Mr Speaker, with permission, I would like to make a statement on the publication of the Anderson Report and the parliamentary consideration of investigatory powers.
As the House will know, it is this Government’s intention to bring forward legislation relating to the Security, Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies’ use of investigatory powers and to have that legislation enacted before the sunset provision in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 takes effect on 31 December 2016.
In 2014 the Government asked the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, to conduct a review into the operation and regulation of law enforcement and agency investigatory powers, with specific reference to the interception of communications and the separate issue of communications data.
David Anderson has completed that review and this morning My Rt. Hon Friend the Prime Minister made a Written Ministerial Statement to lay that report before the House. The report makes 124 recommendations, covering sensitive intelligence capabilities, and it extends to over 300 pages. Following careful consideration by the Government and Security and Intelligence Agencies, I can confirm that no redactions have been made to the report prior to publication.
And I would like to put on record my - and the Government’s - thanks to David Anderson for his thoroughness and dedication in undertaking this important work.
Range of threats
As the report highlights, there are a range of threats against the UK and its interests, from terrorism, both at home and overseas, to cyber attacks from criminals. Many groups, not just the Government, have a role to play in ensuring the right capabilities are in place to tackle those threats. We will continue to work closely with all partners, including the intelligence agencies, law enforcement and industry, to take all these issues forward and continue to keep us safe from those that would do us harm.
David Anderson’s report is complimented by two further independent reviews in this area. In March, the Intelligence and Security Committee published their Privacy and Security report. This set out a comprehensive review of the intelligence agencies’ capabilities, and the legal and privacy frameworks that govern their use.
And later this summer, a panel coordinated by the Royal United Services Institute, and established by the former Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Member for Sheffield Hallam, will report on the legality, effectiveness and privacy implications of the UK’s surveillance programmes, and assess how law enforcement and intelligence capability can be maintained in the face of technological change.
These independent reviews are each important and valuable contributions to the continuing debate about the role of our Security, Intelligence and Law Enforcement Agencies, their use of investigatory powers and their oversight. The Government will need to give proper consideration to their recommendations, but collectively I believe they provide a firm basis for consultation on legislation.
Mr Speaker, I would now like to turn to the Parliamentary handling of this legislation.
The operation and regulation of the investigatory powers used by the police and the intelligence and security agencies is a matter of great importance to the security of this country and I know an issue of great interest to many Members of this House. As David Anderson makes clear, it is imperative that the use of sensitive powers are all overseen and fully declared under arrangements set by Parliament. It is therefore entirely right that Parliament should have the opportunity to debate those arrangements in full.
The Anderson review was undertaken with cross-party support and I believe it provides a sound basis to take this issue forward in the same manner.
In order to ensure that this is the case, the Government will publish a draft bill in the Autumn for pre-legislative scrutiny by a Joint Committee of Parliament, with the intention of introducing a Bill early in the New Year. Given the sunset clause in the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, the new legislation will need to be in place by the end of December 2016.
I have said many times before that it is not possible to debate the balance between privacy and security - including the rights and wrongs of intrusive powers and the oversight arrangements that govern them - without also considering the threats that we face as a country. Those threats remain considerable, and they are evolving. They include not just terrorism - from overseas and homegrown in the UK - but also industrial, military and state espionage. They include not just organised criminality, but also the proliferation of once-physical crimes online, such as child sexual exploitation, and the technological challenges that brings. In the face of such threats, we have a duty to ensure that the agencies whose job it is to keep us safe have the powers they need to do the job.
And I would like to finish, Mr Speaker, by paying tribute to the vital work of the men and women of the intelligence and law enforcement community, whose work is not always known, whose successes often go unrecognised, and whose efforts day in and day out are fundamental to keeping everyone in this country safe.