MPs give overwhelming backing to new snoopers’ charter at second reading

Theresa May

MPs backed the Investigatory Powers Bill at its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday by 281-15.

The Home Secretary Theresa May told the chamber the legislation would uphold the UK government’s commitment to “updating and consolidating our country’s investigatory powers in a clear and comprehensive new law that will stand the test of time”.

She added: “As the House is aware, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, which the bill is intended to replace, contains a sunset clause requiring us to pass legislation by the end of 2016.

“That is the timetable set by Parliament, and the grave threats we face make it imperative that we do so.”

The bill sets out police and intelligence agency powers to gather and access communications and communications data as well as the safeguards and oversight arrangements which govern their use.

MPs from the Labour Party and the SNP have criticised the proposed legislation, but abstained from last night’s vote.

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham earlier told The Times: “Britain needs a new legal framework in this crucial area that is fit for the digital age, balancing powers with proper safeguards. So Labour will put party politics aside and work constructively with the government to that end.”

Joanna Cherry QC MP, the SNP’s justice spokesperson, said her party supports “targeted suspicion based surveillance which is properly authorised and overseen” but has “grave concerns about other aspects of the bill including collection of internet connection records and bulk powers”.

She added: “We abstained and said we would work for this bill to be significantly amended to address our concerns and those of other parliamentarians, civil liberties groups and technology companies.

“We made it clear that if our concerns are not addressed, we reserve the right to vote against the bill in the later stages of its passage through Parliament.”

Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the bill.

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