Draft Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Maintenance of Interception Capability) Order 2002

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Norman Baker: I am grateful to the Minister, and I am sure that everyone welcomes that last assurance. I

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am sorry if I did not make myself clear. The original word in the consultation was ''feasible''. NTL objected to the concept of filtering to identify the telecommunications of a particular warranted telecommunications provider, where feasible. The word ''feasible'' was subsequently changed to ''reasonable'', but I am not clear whether that change meets NTL's concerns. I understand that its objection was to the whole concept, not to that particular adjective.

Mr. Ainsworth: It might be wise to write to the hon. Gentleman on that point rather than to try to go into it now.

Mr. Grieve: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Ainsworth: I think that the hon. Gentleman might be about to help me.

Mr. Grieve: Yes, I am trying to help the Minister. The change to the word ''reasonable'' is likely to have been a concession in the direction of NTL. If the word were ''feasible'', however unreasonable it might be to demand interception, it could still be demanded provided that it was technically feasible to achieve it. The word ''reasonable'' usually implies some marriage between time and cost against the goal that is likely to be achieved.

Mr. Ainsworth: That seems logical to me. If that is not the case, I will write to the hon. Members for Lewes and for Beaconsfield to ensure that they are provided with a proper explanation as to what happened, if the hon. Member for Beaconsfield has not already found it for us.

I do not have anything to say to the hon. Member for Lewes on Menwith Hill and the US capability. I will therefore write to him and try to cover the points that he raised.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Maintenance of Interception Capability) Order 2002.

Committee rose at eleven minutes past Eleven o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Amess, Mr. David (Chairman)
Ainsworth, Mr. Bob
Baker, Norman
Burgon, Colin
Francois, Mr.
Gillan, Mrs.
Grieve, Mr.
Hepburn, Mr.
Jones, Mr. Jon Owen
Mahmood, Mr.
Twigg, Derek
Watts, Mr.

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