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Draft Investigatory Powers Bill

Volume 606: debated on Monday 22 February 2016

1. What assessment her Department has made of the cost implications for private businesses of compliance with the proposed requirements of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. (903659)

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill has been drafted in close consultation with industry, and the estimated cost to the public purse of implementing its provisions will continue to be refined as we hold more detailed discussions with industry on implementation. It would not be appropriate to expect telecommunications companies to meet the costs themselves and, as now, full cost recovery will apply to operational costs, including those associated with new obligations under the Bill.

The Select Committee on Science and Technology warned that the Bill risks undermining our strongly performing tech sector because of uncertainty about the costs of complying with the new legislation. Will the Secretary of State assure us that UK businesses will not be placed at a commercial disadvantage compared with overseas competitors?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman of that and, as I said in my answer to his initial question, we will ensure that full cost recovery applies to operational costs for any companies that have, for example, notices issued to them. It is clear that that is what we have done as a Government in the past and what previous Governments have done, and we will continue to do it.

Will the Home Secretary look carefully at the recommendations from the Joint Committee on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill on the definition of internet connection records? We were very clear that greater clarity is needed on the definition to allow the private sector fully to cost its proposals.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman and the other Members of this House and of the other place who sat on the Committee and did an excellent job of producing a well-thought-through and careful report. We will of course carefully consider the issue of definition. We are looking at all three of the reports from the Science and Technology Committee, the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Joint Committee and we will make revised Bill proposals in due course.

On the specific issue of private businesses, will the Home Secretary outline what recent discussions she and her Ministers have had on that subject with the devolved Administrations?

Discussions with the devolved Administrations have gone on throughout the preparation of the draft Bill. They have continued and will continue, as will discussions between Ministers and officials with companies and private businesses.