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Public Bill Committees

Debated on Thursday 21 April 2016

Investigatory Powers Bill (Ninth sitting)

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairs: Nadine Dorries, † Albert Owen

† Atkins, Victoria (Louth and Horncastle) (Con)

† Buckland, Robert (Solicitor General)

† Cherry, Joanna (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)

† Davies, Byron (Gower) (Con)

† Fernandes, Suella (Fareham) (Con)

† Frazer, Lucy (South East Cambridgeshire) (Con)

† Hayes, Mr John (Minister for Security)

† Hayman, Sue (Workington) (Lab)

† Hoare, Simon (North Dorset) (Con)

† Kinnock, Stephen (Aberavon) (Lab)

† Kirby, Simon (Brighton, Kemptown) (Con)

† Kyle, Peter (Hove) (Lab)

† Matheson, Christian (City of Chester) (Lab)

† Newlands, Gavin (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP)

† Starmer, Keir (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab)

† Stephenson, Andrew (Pendle) (Con)

† Stevens, Jo (Cardiff Central) (Lab)

† Warman, Matt (Boston and Skegness) (Con)

Glenn McKee, Fergus Reid, Committee Clerks

† attended the Committee

Public Bill Committee

Thursday 21 April 2016

(Morning)

[Albert Owen in the Chair]

Investigatory Powers Bill

Good morning and welcome to the Committee. We all have a good reason not to be in the Chamber this morning but I am sure you will all join me in wishing Her Majesty a happy 90th birthday.

Hear, hear!

Clause 91

Power to issue warrants to intelligence services: the Secretary of State

I beg to move amendment 405, in clause 91, page 70, line 8, after “crime”, insert

“where there is reasonable suspicion that a serious criminal offence has been or is likely to be committed”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 406, in clause 91, page 70, line 9, leave out paragraph (c).

Amendment 436, in clause 96, page 74, line 16, leave out subsections (12) and (13).

Amendment 464, in clause 91, page 70, line 25, at end insert—

‘(10) A warrant may only authorise targeted equipment interference or targeted examination as far as the conduct authorised relates—

(a) to the offence as specified under subsection (5)(b), or

(b) to some other indictable offence which is connected with or similar to the offence as specified under subsection (5)(b)”.

The amendments, which were tabled by the Scottish National party and the Labour party, are part of the broad objective of altering clause 91 so that authorisation of warrants is carried out by judicial commissioners rather than the Secretary of State. There has already been quite lengthy argument about the general principle so I will not go into that in great detail. The amendments also deal with the grounds and circumstances in which warrants may be issued and attempt to tighten the safeguards in the clause.

Amendment 405 would amend the grounds on which warrants may be issued, adding at the end of subsection (5)(b) a reference to reasonable suspicion of serious crime taking place. That pertains to an argument I made in relation to part 2 of the Bill, which is that the grounds for issuance of a warrant should require reasonable suspicion. It will also be recalled that I argued that the economic wellbeing grounds should be removed from the Bill in relation to part 2, and I renew that argument in relation to this clause for the same reasons. There seems to be some tautology. As either the Joint Committee on the draft Bill or the Intelligence and Security Committee commented, it is difficult to see how

“the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom so far as those interests are also relevant to the interests of national security”

can really mean anything above and beyond the interests of national security. Amendment 406 would therefore remove subsection (5)(c).

Amendment 463 would remove subsection (6), while amendment 465 would include a requirement of proportionality and a technical assessment in the consideration that is given to the issuance of a warrant. Amendment 465 would require that less intrusive methods have been used or considered and a technical assessment of proportionality accounting for the risks of the conduct proposed. Those requirements would apply when applications from the intelligence service, the Chief of Defence Intelligence and law enforcement are considered. In order to consider whether a warrant is necessary and proportionate, not only the intrusion but the methods will need to be assessed. The amendment would require the judicial commissioner, supported by independent technical expertise, to assess the proportionality of the conduct proposed in targeted equipment interference applications.

There is good reason behind the amendment. Again, I hark back to some of the more general concerns that were expressed by myself and the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras. When malware is deployed there is often a risk of contagion, at home as well as overseas. We have had a recent and dramatic demonstration of that: the Stuxnet virus was believed to be an American-Israeli cyber-weapon intended to hack a single Iranian uranium enrichment facility. What happened instead was that it infected Chevron, the energy giant, and many other companies, as well as Microsoft PCs around the world.

That is a good illustration of how hacks intended for what we might call “good purposes”—to protect the public—can have unintended consequences. I believe that the phrase used by those in the know is the risk of hacks spreading into the wild. Technical experts have explained to me that the risk of hacks spreading into the wild cannot be overstated. In fact, a professor of security engineering at Cambridge University, Ross Anderson, wrote to the Science and Technology Committee about this very issue, saying—he did not mince his words— that

“It is only a matter of time before interference with a safety-critical system kills someone”.

The amendment would address these serious issues by making sure that we do not take the potentially dangerous and counterproductive step of hacking where other less intrusive and safer methods have been used, and that a technical assessment of proportionality accounting for the risks of the hack being proposed is carried out in advance.

The practice of equipment interference leads to the stockpiling of software vulnerabilities, which in turn puts millions of users of software at risk, and those millions of users of software are our constituents, the citizens of the United Kingdom, people who use these sorts of devices day in and day out for all sorts of aspects of their personal and professional lives. These hacks, if not used only where strictly necessary, and if there is not a proper technical assessment in advance, risk opening up the equipment of ordinary members of the public to criminals and fraudsters rather than just the intelligence agencies. Underlying the amendment is the idea that it is vital that when deciding whether to grant a warrant, the judicial commissioner should understand and account for the proportionality of the proposed interference methods before authorising them.

There is also the risk that hacks can malfunction, with severe consequences for critical infrastructures and even international relations. Whatever one thinks of Edward Snowden’s revelations and the propriety of them, the fact is that he put a lot of material into the public domain and we would be remiss if we did not consider that. He has revealed that malfunctions of hacking by the National Security Agency in America were responsible for the outage of the entire internet in Syria in 2012, which may have caused simultaneous flight-tracking issues and led Government and opposition forces erroneously to blame each other for the incident. That sort of thing could be a danger to our forces.

I went to a fascinating briefing yesterday morning about photonics. Before I went into the briefing, I did not really know what photonics was, because I am not a scientist by background, but I went along because there is a lot of research into photonics development going on in Scotland, particularly at Heriot-Watt University, which is in my constituency. One of the fascinating things that I learned at this briefing on photonics from a speaker from BAE Systems was how photonics—in layperson’s terms, laser technology—can now “zap” on to the visor of fighter pilots the information they need vis-à-vis radar and the like, so that they do not have to look down at a screen when they are looking for a target. If hacking goes wrong, those sophisticated technologies, which are needed for the defence of this country, may themselves go wrong and that may lead to the deaths of innocent civilians, which we all, regardless of which side we took in the vote last December, want to avoid in any bombing in Syria.

There is a high degree of public interest in the proportionality of hacking methods, and the security of data and the safety of citizens both at home and abroad are very real issues. The debate surrounding the Apple against the FBI case in America centred on whether the methods required to hack one particular device were proportionate, given the security consequences for all owners of iPhones. In the United States, the decision in that case was rightly entrusted to an independent judge.

Amendment 465 is crucial because of the potential damage to computer security and the corresponding vulnerability to criminal elements that results from hacking, as well as the potential dangers for our forces fighting abroad and for civilians. The use of various hacking technologies poses clear risks to those they are used against and to the wider public, which requires the addition of a technical proportionality test. I hope the Government are prepared to consider the amendment seriously.

It is a pleasure to continue to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Owen. I echo your sentiments in relation to Her Majesty the Queen. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”]

I have little to add to the hon. and learned Lady’s comments in support of the amendments, other then to outline why they were tabled. Clause 91(1) sets out the power to issue warrants, and paragraphs (a) and (b) outline the familiar necessity and proportionality tests, which bite on the very wide provisions of subsection (5). The Secretary of State therefore has to consider whether issuing a warrant is necessary for one of those broad purposes—

“national security…preventing or detecting serious crime, or…in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom”.

That is obviously a broad necessity test, and proportionality is assessed by reference to the same grounds. The provision is over-broad, which matters because the double lock works only if a judicial commissioner has scrutiny of the Secretary of State’s decision. If the Secretary of State’s decision is so wide, the judicial commissioner’s scrutiny will be correspondingly wide. That matters particularly in relation to the targeted examination warrants, which will be used where a wider bulk power has been exercised in the first place. The amendments would tighten the necessity and proportionality tests, giving them real practicality and effect.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship once again, Mr Owen, particularly on the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty’s birthday. The Solicitor General and I are members of a diminishing group who still hold to the spirit, and perhaps even the actuality, of the divine right of kings.

Chivalry forbids me from paying but scant attention to the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West spoke to amendments not in this group. I will not spend too much time responding to what she said, but I might be able to respond to her a little when we come to the next group.

I realised that I had done that inadvertently, for which I apologise. I will not add insult to injury by repeating my submission when we get to the next group. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say.

There will be a lot of that today, because we have addressed many of these issues in greater detail previously and we will be moving on. Hopefully that will help, rather than hinder, proceedings.

That brings me to the amendments before the Committee. It is important at the outset to re-emphasise that these powers are essential to protect against cyber-attacks by serious criminals and hostile states, and it is because GCHQ and others have such powers that our data and cyber-security is safer. That is not merely my estimation; it is the estimation of a number of major businesses that are susceptible to such attacks. In the past two years, the security and intelligence agencies have disclosed vulnerabilities in every major mobile and desktop platform, including in some of the biggest businesses and organisations in this country.

It is sometimes said that although crime is declining, it is also changing—I think that has been said by right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House. That is certainly true, and the additional vulnerabilities as a result of technological change are something that Government must be conscious of and respond to with appropriate flexibility.

Some of the vendors who have been protected by the actions I have described have publicly credited UK intelligence agencies with finding such weaknesses. For example, in September last year Apple credited the information assurance arm of GCHQ with the detection of a vulnerability in its iOS operating system for iPhones and iPads, which could have been exploited to allow the unauthorised modification of software to extract information from devices or to disrupt their operation. For the record, that vulnerability has now been patched. It is important to understand that the powers exercised under the clause are an appropriate defence against the change I have described in the character of crime.

Clause 91 sets out the grounds on which the Secretary of State may issue a targeted equipment interference or examination warrant to the agencies: to detect serious crime, in the interests of national security, or in the interest of economic wellbeing, about which we had quite a long discussion. I do not want to rehearse all of that debate, but I want to reiterate, because I feel so strongly about it, that that provision is not about partisan, party political pursuit of particular groups. I know that there has been concern among trade unions and others that Ministers should give that assurance, but also that it should be reinforced in the Bill. We will continue to discuss that, I suspect, but I have made it clear previously and repeat now that that is neither our intention nor the purpose of the powers, and we will do all that is necessary to make that clear.

The Minister is generous in giving way. I fully accept his good faith in saying that that is not the intention or purpose, but he cannot bind future Governments. In saying that it is not the intention or purpose, he clearly recognises that there is a weakness and that the provision could be interpreted in the way that has been suggested. That is our concern: we are putting on the statute book a measure that might be exploited by a less scrupulous Government.

I am happy to draw to the attention of any future Investigatory Powers Commissioner the fact that that is not the case and will not be under the Bill. Of course the hon. and learned Lady is right: whether this is a good or a bad thing I leave it to others to judge, but I cannot bind future Governments. However, we can certainly consider and reconsider ways in which the message can be reinforced during the passage of the Bill. I do not want to go too much further, but I think that the signal I am sending will have been seen by people on this Committee and elsewhere.

I am grateful to the Minister for putting that on the record, because there is concern. If the intention or purpose is not as has been suggested, will he give consideration to how that fact can find form in the Bill and be clear for all to see, just as the record will be clear?

Yes. It would absolutely not be permitted under the Bill. I do not want to go over it exhaustively, but that reinforces a series of pieces of legislation that deal with the question, many of which have been passed since the talisman case of the Shrewsbury 24, which has been raised in the House a number of times in different ways. However, I take the hon. and learned Gentleman’s point that there is a compelling case to be made for further consideration and assure him that we are engaged in that. I will not say more at this stage, but a signal has been broadcast to this Committee and elsewhere. My prejudices on these matters as a trade unionist are well known, although it is not my prejudices that shape legislation—heaven forbid.

To return to the amendment, it would restrict equipment interference warrants under clause 91 in circumstances

“where there is reasonable suspicion that a serious criminal offence has been or is likely to be committed”.

Again, I do not want to go over this exhaustively, but the problem with that is the character of investigations, which are by their nature dynamic; it is not always possible to anticipate the direction they might take or the material they might uncover. Not every individual involved in an investigation would themselves be suspected of committing a serious criminal offence, but their relationship with wider associates and potential facilitators of a crime might be crucial to identifying the extent of the organised crime gang and its international links and bringing the ringleaders to justice.

Restricting equipment interference warrants to where there is a serious criminal offence would be a significant reduction in the security and intelligence agencies’ current powers. I repeat: current powers. They are not new. We know how they are used and the effect of their use, but the amendment would restrict their ability to protect the national interest. Do not forget—not that you would, Mr Owen—the necessity and proportionality tests in the Bill that limit the circumstances in which the powers can be used, alongside the double lock.

My straightforward case is this: the powers are vital, to curtail them would damage our interests, and they are not here for any of the unintended consequences that people are understandably concerned about. I am prepared to look at how we can reinforce that. I invite the hon. and learned Lady to withdraw the amendment.

Before I make my position on the amendments clear, it was remiss of me not to add the sincere good wishes of the Scottish National party to Her Majesty the Queen on the auspicious occasion of her 90th birthday.

When we looked at similar issues under part 2, we did not push the matter to a vote, and that is the course of action I wish to follow at this stage. I will withdraw the amendment now, but no doubt the whole issue of judicial warrantry will be revisited on the Floor of the House. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move amendment 465, in clause 91, page 70, line 18, leave out from “include” to end of line 19 and insert—

“(a) the requirement that other proportionate methods of obtaining the material have been tried without success or have not been tried because they were assessed to be bound to fail, and

(b) the requirement that a risk assessment has been conducted by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s technical advisors with regard to the specific equipment interference proposed, accounting for—

(i) the risk of collateral interference and intrusion, and

(ii) the risk to the integrity of communications systems and computer networks, and

(iii) the risk to public cybersecurity.”

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 415, in clause 93, page 71, line 35, leave out from “include” to end of line 36 and insert—

“(a) the requirement that other proportionate methods of obtaining the material have been tried without success or have not been tried because they were assessed to be bound to fail, and

(b) the requirement that a risk assessment has been conducted by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s technical advisors with regard to the specific equipment interference proposed, accounting for—

(i) the risk of collateral interference and intrusion, and

(ii) the risk to the integrity of communications systems and computer networks, and

(iii) the risk to public cybersecurity.”

Amendment 435, in clause 96, page 74, line 13, leave out

“whether what is sought to be achieved by the warrant could reasonably be achieved by other means”

and insert—

“(a) the requirement that other proportionate methods of obtaining the material have been tried without success or have not been tried because they were assessed to be bound to fail, and

(b) the requirement that a risk assessment has been conducted by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s technical advisors with regard to the specific equipment interference proposed, accounting for—

(i) the risk of collateral interference and intrusion, and

(ii) the risk to the integrity of communications systems and computer networks, and

(iii) the risk to public cybersecurity.”

One of the advantages of us all—me included—straying beyond the strict limits of the previous set of amendments is that there is nothing I can meaningfully or helpfully add on amendment 465, which would tighten the necessity and proportionality test for the reasons already articulated. I will say no more other than to indicate that I do not intend to press the amendment to a vote.

As the hon. and learned Gentleman says, we have covered the ground pretty exhaustively. Essentially, the amendments would change the language of the safeguard, requiring that alternatives must either be tried or be discounted because they were “bound to fail”. In the end, “bound to fail” is clearly too high a hurdle. Investigating agencies would have to waste time and resources, and interfere unnecessarily with people’s equipment trying out alternative ways to gather intelligence that they thought were likely to be successful and not bound to fail.

The amendments would require that in deciding to issue an order the Secretary of State or law enforcement chief must take into account the technical cyber risk assessment by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. Given GCHQ’s track record of dealing with cyber-vulnerabilities of the kind that I described earlier—I will not go into further detail about that—and given that the code of practice requires that

“Any application for an equipment interference warrant should contain an assessment of any risk to the security or integrity of systems or networks that the proposed activity may involve including the steps taken to appropriately minimise such risk”,

and that

“The issuing authority should consider any such assessment when considering whether the proposed activity is proportionate”,

I believe that these amendments are unnecessary. Accordingly, I invite the hon. and leaned Gentleman to withdraw them.

I beg to move amendment 408, in clause 91, page 70, line 25, at end insert—

‘(10) Targeted equipment interference is only lawful if authorised under this Act.”

The amendment would require that targeted equipment interference cease to be conducted under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, the Police Act 1997 or indeed any other prior legislation, and instead be conducted under the provisions of the Bill. The Bill is a consolidated piece of legislation, and we tabled this amendment in the spirit of the Government’s laudable attempt to consolidate the legislation in this area. The amendment would ensure that equipment interference always benefits from the safeguards and oversight in the Bill. As we just set out, the Opposition parties want the safeguards to go further, but even if they remain as they are we would like them to apply to all targeted equipment interference. That would improve public accountability and clarify the state’s powers.

The Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on the draft Bill expressed concern about the fact that agencies conduct several forms of equipment interference that are not provided for in the Bill, so it is not just Opposition Members who are concerned. The ISC said that

“certain IT operations will require a different standard of authorisation…than Computer Network Exploitation and that similar activities undertaken by the Agencies will be authorised under different pieces of legislation.”

It concluded that, if that remains the case, the Bill will have failed to achieve transparency; operations will remain secret and thus not be subject to clear safeguards. It recommended that

“all IT operations are brought under the provisions of the new legislation…with the same authorisation process and the same safeguards.”

The amendment reflects the Intelligence and Security Committee’s recommendation that all types of equipment interference should be governed under one clear piece of legislation. I will be grateful if the Government take it on board in the spirit in which it is intended.

I will deal with this very briefly. The hon. and learned Lady is right that the amendment is neither invidious nor unhelpful; however, it is unnecessary because there is already a broad prohibition of unlawful interference with equipment in the Computer Misuse Act 1990. That means that any activity that fits within the definition of equipment interference provided in the Bill may constitute an offence unless it is lawfully authorised under part 6 of the Bill, where that authorisation is detailed, or under other relevant legislation.

On the hon. and learned Lady’s point about activities outside the United Kingdom—a prevailing theme of her concerns, understandably—the Bill sets out the circumstances in which it is mandatory for the agencies to obtain a warrant. That does not include cases in which the conduct takes place wholly overseas. The reality of operating outside our jurisdiction, as she knows, is quite different from operations conducted within or from the British islands. It is not our intention to introduce clauses that inhibit the agencies’ ability to act with agility or flexibility. I think that the amendment certainly does not assist in that regard, and is unnecessary. I hope she will withdraw it on that basis.

Like the ISC, I am not wholly convinced by the Minister’s argument, but I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

With this it will be convenient to take the following:

New clause 8—Equipment interference: risk assessment

“A person making an application for a warrant involving equipment interference must make a detailed assessment of—

(a) the risk to the security or integrity of systems or networks that the proposed activity may involve;

(b) the risk to the privacy of those not being specifically targeted;

(c) the steps they propose to take to minimise the risks in subsection (a) and (b).

New clause 9—Critical national infrastructure: risk assessment

“The person making an application for a warrant under this part must make a detailed assessment of the risks of the proposed activity to any critical national infrastructure.”

The new clauses were tabled by the Scottish National party and reflect the arguments I made in support of amendment 465 on the necessity of carrying out risk assessments in advance of issuing a warrant. They are very much a corollary of that, and as that amendment has been withdrawn, I will not press the new clauses for the time being.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 91 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 92 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 93

Power to issue warrants to the Chief of Defence Intelligence

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

Clause 93 is similar in many respects to clause 91, but obviously relates to the Chief of Defence Intelligence and is therefore shorter. It follows that the concerns that have been expressed by the Labour party, which I suspect the Scottish National party share, apply equally to the relevant parts of clause 93. I make that clear for the record, but it will not assist anyone to repeat them under the guise of clause 93.

I have nothing to add to what I said on clause 91.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 93 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 94

Members of Parliament etc.

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

With this it will be convenient to consider new clause 11—Confidential and privileged material

‘(1) Where any conduct under this Part will cover or is likely to cover special procedure material, or relates to individuals handling special procedure material, the application must contain—

(a) a statement that the conduct will cover or is likely to cover special procedure material, or relates to individuals handling special procedure material, and

(b) an assessment of how likely it is that the material is likely to cover special procedure material.

(2) Where any conduct under this Part is likely to cover excluded procedure material, or relates to individuals handling excluded procedure material, the application must contain—

(a) a statement that the conduct will cover or is likely to cover excluded procedure material, or relates to individuals handling excluded procedure material, and

(b) an assessment of how likely it is that the material is likely to cover excluded procedure material.

(3) Where a warrant issued under this Part will cover or is likely to cover special procedure material, or relates to individuals handling special procedure material, the procedure set out at section 5 below must be followed.

(4) Where a warrant issued under this Part will cover or is likely to cover excluded procedure material, or relates to individuals handling excluded procedure material, the procedure set out at section 6 below must be followed.

(5) Further to the requirements set out elsewhere in this part, the Judicial Commissioner may only issue a warrant if—

(a) there are reasonable grounds for believing that an indictable offence has been committed, and

(b) there are reasonable grounds for believing that the material is likely to be of substantial value to the investigation in connection to the offence at (a), and

(c) other proportionate methods of obtaining the material have been tried without success or have not been tried because they were assessed to be bound to fail, and

(d) it is in the public interest having regard to—

(i) the public interest in the protection of privacy and the integrity of personal data, and

(ii) the public interest in the integrity of communications systems and computer networks, and

(iii) the democratic importance of freedom of expression under article 10 ECHR to grant the warrant; or

(iv) the democratic interest in the confidentiality of correspondence with members of a relevant legislature; or

(v) the importance of maintaining public confidence in the confidentiality of material subject to legal professional privilege.

(6) Further to the requirements set out elsewhere in this part, the Judicial Commissioner may only issue a warrant in accordance with provisions made in Schedule 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and Schedule 5 of the Terrorism Act.

(7) An application for a warrant under this Part must not be granted where the information could be sought using a warrant under schedule 1 PACE, unless seeking this information under PACE would defeat the purpose of the investigation.

(8) Special procedure material means—

(a) special material as defined in section 14 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984;

(b) correspondence sent by or intended for a member of the relevant legislature.

(9) Excluded material procedure has the same meaning as in section 11 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

(10) A warrant under this Part may not authorise any conduct undertaken for the purpose of accessing any material relating to matters subject to legal privilege.

(11) For the purposes of subsection (10), “legal privilege” means—

(a) communications between a professional legal adviser and their client or any person representing their client made in connection with the giving of legal advice to the client;

(b) communications between a professional legal adviser and their client or any person representing their client and any other person with or in contemplation of legal proceedings or for the purposes of such proceedings;

(c) items enclosed with or referred to in such communications and made—

(i) in connection with the giving of legal advice, or

(ii) in connection with the contemplation of legal proceedings or for the purposes of such proceedings;

(d) communications made with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose are not subject to legal privilege.

(12) Where the purpose of the warrant is to conduct interference to obtain material that would normally be subject to legal privilege but that falls within subsection (11)(d), the interference and examination conduct authorised must relate—

(a) to the offence as specified under subsection (5)(a), or

(b) to some other indictable offence which is connected with or similar to the offence as specified under subsection (5)(a).”

I want to make some observations about this clause. I know that the Minister is looking at the way Members of Parliament are dealt with, but I want to put on the record what I see as the major limitations. The clause is intended to be additional protection when the purpose of a warrant for equipment interference is to obtain a communication sent by or intended for a member of a relevant legislature—so all our communication.

The first concern is that a warrant for equipment interference permits the obtaining of communications equipment data and other information, so the first observation about the clause is that there is no special provision for a warrant to interfere with an MP’s laptop to get secondary data or any other information. That applies to all of us. If a warrant were issued that touched on my equipment, as long as it dealt with equipment data and other information, there would be no need to consult the Prime Minister. I am not sure whether colleagues have appreciated that they could effectively be hacked without additional safeguard.

The second concern is that the added safeguard is when the purpose of the warrant is to obtain a communication. That is because communications are especially protected, but I remind colleagues that secondary data and equipment data may include the details of who has contacted whom, so if someone contacts an MP, the fact that they made that contact and who did so would not be protected. Here, the purpose is just to get a communication.

If the purpose was to achieve some other objective, but it was inevitable that communications between an MP and a constituent would be affected, clause 94 would not apply. I just wonder whether that needs a little further consideration because the protection for MPs’ communications ought to cover deliberate attempts to intercept a communication and also when it is likely to happen although the purpose is perhaps to intercept the communication of someone else. Those are real issues that I want to put on the record.

The other issue, which may be straightforward, is that clause 94 comes after the two powers we have seen in clauses 91 and 93, which deal with the Secretary of State’s warrants. It makes sense in that context, because it is the Secretary of State who consults the Prime Minister before acting. We will come on to equipment interference warrants that can be authorised by law enforcement officers. Those warrants will not go through the Secretary of State. It may be that clause 94 applies equally to those, and I suspect that it is intended to, because otherwise there would be another type of warrant that could touch on an MP’s unprotected correspondence; I cannot see that that is the intention.

If there is an easy an answer to this, I am happy to sit down and be corrected, but it seems that there are a number of ways in which the clause could be toughened up to achieve its desired objective.

The hon. and learned Gentleman does a service to the Committee by raising this, because it is a matter of continuing discussion. I think the Committee recognises that there are particular groups of people—lawyers, journalists, Members—who, because of the character, particularity and importance of the work that they do, need to be dealt with in an appropriate and sensitive way. We are talking not only about those people but about the people who are in contact with them. In a journalist’s case it would be sources; in a Member’s case it would be constituents and others. He is right, too, to suggest that we need to ensure that we have a consistent approach across the Bill.

It is true that there is a level of intrusion associated with content that is not shared in other areas. Equipment data are less intrusive than content, and we have already considered why they are necessarily subject to less stringent safeguards. Nevertheless, I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman is right that close examination of consistency in the Bill, in terms of how we deal with Members, is important. To that end, I hear what he says and will look at this again.

The conversation on this, in the Committee and more widely, needs to take full account of the proper assumption on the part of those who contact their Member of Parliament that any material they provide will be handled with appropriate confidentiality and sensitivity. The hon. and learned Gentleman makes that point well. It is a point that I have heard and will consider further.

I intervene to make sure that I have been clear enough on the second point, which is when law enforcement officers are issuing targeted equipment interference warrants. On my reading, the safeguard is the judicial commissioner, which is understandable. Clause 94 makes it clear that:

“Before deciding whether to issue the warrant, the Secretary of State must consult the Prime Minister.”

It is the consultation of the Prime Minister that is the added safeguard; I understand that. The problem with a clause 96 warrant is that it is not required to go to the Secretary of State. In other words, it goes from the law enforcement officer to the judicial commissioner, not via the Secretary of State.

One reading of clause 94 may be that it applies only to a clause 91 or clause 93 warrant. If that is right, there is no provision for consulting the Prime Minister if a clause 96 warrant is intended to obtain the communications of a Member of Parliament. There may be a simple explanation, but on the face of it that is a warrant that does not go via the Secretary of State, so clause 94 cannot operate in its intended way.

One of the most important things about the function of a Committee such as this is that we deal with minutiae, and rightly so. A bonus for this Committee is that, as its members know, I never feel entirely constrained by my notes. To that end, I want to emphasise that the Wilson doctrine of course applies to warrants issued by the Secretary of State. The hon. and learned Gentleman may well come back to me and say that greater clarity about the application of the Wilson doctrine in relation to the Bill is an important part of his argument, so for the record, and to make progress, I repeat that these are matters of ongoing consideration. I want to make absolutely sure that we get consistency, because the important thing about delivering certainty—I have argued throughout our proceedings that the Bill is about clarity and certainty—is that it is underpinned by consistency. In terms of the Wilson doctrine and the role of the Prime Minister in all these matters, I want to be absolutely confident that the measure can be and is applied to all the provisions we are considering.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 94 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 95

Decision to issue warrants under sections 91 to 93 to be taken personally by Ministers

Amendment made: 257, in clause 95, page 72, line 33, leave out “the Scottish Ministers have” and insert

“a member of the Scottish Government has”.—(Mr John Hayes.)

Clause 95(2) provides that a decision to issue a warrant under Clause 92 must be taken personally by a member of the Scottish Government. This amendment corrects Clause 95(5)(b) so that it also refers to a member of the Scottish Government.

Clause 95, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 96

Power to issue warrants to law enforcement officers

I beg to move amendment 419, in clause 96, page 72, line 36, leave out

“law enforcement chief described in Part 1 or 2 of the table in Schedule 6”

and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 420, in clause 96, page 72, line 37, leave out

“person who is an appropriate law enforcement officer in relation to the chief”

and insert

“law enforcement chief described in Part 1 of the table in Schedule 6”.

Amendment 421, in clause 96, page 72, line 40, leave out “law enforcement chief” and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

Amendment 422, in clause 96, page 72, line 42, leave out “law enforcement chief” and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

Amendment 423, in clause 96, page 73, line 1, leave out “law enforcement chief” and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

Amendment 424, in clause 96, page 73, line 4, leave out paragraph (d).

Amendment 425, in clause 96, page 73, line 7, leave out

“law enforcement chief described in Part 1 of the table in Schedule 6”

and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

Amendment 426, in clause 96, page 73, line 8, leave out

“person who is an appropriate law enforcement officer in relation to the chief”

and insert

“law enforcement chief described in Part 1 of the table in Schedule 6”.

Amendment 427, in clause 96, page 73, line 10, leave out “law enforcement chief” and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

Amendment 428, in clause 96, page 73, line 14, leave out “law enforcement chief” and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

Amendment 429, in clause 96, page 73, line 17, leave out “law enforcement chief” and insert “Judicial Commissioner”.

Amendment 430, in clause 96, page 73, line 20, leave out paragraph (d).

Amendment 431, in clause 96, page 73, line 23, leave out subsection (3).

Amendment 432, in clause 96, page 73, line 29, leave out paragraphs (b) and (c).

Amendment 433, in clause 96, page 73, line 35, after “Where”, insert

“an application for an equipment interference warrant is made by a law enforcement chief and”.

Amendment 434, in clause 96, page 73, line 39, leave out subsections (6) to (10).

Amendment 436, in clause 96, page 74, line 16, leave out subsections (12) and (13).

Amendment 437, in schedule 6, page 213, line 15, leave out Part 2.

Amendment 460, in clause 101, page 78, line 2, after “service”, insert

“or to a law enforcement chief”.

Amendment 461, in clause 101, page 78, line 6, leave out subsection (2)(c)

The clause contains a power for law enforcement officers to authorise equipment interference warrants. That would be a significant power for the law enforcement chief and those officers to exercise. I have two observations to start with. First, the law enforcement chief authorises the warrant on an application from a person

“who is an appropriate law enforcement officer in relation to the chief”.

That is all set out in schedule 6, to which we will come shortly.

There is a big distinction between clause 96(1) and (2). Subsection (1) states:

“A law enforcement chief described in Part 1 or 2 of the table in Schedule 6 may…issue a targeted equipment interference warrant”

in the circumstances set out in the subsection relating to a serious crime. Subsection (2) applies to a law enforcement chief described in part 1 of the table in schedule 6, and provides for a targeted equipment interference warrant to be authorised if it is

“necessary for the purpose of preventing death or any injury or damage to a person’s physical or mental health”.

We have rehearsed some of this before, in the sense of whether there should be a threshold higher than simply “any” injury or damage, because that is on the face of it a very low threshold, given, on this occasion, to law enforcement officers. That is a real cause for concern.

There is a second issue. One of the safeguards in clause 96 is that if warrants are issued under this clause by law enforcement officers, the decision to issue must go to a judicial commissioner, so there is a different form of the double lock, but in this case the argument that it should go straight to a judicial commissioner is so much more powerful.

On the first day—a Tuesday, I think—of our line-by-line consideration of the Bill, the Minister made the point that for the kind of warrants that we have hitherto been discussing, where there is a double lock, the special role of the Secretary of State as an elected Member of this House made it appropriate and right that she should consider the warrant; it should not go straight to a judicial commissioner. That is a very difficult argument to make when the double lock is being applied to a process that involves first a law enforcement officer and/or law enforcement chief and then the judicial commissioner. I do not think it is possible to mount an argument that the law enforcement chief has any of the characteristics attributed to the Secretary of State in support of the argument that the double lock should ensure that she takes the decision first, so there is a powerful argument for saying that in these cases the warrants ought to go straight to a judicial commissioner.

The bulk of the amendments in this group are SNP-only amendments. I think I am right in saying that the Labour party probably supports them, but I will leave it to the Labour party to confirm that.

Put simply, the set of amendments proposed by the Scottish National party would remove the power to issue equipment interference warrants from law enforcement chiefs, immigration officers, officers of Revenue and Customs, customs officials, the chair of the Competition and Markets Authority and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, and instead judicial commissioners would be responsible for issuing warrants on application from law enforcement chiefs. It is a disturbing anomaly that the Bill proposes that authorisation for the most intrusive form of surveillance—hacking—should be self-issued by a range of public bodies. Could the Government clarify the reason for that anomaly?

This process would put a range of actors, from chief constables to immigration officers, in charge of issuing hacking warrants. The proposal would give these individuals greater powers of intrusion than the security services have under later parts of the legislation—they are at least required to seek the authorisation of the Secretary of State for hacking activities. It is in my argument self-evident that the process should be for law enforcement officials to make an application for a judicial commissioner to decide the application.

I mentioned immigration officers. The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has produced a briefing for members of the Committee, and it has drawn to our attention the fact that under clause 96 persons appointed as immigration officers under paragraph 1 of schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 are among those who can apply for these warrants for a serious crime that is

“an immigration or nationality offence”

as defined, or where the warrant is considered

“necessary for the purpose of preventing death or any injury or damage to a person’s physical or mental health or of mitigating any injury or damage to a person’s physical or mental health”.

The Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has a long history of briefing, with some distinction, hon. Members on immigration matters. The issue that it identifies is that the wording of the clause does not identify which immigration offences are considered to be serious crimes or, indeed, whether they are all considered to be serious crimes, so there is a lack of transparency in the legislation.

I should address one other amendment, which is on a slightly different point. SNP amendment 435 is an attempt to import into clause 96 the proportionality and technical assessment requirements that I addressed in some detail in my argument in support of amendment 465 to clause 91. I will not rehearse that again.

Thank you, Mr Owen. A number of points have been raised. Clearly, law enforcement agencies use equipment interference to stop serious crime, but it is important to add that they also use it to help people at risk of serious harm. That might include locating missing people or helping vulnerable children; there is a whole range of preventive measures that anticipate harm. The Bill brings into a single place the powers that are already used in those ways; there are no additional powers here.

It is also important to point out that these matters were looked at, as were all matters, during the extensive scrutiny that the Bill enjoyed before it came to the Committee. None of the reports of the three Committees of the House, for example, recommended changing the current arrangements for the way in which these kinds of warrants are authorised and used. We have modelled the arrangements in the Bill on the current system under the Police Act 1997, which authorises property interference. That is how this activity is currently dealt with.

I hear what the Minister is saying, but does he not accept the force of the argument that it is anomalous that the security services at least have to go to the Secretary of State, whereas law enforcement chiefs will be able to issue such warrants themselves?

I was coming to that argument, which was also made by the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras. I simply say that the character of the warrants we are speaking about, which law enforcement chiefs apply for, is central to much of what happens now in the investigatory process. It is based on those chiefs’ special understanding of such investigations. They are clearly answerable for the effective policing of their area, and they certainly have the experience and expertise to make the right decisions on what equipment interference is necessary in an investigation of a serious crime. The status quo suggests that the system works and the powers that we are describing have real value in dealing with crime and in anticipating the other kinds of harm that I have described.

In drawing up a Bill, as I have argued previously, one looks to cement existing powers, but of course one also scrutinises what is not working. If we had thought that the current system was not working, we would certainly have looked to change it. The Bill is consistent with other powers in the 1997 Act, as I have described, such as property interference. It would arguably be anomalous to separate what the police do in respect of property from what they do in respect of technology. It might well, in the hon. and learned Lady’s eyes, deal with one anomaly only to create another.

Does the Minister agree that there is another anomaly? To search someone’s house, north and south of the border, one has to have a warrant issued by a judge. The clause will allow people to hack into equipment, with all the information that it contains in this modern world, without a judge-issued warrant.

The hon. and learned Lady is right that these things need to be consistent, as I said in the previous discussion, but we have been arguing in favour of the double-lock throughout this consideration. I am not sure it would be sensible for us to use the Bill to change existing legislation that is doing its job. That was not the view of law enforcement itself; of David Anderson, when he looked at these matters; or of the Joint Committee when it considered them. It would be curious—I put it no more strongly than that—if we were suddenly to focus on this and make a considerable change to existing practice.

The use of covert human intelligence sources under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 is also well established. The current practice is subject to the chief surveillance commissioner, who has publicly affirmed that law enforcement chiefs apply themselves with due care and attention to ensure they are compliant with the law and acting in good faith. Not only has the scrutiny of the Committees I have described not made the point that the hon. and learned Lady makes, but it seems that my defence of the status quo is supported by the evidence of the commissioner.

Equipment interference warrants must be approved by the judicial commissioner, so the hon. and learned Lady’s argument that a judge deals with the search of a property, and my argument that a judicial commissioner will approve the kinds of warrant we are debating now, seem to be equivalent. Perhaps she thinks a judicial commissioner is not the best person to do that.

The position that has consistently been put forward by the Scottish National party is that the judicial commissioner should not be in a double-lock system. He or she should be looking from the outset at the merits of necessity and proportionality. That has been our consistent position in relation to all provisions related to warrantry in the Bill.

The hon. and learned Lady, with due respect, is shifting the ground. On the one hand, she says that she compares the arrangements for searching a house, the warrant for which is approved by a judge, with this system, on the grounds that there should be judicial involvement in both. On the other, when I said that there will be judicial involvement in both, she returned to the argument that the Secretary of State should be involved. I think she needs to know what she wants.

With all due respect, I have been crystal clear about this from the beginning. “Judicial involvement” is a very loose term. Judicial involvement, in which the judge is bound by the rules of judicial review, is a considerably lesser involvement than if he or she is able to look at matters purely on their merits, as in a system of pure judicial warrantry, advocated by the Scottish National party.

There were many other opportunities to consider the judicial review point that the hon. and learned Lady makes. In fairness, she has been consistent in having doubts about whether those are the appropriate terms on which a judicial commissioner should consider these matters. There has been much discussion about that, including in some of the Committees that I referred to earlier. Regardless of the terms—you will not allow us to explore those in any great detail, Mr Owen, because they are not strictly pertinent to the clause or the amendment—the process whereby a law enforcement chief, supported by a judicial commissioner, obtains a warrant is, in my judgment, sufficient to guarantee proper practice. It is certainly in line with what we know currently works. I would have to be pretty convinced at this juncture to make such a radical change to the Bill, and frankly, I am not.

I am grateful to the Minister. I do not intend to vote against the clause, but I have a nagging concern, which I will try to articulate. A communication in the course of its transmission is highly protected—the Secretary of State must sign off a warrant. The Secretary of State individually considers those warrants and we know the numbers. That is an understandably high level of protection for a communication in the course of its transmission.

We are now talking about where equipment is interfered with to get a communication. It is true to say that if a communication is in the course of its transmission, an equipment interference warrant would not allow the protection in the first part of the Bill to be bypassed. That makes perfect sense. But my nagging concern, I suppose, is that it is the communication itself that ought to be protected; all that is protected at the moment is the fact that it is in the course of its transmission. I accept that that is the current regime and I am not challenging it, but that is my nagging concern.

The hon. and learned Gentleman has offered an interesting observation. My counter-observation—perhaps it is a little more than that; it is more of a considered assertion—is that the kind of investigation I have described needs to happen with speed, and certainly with expertise. I think we agree that that is supported by the evidence I have provided and the evidence that has been made available to the commissioner. There needs to be flexibility in the system, and I think that is provided for. He is right that there should also be a legal test and a legal check on that test, which we have also provided for in the Bill. My assertion is that the amendments would provide a single lock, but we are providing a double lock. What’s not to like? On that basis, I ask the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West not to press her amendment.

As the Minister will no doubt have gathered from the last few days in Committee, it is my opinion that there is a lot not to like in this Bill, but I am prepared to withdraw my amendment at this stage. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 96 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clause 97

Approval of warrants by Judicial Commissioners

I beg to move amendment 258, in clause 97, page 75, line 4, leave out from “a” to “under” and insert

“decision to issue a warrant”.

This amendment, and amendments 259 to 262, each make a minor drafting change to take account of the fact that clause 97 may also apply in a case where a warrant has already been issued (see Clause 98).

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 259 to 262.

These are fairly straightforward amendments. Like all the Government amendments so far considered, they are minor and technical. They do not serve to change the scope of the warrant approval process, but make clear that judicial commissioner approval will apply to all equipment interference warrants—in that sense, they are relevant to the debate we have just been having. They replace the phrase “warrant to be issued” in subsection (3) with “decision to issue a warrant”, to reflect more clearly that in urgent cases the warrant would already have been issued by the Secretary of State or a law enforcement chief.

Amendment 258 agreed to.

Amendments made: 259, in clause 97, page 75, line 6, leave out from “a” to “under” and insert

“decision to issue a warrant”.

See the note to amendment 258.

Amendment 260, in clause 97, page 75, line 8, leave out from “a” to “under” and insert

“decision to issue a warrant”.

See the note to amendment 258.

Amendment 261, in clause 97, page 75, line 10, leave out from “a” to “under” and insert

“decision to issue a warrant”.

See the note to amendment 258.

Amendment 262, in clause 97, page 75, line 12, leave out from “a” to “under” and insert

“decision to issue a warrant”.(Mr John Hayes.)

See the note to amendment 258.

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

We have been over the territory of the judicial test, and I do not intend to rehearse the arguments again, other than to say that in circumstances where an equipment interference warrant has been issued by a law enforcement chief—it has not gone through the Secretary of State—it is particularly important for the review by the judicial commissioner to be tight. All the arguments made earlier about the test are reinforced in cases that do not go to the level of the Secretary of State. Any arguments about deference are unpersuasive. There is a particularly powerful argument for tightening up the judicial test throughout the Bill, and I have raised that topic on a number of occasions. There is a particular need for that where a warrant has come about by a different route, without receiving the scrutiny that a warrant signed by the Secretary of State would have.

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. We need not rehearse the arguments that we looked at in some detail a few days ago, but I will say what I said then: although the Bill covers those points, there is merit in considering the matter carefully, and I shall continue to give it anxious consideration.

The sliding scale approach, to coin a phrase, is clearly relevant. We must remember that the absence of the Secretary of State in the case of the other agencies is not a problem, because we want them to have integrity and operational independence. We must always remember that underlying principle. I am not criticising anyone, but that sometimes gets a bit lost in the debate.

Having said that, the hon. and learned Gentleman’s point is well made about the different considerations that would present themselves to the mind of a commissioner, bearing in mind that the Secretary of State and national security and all those factors are not involved. I need not, perhaps, add more to the debate on that; I simply commend yet another clause that covers the double-lock authorisation process and applies it for the first time to the area of warrantry in question.

I have very little to say, other than that I support the thrust of the argument made by the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras; but I also note what the Solicitor General said about giving the matter anxious consideration. I am grateful to him for that, because it is a central concern.

I have nothing further to add.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 97, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 98

Approval of warrants issued in urgent cases

I beg to move amendment 439, in clause 98, page 75, line 25, leave out “considered” and insert

“had reasonable grounds for believing there was an emergency situation posing immediate danger of death or serious physical injury or that the physical security or integrity of the nation was endangered”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 440, in clause 98, page 75, line 27, after “must”, insert “immediately”

Amendment 439 pertains to the approval of warrants issued in urgent cases. Simply, the amendment would provide that an urgent warrant can be issued only where there is a reasonable belief that it is necessary to do so for the purpose of protecting life or preventing serious injury. That is a recurrent theme, which I have addressed previously, and I will not repeat the arguments.

Our amendment 440 is modest and would insert the word “immediately”. I need say no more than that.

May I deal with the amendments in reverse order? On amendment 440, I am happy to consider amending the relevant draft codes to make it clear that the notification of judicial commissioners should happen as soon as is reasonably practical. That wording is more appropriate than “immediately”, given that it may take some small period of time to draw together the materials that the commissioner would want to review when considering whether to approve the issue of a warrant. On the basis that we might return to this issue at a future date, I invite the hon. and learned Gentleman not to press his amendment.

The amendment tabled by the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West, to which she spoke with admirable brevity, is well understood by the Government, and the arguments remain as they did in our debate on clause 22. We want to create a workable framework, and if we limit the grounds, my concern is that the scenarios and case studies I set out in that debate—the drugs case and the Daesh case—would not be caught. We have a clear definition of “urgency” in paragraphs 41 to 44 of the draft code. The draft code also has a helpful flowchart that clearly sets out the parameters within which those seeking such warrants should operate. For those reasons, I respectfully urge her to withdraw her amendment.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 98 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 99

Failure to approve warrant issued in urgent case

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 442, in clause 99, page 76, line 12, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

‘(4A) Where the judicial commissioner refuses to approve an urgent warrant, they must direct that all of the material obtained under the warrant is destroyed, unless there are exceptional circumstances.”.

The amendment is minor, in keeping with the amendments that we have already debated on material obtained under warrants that are later cancelled or not authorised. The amendment would tighten the requirements in cases where a judicial commissioner refuses to approve a warrant; the reason for that is self-evident. We have rehearsed this territory to some extent.

I resist the amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman is right that we have considered similar amendments in relation to clause 23 in part 2 of the Bill. With respect, it is not right to fetter the discretion of the judicial commissioners, who are experienced and senior members of the judiciary. They should be allowed to decide such matters on a case-by-case basis. The amendment prompts the questions of what might be meant by “exceptional circumstances” and of who would determine whether the threshold had been met in a given instance. I worry that that would just complicate the process. We are all agreed that commissioners will give each case proper consideration, and the commissioners will seek to serve the clear public interest in ensuring that material that should not be retained is destroyed. Well intentioned though this amendment is, it would add undue complication, and we oppose it for that reason.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 99 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 100

Items subject to legal privilege

I beg to move amendment 499, in clause 100, page 77, line 3, after “items”, insert “presumptively”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 500, in clause 100, page 77, line 8, after “items”, insert “presumptively”.

Amendment 501, in clause 100, page 77, line 13, leave out paragraph (a) and insert—

“(a) that compelling evidence indicates that the items in question consist of, or relate to, communications made for a criminal purpose such that it is necessary to authorise or require interference with equipment for the purpose of obtaining or (in the case of a targeted examination warrant) the selection for examination of those items, and”.

We again return to familiar territory. The amendment would provide an additional safeguard in relation to items subject to legal privilege. The structure of clause 100 is precisely the same as the structure of similar clauses addressing legal privilege that we have debated at some length. As I indicated last time we spoke on this subject, amendments 499 to 501 are those that the Bar Council suggests are appropriate to align the safeguard with its understanding of legal professional privilege. We have gone over this ground already. The clause and amendments have the same structure as earlier ones, and I do not think I will assist by repeating what I have said. I stand by the remarks that I made earlier.

Again, I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. He is right to say that this is a repeat of arguments we had on another part of the Bill. As he has laid out his arguments by adopting his previous submissions, I do likewise on behalf of the Government. Recalling those briefly, my concerns about the dangers of over-definition remain. However, I do not want material that should not be caught by the Bill to be caught by it in any inadvertent way. We are talking about cases where the purpose of a targeted equipment interference or examination warrant is to acquire or examine items that are subject to legal professional privilege. We have additional protections that are a sufficient safeguard and strike that essential balance. For all the reasons I advanced previously, I urge the hon. and learned Gentleman to withdraw the amendment at this stage.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 100 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 101

Requirements which must be met by warrants

I beg to move amendment 275, in clause 101, page 79, line 19, leave out “describe” and insert “specify”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 452, in clause 101, page 79, line 21, leave out paragraph (b) and insert—

“(b) precisely and explicitly the method and extent of the proposed intrusion and the measures taken to minimise access to irrelevant and immaterial information”.

Amendment 453, in clause 101, page 79, line 22, at end insert—

“(c) the basis for the suspicion that the target is connected to a serious crime or a specific threat to national security;

(d) in a declaration with supporting evidence—

(i) the high probability that evidence of the serious crime or specific threat to national security will be obtained by the operation authorised, and

(ii) how all less intrusive methods of obtaining the information sought have been exhausted or would be futile, and

(e) in a separate “Cyber-Security Impact Assessment” all potential risks and damage to the security of the device targeted and communications systems more generally and how those risks and/or damage will be eliminated or corrected.”.

Amendment 275 is a simple amendment to subsection (4), which sets out the matters that a targeted equipment interference warrant must “describe”. The amendment would change that word and require more specificity.

I am not sure whether that will make any practical difference, but I am happy to consider the hon. and learned Lady’s amendment.

I am very grateful to the Solicitor General. I leave the other two amendments to the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras.

Amendments 452 and 453 speak for themselves. Concern has already been expressed about the general nature of the requirements that must be met by warrants; this is a further example under the head of equipment interference warrants. Clause 101(3) sets out in some detail what is required, and the amendments would tighten that up by requiring more precision and more matters to be explicitly stated. They are a version of other amendments tabled to corresponding provisions for other warrants.

To deal with the thrust of the hon. and learned Gentleman’s argument, we would say that the amendments are unnecessary because the draft statutory code of practice already requires an application for a targeted warrant to set out what the conduct is and how collateral intrusion is being managed, which is the really important public interest here. That should rightly be in the warrant application itself, and the detailed requirements should be in the statutory code; that was recommendation 5 in the report by David Anderson QC, so we are faithfully following his recommendation.

On the code of practice, the hon. and learned Gentleman will find the requirements under the heading “Necessity and proportionality”, particularly in paragraphs 3.26, 3.27 and 4.10, which deals with collateral intrusion.

I note that amendment 453 is part of this group, so I will speak briefly to that. We have concerns that I have expressed before in other contexts about the problem of the police being asked to exhaust alternative methods even where there is unlikely to be any effect. That is not only wasteful and costly, but could unintentionally lead to further undue intrusion into people’s privacy. For those reasons, I have grave concerns about that amendment.

Will the Solicitor General accept our plea—I speak as someone who has operated this in a practical situation—that what is being asked in this amendment is completely impossible?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who speaks with many years of operational experience in the Metropolitan police. When he was a senior officer in that force, he had responsibility for investigations and took his responsibilities extremely seriously. I am grateful to him for his contribution. We have to balance any concerns about a jump to these powers with real-world responsibilities. I want clarity, but also an element of flexibility for those who investigate crime, so that they can get on with the job in an effective way and catch criminals. That is what we all want. I am worried that the amendment, well intentioned though it is, would complicate the process. For those reasons, I urge the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras not to press the amendment to a vote.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment for the time being.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 101 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 102

Duration of warrants

I beg to move amendment 635, in clause 102, page 80, line 21, leave out

“ending with the fifth working day after the day on which”

and insert “of 48 hours after”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 636, in clause 102, page 80, line 21, leave out

“ending with the fifth working day after the day on which”

and insert “of 24 hours after”.

Amendment 281, in clause 102, page 80, line 21, leave out “fifth working day” and insert “twenty four hours”.

Amendment 282, in clause 102, page 80, line 23, leave out “6” and insert “1”.

The clause deals with the duration of warrants, and amendment 635 deals with subsection (2), which is concerned with urgent equipment interference warrants that, because they are urgent, have not been through a judicial commissioner. Under the subsection, warrants cease to have effect at the end of five working days after the day on which they are issued. I have a number of observations on that. We touched on the urgent provision. Up until now in the Bill, the provision has been for urgent warrants to remain valid for three working days. For equipment interference, we leap to five. I would certainly like an explanation why. A warrant that allows interference with computers and laptops for obtaining communications and other information suddenly moves from three days to five—not just five days, but five working days. That means that on occasion it could be seven days, and with a bank holiday it could be eight days, so we are moving well beyond the realms of an urgent warrant.

This amendment is similar to one relating to other urgent provisions that aimed to bring the duration down to 24 hours. There is a real concern about urgent warrants and how long they last. Very strong justification is required for allowing an urgent warrant that has not gone through the double lock to continue for between five and eight days. If the Minister is not about to provide that, I hope he will accept the amendment.

Let me make a general point about something that has punctuated our discussions; it may to some degree satisfy the hon. and learned Gentleman. The codes of practice are, of course, vitally important. They have metamorphosed over time and continue to do so, partly as a result of the scrutiny the Bill went through before it came to the House. The codes of practice are extremely detailed in respect of interference, as he will know, and on page 21 they deal with the relationship between equipment interference and privacy:

“Equipment interference agencies must not intrude into privacy any more than is necessary to carry out their functions or enable others to do so.”

The process by which an equipment interference warrant is authorised, and the subsequent use of that warrant, are properly constrained by those necessary requirements around intrusion and privacy. Notwithstanding that general point, the purpose of the amendments is twofold. As the hon. and learned Gentleman said, the first deals with the time before the judicial commissioner examines an urgent warrant. The second deals with the length of a warrant per se. Let me, for the sake of excitement, deal with them in reverse order.

The length of time that the initial warrant pertains was not challenged by any of the Committees that looked at the Bill, and there has been no great clamour or call about it, not least because of an understanding that these investigations or cases, as I said in an earlier debate, are often complex and dynamic; as they change rapidly, they require powers to pertain and continue over time. I will deal fairly dismissively—I do not mean that with undue contumely—with the second part of this short discussion.

The Joint Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee did deal with interception warrants and recommended 24 hours and 48 hours respectively. Given that hacking is potentially more significant and intrusive, would it not be logical to have a similar reduction in relation to hacking?

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

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

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

I am curious. I understand that material has to be got together and the application made, but for other warrants it is three working days and for these warrants it is five working days. What is it about these warrants that requires the additional two days, which are not needed for other warrants where there is an urgent procedure? I am genuinely curious, because somebody drafted this deliberately.

Clause 102, on the duration of the equipment interference warrants, is the same as clause 28, on the duration of interception warrants. Urgent warrants must be approved by the judicial commissioner after three working days. The urgent warrant lasts for five working days, at which point it must be renewed or it will expire. My point is that is about practicality, rather than there being anything philosophical about it. It is purely an operational matter.

David Anderson, in his report, to which I drew attention and which am now struggling to find, although the Solicitor General is as ever at my service—[Interruption.] That comes as good news to him. In his report, David Anderson deals particularly with these matters on page 275, paragraph 14.69. Earlier I mentioned recommendation 37, that

“to the effect that serious crime warrants should have the same 6-month duration as national security warrants, responds to the recent comment of the IOCC that ‘there remains a strong practical case for increasing the validity period for serious crime warrants to six months’”.

That is the second of the two points that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West wanted me to address.

My view is that on duration we are in line with both sensible practice and the recommendations of the independent reviewer. On the time between the application and the engagement, we are simply dealing with practicalities.

I wish to help the Minister. One of the points I was making does not withstand scrutiny and I will not pursue it or press the amendment. I accept what is being said.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 102 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 103 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 104

Modification of warrants issued by the Secretary of State or Scottish Ministers

I beg to move amendment 638, in clause 104, page 83, line 17, at end insert—

“(8A) Section 97 (approval of warrants by Judicial Commissioners) applies in relation to a decision to make a modification of a warrant issued under section 96 as it applies in relation to a decision to issue such a warrant, but as if—

(a) the references in subsection (1)(a) and (b) of that section to the warrant were references to the warrant as modified, and

(b) any reference to the person who decided to issue the warrant were a reference to the person who decided to make the modification.”

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 639, in clause 104, page 83, line 18, leave out “Sections 94” and insert

“Section [NC11 Confidential and privileged material]”.

Amendment 502, in clause 104, page 83, line 22, at end insert—

“( ) Where section 100 (items subject to legal privilege) applies in relation to a decision to make a modification of a warrant as mentioned in subsection (2)(a), (c) or (d), other than a decision to which subsection (7) applies, section 97 (approval of warrants by Judicial Commissioners) applies to the decision as it applies in relation to a decision to issue such a warrant (and accordingly any reference in that section to the person who decided to issue the warrant is to be read as a reference to the person who decided to renew it).”

Amendment 640, in clause 104, page 83, line 23, leave out “Section 100” and insert

“Section [NC2 Items subject to legal privilege]”.

Amendment 641, in clause 104, page 83, line 35, at end insert—

“(14) Any modification which constitutes the adding or varying any matter must be approved by a Judicial Commissioner in accordance with section 97.”

Amendment 642, in clause 105, page 84, line 4, leave out from “period” to “which” in line 5 and insert “48 hours after”.

Amendment 643, in clause 105, page 84, line 4, leave out from “period” to “which” in line 5 and insert “24 hours after”.

Amendment 644, in clause 105, page 84, line 26, at end insert—

“(8A) Section 97 (approval of warrants by Judicial Commissioners) applies in relation to a decision to make a modification of a warrant issued under section 96 as it applies in relation to a decision to issue such a warrant, but as if—

(a) the references in subsection (1)(a) and (b) of that section to the warrant were references to the warrant as modified, and

(b) any reference to the person who decided to issue the warrant were a reference to the person who decided to make the modification.”

Amendment 503, in clause 105, page 84, line 33, at end insert—

“( ) Where, by virtue of section 104(10), section 100 (items subject to legal privilege) applies in relation to the making of a modification of a warrant pursuant to section 104(7), this section applies as if each reference in subsections (2) and (5) to (8) to a designated senior official were a reference to a Judicial Commissioner.”

The amendment relates to modification provisions similar to those in clause 30, which we discussed at some length last week. I will not go over the territory again, but all the arguments I made in relation to modifications under clause 30 apply equally to modifications under clause 105 and I will not take time by going through all the similar points. It is worth observing, however, that clause 104(2) lists in paragraph (a) to (f),

‘“The only modifications which may be made under this section”,

which cover practically all the matters that appear on the requirements of warrants, so it is an interesting use of the word “only”.

There is a substantive issue on which I would like an answer. When we were debating clause 30, I made the point that the test for a modification set out in clause 30(9) is a test of necessity and proportionality that only applies to major modifications, not minor ones. We have dealt with that and I will not go over it again, but it seems to me that the test for a major modification is, quite sensibly, whether it is necessary and whether the conduct authorised by it is proportionate. I was expecting to see in clause 104(4) a version of clause 30(9) and I did not. Perhaps the Solicitor General will explain why.

Well, no. [Laughter.] I do not mean that disrespectfully, but the test in clause 30(9), which is in relation to major modifications, is whether the modification is necessary and whether it is proportionate. That is a sensible test. I accept that the test in clause 104(4) is in relation to all modifications, but one would expect to see the words “that the modification is necessary”, not

“that the warrant as modified continues to be necessary”.

In the context of EI, we are not making the distinction between major and minor, so the effect is that all modifications will be major. If there is a discrepancy, I am happy to look at the language again to make it absolutely clear. I hope that assists the hon. and learned Gentleman.

I am grateful for that indication. Otherwise, in relation to modifications, my points are essentially the same as I made on clause 30. I know the Solicitor General has agreed to look at and deal with at least some of the points I made last time; I ask him to take this modifications clause under the same umbrella when he looks at the modification provisions.

I will try to deal with this in short order. I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for the way in which he advanced his argument. It is in that spirit that I adopt the arguments I made previously. I simply make the point that under this clause we are dealing with safeguards that in my view do not undermine the important double lock standard.

I have some concerns about the amendments that relate to the judicial commissioner having to approve the decision to make modifications to EI warrants. The decision will already have been subject to the safeguard, so to require the judicial commissioner to authorise tactical operation day by day—indeed, minute by minute—is not necessary; in fact, it could be operationally damaging. The Government believe that the code makes clear, on the basis of the arguments we had before, the way in which the scope of the warrant needs to be addressed. Reading across, I would say that the safeguards in the code are helpful and clear.

One concern is that under subsections (9) and (10) as they stand there is no requirement for modification that touches on MPs or legal privilege to go to a judicial commissioner, which is at variance with the point that the Solicitor General just made.

The hon. and learned Gentleman anticipates the point that I was about to make. I am happy to consider whether subsections (9) and (10) need to be strengthened to put it beyond doubt that the double lock will apply in those contexts. I hope that that helps him. I have already made similar points on the thrust of these amendments and there is nothing more that I need to add at this stage other than to respectfully invite him to withdraw his amendment.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 104 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 105 to 108 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned.— (Simon Kirby)

Adjourned till this day at Two o’clock.

Investigatory Powers Bill (Tenth sitting)

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairs: † Albert Owen, Nadine Dorries

Atkins, Victoria (Louth and Horncastle) (Con)

† Buckland, Robert (Solicitor General)

† Cherry, Joanna (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)

† Davies, Byron (Gower) (Con)

† Fernandes, Suella (Fareham) (Con)

† Frazer, Lucy (South East Cambridgeshire) (Con)

† Hayes, Mr John (Minister for Security)

† Hayman, Sue (Workington) (Lab)

† Hoare, Simon (North Dorset) (Con)

Kinnock, Stephen (Aberavon) (Lab)

† Kirby, Simon (Brighton, Kemptown) (Con)

† Kyle, Peter (Hove) (Lab)

† Matheson, Christian (City of Chester) (Lab)

† Newlands, Gavin (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP)

† Starmer, Keir (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab)

† Stephenson, Andrew (Pendle) (Con)

† Stevens, Jo (Cardiff Central) (Lab)

† Warman, Matt (Boston and Skegness) (Con)

Glenn McKee, Fergus Reid, Committee Clerks

† attended the Committee

Public Bill Committee

Thursday 21 April 2016

(Afternoon)

[Albert Owen in the Chair]

Investigatory Powers Bill

Order. I have an announcement to make before we continue with the line-by-line scrutiny. The hon. Member for North Dorset will be discharged from the Committee this afternoon. It is his final session and we wish him well. I am sure you would like to show him your appreciation for the work that he has done.

On a point of order, Mr Owen. May I add my remarks to yours? We wish my hon. Friend well and hope that he has a swift recovery from his operation.

Clause 109

Implementation of warrants

I beg to move amendment 293, in clause 109, page 87, line 39, leave out subsection (3).

This amendment would remove the provision which allows a targeted equipment interference warrant to be served on a person outside the UK for the purpose of requiring that person to take action outside the UK.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 645, in clause 109, page 87, line 41, at end insert—

“(3A) Subsection (3) shall not be applicable where the person outside the United Kingdom has its principal office where it is established for the provision of services in a country or territory with which the United Kingdom has entered in to an international mutual assistance agreement or is subject to an EU mutual assistance instrument.”

This excludes the extraterritorial provision in cases where any mutual assistance arrangement exists between the UK and the provider’s jurisdiction while enabling the government to seek voluntary assistance from CSPs in non-MLA countries.

Amendment 679, in clause 110, page 88, line 9, at end insert—

“(1A) Where such a warrant is to be served upon a person outside the United Kingdom the warrant shall be served at that person’s principal office outside the United Kingdom, where it is established, for the provision of services.”

Amendment 694, in clause 110, page 88, line 10, at beginning insert—

“Where service of a warrant in the manner envisaged in subsection (1A) is considered unfeasible or inappropriate in the circumstances,”

Amendment 647, in clause 110, page 88, line 10, after “Kingdom”, insert—

“the warrant shall be served at that person’s principal office outside the United Kingdom where it is established, for the provision of services. Where it is considered unfeasible or inappropriate in the circumstances,”

The Home Secretary confirmed at second reading that a UK agency would only serve a notice on an overseas entity that is capable of providing assistance under the warrant. UK agencies today routinely use secure means of communication to transmit notices directly to the main office of overseas CSPs. This would make government’s commitment clear on the face of the Bill (as it is in the relevant code of practice) and address contradictory provisions that remain in the Bill.

Amendment 648, in clause 111, page 89, line 19, after “take”, insert—

“which for a relevant operator outside the United Kingdom shall include—

(a) any steps which would cause the operator to act contrary to any laws or restrictions under the law of the country or territory where it is established, for the provision of services, or

(b) where a warrant could be served pursuant to an international mutual assistance agreement or subject to an EU mutual assistance instrument.”

This amendment clarifies the reasonableness test for overseas CSPs.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Owen. May I add to your comments that I will miss the exchanges with the hon. Member for North Dorset? I wish his replacement well.

Clauses 109 and 110 deal with issues about compelling a third party to provide assistance in the execution of a warrant and extraterritoriality, which is the subject of amendment 293. In speaking to the amendment, and to the clause more generally, I will unavoidably stray into matters relating to clause 110, as the two are inextricably linked.

Clause 109 provides the UK Government with the power to issue warrants that in turn force third-party organisations or individuals outside the UK to assist in acquiring information for the means of equipment interference. The clause states that

“any person whom the implementing authority considers may be able to provide such assistance”

can be served with a warrant to assist in carrying out a targeted hacking warrant. Under clause 110(2), this warrant may be served at a person’s principal office or specified address in the UK, or by making it available for inspection in the UK after appropriate steps have been taken to bring the contents of the warrant, and its very existence, to the attention of the person.

First, the problem here is the lack of judicial authorisation in this part of the process. Privacy International rightly points out that this compelled assistance will not be subject to judicial authorisation. Although law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies will have to seek a warrant to gain access to people’s devices and computers, it is correct that those authorities are not required to seek judicial approval to compel technology companies to assist in their investigations.

Secondly, we should be mindful of the difficulty that this places on any individuals or organisations who are forced to comply with the Government’s demands. These issues were heard by the Science and Technology Committee, where serious concerns were raised about the security implications of forcing companies to, for example, upload and install malware, as well as the fear that equipment interference could jeopardise their business model. The Science and Technology Committee took note of these issues and concluded that

“the industry case regarding public fear about ‘equipment interference’ is well founded.”

Amnesty International UK is deeply concerned about the dangerous precedent that this broad, aggressive power will set in forcing third-party companies to engage in hacking without any independent provision or scrutiny, and to do so in secret.

Thirdly, the extraterritorial measures in clauses 109 and 110 may cause more problems than they solve. That is why amendment 293, which stands in my name and that of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West, seeks to delete subsection (3) entirely, thereby removing the extraterritorial aspect. If we serve hacking warrants on those outside the UK, what sort of message does that send to other countries? We need to be mindful that introducing this type of clause could open the floodgates for other countries to follow suit, which will ultimately have an impact on companies based in the UK. That point was articulated by Yahoo!, which said:

“Extraterritoriality encroaches on the sovereign rights of other governments and risks retaliatory action, including against UK CSPs operating overseas.”

On that point, the Government’s independent reviewer’s report suggests that, when countries seek to extend their legislation extraterritorially, those powers may come into conflict with legal requirements in the country in which companies being asked to comply with a legal request are based. Companies explained to the reviewer that they did not consider it was their role to arbitrate between conflicting legal systems. The protection of vital human rights should not be left to the goodwill and judgment of a company. The concerns of the industry were articulated in this perfect quote. The industry

“expressed concerns that unqualified cooperation with the British government would lead to expectations of similar cooperation with authoritarian governments, which would not be in their customers’, their own corporate or democratic governments’ interests.”

I shall finish with this comment from Yahoo! It states:

“The current legal framework comprises the law in the requesting country, law in the receiving country and the international agreements that connect the two.”

It is additionally possible that the requesting and receiving countries’ laws may be in conflict. For example, the receiving country’s law may outlaw the provision of content data outside their own legal process. It continues:

“Taken as a whole, this framework is fragmented, with gaps and conflicts which have gone unaddressed for many years. In this more global communications environment, this fragmentation has become more and more obvious and creates a patchwork of overlapping and conflicting laws which overseas and domestic UK CSPs must navigate in order to discharge their legal obligations to safeguard users’ privacy and to respond appropriately to valid requests for access to data… It also creates a complex environment for users to navigate and establish their privacy rights.”

This issue is global, and national laws cannot resolve global issues.

I will be brief. Members will have observed that the amendments in my name are in keeping with my previous amendments about implementation, service and extraterritoriality in relation to other warrants. I will not repeat the points I made then. The only one that is different is amendment 646, a simple proposed change to clause 109 that would add the provision:

“A warrant may be implemented only to the extent required for the purpose for which the warrant was issued.”

I think that may be implicit. If the Minister could indicate that that is his understanding, that might allay concerns and the amendment would not need to be pressed.

As the hon. and learned Gentleman says, we have been down this road before. I well recall discussing similar amendments to the targeted interception provisions in part 2. The Bill maintains the existing position in relation to extraterritorial jurisdiction and those obligations that apply to overseas companies. I am unhesitating in my view that overseas companies, because of their important role in communications, must do their bit to do the right thing, as I said previously and memorably. As a result, I will not tire the Committee by going into that argument in great detail.

Amendment 293 to clause 109 seeks to remove the ability to serve a warrant on an overseas provider and amendment 645 seeks to remove the ability to serve a warrant on an overseas provider when a mutual legal assistance agreement is in place. I draw the Committee’s attention once again to David Anderson’s comments in his report, in paragraph 11.26:

“There is little dispute that the MLAT route is currently ineffective.”

I will not quote it at length but he goes on to say that it is because it is too slow and so on. I do not think that those amendments are in line with either his view or mine.

The effect of accepting the first amendment is evident. It would mean we could serve an equipment interference warrant only on a provider based in the UK. The second amendment seeks to assert mutual legal assistance arrangements as the only route. For the reasons I have already given, that is not appropriate.

The hon. and learned Gentleman asked, in the context of his amendment, whether that matter was implicit. Yes, it is implicit and I can confirm what he thought might be the case.

The arguments have already been made and, on careful reconsideration, the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North will realise that his amendment and argument are pseudodox and will withdraw on that basis.

I thank the Minister for that response and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I do apologise, Mr Owen; I strayed on to amendment 646 thinking it was part of the last batch, so I have dealt with it and intend to withdraw it. My apologies.

The amendment has not been moved.

Question put, That clause 109 stand part of the Bill.

Clause 109 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 110

Service of warrants outside the United Kingdom

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

Clause 110 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 111

Duty of telecommunications operators to assist with implementation

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

I can deal with this in fairly short order. The Scottish National party tabled an amendment to leave out the clause, which places a duty on telecoms operators to assist with the implementation of equipment interference warrants. We agree with those in the industry who are rightly concerned about being forced by the state to engage in the legal hacking of customers and other individuals and groups.

The Bill defines a telecoms operator as

“a person who…offers or provides a telecommunications service to persons in the United Kingdom, or…controls or provides a telecommunication system which is (wholly or partly)…in the United Kingdom, or…controlled from the United Kingdom.”

That flexible and all-encompassing definition means that not only online companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and Yahoo!, but private offices, businesses, law firms, the networks of Departments such as the NHS and institutional networks such as those of universities would be forced to comply with the Government’s instructions to interfere with or hack the communications of an individual or group. That was confirmed by the Home Secretary in her evidence to the Joint Committee that scrutinised the draft Bill. That power will place those companies, whose services most, if not all, of our constituents use, in a deeply unsettling and invidious position.

I am not convinced that any of our constituents would be pleased to hear that we were passing legislation that would allow their email accounts or Facebook pages to engage in illegal hacking on behalf of the state. The extraordinarily expansive power that the clause gives the Government will force companies to engage in highly controversial work on their behalf, which will no doubt be in conflict with the interests of cybersecurity and product security that the companies work hard to innovate in, protect and extend. Forcing these companies to engage in legal hacking could seriously harm their business and operations. It will also lead to some of their customers and users losing trust in their businesses. I am not surprised that companies have long expressed deep concern about the powers laid out in the clause, as it is in direct conflict with their business interests. For those reasons, the SNP would like to see the clause deleted from the Bill.

Clause 111 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 112 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 113

Safeguards relating to disclosure of material or data overseas

I shall do my best impression of her, Mr Owen, but I fear it will be inadequate.

I beg to move amendment 296, in clause 113, page 91, line 22, at end insert—

“(A1) Material obtained via a warrant under this Part may only be shared with overseas authorities in accordance with the terms of an international information sharing treaty.”

This amendment would require that information obtained via an equipment interference warrant is only shared with overseas authorities where a mutual legal assistance treaty has been put in place for the purpose of doing so.

Clause 113 deals in part with the overriding issue of information obtained through equipment interference being shared with overseas authorities. We should take note of the oral and written evidence submitted by Amnesty International on this point about the lack of any proper controls over intelligence sharing with foreign authorities. The human rights implications may be very serious indeed. For example, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent data being shared with an overseas authority when that might lead to the abuse, or possibly torture, of an individual or group. Surely we should set an example by ensuring that data gathering does not lead to torture; that should be the minimum standard expected of a civilised country such as ours.

However, if the SNP and Amnesty International are a little left-wing for hon. Members’ tastes, I give them the Intelligence and Security Committee, which also criticised the lack of clarity on this point when it noted that the Bill

“does not…meet the recommendations made in the Committee’s Privacy and Security Report that future legislation must set out these arrangements more explicitly, defining the powers and constraints governing such exchanges.”

The written evidence submitted by Yahoo! and others expressed concern that the Government’s apparently unilateral assertions of extraterritorial jurisdiction

“will create conflicting legal obligations for overseas providers who are subject to legal obligations elsewhere.”

David Anderson has also noted the lack of detail in this section of the Bill. He called for information sharing with foreign countries to be subject to strict, clearly defined and published safeguards. His report states:

“The new law should make it clear that neither receipt nor transfer as referred to in Recommendations 76-77…should ever be permitted or practised for the purpose of circumventing safeguards on the use of such material in the UK.”

However, such safeguards and guarantees are notably absent from the Bill. Furthermore, the independent reviewer’s report described the international trade in intelligence between the “Five Eyes” partners—the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In so far as material gathered by the British services is shared with other countries, the report explained that the security services take the view that, under their founding statutes, information should be shared only if it

“is necessary for the purpose of the proper discharge of the security and intelligence agencies’ functions.”

When it is considered that the test is met, certain safeguards apply under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. However, the report concluded that

“in practical terms, the safeguards applying to the use of such data are entirely subject to the discretion of the Secretary of State.”

The 2000 Act and the codes of practice are silent on British services receiving or accessing information from foreign services, with security services limited only by the general constraints placed on their actions by various statutes. It was only during Liberty’s legal action against the security services in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal that limited information was revealed about the way in which the security services approach such situations. In its first finding against the agencies, the IPT held that, prior to these disclosures, the framework for information sharing was not sufficiently foreseeable and was not therefore in accordance with law. The tribunal held that, because the litigation had resulted in disclosures of information, the security services were no longer acting unlawfully when accessing information from the US. Based on the concerns that Amnesty International, Liberty and others have raised, the SNP has tabled amendment 296, which would insert a new subsection into clause 113. The language of the amendment is plain.

I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman’s comments. On the sharing of information with authorities that may engage in torture or other serious ill-treatment, can the Minister confirm the long-standing practice that our security and intelligence services do not share information where there is a risk of torture, because of their obligations under other international treaties, and that this provision sits within that framework of assurances?

I can confirm that, and I can say a little more. My residual generosity is such that I take the view that these amendments are well intentioned, but they are unnecessary. Let me say why.

Clause 113 already provides that the Secretary of State must ensure that satisfactory and equivalent handling arrangements are in place before sharing UK equipment interference material with an overseas authority. The Secretary of State must determine that they provide corresponding satisfactory protections. Furthermore, those obligations sit alongside those in, for example, the consolidated guidance to intelligence officers and service personnel on the detention and interviewing of detainees overseas, and on the passing and receipt of intelligence relating to detainees, as well as the gateway provisions that allow for intelligence sharing in the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the Security Service Act 1989.

In addition, the overseas security and justice assistance guidance provides an overarching mechanism that sets out which human rights and international humanitarian law risks should be considered prior to providing justice or security sector assistance. This is supplemented by the draft code of practice on equipment interference, which is clear about the safeguards on the handling of information. It seems to me that the protections, absolutely necessary though they are, are comprehensively dealt with by that variety of means, rendering the amendment unnecessary. I invite the hon. Gentleman to withdraw it.

I thank the Minister for his comments, and I am somewhat reassured, but I still do not understand the Government’s reticence about putting this in the Bill; it is only a sentence that is required. Nevertheless, we are minded to withdraw the amendment at this time. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 113 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 114

Duty not to make unauthorised disclosures

I beg to move amendment 649, in clause 114, page 91, line 42, after “not”, insert “without reasonable excuse”.

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 650, in clause 114, page 91, line 42, at end insert—

‘(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1), it is in particular a reasonable excuse if the disclosure is made with the permission of the person issuing the warrant or the person to whom it is issued.”.

This amendment adds a “reasonable excuse” defence to the unauthorised disclosure offence in relation to equipment interference warrants.

I will deal with these amendments swiftly. They deal with the reasonable excuse defence and are similar to previous amendments. I foreshadow the amendments to clause 116, which essentially relates to the same issue as clause 114. Those amendments are about a public interest defence, which we have also debated already.

My two points remain. The first is the consistency of the reasonable excuse defence. In some clauses it is there and in others it is not, and I cannot see the logic of when it is in and when it is out. Secondly, the Minister has already agreed that there must be a route for those who want to expose wrongdoing, so that disclosures can be made in the public interest where necessary. I have been pursuing those two points, and they are the same for this provision. I do not need to elaborate further.

The hon. and learned Gentleman is absolutely right to refer to arguments previously made. For the record, this morning I omitted to pay my own tribute to our sovereign lady on her 90th birthday, and I wish to add it here. I am sure that colleagues will indulge that observation, and hopefully this next observation too. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Security and I agree that the world is divided between cavaliers and roundheads. We know what side we are on: our hearts lie broken on the battlefield of Naseby—but that is perhaps for another day.

We contend that amendment 650 is unnecessary. Clause 115(2)(b) provides that a disclosure is permitted if it is

“authorised by the person to whom the warrant is…addressed”.

Disclosure can also be authorised by virtue of this clause within the terms of the warrant, which will have been agreed by the person issuing the warrant and by a judicial commissioner. It is much better for an impartial senior judge to take a view on what is reasonable than it is for, say, a junior official or an employee of a telecommunications operator, no matter how diligent they might be; none the less, it is important that such people can raise concerns without fear of prosecution. That is why clause 203, in part 8, provides for an information gateway so that whistleblowers can take their concerns directly to the commissioner without fear of sanction under the Bill.

It is right that the Bill’s provisions reflect the sensitive techniques of the equipment interference agencies and maintain that it will be an offence to disclose the existence of a warrant. It is a well known and well rehearsed argument that the techniques and details of EI capabilities must be protected. The amendments in the round seek to achieve something that I submit is already well catered for in the Bill, and on that basis I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 114 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 115 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 116

Offence of making unauthorised disclosure

I beg to move amendment 496, in clause 116, page 93, line 39, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

“(3) In proceedings against any person for an offence under this section in respect of any disclosure, it is a defence for the person to show that the disclosure was in the public interest.”

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 297, in clause 116, page 93, line 42, at end insert—

“(3A) In proceedings against any person for an offence under this section in respect of any disclosure, it is a defence for the person to show that the disclosure was in the public interest.”

This amendment would provide a defence to the criminal offence of unauthorised disclosure in relation to a warrant issued under this Part. The offence includes disclosure of the existence and content of a warrant and disclosure of the steps taken to implement a warrant.

I have said all that I need to say on the amendment. Members of the Committee will appreciate that the amendment has been tabled for each of the offence provisions for the reasons I set out the first time we encountered it. That was dealt with by the Solicitor General, so I shall say no more about it at this stage.

I will not detain the Committee long. I hear what the hon. and learned Gentleman says and broadly agree with it. I rise merely to point out the differences between the two amendments before us. The SNP’s amendment would insert an additional subsection that adds the additional defence and leaves subsection (3) in, whereas the Labour amendment removes that.

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras. We are familiar with the arguments and our response is that the information gateway, which allows people to take concerns directly to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, caters for the public interest. For that reason I urge him to withdraw the amendment.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 116 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 117 and 118 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 119

Bulk interception warrants

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

With this, it will be convenient to consider new clause 16—Review of Bulk Powers

“Saving this section, Part 6 shall not come into force until—

(a) the Secretary of State has established an independent review of the operational case for bulk powers contained in sections 119 to 173; and

(b) the review has been published and a copy laid before each House of Parliament.”

New clause 16 is in my name and those of my colleagues. We come now to part 6 of the Bill; we are examining bulk warrants for the first time, and it is important that we take some time. Different types of bulk warrant are provided for in the Bill, and chapter 1 of part 6 deals with bulk interception warrants. We need to take time with these, because they are intentionally breathtakingly wide.

I remind members of the Committee that, as is set out in the code of practice, in contrast to targeted interception warrants issued under part 2, a bulk interception warrant instrument

“need not name or describe the interception subject or a set of premises in relation to which the interception is to take place”.

Chapter 1 also does not impose a limit on the number of communications that may be intercepted. For example, if the requirements of the chapter are met

“then the interception of all communications transmitted on a particular route or cable, or carried by a particular CSP, could, in principle, be lawfully authorised.”

That is directly from paragraph 6.2 of the code of practice. It gives a sense of how wide these bulk powers in the Bill are. When one has powers of such breathtaking width, there is a requirement for a high level of justification for their use, and I will come back after making some further preliminary points.

First, despite suggestions over the years that no enormous database would come into existence through the use of what, in truth, were bulk intercept warrants, it is now pretty clear that there is an enormous database, which is growing daily. Secondly, although it is right to say that bulk interception warrants are only authorised for overseas-related communications, the comfort we get from that is much more limited than might first appear. That is because, as the Joint Committee observed,

“given the global nature of the internet, the limitation of the bulk powers to “overseas-related” communications may make little difference in practice to the data that could be gathered under these powers.”

The ISC has confirmed that the Government considers that an “external communication” occurs

“every time a UK based person accesses a website located overseas, posts on a social media site overseas such as Facebook, uses overseas cloud storage or uses an overseas email provider such as Hotmail or Gmail—”

or searches on Google. Any communication that involves those external communications comes within the provisions of a bulk interception warrant. I accept that it cannot be targeted at somebody in this jurisdiction, but as I have said, the comfort that that gives is much more limited than might at first appear when one reads the legislation.

Thirdly, the sheer breadth of these warrants, if they are not carefully constrained, is capable of frustrating any meaningful review of necessity and proportionality. Those tests need to bite on something meaningful when one has a warrant as wide as these bulk warrants are potentially and in practice.

It is right to acknowledge that David Anderson, the ISC and the Royal United Services Institute panel all recommended that bulk powers should be set out in legislation, and they now are. They are avowed. The Bill sets them out and puts a framework of safeguards around them. That is welcome; it is as it should be and in accordance with those recommendations. If the Bill passes, it will increase accountability in relation to the exercise of these warrants, which until now have been exercised under implied powers without the safeguards in the Bill. But—and it is a big “but”—this is the first time that Parliament has had the chance to scrutinise those bulk powers. The argument that they already exist and are already in use is no answer to the need for close scrutiny, because until now the House has not had the chance to scrutinise them.

The first step in scrutiny is to consider the operational case, which sets out the overall need for bulk powers. An operational case was published by the Government alongside the Bill, which is welcome, but it is inadequate. It is a 47-page document and much of it is purely introductory. On average, only five pages are allocated to addressing the capabilities for each bulk power. There are four pages for bulk interception, seven pages for bulk equipment interference, six pages for bulk communications data acquisition, and five pages for bulk personal datasets. Each power is supported by a handful of one-paragraph case studies. We understand that further material has been provided to the ISC, but no formal assessment of that material and no report of the ISC has been made available to the Committee, although of course we heard the comments of the Chair of the ISC on Second Reading. Incidentally, we will be writing to him to ask him to outline the general nature of that material and what formal assessment the ISC made.

The operational case that has been published is inadequate, for the reasons that I have set out, and lacking any independent evaluation, which was a recommendation of the Joint Committee. The Labour party has been pushing for that evaluation from the start of the scrutiny of the Bill; it is why we tabled new clause 16. We say to the Government that it is not too late to carry out the evaluation that has been called for for some time. New clause 16 is not intended to delete clause 119 or to suggest that there could be no justification for bulk intercept warrants, particularly since they have been used. The intention is to put down a marker in saying that part 6 will not come into force until the Secretary of State has established an independent review of the operational case for the powers in clauses119 to 173—that is all the bulk powers, which is why it is a new clause rather than an amendment to clause 119—and the review has been published and before each House.

I want to pick up on some of the specifics of the clause. In clause 119(4)(c) and (d) it is clear that a bulk intercept warrant authorises not just interception but examination within the interception. That is extremely important, because one of the arguments that I have sought to make consistently is that the wider the power to gather, harvest or hoover up communications or data, the greater the need for thresholds and careful safeguards when that material is accessed. Under subsection (4)(c) and (d) the bulk intercept warrant provides not only for the interception of communications but for selection for examination—in other words, it deals with part 2 at the same stage as part 1, so it is important to pay careful regard to the safeguards in place. I will make the argument about safeguards when I get to clause 121, which sets out the necessity of the proportionality test; at this stage I am merely flagging up that we are talking about both the wider power and the access power and reminding the Committee that although there are some protections for the communications of those in the British islands, the protection does not extend to secondary data.

The only other point that I wanted to make at this stage relates to the code of practice, paragraph 6.12:

“Where a bulk interception warrant results in the acquisition of large volumes of communications, the intercepting agency will usually apply a filtering process to discard automatically communications that are unlikely to be of intelligence value.”

We saw last week express provisions for filtering arrangements in other parts of the Bill. As far as I can ascertain, there are no express filtering provisions in relation to bulk intercept warrants. For the record, what does the Minister say the power is for that middle exercise of filtering between the acquisition of the information and accessing it?

To be clear about how I think it is intended that that should work, the code of practice suggests later that what will happen in general, accepting that a huge volume of communications is likely to be affected by a bulk warrant, is that automated systems will be in place. On the scope of what we are talking about, paragraph 6.57 of the code of practice makes it clear:

“More than one operational purpose may be specified on a single bulk warrant; this may, where the necessity and proportionality test is satisfied, include all operational purposes currently in use. In the case of bulk interception, overseas-related communications relevant to multiple operational purposes will necessarily be transmitted and intercepted together under the authority of a bulk interception warrant. In the majority of cases, it will therefore be necessary for bulk interception warrants to specify the full range of operational purposes.”

That makes it clear that under one warrant, there are likely to be numerous operational purposes and a huge amount of data gathered. The idea that there will be one warrant for each operational purpose would be a misunderstanding of how the powers have been and undoubtedly will be used if the Bill is passed. It appears, from paragraph 6.59, that what will then happen is that

“automated systems must, where technically possible, be used to effect the selection in accordance with section 134 of the Act.”

There will be an automated filtering process.

These are very wide powers requiring close scrutiny and high levels of justification. Until there is independent evaluation of an operational case, the clauses should not come into force.

The Scottish National party has tabled leave-out amendments to the entirety of part 6. I sought the assistance of the Committee Clerks, to whom I wish to record my sincere and grateful thanks for their help over the last couple of weeks, on how to approach the amendments. It was suggested that I might press the question on stand part for the first clause of an objectionable part. For example, in chapter 1 of part 6, I could press the question on clause 119 and make my position abundantly clear, which might be a proxy for my objections to the whole part. Are you content for me to proceed in that way, Mr Owen?

To deal with clause 119, I must outline why the Scottish National party wishes the entirety of part 6 to be removed from the Bill until such time as a convincing case has been made for the use of bulk powers and the legality of bulk powers has been determined. In our view, it is important not to pre-empt the terms of court judgments in cases currently considering bulk powers, as they will have a significant impact on the lawfulness of the approach set out in the Bill, which at present must, at the very least, be open to question.

The Government have produced an operational case in response to remarks made by a number of witnesses before the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, who were concerned about the lack of such a case, and to the Joint Committee’s recommendation 23. The Home Office published a 47-page operational case for bulk powers alongside the Bill. That document was produced within three weeks, and the first half of it is introductory, covering topics such as how the internet works and what the dark net is. Only the second half of the document, characterised as an operational case, addresses the capabilities with which we are concerned.

Going goes through the operational case, we can see that each power—bulk interception, bulk equipment interference, bulk communications data acquisition and bulk personal datasets—has an average of about five pages devoted to it. Bulk interception has only about four. Most of the material dealt with is already public in other explanatory documents. It seems that, despite the opportunity to provide concrete, solid examples of how bulk powers bring unique value, most of the material in each section is kept at a high and general level.

For example, the first three pages of the four-page case justifying bulk interception cover an introduction to the power, the current legal position and new safeguards in the Bill. The fourth and final page provides three one-paragraph case studies, which members of the Committee will all have had the opportunity to read. One in particular deals with counter-terrorism, giving an example of where the security and intelligence agencies’ analysis of bulk data uncovered a previously unknown individual in 2014 who was in contact with a Daesh-affiliated extremist in Syria suspected of involvement in attack planning against the west.

The case study says:

“As this individual was based overseas, it is very unlikely that any other intelligence capabilities would have discovered him. Despite his attempts to conceal his activities, the agencies were able to use bulk data to identify that he had recently travelled to a European country. Meanwhile, separate intelligence”—

that is, separated from the bulk-generated intelligence—

“suggested he was progressing with attack planning. The information was then passed by the agencies to the relevant national authorities. They disrupted the terrorists’ plans and several improvised explosive devices were seized.”

Undoubtedly, every hon. Member on the Committee and in the House would wish such activities to be intercepted and prevented by the security services. I applaud the security services for the work that they do, but what concerns me is that analysing this case study in any meaningful way is challenging, because there is inadequate information to begin to test the accuracy of the case study or to challenge its conclusions. Nevertheless, I have had some initial analysis of it carried out, which suggests that perhaps the ends could just as easily have been achieved by the use of targeted interception. I will give a couple of examples to show why.

The case study refers to a previously unknown individual who was in contact with a Daesh-affiliated individual, who presumably was known. It is possible, therefore, that targeted interception may have uncovered this previously unknown individual. Although the Daesh-affiliated individual was already being monitored, there is no clear explanation in the case study of why bulk interception was necessary. It seems likely that intercepting the Daesh-affiliated individual’s contacts in a targeted manner might have identified the previously unknown individual.

That is just one of a number of issues raised about this case study by the analysis that I have had carried out. I will not take up the Committee’s time with them all, but that is one example.

The value that this case study has is that in this case a previously unknown individual was identified. Questions as to why targeted interception would not have worked are not addressed, nor are questions as to why other targeted capabilities were not used. The case study suggests that the initial identification is the only aspect in which bulk interception played a role, with the rest of the case study a result of other capabilities and separate intelligence. No information is provided about the scale of collateral intrusion undertaken when intercepting in bulk and there is no assessment of the proportionality of bulk interception. Also, given that the attack was not in the UK, there is no explanation of the necessity of UK agencies playing a role, although that is perhaps a slightly lesser consideration.

There is no information outside this case study as to the frequency of events of this kind or whether in similar cases different methods produced different results. As such, it is impossible to analyse it and make any kind of independent assessment of the necessity or proportionality of bulk power.

This is not nit-picking. These are very wide-ranging powers. The hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras, who speaks for the Opposition, described them as breathtakingly wide powers. They have never before been debated or voted on in this Parliament, and it is crucial that we get them right. We are debating and voting on them, at a time and in a climate whereby there is quite a lot of independent evidence available from the United States of America that suggests that bulk powers are not as efficacious as is suggested in the operational case produced by the Government.

I will say a little about what happened in the States, because it is important to loop to that to understand what the Scottish National party says would be the appropriate way to approach the production of an operational case to justify bulk powers.

In the USA, the Snowden revelations revealed that the National Security Agency was running a bulk domestic telephone records programme. The US intelligence community put forward strong arguments for keeping that programme going, and to bolster its position it compiled a list of 54 counter-terrorism events in which it said that section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which underlined that bulk collection, contributed to a success story.

In America, two independent bodies undertook reviews related to those powers to determine whether the case studies put forward by the intelligence agencies were credible and accurate. They determined that only 12 of the 54 counter-terrorism events cited by the security services had any relevance to the exercise of bulk powers under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. With access to classified material, one of the independent groups— the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, which is a very high-powered body set up under the auspices of President Obama—concluded:

“Our review suggests that the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony metadata was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders”.

The other body, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, concluded very similarly that the programme of bulk collection under section 215 had

“shown minimal value in safeguarding the nation from terrorism. Based on the information provided to the Board, including classified briefings and documentation, we have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation. Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.”

I quote those two bodies because they are independent.

I am aware that Mr William Binney, who previously worked for the National Security Agency, gave evidence to the Joint Committee. His evidence could be summarised as “bulk powers cost lives”. He is concerned about the “needle in a haystack” argument. I am aware from previous discussions that certain members of the Committee have concerns about the evidence of Mr Binney. Even if we set his evidence to one side, we cannot set to one side the evidence of those two very high-level, independent American committees that looked at bulk collection in the USA. Their conclusions seriously question the information they were given by the security services that the bulk powers were necessary to prevent terrorist outrages. They also made suggestions on existing targeted capabilities.

We have the analysis by David Anderson of the efficiency and efficacy of bulk powers, and he talks from paragraph 7.22 onwards about the importance of bulk powers. For example, he states:

“GCHQ explained that its bulk access capabilities are the critical enabler for the cyber defence of the UK, providing the vast majority of all reporting on cyber threats and the basis for counter-activity.”

I cannot gainsay that. I am well aware that David Anderson would not go as far as I am going in these submissions. He has reached the conclusion that some bulk powers are necessary, but the passage in his report that the hon. and learned Lady quotes basically starts with a phrase along the lines of “GCHQ has assured me”. My point in drawing Members’ attention to what happened in the USA is that, although the US security services compiled a list of 54 counter-terrorism events in which they said bulk powers had contributed to a success story, one of the two committees I have quoted reached the view that it could not identify a single instance where bulk powers had contributed to a counter-terrorism success story. There is a debate to be had here.

David Anderson goes on, in the same section of his report, to acknowledge that it is difficult for the public to take examples on trust. He recognises the limitations of what was shown to him, but states:

“The six outline examples at Annex 9 to this Report go a little way towards remedying that defect. They illustrate the utility of bulk data capabilities more generally”.

He recognises the limitations, but still acknowledges the efficacy of the powers.

The hon. and learned Lady makes a good point. David Anderson acknowledges the efficacy of the powers and has been privy to certain information as he has a high security clearance. Not all of us can be privy to that information. I am suggesting that there should be an independent evidence base for the bulk powers. That would involve independent assessors with high security clearance undertaking forensic examination of the necessity and effectiveness of the bulk programmes.

We know, because the Home Secretary has told us—there was an interesting article about this in The Guardian today—that the bulk powers have been running for a long time. The headline of the article is, “UK spy agencies have collected bulk personal data since 1990s, files show”.

I will come back to that article in a moment, but we know that the bulk powers are operational. Given that they have been running for a while, a full list of cases where they have been required should be easy to provide. That should not be to this Committee, but to an independent review staffed by high-level individuals with the highest security clearance—the sort that David Anderson has. I have in mind such people as retired judges and retired professionals with an interest in the area.

I do not want to paint this too simplistically—the purpose of the Bill, as I understand it, is to pull together a lot of existing things under one statute—but we all have fire insurance policies on our homes. We do not want to claim on those policies, but it is important to know that they are there in case we need them in an emergency. That is exactly what all these powers are there for. We need to ensure that the kit is there for our agents to use to keep us safe.

These powers are not being used only in emergencies. That is the point. We are told that the powers are being used daily and that those data are being sucked up and collected daily, and the Bill seeks to put that on a legal footing. I am saying that there is not sufficient independently assessed evidence to justify the continuation of such powers and that we need a proper independent review.

I am suggesting that there should be independent, security cleared assessors to consider whether such powers pass the legal tests of necessity and proportionality. They would need to conclude that the powers were strictly necessary and that the same results could not be achieved using more proportionate and less intrusive means. The two American committees I mentioned concluded that the same information could be achieved using more proportionate and less intrusive means, so we in the United Kingdom should not legislate gung-ho for the continuation of such breathtakingly intrusive surveillance powers without being certain that they are necessary and proportionate. We do not have sufficient evidence to reach that conclusion.

What does the hon. and learned Lady think the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation is for, other than to review these powers? He reviewed the powers in his report.

I do not accept that the independent reviewer has carried out the exercise that I am suggesting. He fulfils a particular function, and we are talking about setting up a panel of individuals to consider the necessity and proportionality of these powers. They could consider in detail certain information that we, as hon. Members, would not be able to see. David Anderson is one individual who fulfils an important function and whose work has greatly assisted everyone on the Committee, and all hon. Members, in trying to understand what underlies the Bill.

The hon. and learned Lady is asking the Committee to attach less weight to David Anderson’s review, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire said, and inviting us to prefer the evidence of Mr Binney, a whistleblower whose evidence was clearly out of date, because the last time he was security cleared was 2001.

Forgive me, but the hon. Lady was out of the room when I said that I am not asking the Committee to look at Mr Binney’s evidence. I am asking the Committee to look at the evidence of the US President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies and of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which led to the repeal of section 215 and its replacement with the USA Freedom Act. I am not asking the Committee to look at Mr Binney’s evidence; I am asking the Committee to consider and take into account the background of two high-level independent US reports—the USA is our closest ally—that found that similar bulk powers are not necessary or proportionate.

I will not be side tracked by a suggestion that I am criticising David Anderson, because I am not—I make that absolutely clear. His review, “A Question of Trust”, was published prior to the Joint Committee of these Houses saying that a sufficient case has not been produced for bulk powers. David Anderson’s report was taken into account by the Joint Committee. I know that some members of this Committee, including the hon. Member for Fareham, sat on the Joint Committee, and one of its conclusions, recommendation 23, was:

“We recommend that the Government should publish a fuller justification for each of the bulk powers alongside the Bill. We further recommend that the examples of the value of the bulk powers provided should be assessed by an independent body, such as the Intelligence and Security Committee or the Interception of Communications Commissioner.”

The Joint Committee said that in the full knowledge of David Anderson’s report, having read and considered it. My point is that such operational case as has been produced by the Government does not live up to the Joint Committee’s recommendation 23, and does not adequately provide an operational case for the powers.

I know that this will disappoint the Committee, but I shall try to reduce the length of my peroration by making two things clear by way of an intervention. First, David Anderson was clear in evidence to this Committee that further review was not necessary. Actually, I am not unpersuaded by the argument for some process, although the hon. and learned Lady is doing a good job of changing my mind. Secondly, the Joint Committee was extremely clear that we would benefit from the ISC’s conclusions, and the ISC said that the powers are necessary, so I do not understand on which journey the hon. Lady is travelling, or to which destination.

David Anderson said the following in paragraph 1.12 of his report, “A Question of Trust”:

“Though I seek to place the debate in a legal context, it is not part of my role to offer a legal opinion (for example, as to whether the bulk collection of data as practised by GCHQ is proportionate). A number of such questions are currently before the courts, which have the benefit of structured and opposing legal submissions and (in the case of the IPT) the facility to examine highly secret evidence, and which are the only bodies that can authoritatively determine them.”

There we have the words of the man himself. Although David Anderson seeks to place the debate in a legal context, he does not see it as part of his role to offer a legal opinion on the proportionality of GCHQ’s bulk collection of data. At least two cases now before the courts will result in judgments on whether the powers are proportionate.

If the hon. and learned Lady reads the next paragraph, she will see that David Anderson is simply making a broad statement about the fact that he is not giving legal advice generally. He is putting forward recommendations for Parliament to consider.

Indeed; he is putting forward recommendations. I am advocating an independent review looking at the operational case for bulk powers. It would look at whether the powers are necessary and proportionate, and it would provide an opinion that could then be laid before both Houses, for us to see if the Government’s case has been made. I am concerned that the case is not sufficient at the moment. I say that against the background not of Mr Binney’s evidence, but of the findings of high-level USA investigatory bodies.

I hesitate to advise an advocate on the construction of her argument, but the hon. and learned Lady would do better not to cite David Anderson and pray him in aid, because he told this Committee on 24 March that he was

“not persuaded of the case for”

an additional independent review of bulk powers, as

“it would be very difficult to say that the ISC had not had an independent look at these issues.”––[Official Report, Investigatory Powers Public Bill Committee, 24 March 2016; c. 6, Q2.]

The quote from David Anderson that she is using comes from the very beginning of his report, in which he sets out his general approach to his work. In an effort to make her an even more accomplished advocate than she already is, my advice would be to drop Anderson from her argument.

With all due respect, hon. Members sitting behind the Minister brought up David Anderson; I made it clear that I accepted that David Anderson had reached a different view from mine on bulk powers, but I read from his report to make the point that at an early stage in it, he says that it is not his objective to give a legal opinion on the legality of the bulk collection of data.

Those of us who sat through David Anderson’s evidence in Committee on 24 March might also remember that he discussed the different views held about the legality of bulk powers. He said that, ultimately, that will be determined by the courts. The thrust of my argument is that given the serious concerns expressed by two independent United States committees, and the serious concerns about the legality of the powers, we should not be gung-ho about putting them in legislation until we have a proper operational case and have seen the outcome of the litigation. That is a thoroughly respectable approach to part 6, and one that is in accordance with the rule of law.

I am not persuaded by the argument that the United Kingdom Parliament should make United Kingdom law based on what some Americans whom we have never met or spoken to have said. The first duty of Her Majesty’s Government and of parliamentarians is surely to help keep our citizens and constituents safe. If we take that as our first point of principle and duty, and if the powers that are to be enshrined in the Act can fulfil that need, either now or in future, I fail to see why the proposals would cause such offence.

I am glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman does not want the Americans to tell the British how to run their affairs. In very much the same way, I do not want the British establishment to tell Scotland how to run its affairs. We can have that argument another day—

I think the hon. Gentleman will find that the argument is alive and kicking north of the border, but we digress.

I can reassure the hon. Member for North Dorset that I have no intention of following the United States of America’s security policy. We should devise our own policy in the United Kingdom, so long as it remains the United Kingdom. I am saying that we should set up an independent review body, made up of people from the United Kingdom—not the Americans or French; let us not panic about the French or the Americans telling us what to do. I am suggesting that our own people, if I may use that phrase, should be on the body. I mentioned the American experience to show that our key ally in such matters has, as a result of two very high-level congressional committees, reached the view that bulk powers are not justified. That is my point; it is not that we should do what the Americans tell us to do. I can assure the Committee that that is far from being the position of the Scottish National party. My point is that we should look to the experience in other countries to inform our decision making.

The hon. and learned Lady is being customarily generous with her time, and robust in her argument. I do not envy her her position one jot or tittle. If she were saying—without saying it—that she had a fear that spooks out there were doing nasty and horrible things, and that it was our job to try to constrain them, I could understand some of the line of her argument, but I do not think she is saying that. I am therefore not entirely sure, in practical politics, what would be added by the creation of the body she advocates. I am confident that we have security services and others who act within the rule of the law.

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman’s confidence is somewhat misplaced, given the revelations today in a collection of more than 100 memorandums, forms and policy papers obtained in the course of a legal challenge on the lawfulness of surveillance. An article in The Guardian today says that the papers demonstrate that the collection of bulk data in the United Kingdom

“has been going on for longer than previously disclosed while public knowledge of the process was suppressed for more than 15 years.”

According to the article, The Guardian has surveyed the paperwork, which shows that the

“frequency of warnings to intelligence agency staff about the dangers of trespassing on private records is at odds with ministers’ repeated public reassurances that only terrorists and serious criminals are having their personal details compromised…For example, a newsletter circulated in September 2011 by the Secret Intelligence Agency (SIS), better known as MI6, cautioned against staff misuse.”

That internal newsletter said:

“We’ve seen a few instances recently of individuals crossing the line with their database use…looking up addresses in order to send birthday cards, checking passport details to organise personal travel, checking details of family members for personal convenience”.

The internal memo goes on to say:

“Another area of concern is the use of the database as a ‘convenient way’ to check the personal details of colleagues when filling out service forms on their behalf. Please remember that every search has the potential to invade the privacy of individuals, including individuals who are not the main subject of your search, so please make sure you always have a business need to conduct that search and that the search is proportionate to the level of intrusion involved.”

It adds that, where possible, it is better to use “less intrusive” means.

The papers also reveal that there has been disciplinary action. The article states:

“Between 2014 and 2016, two MI5 and three MI6 officers were disciplined for mishandling bulk personal data. Last year, it was reported that a member of GCHQ’s staff had been sacked for making unauthorised searches…The papers show that data handling errors remain a problem. Government lawyers have admitted in responses to Privacy International that between 1 June 2014 and 9 February this year, ‘47 instances of non-compliance either with the MI5 closed section 94 handling arrangements or internal guidance or the communications data code of practice were detected.’ Four errors involved ‘necessity and proportionality’ issues; 43 related to mistransposed digits and material that did not relate to the subject of investigation, or duplicated requests…Another MI5 file notes that datasets ‘contain personal data about individuals, the majority of whom are unlikely to be of intelligence or security interest’.”

I quote that article because it shows that the security services themselves admit that there is sometimes internal breaking of the rules. We should not scoff; these are the personal data of our constituents. As parliamentarians, it is part of our duty to protect their privacy and to make sure that the powers that we vote to the security agencies do not go further than necessary and compromise our constituents’ privacy and the security of their data.

I fear that the hon. and learned Lady may be slightly over-egging this particular pudding. I read the article this morning in The Guardian. She has cited, perfectly properly, the two operatives who were found to be in breach, disciplined and then dismissed. I politely suggest to her that probably quite a lot of the figures that she quoted refer to the fact that agent X could not remember Auntie Doris’s postcode and checked it because he wanted to send her a get well card. It is hardly “Enemy of the State”.

It may not be, but it is an indication of how easy it is for people to abuse the rules, and an indication that the rules are abused. I am not seeking to impugn the security services. I am seeking to draw the attention of members of the Committee and the public to the fact that the rules are sometimes abused. If we are to afford the security services generous and intrusive powers, we have to be sure that they are proportionate and necessary. My point is that we do not have sufficient evidence that they are.

I am conscious that I have taken up quite a bit of time with that submission. I will not take it any further. I have alluded to the fact that there are outstanding legal challenges, and I will make one or two more comments on clause 119. I have already made the point that the clause seeks to put bulk interception programmes that are already in operation on a statutory footing. They were disclosed for the first time by Edward Snowden in June 2013, and their existence has now been avowed by the Government. They have never before been debated or voted on by this Parliament. That is why I am taking my time with this point.

The approach that has been held to date is maintained in the clause. The bulk interception proposed by the clause will result in billions of communications being intercepted each day, without any requirement of suspicion, or even a discernible link to a particular operation or threat. I have information from Liberty that the agencies currently handle 50 billion communications per day. To put that in context, there are only 7 billion people in the world, and only 3 billion of them have access to the internet.

The Intelligence and Security Committee reported at the end of 2014 that there were just 20 warrants in place under section 8(4) of RIPA authorising this vast volume of interception. It is clear from the wording of the clause that although it purports to collect overseas-related communications, it will, for the reasons the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras gave, collect the communications of persons who are resident in the United Kingdom. Internet-based communications have eradicated the distinction between external and internal communications. He told us that posts on social media sites overseas, such as Facebook, use overseas cloud storage, so the material there would be covered by clause 119.

Searches on Google are counted as an external communication. I do not know about other hon. Members, but I must do at least a dozen searches on Google per day. Those are external communications, even though I am a citizen of the United Kingdom. Be in no doubt: the handful of warrants that will be issued under this clause will be scooping up billions of communications by the United Kingdom’s citizens. Those communications will then sit somewhere and certain people in the security service will have unwarranted access to them. There are some people who do not respect the rules, as we know from the disclosures in The Guardian today, so there is that concern, as well as the concern about the security of the data. The vast majority of those communications that will be scooped up will be the communications of innocent people.

Does the hon. and learned Lady not accept that the primary object of the security services is to prevent crime—serious crime—and that is exactly what this measure is doing?

Of course I do, but to give some comfort to the hon. Gentleman, who has a distinguished career in law enforcement behind him, I worked for many years as a senior prosecutor with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland, so I am fully aware of the public duty of the security services and law enforcement agencies to prevent serious crime. However, I am also aware of the duty of parliamentarians to protect their constituents and to ensure that surveillance powers are proportionate and necessary. My point is that the Committee and this House do not have sufficient evidence at present to justify these breathtakingly wide powers, and that is why the Scottish National party wishes that part 6—

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Lady for taking a further intervention. This is about proactivity and preventing crime. I am afraid I am not persuaded, so far, by what she is saying.

I am sorry the hon. Gentleman is not persuaded, but I think others outside this room will be. It is important that somebody voices these very serious considerations while the Government attempt to railroad this legislation through the House. This is not right, and my party will not hesitate to hold the Government to account for it, not because we are troublemakers, but because we are a constructive Opposition. Having the responsibilities of a constructive Opposition, we have looked at what is happening in other countries and at their experience, and we do not consider that this degree of surveillance of our constituents’ and British citizens’ personal communications has been justified as proportionate and necessary.

We are not saying that the security services should not have any powers. We have a nuanced approach to the Bill. Members of the Scottish National party did not sit on their hands and do nothing on Second Reading; we made a constructive contribution to the debate. However, I will not be dissuaded from holding these very serious concerns. They are not just my concerns; they are widely held, and there is strong evidence from one of our closest allies that they are well founded.

Nor should the hon. and learned Lady be doing anything other than what she is. She is fulfilling her role in an exemplary fashion, and I mean that in a sincere and heartfelt way. The one thing I would challenge her on—or ask her to substantiate—is this. We have had Joint Committees and all the other organisations having a look; we had a very thorough debate on Second Reading; we had a full day’s debate on the Anderson report back in July last year; and now we have detailed, line-by-line scrutiny of the Bill, and I think we will have two days on Report. I ask whether she used the word “railroad” in haste, and whether I could invite her to reflect on its use and perhaps recast her comment.

I will not recast it. I gave very detailed reasons on Second Reading as to why I felt that the Bill was not being given sufficient time. I am aware that hon. Members may feel that I have held the floor for too long; I have spoken at some length, but this is hugely important. Many people across these islands are very concerned about this part of the Bill—ordinary citizens, corporate entities—and we are not giving it enough time. There is not enough time to discuss its detail. I have taken up about 40 minutes giving just an overview of why I oppose part 6. I could have a go at every clause, but I will not do that, because we would be here forever and we have limited time, so I will draw my comments to a conclusion. The Scottish National party’s position is that each and every clause of part 6 should come out of the Bill until such time as there has been a proper independent review and a proper operational case has been made for these powers.

The hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras, who speaks for the official Opposition, spoke, not untypically, with welcome brevity and a palpable understanding of these issues, but the hon. and leaned Lady took us on a seemingly interminable journey to a place that is somewhere between intuitive hostility to these powers and confusion—a murky place that I do not want to spent too much time in. Some of the things she said warrant a response, because it seems to me that they were founded on a misunderstanding— I put that as generously as I can—of the use of the powers, their purpose and the safeguards that pertain in that regard.

Let me be clear: a Google search by a person in the UK is not overseas-related. Clause 119 deals with overseas-related communications. Warrants must be targeted at overseas communications. That will provide strong protections for people on these islands.

The ISC privacy and security report concluded that it is unlawful for GCHQ to conduct indiscriminate interception. It is also impractical for it to do so. The hon. and leaned Lady must understand, as most members of this Committee do, that it would be impossible, undesirable and unnecessary for GCHQ to deal with all but a fraction of internet communications. The peculiar view that somehow those missioned to keep us safe are interested in a whole range of communications that bear no relation whatever to their task is—again, I am trying to measure my words carefully—unusual. I say that because it is certainly not the view of the vast majority of people in this country, who want those so missioned to have the powers necessary to guard us against very real threats.

The hon. and leaned Lady spoke, quoting the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras, of breathtaking powers. I shall come to that in a moment. She needs to understand that the threats we face are equally—actually, I would say far more—breathtaking. Unless we equip those in the security and intelligence services and the law enforcement agencies with what they need to do their job, we will pay a very dear price indeed. That is what bulk powers are about.

The collection of large volumes of information through bulk powers and the use of those data are essential. Of course they have to be filtered, and search criteria must be applied, so that fragments of intelligence can be gathered and pieced together during the course of an investigation. This is, in essence, about establishing patterns of behaviour and confirming networks. That is what GCHQ is about. Unless we collect those large volumes of information, we cannot move to the targeted regime that the hon. and leaned Lady seeks. Through a mix of misunderstanding and misjudgment, she is making an unhelpful case to those of us who want the safeguards to be as sure and certain as they need to be; I entirely take the point about “need”.

I will return to the hon. and learned Lady in a moment in my exciting peroration, but I want to deal with the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras, who made a very interesting short contribution. He rightly distinguished between collection on the one hand and access and examination on the other. Much of the focus of those who are least well informed about this subject is on collection, but it is access and examination that really matter, so we should place an emphasis on ensuring that examination of data is based on the very best reasons. He argues that the existing means by which we test the operational case for doing what we do could be improved. I will not say too much more about that today, but I will say this: he is right that it is important that there is certainty about the operational case. I know that he is sensitive to the amount that can be published—we are by nature dealing with highly sensitive material—and, as he freely acknowledged, we have gone some way down this road in publishing the operational case for bulk alongside the Bill. It is, though, reasonable to pose the question whether more could be done.

The ISC plays an important role in these matters, and the hon. and learned Gentleman acknowledged that the Chairman of the ISC made it clear on Second Reading that he was convinced by the information that was made available to him in his special role that these powers were necessary and exercised proportionately. The Joint Committee on the draft Bill looked at these matters and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham pointed out, also made it clear that it understood that bulk powers were important for the work of our security services, as I have said. But there is a case for looking at these matters carefully and, despite listening to the speech of the hon. and learned Lady, I am not by any means dissuaded from that case. She was taking me to that place, but fortunately from the perspective of those who want to get this right, I did not quite get there.

I remain open to argument about this issue. I will say no more than that at this juncture. It is important that we make a robust case for bulk powers, and the best way of doing that is to be certain about the operational case, as the hon. and learned Gentleman suggested. There is also a debate to be had about safeguards, but, as he said, they are dealt with later in the Bill. No doubt we will have a short debate about them as well. It is important that we recognise that those safeguards are fit for purpose. They are clear that information that is not pertinent to the needs of the security services must be discarded, they are clear about the limits of the criteria under which searches take place, and they are clear about the content and secondary data that are obtained accordingly and what can and cannot be used. Nevertheless, we should explore and examine those matters.

The hon. and learned Gentleman also drew attention to filtering. It is important that data are filtered before they are obtained by a public authority. No provision expressly requires the filtering of data once they are obtained, but the code of practice sets out specific provisions in respect of filtering. We can have a further discussion about that if the Committee wishes.

I was thinking of Ruskin when the hon. and learned Lady was speaking. I often think of Ruskin, as you know, Mr Owen. Ruskin said that

“endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty”.

On that basis, she tested my nobility to its very limit.

There is a clear difference on this subject in the Committee, and I suspect—I do not want to assume too much—that it is the difference between those parties that are in government, have been in government or aspire to be in government in this House, and those that are not, have not been or do not aspire to be. If that is a little unkind, I hope you will forgive the unkindness, Mr Owen—

I am about to sit down, so I will not give way. Perhaps the hon. Lady will forgive me. My endurance has been tested to its limit.

It has been a while since I have been so extensively and excessively patronised. The right hon. Gentleman says I tested his abilities to the limit—to such a limit that he has not made any effort whatever to engage with any of my points about the American experience. Will he or perhaps the Solicitor General deign to do that on a later occasion?

I will say this. The Bill has been through an exhaustive process of consideration. The draft Bill was preceded by three reports on the basis of which—the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras drew attention to this—the Government have gone further than originally set out, in the terms I described with publication of more information, explanation of the operational case and amendments to the codes of practice. The Bill was considered by three Committees of this House and I have referred to the Joint Committee’s views on bulk powers.

This Committee is now considering the Bill following publication in its final form on Second Reading. In the Second Reading debate the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, a senior Member of this House who chairs a very important Committee, said that he was convinced that these powers were necessary. The hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras has argued for perhaps going further on the operational case.

I will just finish my sentence. I do not think anyone can say there has not been adequate debate about bulk powers. Before I give way to my hon. Friend and then the hon. Lady—I do not wish to put a further spoke in her wheel, or perhaps I do—I want to say that the US National Academy of Sciences could not identify any alternative that is appropriate to bulk powers.

I just want to put it on the record that I am sure my right hon. Friend shares my view that if the former Attorney General, our right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), who chairs the Committee to which the Minister referred, had not been convinced, he would have had no problem whatever in telling the Government and anyone who wanted to listen that he was not convinced. Our right hon. Friend is not a patsy in this matter or a yea-sayer. If he disagreed, he would have told us.

Let me quote our right hon. and learned Friend. He said:

“The present Committee and its predecessor are satisfied that the Government are justified in coming to Parliament to seek in broad terms the powers that the Bill contains. None of the categories of powers in the Bill—including the principle of having powers of bulk collection of data, which has given rise to controversy in recent years—is unnecessary or disproportionate to what we need to protect ourselves.”—[Official Report, 15 March 2016; Vol. 607, c. 836.]

He said that on the basis of the information provided to him, but in the knowledge that robust safeguards will govern the examination of data that have been collected in bulk and that it will be possible to select such data for examination only when it is necessary and proportionate for a specific operational purpose. What is happening in other places is, of course, of interest to us and of course we consider other jurisdictions, but my job is to listen to those who have examined the Bill with considerable diligence and in considerable detail, and to be guided by their conclusions.

In that spirit and with that purpose, I hope that we can move on to the next clause, having been persuaded, I hope, that what the Government are doing is perfectly reasonable.

That Minister said a little while ago that Google searches were not external to the UK. I think that is what he said. I am looking at a report of what Charles Farr told the Government in June 2014, which is in a report that we can all access on the BBC website. He said:

“UK intelligence service GCHQ can legally snoop on British use of Google, Facebook and web-based email without specific warrants because the firms are based abroad, the government has said. Classed as ‘external communications’, such activity can be covered by a broad warrant and intercepted without extra clearance, spy boss Charles Farr said.”

Forgive me, but “spy boss” is BBC language. Charles Farr’s correct title was director general of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism. He told Privacy International that

“Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and web searches on Google—“

Order. This is an intervention. We have noted the source. I call the Minister to respond.

I see now my mission; it has come to me in a flash. Part of my job is to clear the murk surrounding the hon. and learned Lady and guide her to the light. To that end, she needs to understand that there is a distinction between the position under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the definition of overseas-related warrants relating to bulk powers in the Bill. To quote what Charles Farr, with whom I worked at the Home Office, said about one does not really relate to the other. I hope we can move forward on our journey to the light.

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

Clause 119 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 120

Obtaining secondary data

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

Clause 120 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 121

Power to issue bulk interception warrants

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 652, in clause 121, page 98, line 12, leave out subsection (3).

Amendment 653, in clause 121, page 98, line 26, at end insert—

‘(7) Where an application made by, or on behalf of, the Secretary of State includes the activities set out in section 119(4)(c) or (d), a bulk interception warrant can only be issued if the Secretary of State considers that selection for examination or disclosure is necessary—

(a) for a purpose under subsection (8), and

(b) it is necessary to obtain the data—

(i) for a specific investigation or a specific operation, or

(ii) for the purposes of testing, maintaining or developing equipment, systems or other capabilities relating to the availability or obtaining of data.

(8) The paragraph 7(a) purposes are—

(a) the interests of national security,

(b) preventing or detecting serious crime or preventing serious disorder,

(c) the interests of public safety,

(d) protecting public health,

(e) preventing death or serious injury or any serious damage to one or more person’s physical or mental health,

(f) assisting investigations into alleged miscarriages of justice,

(g) where a person (“P”) has died or is unable to identify themselves because of a physical or mental condition—

(i) to assist in identifying P, or

(ii) to obtain information about P’s next of kin or other persons connected with P or about the reason for P’s death or condition, or

(h) exercising functions relating to—

(i) the regulation of financial services and markets, or

(ii) financial stability.’.

Amendment 674, in clause 138, page 110, line 1, leave out subsection (b).

Amendment 675, in clause 138, page 110, line 4, leave out subsection (3).

Amendment 676, in clause 138, page 110, line 46, at end insert—

‘(11) Where an application made by, or on behalf of, the Secretary of State includes the activities set out in section 138(7)(b) or (c), a bulk acquisition warrant can only be issued if the Secretary of State considers that selection for examination or disclosure is—

(a) necessary for a purpose within subsection (12), or

(b) that it is necessary to obtain the data—

(i) for the purposes of a specific investigation or a specific operation, or

(ii) for the purposes of testing, maintaining or developing equipment, systems or other capabilities relating to the availability or obtaining of data.

(12) A paragraph 11(a) purpose is—

(a) the interests of national security,

(b) preventing or detecting serious crime or of preventing serious disorder,

(c) the interests of public safety,

(d) protecting public health,

(e) preventing death or serious injury or any serious damage to one or more person’s physical or mental health,

(f) assisting investigations into alleged miscarriages of justice,

(g) where a person (“P”) has died or is unable to identify themselves because of a physical or mental condition—

(i) to assist in identifying P, or

(ii) to obtain information about P’s next of kin or other persons connected with P or about the reason for P’s death or condition, or

(h) exercising functions relating to—

(i) the regulation of financial services and markets, or

(ii) financial stability.’.

We spent some time on clause 119, but it was right to take time on that important provision. We now move to the safeguards. I listened very carefully to what the Minister said a moment ago and to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West. As we move forward, there needs to be some clarity on the basis.

In essence, our position is not to seek to reduce the capabilities of the security and intelligence services, which of course currently operate the powers in question under other authorisations. We seek to ensure that there is proper justification for bulk powers—hence new clause 16, which we will vote on at the end, which would delay the provisions from coming into force until an independent evaluation has taken place. I speak only for my party in saying that there is no intention to reduce the capabilities of the security and intelligence services. I am not suggesting for a moment that there is any intention to do that on anybody else’s behalf, but I am simply making my position clear. I am not speaking for anybody else, because I should not.

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the SNP proposal to put the powers to one side while an operational case is produced would not reduce the security services’ powers for the time being, pending the outcome of the court cases? They are already operating them, as we have heard, under section 8(4) of RIPA.

The hon. and learned Lady should not read into my observations any criticism of the approach that she has taken, or any suggestion that she or her party are seeking to reduce the capabilities of the security and intelligence services. I know her background and the work that she has done, and I know that would not be her position. I do not intend to impute that it is. I am keen to speak only for myself and my party.

The Bill brings a legal framework and definition to the powers, and a set of safeguards to go with the exercise of those powers. I think that is important. If the powers are to be exercised, I would rather they were exercised within a proper legal framework, with more effective safeguards than under the current framework. I think that is the only real difference of approach between us.

What we all have to bear in mind is not whether we personally have been persuaded by the case that the po