Draft Investigatory Powers Commissioner (Oversight Functions) Regulations 2022 Draft Investigatory Powers (Covert Human Intelligence Sources and Interception: Codes of Practice) Regulations 2022

Published date : 23 November, 2022
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Robert. I was pleased to be nominated by my party to contribute to the scrutiny of these measures, not least because I had the unexpected duty of speaking on Second Reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill on 5 October 2020. I think it is fair to say that at that stage, we were not terribly impressed with the measures in the Bill and were looking for a number of assurances from Ministers, which, sadly, were not forthcoming. That is one of the major reasons why we voted against the Bill’s Third Reading and the Scottish Government withheld their legislative consent.

Notwithstanding that, the measure is a positive development, given the benefits it brings in placing informal arrangements for oversight of GCHQ and others on to a statutory footing. We welcome the revised CHIS code and the revised interception code, albeit cautiously. However, we remain concerned that they do not appear to deal with the dangers caused by agents provocateurs, and the CHIS code still does not require authorising officers to be completely independent of the investigation. That separation of powers is extremely important, because there is an obvious conflict of interest, and as far as we can see, no measures in the SI or the code deals with that. Like the hon. Member for Halifax, we also remain concerned about the lack of oversight in real time of the use of covert human intelligence sources.

We will keep these matters under review, and we urge the Minister to reflect on the fact that those concerns still exist. Nevertheless, in the narrow terms of the measures before us, we think that they are a positive development, and on that basis, we are content to see them progress.

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