Labour to abstain on Investigatory Powers Bill - Andy Burnham

Posted On: 
14th March 2016
Labour MPs will abstain on the Government’s bill updating the surveillance powers of the security services when it is debated in the Commons for the first time on Tuesday.

The Investigatory Powers Bill overhauls the rules on data collection and agencies’ capabilities, including a requirement for internet companies to hold connection records for a year and updated authorisation procedures for more intrusive interception requests.

Ahead of the legislation’s second reading tomorrow, Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham has told The Times the Government must make “substantial changes before it will be acceptable to us”.

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Although he promised to “work constructively” with the Government to improve the bill, he stressed Labour was not giving a “blank cheque” of support at any stage.

Mr Burnham said: “We believe the bill must start with a presumption of privacy, as recommended by the Intelligence and Security Committee, include a clearer definition of the information that can be held and set a higher threshold to justify access. There also needs to be higher protection for journalists and their sources.

“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.

“On the left of politics, there are deeply-held concerns that, in our country’s past, investigatory powers have been misused against trade unionists and ordinary people campaigning for justice. This is why the Government will have to work hard to earn our support.”

Theresa May brought forward the bill earlier in the month after three parliamentary committees had scrutinised draft legislation released in the autumn.

 An all-party joint committee of MPs and Peers expressed fears that the Bill would allow too much state surveillance of conversations between clients and their lawyers. The Bar Councilwelcomed the joint committee report and called for protections for legal privilege to be included in the text. Read the full story here .