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Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill [HL]

Volume 835: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2024

Third Reading

Scottish Legislative Consent sought


Moved by

My Lords, throughout the preparation and passage of the Bill, we have been working closely with each of the devolved Administrations. Most of the provisions are UK-wide and are reserved, as national security is a reserved matter. A small number of measures in Part 2 of the Bill, on oversight, engage the legislative consent process in the Scottish Parliament. Currently, the Scottish Parliament has not granted a legislative consent Motion, although I can confirm to noble Lords that the Scottish Government have lodged one. We are engaging constructively with officials, and I reassure noble Lords that the Government will continue with this engagement as the Bill is introduced into the House of Commons. I beg to move that this Bill be read a third time.


Moved by

My Lords, I extend my gratitude to all noble Lords who have contributed to the Bill, both on the Floor of the House and outside. We all agree that this piece of legislation is both important and necessary. The targeted amendments that it will make to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 will ensure that the UK’s intelligence services and law enforcement will continue to have the tools at their disposal to keep this country safe, while ensuring that these are used in a proportionate way which places privacy at its heart. As the Bill passed through this House, the valuable debate has shaped it into what it is now. I am pleased that the House was able to reach agreement on several areas of potential divergence and that we send the Bill to the other place in exceptional shape and with cross-party support.

I first correct the record on one small point I made in my speech on the second group of amendments in last Tuesday’s debate on Report. His Majesty’s Treasury is not an example of a public authority that already has the power to acquire communications data using a Part 3 request. Examples of public authorities which do have these powers include His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and the Financial Conduct Authority, both of which perform a range of vital statutory functions using communications data.

Once more, I extend thanks particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, who has been crucial in shaping the Bill through his independent review of the Investigatory Powers Act and his contributions during the Bill’s passage. My thanks go also to the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, and his colleagues on the Intelligence and Security Committee. The input from him and his fellow committee members has been valuable and intended to improve the Bill. He has been ably and knowledgeably supported by the erstwhile chair of the committee, the noble Lord, Lord Murphy of Torfaen.

Similarly, I have valued the collaborative and serious way in which the Opposition Front Benches have engaged on matters of such importance, so I offer my thanks to the noble Lords, Lord Coaker, Lord Ponsonby and Lord Fox, for their desire to scrutinise the Bill carefully and constructively.

I am much obliged to the support of other noble Lords who have contributed with such eloquence and expertise as the Bill has passed through this House. In particular, the noble Baroness, Lady Manningham-Buller, and the noble Lords, Lord Evans of Weardale and Lord Hogan-Howe, have all provided an invaluable perspective from their professional backgrounds. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, both made a number of important and insightful interventions to help shape the debates and work towards practical solutions, for which I am grateful. My thanks go also to my noble friend Lord Gascoigne and his team in the Whips’ Office for their support as the Bill passed through this House.

I ask noble Lords to join me as I thank the policy officials and lawyers in the Home Office teams led by Lucy, Phoebe, Lucy, Hugh, Rob, Daphne and Becca, whose significant efforts have made this Bill happen. It is their hard work that has brought the Bill to this point. My thanks go also to the Bill team—Tom, Megan, Sophie, Emer and James—as well as Dan in my private office. I am also very grateful to Pete and Lucy, the expert drafters in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, for preparing the Bill and amendments during its passage.

Finally, I thank the intelligence agencies and law enforcement for their expert contribution to the Bill and for the work they do to keep this country safe day after day. The Bill will ensure that they continue to have the tools they need to carry out this task. We will all be the safer for it. We remain hugely grateful for their work.

As we send the Bill to the other place, it needs very little amending, save for some tidying up here and there. It is the first job of government to keep this country safe. The Bill helps us do just that.

My Lords, first, I thank the Minister and his team for the liaison and the work we did together to try to meet all our concerns about the Bill. I also thank him for giving me the excitement of my life in that I had an amendment accepted—for the first time in 14 years. That is a pretty good strike rate, is it not? I was pleased about that as well.

We on the ISC are very happy that the Bill is needed. However, as the Minister knows, we are still concerned that there is insufficient acceptance of the fact that parliamentary scrutiny is required by the ISC more broadly in this and a number of other areas. I am sure this will be brought up in the other place; otherwise, I am pleased that we have moved this Bill forward at pace.

My Lords, I echo all the thanks that came from the Minister. I do not think I can add to his list, but I certainly endorse everything he said.

Bills of this nature can be controversial. We are seeing this in some other parts of the world at the moment. That was not the case in your Lordships’ House. That is testimony to the care with which the Bill was prepared, the civilised way in which it was debated and the openness of the Government to some of the important points made during our debates. I single out in particular the work of the Intelligence and Security Committee for the great scrutiny that it applied to it.

If I may, I will depart briefly from the studied impartiality associated with the Cross Benches. With the Government and Opposition so closely aligned on a Bill, it was particularly useful that we heard from the Liberal Democrats—with their sometimes annoying but rather necessary process of probing amendments. They caused everyone to think carefully about what we were doing. All in all, it was a happy experience for me. I hope that this is a good model for future Home Office Bills.

My Lords, having been cleared to annoy your Lordships’ House, I will do my best to do so.

This Bill started in your Lordships’ House and now heads to the Commons. Its primary purpose of enabling the intelligence services to better build their data models and teach their AI systems has been left completely unmolested by your Lordships. However, other parts of the Bill have attracted a fanfare of concern from certain external parties—particularly the large platforms. Whether the Government and Apple are at cross purposes or the Minister really is out to get it, we in your Lordships’ House were unable to muster sufficient traction to find out or clarify. It is now up to the MPs if they choose to pick up that particular baton.

There was also an unresolved issue around the triple lock and the Prime Minister’s role when they might be in conflict. Again, this has moved from our orbit. I hope the tenacity of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, might still be involved somehow between here and the other place. The Minister raised the important issue of legislative consent. I hope he is successful in these negotiations.

I echo what other noble Lords have said. This has been a well-mannered and constructive process of discussion, with everybody moving in the same direction, albeit at different speeds.

I thank the Minister and the team he named for their time, availability and openness in our discussions. I also thank all the many external organisations and individuals who took time either to meet and brief or to send information which helped inform our debate. The discussion was greatly enhanced by the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Ponsonby, from the Front Bench, and by colleagues on their Benches, as well as the Cross Benchers. They played a pivotal role in our discussions.

Finally, I thank the home team: my colleague, my noble friend Lord Strasburger, and, most of all, Elizabeth Plummer in the Lib Dem Whips’ Office, without whom nothing is possible.

My Lords, we welcome the Bill and see it as an important step forward for our country. I thank the Minister and his colleagues very much for their constructive engagement all the way through; we very much appreciate that. I join the Minister in thanking his officials, all of whom have been helpful in ensuring that we understand the Government’s proposals. I wish him well with the Scottish Government and sorting out the various legislative consents; I hope that happens as soon as possible.

I thank my noble friend Lord Ponsonby for his support and help, and Clare Scally of our Whips Office, who has done an amazing job. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Fox, the representative of the Liberal Democrats, who have engaged with us and others constructively on the Bill. I also single out the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, whose report gave us a hugely beneficial platform through which to move forward. When an expert puts a report together and the Government engage constructively with it, it helps enormously. Similarly, I thank my noble friends Lord West and Lord Murphy, the ISC for its work and the intelligence services, some of whose representatives are here, for their input. It would be remiss of us not to join the Minister in thanking them again, particularly when we read on the front pages of our newspapers the threat to so-called Iranian dissidents in this country from Iranian criminal gangs. It shows yet again the importance of the work they do.

The Bill is an important step forward because it maintains the powers that our police and other services need to stay ahead of the criminals and those who would organise against us. There are still one or two issues to be looked at, but the Bill leaves us in a good place. As the noble Lord, Lord Fox, said, there will be continuing debate about the triple lock and whether the wording used is completely right, but it is a significant step forward. As my noble friend Lord West mentioned, it shows the Government in a good light when they listen to the arguments and accept amendments because they are the right thing to do. I hope that we can do that in other areas as well.

There are still issues with the oversight the ISC has more generally of government business, and how large companies’ security measures and the work they do will continue under the Bill. However, the Minister is to be congratulated on the open way he has led the legislation through the House. As others have said, it is a case study in how to do it, and we are very grateful for it.

Bill passed.