The Scottish National Party MPs voted against the Investigatory Powers Bill (Tuesday 7th June) as it reached its final stage in the House of Commons.
The Investigatory Powers Bill seeks to give intelligence and security services further investigative powers – including the power to keep your internet browsing history and get bulk data, which has been criticised by the UN.
Stirling SNP MP Steven Paterson has highlighted that, whilst he supports enabling intelligence and security services, any investigatory powers must be proportionate and necessary and, as SNP Justice and Home Affairs Spokesperson Joanna Cherry MP pointed out, the UK Government has “failed to make the case for such wide-ranging new powers and failed to deliver the necessary robust safeguards and independent oversight that these powers would require.”
The SNP have played a full and constructive part in scrutinising and amending this Bill. In committee, the SNP tabled a number of amendments to ensure that oversight and safeguards were a central principle to the proposed legislation and that they should be independent of government.
None of these SNP amendments were accepted.
Last week, Joanna Cherry MP wrote to the Home Secretary listing what would need to be done to improve the legislation to strengthen its principles and ensure that new investigatory powers were used proportionately. With the final stage of the Bill taking place in the House of Commons today, the Home Secretary is yet to reply.
Steven Paterson said:
“The new investigatory powers proposals are intrusive without justification and there are currently insufficient safeguards to ensure that these powers are proportionately exercised. What is proposed in this Bill goes much further than anything we have seen in other Western democracies.
“Law enforcement and intelligence agencies should have the necessary powers to fight serious crime and terrorism. However, civil liberties must also be protected and in order to strike that balance, surveillance must be targeted with court warrants to ensure that they are focussed, specific, and based on reasonable suspicion.
“Without these safeguards, neither I nor my SNP colleagues can support this Bill and, unless significant changes are made to strengthen it, we cannot support it – a decision that I do not take lightly.”