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22 Oct 2007 : Column 88
7.30 pm

Recently, RIPA’s entire architecture has been subject to criticism, as the Minister will know, by a roundabout route. As a result of an EU directive implemented by the Government, the voluntary agreement on the retention of material has become permanent with the service suppliers, and the Government now have access through the EU directive to the information to which they had access under that agreement. That raises an interesting issue—and I hope that the Minister can answer this point—as we introduced a voluntary agreement designed specifically to deal with terrorism that was extended much further in RIPA. Through an EU directive, the boundaries of the provision have extended far beyond what was originally envisaged in the voluntary agreement effectively to cover every aspect of Government activity in this country.

That is not a happy state of affairs, and although I accept that new clause 5 is reticent in tackling the underlying problems in the legislation, which may require radical amendment, it at least offers us an opportunity to reconsider the road that we took when RIPA was passed. I do not think that the issue is going to go away: the public concern that has been expressed is entirely legitimate, and there is growing anxiety about the extent to which we may be creeping into a surveillance society. One of the arguments made for RIPA was that it would bring under one umbrella all the state’s investigatory powers to obtain information on communications retention. However, that has not happened, as far as I am aware. Departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions have completely separate powers, enacted by the House, which undermines the need for RIPA in the first place.

I hope that the Minister will respond to my concerns and consider carefully whether, in fact, there are not better ways in which to proceed. I do not entertain huge hopes that we will succeed this evening in a Division, but I hope that at least the new clause will send the Minister a signal that the matter ought to be revisited, preferably by the Government after further consultation, because it raises the question of creeping, incremental powers for the state, which is not desirable without further debate. As often happens in the House, we have succeeded in putting together a package that will have a substantial impact on the liberty of the individual without appreciating the full force of what we are about. I hope that the Minister will respond positively to the proposal, even if he does not support the new clause, and explain how the Government propose to approach those problems in future.

The Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing (Mr. Tony McNulty): I have no doubt that many of matters raised by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) are legitimate matters for debate, but this is not the time for that debate. As he suggested, new clause 5 will not achieve what he seeks to achieve, not least because of the orders that were passed on 1 October in the House. We can debate the rocky road that we have travelled on RIPA, but that is a debate for another time. The new clause seeks to address the list of public authorities that may obtain communications data under chapter 2 of part 1 of RIPA, but it fails to achieve that aim. RIPA already provides that an order specifying additional public
22 Oct 2007 : Column 89
authorities that may obtain communications data must be debated and approved by a resolution of each House.

We had a substantive public debate in 2003 in which we set out public authorities’ necessary and proportionate requirements for obtaining data, and explained why various authorities had investigating and detecting duties in safeguarding public safety and public health. Parliament discussed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Communications Data) Order in November 2003, an order amending that order in 2005, and a further amendment in 2006. Public authorities’ requirements were set out in the explanatory memorandums for each order. The new clause does not undo any of those orders.

Mr. Grieve: I recommend that the Minister read the debate on the 2003 order. It was an extremely bad- tempered event, because the Government were late in presenting the relevant material to the House and they did not wait for the report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Many of the criticisms that I have made today were voiced then, but the Government have not done anything about them.

Mr. McNulty: I was not challenging the notion that those debates were bad tempered—I have read them, and that is extremely clear—but they are over, and orders and secondary legislation have been passed. There is nothing in the new clause that changes any of that, even though the hon. Gentleman said that that is the aim of the new clause.

I am happy to debate RIPA and what public authorities should, or should not, be allowed to do, and what they can do with the three different grades of communications data. Much of the discussion of the orders that came into force on 1 October was based on erroneous facts. It was thought that hundreds of authorities would be allowed access to the highest level of communications data, but that is not the case. It was suggested that any number of public authorities would be allowed to access that data for tax purposes, but that is simply not the case. Naturally, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs can do so, because that is part of its duty. We were given the impression that, notwithstanding the detailed orders and regulations, there would be a free-for-all, in which, as the hon. Gentleman implied, every arm of the state would have ready access to the most detailed communications data. That is not the case, but new clause 5 fails to address that. It may a useful device in airing the notion that we need a detailed debate on the relevant provisions in RIPA—I give the hon. Gentleman that—but this is not the time to hold that debate.

Mr. Grieve: I disagree with the Minister. If the new clause were accepted, it would immediately create an incompatibility between RIPA’s new wording and the scope of the orders passed by the House. The primary legislation would no longer back up the full scope of the secondary legislation, particularly the organisations that have been given those powers.

Mr. McNulty: The hon. Gentleman is far more erudite and expert in those legal matters than I am. I watched with admiration as he danced on the head of a
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legalistic pin to good effect, but I am told in substantial terms that what he seeks will not be achieved by the measure. The impact that he seeks to achieve on the orders that came into force on 1 October will not prevail. That is a matter of dispute: the Department’s lawyers challenge his view—he will be used to that position, too. However, there will be opportunities—I go this far with him—to revisit and discuss the substance of the provisions of RIPA with respect to communications data. The new clause is not the way to do that.

Let me deal with the proposals in the Government amendments, which are straightforward. They make it clear that only senior HMRC officials can authorise the use of intrusive surveillance powers. I am pleased to bring the amendments to the House in response to concerns raised in Committee, principally by the hon. Member for Hornchurch (James Brokenshire). Commenting on concerns raised by the Law Society, he asked that the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker)—he was in Committee, happily, not me—consider whether it could be made clearer precisely who was mandated by the provisions. That is what the Government amendments seek to achieve.

Although I accept the broad thrust of the contextual introduction by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield to debates about RIPA and communications data, this is not the place or the new clause to change that. In any case, the new clause as drafted would not achieve the hon. Gentleman’s objective. In that happy consensual spirit on the Government amendments and partially consensual approach on new clause 5, I hope he will withdraw new clause 5 and that the Government amendments, tabled not least at the insistence—very eloquent, I am sure—of the hon. Member for Hornchurch, prevail.

Mr. Grieve: Let me start by saying some pleasant things to the Minister. I thank him for the amendments that the Government have tabled in respect of the level of officer in Customs and Excise authorising intrusive surveillance. We are grateful for the Minister’s response to the representations made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (James Brokenshire). We welcome the amendments and will gladly support them.

On our amendments, there is that classic difference of approach between Government and Opposition, which, I am afraid, will continue to separate us. The Minister may be right that the Bill, which deals with many other matters, was not the easiest place for us to focus on what we perceive to be the serious deficiencies of RIPA. I also accept that amending the legislation in order to achieve all the points that I raised in the course of debate is difficult without a complete overhaul of the architecture of the Act, but it is still worth attempting. I differ from the Minister in the belief that if the amendment were passed, it would alter the way in which the Act can be interpreted and which public authorities could remain on the list of those who could obtain the information.

With that in mind, and with the background fact that the legislation is causing public disquiet, on which there has been a considerable amount of comment, even though I am the first to accept that its origins may
22 Oct 2007 : Column 91
have been reasonable when it was first considered, it is the duty of the Opposition at least to seek the opinion of the House to see how many Members share that disquiet. I shall therefore put the new clause to the vote.

I am grateful to the Minister for showing a willingness to listen to some of the problems that have been caused by this area of legislation. We are undoubtedly living in a period of our history where the power and rights of the state to intrude into citizens’ lives have increased beyond all recognition, compared with the position 10, 15, 20 or 30 years ago. We are in serious danger of accepting as a norm what our forefathers would have regarded as an outrage. Although there are security considerations that we must balance, on the back of security we are in danger of creating a highly regulated state that is rather poor at bringing about behavioural changes in relation to the observance of the law.

That is one of the big topics that we must face in the House, and I suspect it is one to which we will return over and over again. It would be helpful if we could reach a degree of consensus in all parts of the House on how to strike the balance, but I am pretty well convinced in my own mind that at present the balance is far too skewed towards the intrusive powers of the state and far away from the rights of the individual.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House proceeded to a Division

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. May I ask the Serjeant to investigate the delay in the No Lobby?

The House having divided: Ayes 198, Noes 273.
Division No. 214]
[7.45 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Barrett, John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clegg, Mr. Nick
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward

Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, Hugh
Rogerson, Dan
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Nick Hurd and
Angela Watkinson


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, Mr. David
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goodman, Helen
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David

Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mark Tami and
Mr. Dave Watts
Question accordingly negatived.
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Clause 1

Serious crime prevention orders

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