MP raises investigatory powers at PMQs

Nigel Huddleston MP used a Prime Minister’s Question in Parliament on Wednesday to raise the new Investigatory Powers Bill with the Prime Minister.  He welcomed the legislation but highlighted the need for safeguards on the security services’ powers.  

Nigel said: “The UK’s internet economy is by far the largest of the G20 nations, at 12.4% of our GDP.  But as consumers move online, so do criminals. Does the Prime Minister therefore agree that the Investigatory Powers Bill must give our security services the powers they need to keep us safe, while ensuring that proper controls exist on how we use those powers?”

The Prime Minister responded: “My honourable friend is absolutely right to raise this, and it is one of the most important Bills this House will discuss. Obviously, it is going through pre-legislative scrutiny first. The Home Secretary will today, at this Dispatch Box, set out very clearly what this Bill is about and why it is necessary. 

"Let me just make one simple point: communications data—the who called whom and when of telecommunications—have been absolutely vital in catching rapists and child abductors and in solving other crimes. 

"The question before us is: do we need those data when people are using social media to commit those crimes rather than just a fixed or mobile phone? My answer is: yes, we must help the police and our security and intelligence services to keep us safe.”

Commenting later, Nigel said: “I appreciated the Prime Ministers firm response to my question.  Criminals and terrorists have been using digital communications for a while and this new Bill enables law enforcement and the security services to catch up.

"The size and scale of the internet in the UK is often under-estimated.  Few people realise we are in many ways the most advanced digital economy on the planet. The internet economy of France is a quarter the size of the UK, Germany’s is a third and the US is half the size as a percentage of GDP.   

"The UK benefits greatly from our leadership in the digital space in terms of economic growth and jobs; but because of the size of our internet economy we are also more exposed to attack and criminality in the digital arena than most other countries.  That is why we need to show leadership and make sure our security practices and law enforcement are up to date with modern forms of communication.”