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Thursday, 11 February 2016

Mrs May 'must think again' on surveillance

Today’s Joint Committee report is yet another reason why the Home Secretary, Theresa May, must think again on her plans for surveillance say the Liberal Democrats.

They say the report joins the chorus of concern already around the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed by critics as another 'snooper's charter' after the original was blocked by Nick Clegg while he was Deputy Prime Minister. The Lib Dems say that process, of this Bill, so far has meant the Bill is rushed, incomprehensible and vague.

The Liberal Democrats say they are urging the Mrs May to pause and listen to the conclusions and recommendations of the three reports.

Commenting on the report, Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Home Affairs, Alistair Carmichael said: "There is absolutely no one who believes this bill is going in the right direction. This is a major piece of legislation which will govern the powers of the Intelligence and Security services as well as law enforcement. We can’t afford to get it wrong, yet the Home Secretary seems intent on rushing it through as quickly as possible – despite reassurances to the contrary."

Mr Carmichael also threw his weight behind concerns of the joint committee: "The joint committee has added its criticisms to the growing voice of concerned groups who have serious misgivings about the bill. Even the Home Office’s usually loyal ally – the ISC, has published a scathing report on the draft Bill describing it as handicapped from the outset."

In a clear warning to Mrs May that that Liberal Democrats will use their Peers to defeat this Bill if necessary Alistair Carmichael said: "If the draft bill is left in anything like its current form it will have a very rough ride ahead of it through Parliament."

Paul Strasburger, member of the Joint Committee and Liberal Democrat peer echoed Alistair Carmichael's criticism of Mrs May: "Sadly, the Home Office has not learnt the lessons of the Snoopers Charter, which the Lib Dems scuppered during the coalition. Three Parliamentary committees have concluded that the new Bill, like the last one, is vague and confusing and has many other faults. The Government has a lot of work to do to get this important Bill into shape."

Calling on Parliament to throw the Bill out, Lord Strasburger said: "Parliament must not stand for loosely worded legislation. The Home Office has a bad habit of exploiting badly drafted Acts to create highly intrusive powers without bothering to get explicit approval for them or even mentioning them to Parliament. That must never be allowed to happen again."