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Counter Terrorism and Security Bill

Dawn Primarolo MP's reply to constituents regarding the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill:


"Thank you for your email regarding the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill which is currently being considered by Parliament.

I have carefully noted your comments about this piece of legislation and the related Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act.  I appreciate there is considerable public concern regarding recent allegations concerning data gathering by the security and intelligence services and that a number of organisations have called for wide-ranging reform of our surveillance and data retention laws.

In my view it is essential that we ensure there is effective oversight, proper checks and balances, and a clear legal framework to our intelligence operations.  Of course, our intelligence and security services undertake vital work to protect our security and to counter the threats we face. Given the global nature of their work and the terrorist threat it is also crucial that our intelligence agencies are able to share information across international borders with our allies.  However, it is important that there is public confidence that our intelligence agencies are accountable, law-abiding and subject to proper oversight, and it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure this standard is being met.

As you may know, Labour did not support the Government's draft Communications Bill in 2012 as we believed this proposed unprecedented and unnecessary increases in the scope of rata detention, however, I do believe there is a case to look at our laws on data security retention laws in light of new technologies and evolving terrorist threats. That is why it is very important to carefully scrutinise the Government's proposals in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill as it passes through Parliament and to ensure that it includes clear oversight and sufficient safeguards.

This Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 2 December and its Report and Third Reading stages on 6 and 7 January.  I chaired some of these important debates in my role as Deputy Speaker, transcripts of which are available on the Parliamentary website (here).

Labour’s Shadow Home Office Minister, Diana Johnson MP, tabled an amendment that would have made it explicit that the extra powers on data retention in this Bill do not extend beyond that which is necessary for the purpose of identifying a user from an IP address.  I hope this matter will be resolved.

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill is now being considered by the House of Lords where I hope further thorough scrutiny of the Government’s proposals will take place and Labour’s concerns about the legislation will be re-visited.

On a wider note, I welcome the current debate about how we make our security agencies more accountable and subject to proper oversight. I hope the Government will listen to the concerns that are being raised.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

Yours sincerely

Dawn PrimaroloLabour MP for Bristol South"

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