system that I would like to see, but that is not an easy thing to write down. It would take many, many months of work to try to write that into a form that we can make work.

There is another problem, which runs right at the base of this. It is what I hope to talk about when we get on to the next collection of amendments, my new clauses 3 and 4. The Home Office simply does not have evidence on how this information is used and for what purposes. As I understand it—I am sure the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—the only information on how communications data are used is based on a two-week snapshot survey of police forces. What sort of crime is it? We know that data are used and we know of many examples. It is only that small survey that tells us exactly what sort of things they are used for. We need to have that data to make a sensible decision. The more data we retain, the more things we can do to combat crime, but the more invasive it is. We cannot set a sensible balance without that data. The Home Office urgently needs to collect that data but it will not have it in the next couple of months.

I worry—I have seriously considered and agonised over this—that what is being suggested would not put us in a better place. The alternative to having a Bill that started almost straight away would be to wait a bit longer—until November—and have a new Bill. We could use that time to get a bit of information for a review, but then we would again be forced to fast-track the legislation. We would go through exactly the same process, with not that many Members here debating it, and we would have exactly the same problems. That would not help and would not take us to where I want to be, because I am passionate about getting rid of the awful system that we have and coming up with something better. As I said earlier, we can have more security, more civil liberties and more protection, which is something that I have debated on many occasions.

I promised the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) that I would give way to him first. I will then give way to the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Jim Sheridan), and then I will stop, because I want to let others speak.

I do not wish to be unkind, but the hon. Gentleman is confusing me. He says that he would sit until next week to ensure that we considered the Bill properly. I agree with that, but it will not happen. However, what is the difference between that and having a six-month sunset clause? That would give us six months in which to hold a consultation and a debate. The Government would then have the opportunity to bring forward legislation in the light of the responses received during the consultation.

The answer to the hon. Gentleman’s point is that we simply do not have the time to make that happen. We cannot take account of the detailed reviews that are necessary. I totally accept that we could do a bit more, but it would not fundamentally change where we are. It would not allow for the data collection and information gathering to work up much better proposals, which is what we need to make progress.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that there is already a significant amount of criticism from people north of the border about the purpose of this place. If the Bill goes through in the time scale suggested, other people will say, “What is the purpose of that place down there when they do not even have time to scrutinise the legislation?”

That delves into subjects that I am unable to get too involved in. It is a shame that the matter is being dealt with so late. I raised this issue with the Home Secretary on the day that European Court of Justice ruling came out. I questioned her and challenged her on the time scale then. All of us were surprised by the announcement and I wish that we had been able to start sooner. I worry that those within the Conservative and Labour parties who have made it clear that they continue to want to have the measures in the draft Communications Data Bill will bring that back instead of introducing something that some of us would prefer. I wish I could believe that there was a liberal majority in this House—both with a capital L and a small l—but I am not sure that that is the case.

On the other amendments, I am glad that we seem to have reached an agreement on wording. I hope that the Government clause to write the details of the review into legislation will be supported by Members on both sides of the House. I very much want that to happen and for us to reach a place where we can improve. I hope that the Minister will be able to confirm that at least one version of the oversight clause will be adopted, because it would be a useful addition. I think that having it on the face of the Bill was always intended, which can only be a good thing.

Some of us have been trying to get a proper review of RIPA and all the associated legislation, such as the Telecommunications Act 1984, for many years. We have that chance now. I want a proper review, proper pre-legislative scrutiny and a Bill that will be properly debated in the House. The question is how best to get there.

I will deal first with the point made by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and others about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. I was the Minister responsible for RIPA. It was a carefully constructed Act that was preceded in 1999 by a lengthy consultation process. Everybody recognised at the time that it was a major improvement on the legislative regime for intercepting communications, data retention and other matters. As I said earlier—and I introduced the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill on this basis—its purpose was to make the intrusive powers of the state compatible with the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into force more than two year later on 2 October 2000. I am proud of the 1998 Act and—to reassure and provide therapy to the hon. Member for Cambridge—of the fact that it was indeed a liberal measure, but I of course accept that the world of telecommunications has changed radically in the 14 years since. Interestingly, it has not changed as much as it had changed in the preceding 15 years, which followed the Interception of Communications Act 1985, but it has still changed a great deal and for sure it would be worth while for RIPA to be reviewed. However, that is not a case for not proceeding with this measure tonight.

I also accept, as my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary said eloquently in her speech, that even if we accept the need for emergency legislation, as we do, it would have been far better for our consideration to have been extended over two or three days in the Commons rather than just one. Indeed, if we had not been up against the buffers of the summer recess that might easily have been possible and we would have avoided the process of manuscript amendments.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson)—who, parenthetically, is not that much younger than my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), as he is in his fifth decade and my right hon. Friend is in his sixth—asked rhetorically whether we were surprised that relatively few Members had taken part in the debates today. He then tried to provide an answer, but I must say that it was not that convincing. He said that the reason was the pressure of time. I have been present in the Chamber when debates on Bills or other subjects have been subject to time pressures. When they have been very controversial this place has been packed and Ministers have had a hard time. I would suggest that the more convincing explanation for the fact that not many Members have been present for all or any part of the debates today is that most are convinced by the arguments that are being made by the Government, with the support of the Opposition; that the measure clarifies the law in the light of the ECJ judgment; and, in so far as it changes RIPA, that it does so in one respect only—through clause 3, which has the effect, which I hope would be supported by every Member, of restricting the basis on which warrants can be made in relation to economic well-being and qualifies that with reference to national security.

Let me turn to the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East, which would repeal the Bill by the end of this year rather than by the end of 2016, as the final clause of the Bill proposes. My hon. Friend said by way of justification for his amendment, in a very delphic comment, that we had not seen what the Government had seen. By definition, we have not seen that which the Government have not shown us and that might be secret or classified, but in justifying this measure the Government have not come along and told us that there are plenty of reasons for it but that they cannot let us in on them.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) made a very witty speech earlier in which he spoke of the Disqualifications Act 2000. That measure changed the basis for the disqualification of Members to allow members of Sinn Fein to sit in the Dáil, the Northern Ireland Assembly and this place. My right hon. Friend was not allowed to explain that, so that really was a situation in which Members of the House had not seen what the Government had seen. That is not the case here. We have seen what the Government have seen. The hon. Member for Cambridge referred to it—it is the ECJ judgment and everybody can read it and understand its consequences. That is the basis for this Bill. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East that I do not accept what the hon. Member for Cambridge is suggesting, which is that we can only have legislation either in a day or in six months. If this House wanted to, it could consider legislation over a two-week period and that would be preferable in this case.

The right hon. Gentleman says that we have all seen what the Government have seen of what is behind the Bill. One thing continually cited about the extraterritorial extensions is that companies have said that they want such provision so that they are in a clearer position, but there have been questions about that. Does the right hon. Gentleman know who these companies are? Which companies have said that they need or want such things to be covered? Which companies would, as the Government are telling us, act outside this provision and act in defiance? We have been told about that several times today, but we have not been given any details.

I do not know in precise detail. I used to know when I was responsible for these matters as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. Even when I was Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary, when there were fewer telecommunications providers, the ones that were wholly UK-based inevitably had a different and closer relationship than those based overseas but which were providing telecommunications services in this country. The latter were, for reasons one understood, much less willing to enter into voluntary arrangements than those based in the UK.

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) was in the Chamber when I drew attention to the fact that this provision is genuinely a clarification of the extraterritorial application of the RIPA Act and not an extension of it. I refer him, for example, to a definition of a telecommunications system in section 2:

“any system … which exists (whether wholly or partly in the United Kingdom or elsewhere)”.

The clear intention of that Act was that it extended extraterritorially. The legal advice is that the wording has not worked quite as intended and that overseas telecommunications providers particularly want more clarification.

If we are to believe that that is the only effect of clause 6, and that companies have said that they want such provision, should we not be told which companies have said that?

That is a matter for the Minister. Sometimes, companies do not wish to be named; sometimes they do. If they did wish to be named—they are not slow in coming forward in other respects to let us know their views—they would have named themselves.

My right hon. Friend seems to be making the case that the lack of attendees in the Chamber suggests that the vast majority of colleagues on both sides of the House support the legislation. If that is the case, why not have a free vote? Then people could vote whatever way they wanted.

If I started discussing the importance of the party system, I think Mr Hood would pull me up short. My hon. Friend knows that the party system is fundamental to the way our democracy operates. I was elected not as J. Straw, an individual of obvious talent, or not, but because I was a member of the Labour party. In doing that, I accepted and signed up for, among other things, the standing orders of the parliamentary Labour party and the whipping system, and the authority system that we have. Of course, there is loads of scope for going against that. I am sitting next to my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who has voted against his party probably more often than he has voted with it—and a very fine constituency member he is, too, if I may say so. I have voted against my party once—

Order. I obviously agree with the right hon. Member’s opinion about his hon. Friend, but it would be nice if he spoke to the amendment.

Apologies; as a relatively new Member, I was led astray by my hon. Friend.

I come back to the point of the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East. I wish that we had had more extended debates on the Bill, stretching over a number of days, but that has not been available. There is some strength in the point made by the hon. Member for Cambridge. Let us say that the legislation was repealed in December. What additional information would we have on its operation after it had been in force for only a matter of months? What prospect would there have been of gaining additional information about how the Act was operating? I suspect that, whether we spent a day, a week or a month on the replacement for the Bill—that would have to start in the middle of October—to allow proper legislative time, we would simply be repeating the contents of this Bill. It is far better to have the extended period with a clear sunset in 2016, plus the reviews, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn has referred, as a way of carefully considering the future of this kind of legislation and then making sober decisions at some length after the election.

I started out today very much in the same place as my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson), but I am beginning to wonder whether this is not a matter of a short period of review that leads us straight back into an argument for another similar piece of emergency legislation, versus a longer period of review where we could get the matter right for once.

My hon. Friend puts it much better than I did. That is the truth. We have a compressed programme and there will be complaints again about that, but the House usually rises in the middle of December, and if the Bill were to be repealed at the end of December and the House wanted proper time to consider this legislation, we would need to start on it in early November at least, which is only a few months away. I cannot see that we would be in any better position at that stage than we are now.

Apart from the fact that the right hon. Gentleman cannot count his months, I make the serious point that it would make a difference in the sense that during the summer we could be having the public debate. The public care about the Bill. They could be speaking to their MPs about it. They have been left out of the process. If we started in October, we would still have three months—two and a half months—in this place to have a proper debate.

Of course I accept that the public are concerned, but from my long experience they have a clear view of how to balance the interests of liberty and their own personal security—that is what this is about, not the security of the state—and they implicitly acknowledge that, although the systems that we have built up during the past 30 years may not be perfect, they do provide that balance. They provide a level of control over Ministers and the intelligence, security and police services, which is pretty unparalleled in most other countries.

Let us consider the abuses that take place in Europe. I think of what has happened in France in recent years, where one Minister intercepted the telephone calls of another Minister—all kinds of abuses by Ministers and the judiciary. That has never happened here and it could never happen here under our system—[Interruption.] Yes, it used to happen. It is right that trade unions were wire-tapped. Many others, thousands of people, were subject to intrusive surveillance. I know that to be the case because an officer of the Security Service told me that and showed me my file. I know that to be the case in respect of my family as well. But that was under a system where there was no statutory regulation whatsoever of telephone intercept, or data retention, which was available then, and when the very existence of the security and intelligence agencies was itself denied. That has rightly changed to take account of our duties and public concerns. It is not perfect, but we are much closer to a system that properly balances those things.

I hope that the Committee will not accept, for the reasons I have suggested, what my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East suggests, which will lead to a truncated, abbreviated review that will not work, and that instead we will have the longer review, proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn, and sober consideration of a new Act to replace this one and RIPA before the end of 2016.

I rise to support amendment 2, tabled by the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson). This really is a ridiculous way to transact legislation in this place—to sit here and listen to a lot of nonsense from some quite respectable people. The idea that we should put something so important and worth while through in a day just takes the biscuit.

I am sure that there is a huge amount of worthy content in the Bill, and I am sure that it is extraordinarily important that business is transacted as quickly as possible, but we have a duty of scrutiny and reflection in this Chamber. We represent 65 million people. This is not simply a rubber-stamping process. The idea that doing this in a day is somehow no worse than revisiting it in December just does not hold water. That argument will have no resonance out there with our electorate.

There is a slight undertone in the debate that those in the Chamber who express concern about the way business is being done today are somehow complicit in putting the nation’s safety at risk. That really is the last hiding place of scoundrels. I do not mean that anyone in this place starts from that basis, but we have a moral duty here to scrutinise legislation. I totally and honestly agree with the hon. Member for West Bromwich East that we need to revisit this sooner, rather than later.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson) has formally requested a vote on amendment 2. If he has not, I would like to do so. I will deal quickly with some of the points that have been made. I think that the House is open to derision in putting such important legislation through in this time scale. The argument that the time is limited because we are abutting the summer recess and MPs are about to go on holiday opens us up to even more derision, so we will be held in contempt yet again. I say to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), for whom I have a lot of affection, no matter how infuriating he can be at times, that the argument that a piece of legislation that could be undertaken in the next five months is somehow not as good as one that we will put forward in 24 hours simply does not hold water.

The point is that we are appealing to the Government today to give us the opportunity not only to have a thorough debate in this House, but to go back to our constituencies, as the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) said, and consult the people who put us here. With such a technical piece of legislation, I want to ensure that I consult my constituents and all those voluntary organisations and experts in the field. That includes taking expert legal advice on its exact meaning, because I no longer accept the argument—it has become confused today—about there being no new powers. I think that there are new powers, but I would like that to be verified by external advice. We have had no chance to do that. We have received, at best, a couple of briefings and a curtailed Select Committee hearing. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Dr Francis), who chairs the Joint Committee on Human Rights, appealed to the Government and said that all we need is the original judgment from the European Court of Justice and the points it raised, matched with the legislation and with clarification on which points the legislation addressed. We do not even have that.

Furthermore, we have the draft legislation before us, but not the guidance, which is the really meaningful part. It will specify who will be included and how it will be implemented in detail. That is still to come, so we are passing this legislation virtually in the dark. On the argument that there will be review after review, the Government’s new clause 7 simply means that a report of the review will be sent to the Prime Minister, but if it

“appears to the Prime Minister that the publication of any matter in a report under subsection (4) would be contrary to the public interest”—

not just prejudicial to national security—the Prime Minister can ensure that it is not given to this House. The definition of the public interest can be as wide as the Prime Minister determines. That is unacceptable. That is not open or transparent.

We have all been in this House long enough to know that having review after review is almost meaningless unless, at the end of the day, the Government decide to legislate or change legislation. A review process is usually used to put something on the back burner so that we can all ignore it as though it has gone away. The reason for a sunset clause is to give the whole exercise of reviews some bite. Without that bite, I am afraid that Governments do not act. The idea of having some bite at a distant point at the end of the following year means that this country will labour and languor under what I think will be an unjust piece of legislation for a long period, which could result in miscarriages of justice and an imposition on our freedoms. It is too long to wait. That is why the short curtailment of the sunset clause is critical to ensure that we give the matter serious attention; otherwise, it will drift further away.

The next five months give us the opportunity for full consultation, proper advice and full display of information, particularly on the Government’s statutory code. We could then come back after the recess and examine new legislation in detail, which may address some of the points that have been raised about the operation of RIPA. As the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker) has said, this is no way to legislate and create laws that could have significant consequences for our constituents.

I have raised the issue of the secrecy of professional advice, which was provided for in the European judgment. That is supposed to be covered by the code of practice, but we have yet to see it. That advice could relate not just to lawyers, but to the operations of journalists who wish to expose matters of public interest and to trade unionists and others. This is a risk to civil liberties that I am not willing to support. That is why I support amendment 2.

Having made a brief intervention earlier that was largely helpful to Members on both Front Benches, I will now rectify the balance by saying that, however one looks at this debate in terms of whether or not enough time has been made available for those who want to speak to have their say, the overall impression that has been given to the public has been unfortunate, to put it mildly. My understanding is that this Bill has been made necessary because of an ECJ judgment that was arrived at in April. It is now mid-July. Why on earth has it taken so long to get from that judgment all those weeks ago to the position now, whereby it appears to the public that we have to make what I believe to be very necessary changes in a terrible rush? They are under the impression—in the context, it must be said, of the paranoia over the Edward Snowden affair—that we are doing this in a desperately swift and ill-considered way.

Personally, I accept that there is some strength in the argument that the time the Government have made available at this very late stage is probably enough for most of the people who are likely to contribute to the debate in the Chamber to do so; but not enough time has been given to those in the country who want to develop the wider public argument. One would not like to give the impression that one was trying to get this Bill through in a rush before a suitable momentum of public concern had the opportunity to build up, but, if that was not the reason for the delay, what was?

My hon. Friend says, quite properly, that there is time for those of us who are concerned to make our points, but there is no time for us to research those points. There are significant legal and practical issues involved, and some of the issues are difficult to research because most of them are secret. One weekend is a ridiculous time scale in which to consider something that goes to the heart of the fundamental relationship between the state and the citizen.

I hope my right hon. Friend accepts that the nub of my short contribution is to say that we should not have found ourselves in this position. When the ECJ judgment was made we should immediately have swung into action so as to give people reasonable warning that this debate was going to take place, and then they could have done the degree of research necessary to avoid the impression that things were being rushed through in unseemly haste.

If we are all trying to be open and straight with people, why do we not just own up to the fact that this problem is of the coalition Government’s making? They could not get to the point where they agreed on a Bill, so we now have to consider a bit of bounced legislation as an emergency because of the coalition’s problems.

I always love it when an Opposition Member precisely anticipates my final point. My love, affection and esteem for coalition politics are legendary. I want Ministers to give me the explanation—so far, we have been denied it—that there is indeed a rational alternative to the paranoid belief currently abroad that all this is being rushed through because we wanted to stifle debate, were afraid what the public would say and feared the context of all the revelations of secrets.

Let us get to the heart of it: if the truth is that it took this long for the Conservatives and the Liberals to agree what they wanted to introduce, there is nothing to be ashamed of in saying so; it is a natural downside of coalition politics. I appeal to my hon. Friend the Minister, who does these things with such panache and dependability, to put his head above the parapet and simply say that this was one of the many disadvantages of coalition politics—which Conservative Members and Labour Members look forward to seeing the back of in a few months’ time.

I support amendment 2, which was tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson), who made his case extremely well.

Surely the issue is simply this: Parliament is here to scrutinise what the Executive do and to try to represent public opinion. We need to take advice from the public, organisations, lobby groups and so on, but all I have managed to find was an interesting and quite useful briefing from Liberty that came in yesterday—all credit to Liberty for getting a reasonable briefing together in a very short time—and a series of articles in The Guardian and one or two other newspapers.

But this Bill has massive implications in relation to the ability of the state to dip in and out of people’s telephone and e-mail accounts. Because it takes on itself a global reach, it has huge implications all around the world. If we are to take the global reach to dip into e-mail accounts all around the world, what are we to do, as the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) said in an intervention, when an unpalatable regime decides to do the same and pitches up in a British court and says, “Well, you’ve taken these rights unto yourself. Why shouldn’t we do exactly the same?”? The implications of the Bill go a very long way indeed.

I am always suspicious when the House is summoned in an emergency and told, “This is an absolutely overriding, desperate emergency, so we’ve got to get this thing through all its stages in one day,” and Front Benchers from both sides of the House get together and agree that there is a huge national emergency. I am sorry, but what is the emergency?

There was a court decision some months ago, about which the Government have since done very little and made very few statements. There has apparently been an interesting debate between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative party in the coalition. In the interests of public scrutiny, we should be given the minutes of the discussion between the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, and of all the sofa discussions that have no doubt taken place. I thought that sofa politics ended with new Labour, but apparently it still goes on in Downing street. We need to know the nature of that debate.

What is the objection to a sunset clause that would bring the—to me—very unpalatable Bill to a conclusion in six months’ time? Such a clause would at least give lawyers an opportunity to make a detailed case, and the Government an opportunity to explain their case a bit better. It would give the Home Affairs Committee a chance to discuss it, and the Joint Committee on Human Rights a chance to examine it, which we as Members of Parliament would also be able to do.

In an age of social media, it is interesting to see the numbers of people following the debate online and live. They are interested in social media, privacy and communication, and they all have views and opinions. I have no idea what all their views and opinions are. All I know is that as an individual Member of Parliament, I, like all colleagues in the Chamber, must vote on this piece of legislation without having had the chance to reflect or consult.

This is not a good day for Parliament. It is not a good advertisement for Parliament. It is not a good advertisement for democracy. The very least that we can do is to agree that this wrong-headed piece of legislation will expire by the end of this year and force the Government to come up with something more palatable, more carefully thought out and more sensible in respect of the protection of privacy and civil rights for all. That is why we were elected to Parliament. We should be given the opportunity to do our job, and should not have to lie down in front of a steamroller and accept something that we know in our hearts to be ill thought out and wrong.

I spoke a lot in the debate earlier and was not going to speak again until my colleague, the hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), reminded us of how this debate looks to the public outside this place.

As we have all said, this issue is of huge importance. Almost no issue that we deal with affects people as directly as their personal communications, and, therefore, is as sensitive. That is why it is so negative that we have given the impression that we simply do not care what people think. The public are pretty disengaged from MPs and Parliament, and do not have much respect for what goes on in this place. Today was an opportunity to begin to build bridges with them and to demonstrate that we can take these issues and their concerns seriously, and I feel so sad about the fact that Parliament seems to have flunked it. We have decided not to build bridges and have given the public the impression that we do not take ourselves seriously, so why should they take what we do in this place seriously?

Many arguments have been advanced on why it is not necessary to pass the Bill in such a short time. There is no serious argument that this is an emergency. If there were, it would have been dealt with three months ago. People can see through that. Their concerns and disillusionment with this Parliament will be redoubled by this process, instead of being addressed by it.

One reason why I support amendment 2 to the sunset clause is that it would rescue something from this unhappy state. If we at least said that over the coming months, we will do this piece of work properly and a review will happen, we could build some confidence among the public. As it is, I regret to say that we have lost yet more public confidence today, at a time when we can least afford to do so.

I will speak to Government amendments 7 and 8 and new clause 7, which were tabled by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I will also address the provisions that have been tabled by Opposition Front Benchers before turning to the issues with the timetable and the sunset clause.

The Government amendments provide for a review of the powers and capabilities. I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) for his comments about Opposition new clause 1, which relates to the same topic and sets out the terms of a review of the legislation. There is no difference of principle here. [Interruption.]

Order. I can hear murmuring. I have a wee bit of industrial deafness from a previous life, but even I can hear it. I notice that a lot of conversations are taking place. We have had a long debate. The Minister is summing it up and I hope that Members will give him the best of order.

Thank you, Mr Hood.

New clause 1 shows that there is overlapping ground on the review. There is no difference of principle in that regard. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in her statement last week that we would review the interception and communications data powers that we need, as well as the way in which those powers and capabilities are regulated, in the full context of the threats that we face. I am pleased that the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, David Anderson, QC, has agreed to conduct the first phase of that work. Our amendments give that work proper statutory footing, and set out the issues that the review will need to cover. It will deal with the powers that are required in the light of the threats we face and how they are regulated, and it will require the independent reviewer to report before the next election. Crucially, it will require the review to take account not only of the threats we face, but also of the safeguards required to protect privacy, and the impact of changing technology on the work of the agencies to keep us safe.

On that basis the Government have tabled amendments that achieve what I believe the Opposition were seeking to do in their amendments on this matter. The amendments make that explicit and address the points that the right hon. Member for Delyn set out in his initial contribution. I think he said that he may be warming to new clause 7—sufficiently warmed, I hope, to withdraw new clause 1.

The periodic review of the legislation is important in assuring the House and the public that appropriate safeguards are being ensured, and that operations of communications data and lawful intercept are being conducted properly and appropriately. Should the Bill pass through the House, it will not extend the reach and remit of such measures, as some who have made earlier contributions have perhaps feared. I agree with the Opposition that while this legislation remains in statute until the sunset clause kicks in—in our view at the end of 2016, and I will come on to the specifics of that—and while reviews are being conducted, the provision of information from the interception of communications commissioner on a more frequent basis might help inform those making observations on the operation of and any deficiencies in the law on interception and communications data capabilities.

The right hon. Member for Delyn and those on the Opposition Front Bench have tabled a number of alternatives and amendments, and the Government are happy to accept new clause 6 and related technical amendments 4 and 5, alongside amendment 6, which adds to the long title of the Bill. Indeed, I think I should also formally move those amendments to ensure that they do not fall outside any timeline we may have. As I said, the Government are content to accept those amendments, and I invite the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw new clause 2 and amendment 3, which would have dealt with the same issues.

A great part of this debate in Committee has focused on amendment 2, which would bring forward the date at which the Bill ceases to have effect to 31 December this year, rather than the current date of 31 December 2016. With the greatest respect, and acknowledging the points that have been made, I do not believe that that is the most effective way to proceed and give the House the information to assess the broad issues of communications data effectively. We have set in train and committed to have an independent review from the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation on the broad area of communications data. If that review is concluded, the House will be better informed in assessing the balance of privacy and capabilities that exist, and considering how technology has changed and may impact on what is necessary. The independent review will be instrumental in providing that information, and in informing the next Government after the general election as to how to proceed on that basis.

The Prime Minister has said that he thinks that a Joint Committee should be established to take that review forward and have that additional scrutiny. We therefore have the long-stop date, which is a termination date in 2016. That does not get renewed; the legislation ends at that point to give this House and the other place appropriate time to legislate in the context of those reviews, as well as for further scrutiny or consideration by the Joint Committee.

The Minister is conflating two issues that amendment 2 seeks to deal with. First, this House has not had the time to research, consult and debate this issue. Secondly, the technology underlying the problems we face is changing. It is not mutually exclusive to address the first issue—lack of debate, consultation, research and knowledge—through, in proper, slow time, a consultative process in September and a proper Bill procedure in the autumn, and later, if he thinks it fit, to come back to the House with another review. That would at least allow the House to make its decision on a proper basis. If he allowed that, I would be happy to vote for Third Reading today. If he does not allow it, I am afraid that this is an undemocratic process that none of us can support.

We are going back over ground addressed on Second Reading and in the programme motion debate, but it is worth restating the fact that the Bill does not extend powers that this House has already granted through RIPA. It effectively restates what is already existing law. The legislation does not, therefore, seek to create something new, but simply restates what is already being operated, giving it clear legal underpinning in the context of the ECJ decision and the pressures from industry and others in terms of challenge.

On the need to act now, I say again that no Government embark on emergency legislation lightly. No Government seek to use fast-track legislation unless they judge that it is necessary. Our real concerns are that we have reached a tipping point regarding co-operation on lawful intercept and the risk that our essential powers on communications data, which are used day in, day out by law enforcement and the security agencies that protect this country, will simply not be available. That could occur at any time between now and the long-stop date that the right hon. Gentleman and others are suggesting in relation to December 2014. That is why the Government have judged that emergency legislation is appropriate and why we think it necessary to have a review: to ensure that this House is properly informed of all the issues to legislate carefully in a sensible way by no later than 31 December 2016, when this legislation would cease to have affect.

These are complicated matters. We need to act swiftly to deal with the particular challenge we face and to avoid the damaging loss of capability that confronts us. However, I do believe a longer-term considered approach is appropriate, hence the reason for having the review and for providing assurance in relation to the commissioner for the interception of communications and his reports on operation. There are already a number of reviews in the system. The Intelligence and Security Committee is conducting an inquiry, as is the Royal United Services Institute.

There is also the further review, which is to be led by David Anderson, of the communications data and interception powers we need, and how they are regulated in the light of the threats we face. As I have indicated, the Bill will set this out in legislation in terms, but he needs to be given some time to conduct this work. New clause 7 asks him to complete his work by 1 May 2015. That being so, I can see no point in requiring Parliament to return to these issues almost as soon as we return from the summer recess, without the benefit of the work we have set in train. Any such legislation would also inevitably require an accelerated timetable. Rather, we believe that Parliament needs to consider these issues properly after the election, drawing on the outcome of the reviews that are in train and with the ability to consider everything at a normal parliamentary pace. Accordingly, I invite the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson) to withdraw amendment 2, so that we can have this process recognising the needs now and recognising the need for further review and for the House to return to these matters in the light of that informed basis.

We have had a useful debate on the amendments. The Opposition had two objectives in tabling our amendments and new clauses today: first, to secure a review of this Act, if passed by this House and by the House of Lords, within six months and then every six months following that; and secondly, to put it on the record that we need to have a wider examination of the whole of the intercept evidence-data collection issue. I think we have had a meeting of minds on that issue. With that in mind, I am happy to withdraw amendment 3 and to support new clause 6, and to ask the Government to accept that as they have indicated they will. We will then support Government new clause 7, which meets our objectives. There are other consequential amendments but, for clarity, that is my objective. It would be helpful, given what the Minister said, if we proceeded on that basis.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: 4, page 7, line 1, leave out “5” and insert

“(Half-yearly reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner)”. —(Mr Hanson.)

On a point of order, Mr. Hood. I believe that amendment 5 is a technical amendment that may also be required. I do not know whether that will be dealt with now or later.

That is not a point of order. I can tell the Minister that we will take amendment 5 after we deal with amendment 7.

Amendment made: 7, page 7, line 1, after “5” insert

“and (Review of investigatory powers and their regulation)” —(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment is consequential on NC7

Amendment made: 5, page 7, line 2, leave out “5” and insert

“(Half-yearly reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner)” —(Mr Hanson.)

Amendment proposed: 2, page 7, line 2, leave out “2016” and insert “2014”—(Mr Watson.)

Question put, That the amendment be made

Clause 6, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New clause 7

Review of investigatory powers and their regulation

‘(1) The Secretary of State must appoint the independent reviewer of terrorism

legislation to review the operation and regulation of investigatory powers.

(2) The independent reviewer must, in particular, consider—

(a) current and future threats to the United Kingdom,

(b) the capabilities needed to combat those threats,

(c) safeguards to protect privacy,

(d) the challenges of changing technologies,

(e) issues relating to transparency and oversight,

(f) the effectiveness of existing legislation (including its proportionality) and the case for new or amending legislation.

(3) The independent reviewer must, so far as reasonably practicable, complete the review before 1 May 2015.

(4) The independent reviewer must send to the Prime Minister a report on the outcome of the review as soon as reasonably practicable after completing the review.

(5) On receiving a report under subsection (4), the Prime Minister must lay a copy of it before Parliament together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy under subsection (6).

(6) If it appears to the Prime Minister that the publication of any matter in a report under subsection (4) would be contrary to the public interest or prejudicial to national security, the Prime Minister may exclude the matter from the copy of the report laid before Parliament.

(7) The Secretary of State may pay to the independent reviewer—

(a) expenses incurred in carrying out the functions of the independent reviewer under this section, and

(b) such allowances as the Secretary of State determines.’—(James Brokenshire.)

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 3

Transparency on data collection

‘(1) To require any public authority requesting data requested from a communications service provider to maintain proper records including—

(a) the category of offence being investigated;

(b) the length of time the data had been retained by the CSP when it was requested;

(c) the type of data requested, as per the definitions in section 21 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.”—(Dr Huppert.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 4—Legal certainty for transparency reporting—

‘(1) The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is amended as in subsection (2).

(2) In section 54 (Tipping-off), after subsection (5) insert—

“(5A) In proceedings against any person for an offence under this section in respect of any disclosure, it shall be a defence for that person to show that the disclosure was made as part of an aggregated statistical disclosure covering a period of time greater than six months.”’

This amendment would provide a defence against the “tipping-off” offence, which has been cited as a reason why companies cannot release transparency reports. This amendment would allow statistics to be made available at six monthly (or greater) intervals.

These are, I hope, two unobjectionable new clauses, which seek clarity from the Government about what is intended in respect of the transparency reporting. One challenge we have faced for a very long time in this area is the fact that, as I mentioned earlier, very little information is kept by the Home Office or any of the other bodies about what exactly this information is used for, how many pieces of information are collected by different people and what the reasons were. This is a very frustrating state of affairs.

When we looked at the draft Communications Data Bill, we found that there was just a two-week snapshot survey of a few police forces—it was not even all of them—asking about the purposes for which communications data are used. For that reason, I have for a long time wanted proper transparency reporting from the Government and all the organisations—some companies, such as Google, already do this as far as they can—so that we know what is being done and we can make an informed decision about whether it is being done appropriately.

Currently, we have well over 500,000 requests for communications data every year. In order to judge whether that is a large or a small number, we need to know why they were made. We also need to know—we simply do not know this at the moment—how many people it relates to. Do those 500,000 requests relate to more than 500,000 people, or are there, in fact, 20 requests, say, relating to one person? We simply do not have that information.

This is not just a concern that I and various others have raised; it is something that the interception of communications commissioner raised in his 2013 annual report, in which he said:

“In my view the unreliability and inadequacy of the statistical requirements is a significant problem which requires attention.”

We must fix this; it is very important that we know. It was a bit of a shock to find, for example, that only 11.4% of requests were for national security. The vast majority were to prevent or detect crime or to prevent disorder. We should have that information available; we should know. Partly because of the lack of it, the commissioner highlighted the fact that he simply had to estimate various parameters that he was supposed to be investigating. He also said that he was concerned about “significant institutional overuse” and that the figure was “a very large number” that had

“the feel of being too many.”

We need to have the information available and published, so that we can make a proper decision.

I warmly endorse what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Does he agree that if more examples were given of a collated nature—such as those we read about frequently in individual criminal court cases—about the vital role that such data play, that would go a long way to allaying unnecessary public suspicion about the importance of having such data available for the forces of law and order?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Unfortunately, the approach taken for, I believe, many decades has been not to tell people. We have always been told, “We can’t tell you what’s being done at the moment, but we need more.” If we were told and there were transparency, the public could make a much more sensible judgment about what was needed.

New clause 3 highlights what I would expect to see as part of new transparency reporting. It contains requirements to ensure that information is available about the offence being investigated, so that we can find out if it is about children applying to the wrong school or speeding offences, as opposed to national security matters, how long the data have been requested, so that we can work out how long they should be kept for—is it usually used after a week or a year?—and what sort of data they are, so that we know whether we are talking about reverse directory look-ups or rather more personal information. I hope the Minister will be able to reassure me that that is his intention.

I should say that both my new clauses were inspired by Big Brother Watch, which I have been working with on this whole Bill and which particularly wanted to make these points clear. New clause 4 deals with the problem that a number of organisations feel they cannot publish their transparency reports and say what they have been asked to do for fear of violating the legislation against tipping off. I understand why there is a concern. The Government do not want companies to say, “The following things we are reporting to the Government, but these things are perfectly safe; we will not tell the Government about them.” We want companies to be able to publish that anonymised information, so I hope the Minister will be able to confirm that companies can safely publish it as part of their transparency reports without fear of being prosecuted.

I look forward to hearing the Minister’s reassurances on both those aspects.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) for tabling these new clauses to enable a debate about transparency and the information provided in the exercise of powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. He will know that the Government—the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister—announced last week that we intend to introduce annual transparency reports relating to the exercise of powers under RIPA. That report will provide as much detail as possible, but without undermining the effectiveness of the agencies or posing a risk to national security.

The point I would make to my hon. Friend is that if we had individual companies giving details, that might give an indication to those who would do us harm, who might ask themselves, “Well, which ones aren’t doing that and which direction should we go in?” This therefore has to be done with care, given the nature of transparency, but I endorse his point about the need for more information to be provided, so that the public and this House can have confidence in the utilisation of the powers set out in the legislation.

Will my hon. Friend take on board the point I made in my intervention a few moments ago? Although one fully accepts that one cannot give full statistical data about these sorts of activities as they relate to national security, the point that the hon. Member for Cambridge made—that the majority are about serious crime rather than national security—ought to give us the opportunity to set out many case studies that would improve the public’s understanding of why it is so important that we have these data.

I know that my hon. Friend understands the importance of communications data in the fight against organised crime, as 95% of the organised crime cases that have been brought before the courts have relied on those data. He will also be aware of some of the surveys that have been run to indicate the proportions of communications data that are used and how they are broken down. For example, a survey in 2012 showed that 51% of communications data used to investigate sexual offences were older than six months. It is that type of information that, if we had further detail, would give that sense of how communications data are used to reassure the public and others in respect of the utility of the powers that are there. That certainly touches on one of my hon. Friend’s points.

Yes, we have had annual surveys, but the question is what more can be done to strengthen the process? That is something that the interception of communications commissioner raised in his last report and that we are now reflecting on, especially with regard to the detail that can be provided through the transparency report.

The Minister talked about that two-week snapshot from 2012. Is that the most recent survey that looked at the age of the data? Does he agree that it would be really helpful to have more up-to-date information about the age of the data are that used?

My hon. Friend argues for a different approach. He talks about a limited period and then about the need to safeguard that information following an event. I do not agree with him on that, as that is a separate debate. However, I agree that where we can see accurate data being provided, we seek to surface that as much as possible as part of the approach on transparency.

As the commissioner made clear in his report, the Home Office was working with him to improve the statistics collected by public authorities. He identified a number of further elements in his report, including the total number of applications submitted, the total number of items of data requested, the total items of data broken down by statutory purpose for which they were required and the total items of data broken down by crime type or other purpose for which they were required, which is the point that my hon. Friend has just made.

We are working with public authorities to ensure that most of these statistics are already being collected by them, and are progressing work to agree on the relevant practicalities such as agreed nomenclature that would enable those that had not already been collected to be collected. Transparency is important in ensuring continued public trust in the agencies and police forces that have been granted intrusive powers. However, transparency does have limits. We should not commit to such transparency that would publicise police and other sensitive investigative methodology, because explaining exactly how our investigators do their job will naturally lead to terrorists, criminals and others who wish us harm knowing how to avoid detection. We must also be careful not to weigh down investigators with too much bureaucracy such that they cannot perform the important function of preventing and detecting crimes and keeping us safe.

I appreciate that my hon. Friend is mainly talking about the gathering and publication of statistical data, but it would not involve much effort for police forces to collate even half a dozen or a dozen cases per year that are reported in the press to show how these communications data are used in individual cases. A few good examples that have already been published would go a long way to help the public understand how important this methodology is.

In highlighting case studies, my hon. Friend makes an important point. A number of case studies involving serious murders have already been referenced in the debate this evening. Indeed, the shadow Home Secretary highlighted a case in which a young person who was safeguarded was effectively prevented from killing themselves. Such examples highlight the absolute import and value of communications data and the way in which our emergency services, police and others rely on them, not just to solve crime and to protect the public from those very real threats that we understand from a criminal law and a counter-terrorism perspective, but to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. The ability to identify where someone may be through tracking the communications data can literally be a matter of life and death. My hon. Friend is therefore right to suggest we can draw on case studies to provide greater explanation. In the appalling Soham murders, for example, communications data were instrumental in bringing those responsible to justice. Such cases highlight the significance of the use of the powers.

I recognise the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, but I am unable to accept his new clause tonight. I can make it clear, however, that I do not resist increased transparency; indeed, it is the reason we have agreed to bring forward annual transparency reports. Such a level of detail can be considered in different ways, and in amending the code of practice on the acquisition and disclosure of communications data later this year, we can ensure that the appropriate text is included in statutory guidance, for example. Parliament will have a chance to return to the issue soon in that context. There are perhaps other ways in which we can reflect further on getting the balance right.

My hon. Friend made another point that may in fact relate to section 19 of RIPA, rather than to the section he suggested, concerning the illegality of disclosing the existence of a warrant under that section. To do so would risk exposing the existence of an interception capability and, crucially, the potential lack of such a capability, which would indicate to criminals and terrorists, who may wish to exploit such a gap, which communication services they may be able to use to conduct their illicit activities without detection. I believe that my hon. Friend seeks to ensure that where such a disclosure is made as part of an annual transparency report issued by the major service providers, a defence will be available to them in any subsequent legal proceedings.

The Government believe that, as at present, it is for the interception of communications commissioner to publish the total number of interception warrants. The commissioner has expressed his concern about the nature of the transparency reports, particularly with reference to requests for communications data. In his annual report for 2013, the commissioner is clear that statistics from transparency reports should “be treated with caution” as they may “lead to misleading comparisons”. Indeed, it would not be helpful to the public for there to be numerous sources of information on the number of requests or warrants when there is a lack of clarity and consistency as between each source. We are doing everything that we can, working with the independent commissioner, to improve the transparency of how such powers are used, but the additional provision would not help to give the public greater clarity, so I invite my hon. Friend to withdraw new clause 3.

I thank the Minister for his comments. The move towards greater transparency will benefit us all, including the Home Office. I do not quite agree with some of the points that he made towards the end of his speech. Many companies are doing well publishing transparency reports, which is helping to move the agenda forwards, but in the interests of time, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 5

Effect and justiciability of this Act

‘For the avoidance of doubt and notwithstanding sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972, this Act shall have effect and shall be construed as having effect and shall be justiciable by the courts of the United Kingdom.’—(Sir William Cash.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I am grateful to be called at this late hour. This new clause is important. I look to the Home Secretary; she knows exactly where I am coming from and where I am going. She may believe that we will be defeated on this new clause, but nothing will prevent me from making the point, which is that the Bill could become pointless. The difficulty, which she understands—I am sure that her advisers have already explained it—is simply that clauses 1 and 2 will enable the Home Secretary to serve a data retention notice on public telecommunications operators and to make secondary legislation governing such notices. However, there is a real possibility that the precise meaning of the European Court of Justice’s Digital Rights Ireland judgment has the effect of potentially eviscerating the Bill.

Professor Peers of Essex university draws attention to the objection by the Court to the requirement to retain all communications data. The fact that the directive required all data to be retained from all subscribers was indeed the first of the considerations taken into account by the Court in arriving at the conclusion that the directive was disproportionate. The problem is that it is within the framework of European law. This Bill is within the scope of EU law and so is the charter of fundamental rights, and the general principle of EU law will continue to apply. What that means in practice is very simple: sections 2 and 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 have the effect of ensuring that the retention directive, its replacements and all that follows from it are and have to be implemented in UK law. The United Kingdom also has an obligation under the voluntarily enacted 1972 Act to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court.

The European Court has already adjudicated on this matter, but the problem is that within the framework of this Bill there are grave uncertainties that have already been expressed by myself and others during these proceedings. The bottom line is therefore whether we are to make uncertainty more uncertain by providing for a situation in which we enact a Bill that might be challenged by the European Court through arrangements that some people who do not like its provisions might decide to entertain. If they do so, it will go back through the Court of First Instance and then the Court of Appeal before going to our own Supreme Court and being referred to the European Court of Justice. As with the Merchant Shipping Act 1988, which was struck down by our own High Court in pursuance of the European Communities Act 1972, which is a voluntary Act, the net result if the European Court of Justice makes such a determination will be that the United Kingdom will be faced with this Bill being struck down as enacted.

I do not need to say any more, because I have made the point throughout our proceedings. I implore the Government to take note of the new clause, which has been carefully considered by some very senior lawyers, both academics and practising lawyers. They are convinced that the Bill is at risk and so, as I did with the enactment of the Lisbon treaty, I tabled a provision that said that notwithstanding the European Communities Act the charter of fundamental rights would not apply. The Home Secretary might smile now, but I have to say to her that that is now a serious choice for the Government. Either they except the charter of fundamental rights or, through amendment of the 1972 Act, they should ensure that the charter of fundamental rights does not apply. That also applies to these provisions and I need say no more for the moment. I sincerely trust that the Minister will give a positive response.

My hon. Friend has raised these points during the course of the debate and I note the points that he makes, but I restate my previous points. The Bill is intended to give greater legal certainty through the statutory underpinning it provides rather than by relying on secondary legislation with the challenges and risks that might face in the future. We have framed the legislation in the context of the ECJ judgment. We have reflected on it carefully and believe that it is robust in its construction. I note that my hon. Friend will continue rightly to challenge on these European issues, but I hope that in the context of today’s debate, he will be minded to withdraw his new clause.

Proceedings interrupted (Order, this day).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Order, this day).

New Clause 6

Half-yearly reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner

‘(1) Section 58 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) (annual reports) after “calendar year” insert “and after the end of the period of six months beginning with the end of each calendar year”.

(3) In subsection (6) (duty to lay annual reports before Parliament) after “annual report” insert “, and every half-yearly report,”.

(4) In subsection (6A) (duty to send annual reports to the First Minister) after “annual report” insert “, and every half-yearly report,”.

(5) In subsection (7) (power to exclude matter from annual reports) after “annual report” insert “, or half-yearly report,”.’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

Amendments made: 6, in the Title, line 7, after “Act;” insert

“to make provision about additional reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner;”

Amendment 8, in the Title, line 7, after “Act;” insert

“to make provision about a review of the operation and regulation of investigatory powers;”.—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment is consequential on NC7.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill, as amended, reported.

Bill, as amended in the Committee, considered.

Third Reading.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Third time.

We have had a lively and constructive debate today on the urgent need to ensure that communications data continue to be retained, and to clarify the law in respect of interception for communications service providers.

I thank all those who have contributed to the Bill during its various stages so far. I also want to place on record my gratitude to those who have recognised both the need for this legislation and the reason it is so important that we see it enacted quickly.

We discussed the Bill earlier today on Second Reading and it has just been scrutinised in Committee. I thank the Opposition for the support they have given to the Bill and their recognition of the importance of the issues it deals with. I also thank the Clerks of the House and all those involved in supporting us and enabling us to do this business in one day. Particular thanks are due to my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration for the excellent job he has done in taking the Bill through its Committee stage, and to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) for his contributions on behalf of the Opposition.

I do not want to rehearse in detail all the arguments that have been made, but I remind Members that the Bill deals with two urgent issues, including the response to the European Court of Justice decision in April, which struck down the European data retention directive. That has created uncertainty among communications service providers about the legal basis for the retention of communications data in the UK, which is a crucial resort for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

I am sure the Home Secretary knows that I am, in general, supportive of the Bill, but, in the light of the vote we have just taken, what sort of guarantee can she offer the House that the same European Court that struck down the previous situation will not strike down this Bill as well?

As I indicated earlier, and as I think others have indicated during the course of the various debates we have had today, the European Court of Justice did not strike down the ability to retain data. It recognised that the ability to retain data was necessary and it recognised purposes for which those data could be retained. What it did in its judgment was say that the data retention directive was drafted too broadly and it challenged its scope.

Of course, it was always the case that regulations here in the United Kingdom had been drawn more tightly and narrowly than the data retention directive. We are able to put through this Bill with confidence because not only were our data retention regulations drafted in a way that met many of the issues that the ECJ raised, but we have made some changes to ensure that we meet the extra requirements that the ECJ made on us. That is what gives us confidence in the future of this legislation.

We have heard a number of examples today of how important it is to have the ability to retain and access communications data. It is vital for piecing together the activities of suspects, victims and vulnerable people, and ensuring that serious criminals and terrorists can be brought to justice. This Bill will clarify the legal basis for us to oblige communications service providers to continue retaining communications data.

At the same time, we need to put beyond doubt the legal obligation on companies that provide services to people in the UK to comply with our laws on interception, regardless of where they are based. As we know, the communications services used by us all are increasingly provided to the UK by companies based outside the country. Interception, which can take place only within strict limits and with a warrant authorised by the Secretary of State, can prove vital when investigating the most dangerous criminals or defending the security of the United Kingdom.

In the absence of explicit provisions in legislation, some overseas companies have started to question whether the law applies to them, so we are clarifying the law. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was always intended to apply to any company providing communications services to the UK, as the provisions in the Bill make absolutely clear. The Bill does not introduce new powers, or extend the reach of law enforcement or security and intelligence agencies in any way. It responds to the European judgment, clarifies the existing provisions of RIPA and ensures that the police and security and intelligence agencies can maintain essential capabilities to fight crime and protect the public.

The Bill does not replicate the draft Communications Data Bill. As I have said several times, I continue to believe that its measures are absolutely necessary, but this Bill is not about what was in the draft Bill; it is about ensuring that we retain the capabilities we have at the moment. It will be for the next Parliament to debate other extensions in relation to communications data, as in the draft Bill. We know that that debate will take place because this Bill has been “sunsetted”. It will therefore be necessary for the Government to look at the issues after the election. Indeed, that will be on the basis of informed debate, following the review undertaken by David Anderson, as agreed.

The Bill will ensure that the job of those who protect us does not get even more difficult; that they can continue to use powers that are part of everyday policing; that they remain able to find vulnerable people at risk or in danger; and that they can maintain the use of vital capabilities to solve crime, save lives and protect the public from harm. It will ensure that our police, law enforcement agencies and security and intelligence agencies have the capabilities to do that. I now invite the House to pass the Bill and send it to the other place, and I commend it to the House.

We have had the Second Reading and four hours of debate in Committee, and we have now reached Third Reading. I, too, pay tribute on behalf of the Opposition to my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), who has been in the Chamber since 12.30 pm, as well as to the Minister for Security and Immigration, who has probably not even had a chance to have a cup of tea, and to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), who when not popping up and down to speak, has been glued to his seat for many hours.

Many hon. Members have been present for several hours of a very thoughtful debate on such important legislation, but inevitably the debate has been limited. Many of the concerns raised today have been about the process—about the lack of time not only to debate the Bill, but to consider it further. I hope that the Government recognise that the process has undermined confidence. For that confidence to be restored, it will be particularly important for the Government to take steps on the implementation of the review and the wider safeguards.

Some Members have raised concerns about the retention of any data at all. The vast majority, however, have recognised the value of data retention in tackling serious crime, abuse and terrorism, and in protecting our children, but want the right kinds of safeguards to be put in place. Most Members recognise the need for Parliament to take action and to pass legislation before the summer break, because we do not want suddenly to prevent the police and the intelligence agencies from having access, under warrant, to the information on which they normally depend in investigating organised crime and fraud, identifying those abusing children online and building intelligence to foil terrorist activity.

I do not want to repeat the points I made on Second Reading about the Bill, the safeguards and the wider debate, but I will briefly cover some of the points made throughout the debates this afternoon. Some have raised concern about whether the Bill does what it says on the tin, to use the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson)—whether it simply replicates existing capabilities or extends them. The Government have repeatedly made it clear that the purpose of the Bill is to maintain existing capabilities and, indeed, to restrict them in line with the ECJ judgment. I am glad that the Government agreed to our amendments that were designed to ensure that that is the case. They require six-monthly reports on the operation of the Act to ensure that its implementation does not go further in any way.

As I argued earlier, many of the areas of concern that hon. Members have raised are not about the specifics of the legislation, but about the wider framework that governs communications data and interception. That is why we have called for a much broader review of the powers, safeguards and operations in the light of changing technologies and threats. I am glad that the Government agreed to our proposal that the review that we called for should be put on a statutory footing.

Nobody should underestimate the importance of that review, because we cannot keep passing sticking-plaster legislation, we cannot carry on with business as usual, and we cannot carry on with the current framework when new technology is overtaking it. Nor should anybody just hope that these issues will go away once today’s debates are finished, because they will not and they cannot. The changing technology, changing attitudes, changing expectations and changing threats mean that Parliament needs to keep up.

I hope that Members who have argued about the different aspects of the legislation, who have taken different views on aspects of the legislation or who have even disagreed with the legislation will come together to contribute to the review, to decide what the next steps should be and to take part in the wider debate that we need about security and liberty in the internet age. In the end, these issues go to the heart of our democracy. We need both security and liberty. If we do not feel safe or secure on our streets or online, we are not free, but if security is absolute, we lose that precious freedom for which people have fought for generations. We will not all agree on how to sustain both, we will not all agree on how to get the balance right, and our constituents will not all agree either. However, the debate itself is healthy and vital, and I suspect that there will be rather more consensus than most people think.

I hope that we can finally agree on three things today: first, that the wider debate is needed to keep up with the changing world and to ensure that there is public confidence and consent for the vital work that the police and agencies do; secondly, that this last-minute process has not been a good one, and that we really should not do it again; and thirdly, that this temporary legislation, with its safeguards, really is needed in the short term, and that we should pass it tonight.

At the end of this rather long day, I want to reflect briefly on where we are in this area. There is a tension between privacy and security. As I have said, it is not a question of having one or the other; we can have both. I do not believe that those who are more concerned about security want to ride roughshod over privacy and civil liberties. Equally, those of us who are passionate about privacy and civil liberties care about security. We can have both and we need to work on both. There will be differences in the relative weighting that we place on each.

Let me go back to 2012, when we had the Home Secretary’s draft Communications Data Bill, which was the son of the previous Government’s interception modernisation programme. The Home Secretary has been very clear that she believes that we should have that Bill. We, as partners in the coalition Government, insisted that it be only a draft Bill. A Committee went through it carefully—a process that took many months—and we vetoed it because the Committee was very critical. Had we not had that process, there may well have been no need for this piece of fast-track legislation, because we would have had the communications data Bill and it would have covered many of the things that were required. However, it would have been far more intrusive and of questionable security value.

All that was before the Snowden period, when we found out what was happening. What has the House done to reflect the concerns that people have about privacy, data and surveillance? We have had one debate in Westminster Hall, which I managed to secure, in which neither Front Bencher supported the calls for massive reform of RIPA, although many Members from all parties did so. There has been one Bill in the House on this subject, which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr Heath). Of course, like most private Members’ Bills, it did not make any progress. This House has failed to have the discussions and debates that have happened in the US, Germany and many other places.

That leads directly to the scepticism about the Bill that many people feel. There is a track record and people have developed concerns over many years. For decades we have had claims from the Government, again and again, about what is needed for security. So many clichés—the old lines: if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear. Every reference to everything is justified by a reference to terrorists or paedophiles. Of course those matter and are serious, but they are not the same as proper evidence-based arguments about what is needed and is proportionate.

I understand the concern that many members of the public and in the House feel about this subject and this legislation, but the Bill deals with a genuine problem and replaces existing powers that the state already has with powers that are the same or lesser. Ministers have been clear that that is the intention. There is no question that somebody in the future will look back at this debate and believe there has been any intention to widen powers, and time after time we have heard that on the record. There has been debate about whether the law can be challenged under the ECHR. It can certainly be challenged; laws can always be challenged, and if it turns out that there are problems with it, I am sure they will be addressed. However, I do not think that will happen.

On the flipside, we have covered what would be a genuine crisis to ensure that we can continue with our security levels, and we have made extra gains that put us in a better place from a privacy and civil liberties perspective. The sunset clause will focus people and force the review to happen, and we will finally get a proper long-term detailed piece of work on how we can have better legislation. That will take years to get right, but we must get it right.

We have a privacy and civil liberties oversight board to ensure that those concerns are seriously considered as policy is developed and looked after, developing the existing role of David Anderson QC. The Bill will be more powerful than he has been able to be. A senior diplomat will try to come up with a better way of dealing with the international problems that we are all struggling with. We would all like a better model, and pushing ahead with that will make a big difference. We will see reductions in access. Fewer organisations will be able to get access to information which, coupled with a reduction in the maximum time limit for which data can be held, will mean more protection for all of us overall. We will have transparency reports so that we know what is going on and why, and can have far more informed debates here and in public.

This has not been an easy process and I pay tribute to everybody involved, of all different views. I had the privilege of being involved in a number of those discussions, and it has been difficult for many people in this House. However, I think the Bill has dealt with security problems while boosting—a bit at least to start with—privacy and civil liberties. As has been reported in many places, this will be seen in years to come as a time when the House said, “We must tackle this and ensure we get it right.”

For the sake of completeness I want to say a few words having sat here for not quite as long as some of my honourable colleagues, although it feels like a long time. Those of us who opposed the process and content of the legislation have clearly lost the debate tonight, but none of us has been convinced by the arguments we have heard. We have not been convinced that there is a case for the kind of emergency that would require legislation being railroaded through the House in one day, and we have not heard anything that persuades us that the Bill does not go further than the status quo. We believe that it does go further than the status quo, particularly where extraterritoriality is concerned. Blanket data retention not being permitted by the European Court of Justice is the key element to many of the debates over the past few hours. Many of us who have stood by the position that it is precisely the blanket data retention that is not permitted by the ECJ are still concerned that the Court’s position will be contradicted by the Bill, and I imagine we may find that that is a problem in the months to come.

The shadow Home Secretary said that she hoped we would agree on three things. First, she hoped we would agree that this debate is needed for public confidence and consent. I certainly agree that this debate is needed, but not in the space of a day. I argue that precisely by trying to rush this Bill through in a day, we are utterly undermining public confidence and consent. I certainly agree with her second point that the last-minute process was not good.

The shadow Home Secretary’s third point—her claim that this temporary legislation is necessary—was her most important point. I argue very strongly that, in all the debates we have heard this afternoon, that case has not been made. The case for a six-month sunset clause not being effective has not been made. Others have made the case that a sunset clause is supposed to concentrate minds and that in two-and-a-half years it will suddenly deliver things that a six-month sunset clause could not deliver. That position does not stand up to scrutiny. A sunset clause in December would concentrate minds in the same way and we should have focused on that.

What I worry about most of all is that the debate will have lost some of the confidence in this place. I think that many people who have been watching this debate are deeply concerned about what they perceive to be an issue of such importance being treated with such contempt and about the Orwellian doublespeak that we have heard throughout the past few hours.

Following on from the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), I fear that there is no such thing as a perfect piece of legislation. None the less, what we have produced today, albeit with some considerable speed, is a Bill entirely worthy of the support of the entire House. I hope that the other place will permit it to get on to the statute book as soon as possible. I just have one point of interest that I wish to raise with those with on the Front Bench. I am not sure whether a member of the Home Office team will be responding to the debate, but perhaps somebody could write to me when they have a moment.

Under clause 4, which deals with extraterritoriality, it is quite clear that there are companies providing telecommunications services that will have a place of business or somebody in this jurisdiction who will be able to accept service of an interception warrant and so come within the terms of the statute. My only concern—it is not a concern that will destroy the Bill in any way at all—is practical. There may well be some telecommunications providers external to this jurisdiction that do not have a place of business in this country and do not have someone on whom an interception warrant can be served. Therefore, they will, like so many other aspects of extraterritorial law, not be susceptible to this legislation.

I am assuming—I put this in the interrogative—that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be having discussions, or has already had discussions, with her overseas counterparts to make sure that overseas jurisdictions will co-operate, if we ask them to, to ensure that those overseas companies comply with the terms of this legislation as a matter of comity, if for no other reason. It strikes me that there is a lacuna, perhaps a very small lacuna, which may not be capable of being dealt with, but which none the less needs to be thought about.

The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) said that those of us who oppose the Bill lost the debate today. I do not think we did. We lost the vote, but the debate will continue on a number of fronts. That Parliament can countenance legislation as important as this going through in such a hurried and ill-informed way—to be frank—has opened up a debate about its relevance and role. It will open the debate on the detail of the Bill: the regulations and the guidance we have yet to see—it was not published in advance of the debate—but it will be significantly important to its implementation. It will also open up the debate on whether the Bill meets the compliance criteria set out in the judgment against the previous directive. I think we will very quickly see a further challenge. We may be back here soon with more proposals for emergency legislation to address a further legal challenge.

I do not, therefore, think that the debate ends here. I think it actually starts here. It would have been more effective if we had had the time to have a proper debate and a sunset clause with a short period of time. That would have focused the attention of Parliament, rather than the drift into what I think will be the first stage in a wider debate on, perhaps, the resurrection of the communications Bill proposals that the Government, or one element of the coalition, brought forward earlier in their period of office.

I have a constituent who came down to London from Liverpool airport, where he worked, to try to gain knowledge about how one could increase access to the airport for people with disabilities. That was on the day of the London bombings. He was a great rugby player but when he finally went back to Birkenhead, he did so without both of his legs. How do I justify to him a Bill that says that phone records should be kept in case they form some pattern that somebody wishes to investigate? How could I, preciously, say that that issue is more important than my constituent’s legs?

We have to clarify whether the implications of the Bill would have persisted in that case. A number of us are not convinced that there is a case. More importantly, in terms of parliamentary process, we could be in a situation where, literally within weeks, this legislation could be struck down again. We have rushed a procedure where we have arrived at legislation in which many do not have confidence but which is also seriously vulnerable to a challenge again. If we had taken the time and had a sunset clause that forced the pace to an extent—such as by the end of the year—we could have come back with more effective legislation that would have given my hon. Friend’s constituent more of an assurance that it would be effective in tackling those sorts of terrible crimes. That is why a number of us were offended by the speed of the legislation, which can result in ineffective legislation at the end of the day.

The hon. Gentleman expresses a lot of the concerns that are felt even by those of us who wish to see effective security legislation in place. Does he agree that had the Government acted when they knew that there was a challenge to the legislation, all of what he is asking for now could have been done?

What I found extraordinary was the argument that a sunset clause for the end of this year would not have given us sufficient time to produce adequate legislation. Yet that is almost the same passage of time that the Government had to produce today’s Bill—from April to July. If we cannot produce adequate legislation in the next five months, how have the Government managed to produce adequate legislation within that three-month period?

If the Government and coalition had been more open and transparent, and had undertaken a full and open consultation—and brought a draft Bill to the House—we would have had an opportunity to secure legislation that I believe would have been effective and would have had the support of the wider community. That would have given confidence to the constituent of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) that we really were tackling terrorism, rather than simply going through an exercise to comply with a European Court of Justice judgment.

I repeat what a number of Members have said. This is no way to legislate. I agree with my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary that this must be the last time we ever address an important issue in this way. If this is about coalition partners falling out, that is the weakest excuse for not being more open and transparent to the House about the problems we have to address.

I am fearful also that this is the foot in the door towards bringing back the communications legislation that was proposed previously. Many of my constituents have expressed the view that this is the start of widening the vista of snooping legislation. On that basis, I think it was important to have had the debate today and to put the Government on guard that the House will not tolerate being bounced into this type of legislation again.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.