Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Contents


Our inquiry

1.The Joint Committee was appointed by the House of Commons on 5 November and the House of Lords on 25 November 2015 to conduct pre-legislative scrutiny of the Government’s Draft Investigatory Powers Bill (“the draft Bill”).

2.The Committee was an ad hoc joint committee of the two Houses and ceased to exist on the making of this report.

The purpose of pre-legislative scrutiny

3.The Committee has sought to give the greatest possible early opportunity for stakeholders and the wider public to comment on the draft Bill. In legislation of particular controversy, where many of the facts underpinning arguments on all sides are subject to robust challenge and disagreement, pre-legislative scrutiny can add particular value. It was not possible at this stage to resolve every issue of controversy associated with the draft Bill. In some areas we have simply reported these disagreements and flagged the issues on which we believe particular attention should be concentrated when the Bill itself is introduced. This report will not be the final word of parliamentarians on the issues addressed in the Bill. The publication of the draft Bill, and this Committee’s consideration of it, mark the beginning of a parliamentary debate which will continue in the two Houses in the months ahead. Both Houses will give full scrutiny to the Bill proper, a Bill which we believe will be much improved if the recommendations of this report are accepted.

The timescale for this inquiry

4.The Committee was set a reporting deadline by the two Houses of 11 February 2016. Our timescale was framed by the need to replace the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA) before it expires at the end of 2016. This timescale for our work attracted attention from a number of our witnesses.1

5.The Committee responded to these timing issues by conducting an intensive programme of evidence taking. We first met on the morning of 26 November, the day after our appointment, and immediately received informal briefings on the draft Bill from officials and others. We issued our public Call for Written Evidence on the following day, Friday 27 November. Our deadline for submissions was necessarily tight, by close on Monday 21 December.

6.Despite the deadline, we received an impressive response, totalling 148 submissions, running to over 1500 pages of evidence. All of this evidence is published with the report. Our witnesses ranged from individuals with an interest to multinational companies and campaign groups as well as representatives of various regulatory arms, and oversight and law enforcement bodies. The Committee was hugely appreciative of our witnesses’ willingness to submit evidence to a challenging deadline. The quality and range of our written evidence has allowed us to make a serious attempt at scrutinising the draft Bill with the necessary degree of rigour.

7.As well as our written evidence, the Committee heard as much evidence in person as it could within the timeframe, including holding meetings on two days when either one House or the other was not sitting. In total we heard from 59 people in 22 public panels. The Committee is grateful to all those who appeared in person before it, often at necessarily short notice.

8.To aid its work, the Joint Committee also conducted two informal visits. On 15 December we visited a Metropolitan Police Intelligence Bureau in Vauxhall, where we received a joint briefing from different arms of law enforcement and saw at first hand the process for applying for and approving requests for communications data. On the same day we met representatives of the security and intelligence agencies. In addition, several members of the Committee travelled to Cheltenham to see GCHQ’s operations.

9.We were assisted by two specialist advisers, Martin Hoskins and Professor Peter Sommer, to both of whom the Committee is grateful for their insight and counsel. Their interests, together with those of the members of the Joint Committee, are set out in Appendix 1.

The structure of this report

10.Chapter Two explores the policy background to the draft Bill, and attempts to frame its provisions within the wider debates and developments in the UK and elsewhere. Chapter Three sets out the capabilities, some of which are new and others simply avowed in one place for the first time, which the draft Bill would give to law enforcement, the security and intelligence agencies and others. Chapter Four examines the proposed authorisation arrangements for each of these capabilities, and whether they are appropriate. Chapter Five examines the proposed new framework of oversight for the use of the powers in the draft Bill. Chapter Six considers the remaining issues arising from the draft Bill.

1 See written evidence from Big Brother Watch (IPB007) Dr Paul Bernal (IPB018), Entanet International Ltd (IPB0022), Ms Susan Morgan (IPB0043), Article 19 (IPB0052), Mr Ray Corrigan (IPB0053), Duncan Campbell (IPB0069), Mr Howard Clark (IPB0070), Amnesty International UK (IPB0074), Mark Dziecielewski (IPB0082), William Waites (IPB0089), UN Special Rapporteurs (IPB0102), the Chartered Institute of Library Information Professionals (IPB0104), Access Now et al. (IPB0109), ISPA (IPB0137) and McEvedys Solicitors and Attorneys (IPB0138)

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