Helen Anthony's blog concerning all things legal; the views expressed are personal.
The need for a proper parliamentary process
16 November 2015
After Friday night’s horrific events in Paris, the inevitable calls for the Investigatory Powers Bill to be rushed through parliament have started and today, the Prime Minister has said that the timetable for the Bill ought to be reconsidered.
This is extremely worrying, because legislation which is rushed through parliament won’t lead to good law. It will result in a law which is a half baked attempt to achieve what the government wants to achieve, accompanied by a whole load of unintended and likely negative consequences.
We have a good parliamentary system when it is used: pre-legislative committees hear from people who understand and have experience of the issues at hand and can make recommendations for change to the government. MPs and Lords can be fully briefed by interested parties, ensuring they have heard all the relevant arguments, before they go in to the chamber and debate the issues. Laws simply work better if parliamentarians make well thought out, informed decisions and that takes time and effort.
In the case of the Investigatory Powers Bill, however, resulting good laws could not be more important, because of the effect that its proposals could have for civil liberties. The Bill concerns the security services’ ability to intercept and access data and much of the debate about it has centred on whether politicians or the judiciary can authorise warrants for obtaining this.
Whether you believe that the Investigatory Powers Bill will give the security services much needed new powers which will enable them to thwart future terror attacks or is no more than a Snooper’s Charter and has no place in law, in the democracy we are seeking to defend, parliamentarians should be allowed time to hear all the arguments and scrutinise proposals properly.