January 22, 2015

Abuse of Parliamentary procedure: introducing the Comms Data Bill into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill

Laying eighteen pages of clauses before the Lords to insert the Snoopers' Charter into an already complicated bill is an abuse of procedure. The Lords cannot have time to properly consider the bill, and would deny the Commons the opportunity to consider the clauses as well.


The draft Communications Data Bill, which is inserted by the amendment in nearly identitical form, was scrutinised by a joint committee of the Lords and Commons for a year.i

The Committee agreed unanimously that the draft was inappropriate. None of their concerns are addressed in the clauses presented.

The report is extremely critical of the Home Office, labelling their figures “fanciful and misleading.”ii It adds that they “expect the overall cost to the taxpayer over the next decade to exceed £1.8 billion [the Home Office's estimated cost] by a considerable margin"iii

The Committee said that “the draft Bill pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, and goes much further than it need or should for the purpose of providing necessary and justifiable official access to communications data.”iv

Their concerns over wholesale collection and analysis of data were substantial and from any perspective would need considerable changes to be made to the draft bill, now presented as amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill.

Debate on Monday

We urge Lords to attend the debate on Monday and express their concerns at this attempt to insert legislation into an existing Bill at the last minute. It is extremely important to express concerns at this initial debate.

Further information

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201213/jtselect/jtdraftcomuni/79/7902.htm

Joint Commitee on the Draft Communications Data Bill

 

Further Communications Data Bill background

ORG submission to the Joint Comittee

Proposed amendment to CTSB

Notes

ii Page 71, paragraph 267

iiiPage 69

ivPage 3