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Security, Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies and Intelligence Services Commissioner (Reports)

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 12 March 2015

Today, I am pleased to draw the attention of both Houses to the publication of two reports relating to intelligence matters and the use of intrusive powers in the UK. While each report has a different origin and focus, they both support this Government’s commitment to deliver greater transparency and stronger oversight of the work of the UK security and intelligence agencies, the police and other public bodies that use intrusive powers. Both reports make a significant contribution to the public and parliamentary debate on these issues, which will continue into the next Parliament.

First, I would like to address the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (the ISC) on its privacy and security inquiry, published today. The Government and the agencies co-operated fully with the ISC during this inquiry and gave it full access to material of the highest classification. Our commitment to transparency is reflected in the text of the report, which has only been redacted where absolutely necessary to protect our national security. The result is a substantive report that provides a comprehensive account of all the intrusive activities of the agencies and the relevant safeguards and oversight. The Government are grateful to the ISC for the thoroughness with which it conducted this important inquiry.

We will consider the ISC’s findings and recommendations carefully. As a number of these are currently the subject of related reviews, including by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, the Government’s intention is to review all the recommendations and suggestions in a full and considered manner before making a substantive response. There is, however, one particular recommendation in the ISC’s report that I wish to address now. The Intelligence Services Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Mark Waller, currently provides non-statutory oversight of the security and intelligence agencies’ use of bulk personal datasets. Sir Mark has previously recommended that this be put on a statutory footing. The ISC also recommends this in its report. I can therefore announce today that I am issuing a direction to Sir Mark under section 59A of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) to put this into effect. I have deposited a copy of this direction in the Libraries of both Houses.

This is the last report that the ISC will publish before the election and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Committee members for their dedication in carrying out their oversight duties during the last five years. The benefits of increasing the Committee’s powers under the Justice and Security Act 2013 have been clearly reflected in the depth and rigour of its inquiries.

I have also laid before both Houses copies of the 2014 “Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner”, the right hon. Sir Anthony May, who is appointed by me to keep under review the compliance by public authorities with part 1 of RIPA.

Sir Anthony’s report provides new detail on RIPA warrantry, including the total number of warrants in place under section 8(4) of RIPA at the end of the reporting period, and a breakdown of the statutory purpose for which all interception warrants were issued. These newly available figures demonstrate the Government’s commitment to provide more information about the work of the security and intelligence agencies, and other public authorities that carry out interception.

I thank Sir Anthony for his continued rigorous, thorough and independent oversight, and for the contributions he and his office have made to the public debate surrounding the use of intrusive powers.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. and the “Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner” is available online at: