Here’s my recent News Guardian column reporting back to my constituents about my support for the Investigatory Powers Bill. I want to make clear my strong view – based on my experience as a former Home Office Minister – that sharing information and cooperating with our allies in the European Union are crucial in the fight against terrorism, child abuse and serious crime. I am also clear that the European Arrest warrant is a critical tool in tackling crime and criminals.
The first responsibility of government is to safeguard the security of its citizens. The Investigatory Powers Bill currently before parliament is an important of achieving that. The Bill seeks to update the powers available to the police and security services to tackle terrorism, child sexual abuse and online serious crime. Gathering and sharing information between forces and our European allies is key to successful policing and security in a modern age. There have been huge changes in technology and modern technology is often available to those who would do us harm as well as those who keep us safe. On one side our human rights legislation dates from a time when the biggest threat was to individuals from an overpowering and intrusive state; on the other the biggest threat now is from crazed and criminal individuals seeking to harm the state and community. A balance needs to be struck with powers that work but also safeguard people going about their lawful business such as journalists and trade unionists. The Investigatory Powers Bill needed to create laws which give greater transparency and are more clearly defined and proportionate. Because the Government and Opposition worked hard together to find common ground and address concerns, the Bill now does that and I was pleased to support it. Those changes, along with vital tools like the European Arrest Warrant, mean that those who work to keep us safe can get on with their job.