On Tuesday, I was joined in the lobby by Labour MPs whilst voting on the Government’s Investigatory Powers Bill.
It goes without saying that it is absolutely imperative that those who keep us safe have the necessary powers to do so.
As our forms of communication have increasingly become more digitalised, intelligence agencies have not been able to keep up.
This Bill will bring the digital world into line with historic powers, and enable our intelligence agencies to continue combating terrorism, and all threats to our national security.
Many people have written to me with their concerns that the measures included in this Bill are not compatible with individual liberties.
Along with colleagues on both sides of the House, I have relayed these shared concerns to the Home Secretary, and I am delighted that the Government has listened.
Over the last two years, there have been three independent reviews into the powers security forces have at their disposal, and along with recommendations made by the Parliamentary Joint Committee, Intelligence and Security Committee and the Science and Technology Committee, the Government formed the Bill around the recommendations made.
A further independent review, chaired by David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, has been announced, which will look to ascertain whether the capabilities provided by the Bill are necessary, and in line with Human Rights.
What’s more, the Government has introduced a so-called ‘double-lock’ for interception warrants, meaning that following authorisation by the Secretary of State, the warrants cannot come into force until they have also been approved by a judge.
The Bill will also provide safeguards for certain professions – such as journalists and lawyers – and all of these powers will be overseen by a new ‘Investigatory Powers Commissioner’.
There is always a balancing act between the security and liberties of citizens that the Government must strive to reach; it’s my opinion that by listening to the concerns that have been shared with them, that the Government has got it right.