Investigatory Powers Bill

Thank you for contacting me about the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Throughout the lengthy consideration the Investigatory Powers Bill enjoyed in both its draft and final form, the delicate balance between security and privacy has been frequently debated. This balance lies at the heart of the Government's considerations, and I believe that this legislation will be critical to both our national security and protective of our personal privacy.

With regards to the notification of individuals, it seems to me that the new clause could very easily have helped criminals to evade investigation, arrest and prosecution. However I am glad that changes have been brought forward to the Bill that mean if a serious error has been identified by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the individual concerned will be notified.

On the issue of bulk powers, I am afraid we must agree to disagree as I believe such provisions are crucial to Britain's national security. These powers enabled over 90 per cent of the UK's targeted military operations during the campaign in south Afghanistan, and they have been essential to identifying 95 per cent of the cyberattacks on people and businesses in the UK discovered by the security and intelligence agencies over the past six months. I should also point out that these powers are not new; the Bill simply introduced additional safeguards, which is to be welcomed.

Finally on the question of review, I understand the desire for ongoing review of the Bill's provisions, but I am assured that this is already provided for. The operation of the Act is to be reviewed by the Secretary of State after five years, which is entirely appropriate. This Bill will need sufficient time to bed in, and a two-year review runs the risk that the Government would not be in a position to properly assess its impact.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.