Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

15 MAR 2016

MP speaks in Investigatory Powers Bill debate

Steve Brine took part in a debate over the Investigatory Powers Bill which took place in the House of Commons on Tuesday 15th March.

The Bill, which was having its Second Reading, seeks to update and consolidate our country's investigatory powers in a clear and comprehensive new law that will stand the test of time.

Over the past two years, there has been detailed analysis of those investigatory powers through three independent reviews, consultation with law enforcement, the security and intelligence agencies, civil liberties groups, and industry. Now, following the publication of the draft Bill last autumn, scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, the Intelligence and Security Committee, and the Science and Technology Committee, the government has come forward with a revised Bill.

Speaking to the Commons, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, said that the revised Bill is clearer, with tighter technical definitions and strict codes of practice.

She said: "It includes stronger privacy safeguards, bolstering protections for lawyers and journalists' sources; it explicitly prevents our agencies from asking foreign intelligence agencies to intercept the communications of a person in the UK on their behalf unless they have a warrant approved by a Secretary of State and a judicial commissioner."

She stated that it reduces the amount of time within which urgent warrants must be reviewed by a judicial commissioner, cutting it from five days to three, and it strengthens the powers of the new Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

Speaking in the debate, Steve Brine confirmed his support for the Bill, and said that he joined colleagues across the House in rejecting the conspiracy theories about this being a snoopers' charter.

He said: "Sadly, the bad guys have always wanted to do us harm. In the internet age, it of course gets harder to deal with them—it requires us as a society to ask ourselves even tougher questions about the compromises required—but that does not mean we can bury our heads in the sand. Whether or not this Parliament acts, the world will continue to be a dangerous place and our many enemies will continue to use the very latest technology to try to get at us. We cannot stop the world because we want to get off."

He told the House how he had worked on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill (RIPA) sixteen years ago, and that the intention to bring forward this legislation was clearly set out in the manifesto last year.

He said that following all the scrutiny and work done, the Bill had by no means been rushed, and it had been stress-tested by a number of bodies.

Steve also spoke of his concerns over the powers being used inappropriately, for "trivial purposes by those in our town halls and local constabularies who may think that they are in an episode of Spooks."

He said: "I know that that is not the intention of the Bill, which seeks to keep us safe and equip the spooks to do their job in the 21st century... but I do not want this Bill to become its own public relations disaster due to a mission creep that was never intended in its drafting.

"Many of our constituents will take the view that, if someone has nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear, and I have some sympathy with that. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

"I wish that a Bill such as this were not necessary, but it is, and a wealth of evidence suggests that the law in this area needs urgent revision. The bottom line is that we as a society give something away in return for our freedom, safety and security. That is a choice we make as an elected House of Commons and as elected representatives.

"There is always a compromise between liberty and security. It is unhelpful to present this issue as being all one way or all the other way. On balance, having looked at the evidence, read the Bill and talked to Ministers, I think that it contains the right combination of measures, and I will support it tonight."


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