Emergency surveillance bill to be fast-tracked despite 49 MPs’ opposition

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Courtesy of Alan Travis @ The Guardian:

Forty-nine MPs have voted against rushing the government’s emergency surveillance legislation through all its Commons stages in just one day.

A deal between the three major parties, however, secured the fast-track timetable by 436 votes to 49, despite accusations from one Labour MP that the move amounted to “democratic banditry resonant of a rogue state”.

The vote on the timetable motion for the data retention and investigatory powers bill, known as the Drip bill, came as it emerged that the home secretary was to accept Labour amendments strengthening its safeguards.

The government has accepted that the promised longer-term review of all surveillance legislation, known as Ripa, should be written into the Drip bill to put it on a statutory footing, and that there should six-monthly reviews of its operation by the interception commissioner.

The former Tory shadow home secretary David Davis told ministers that the rush to push through the Drip bill undermined parliament’s role.

“My understanding is there was an argument inside government between the two halves of the coalition and that argument has gone on for three months, so what the coalition cannot decide in three months this house has to decide in one day,” said Davis.

“This seems to me entirely improper because the role of parliament, we have three roles. One is to scrutinise legislation, one is to prevent unintended consequences and one is to defend the freedom and liberty of our constituents. This undermines all three and we should oppose this motion.”

The Labour MP, Tom Watson, also criticised the rush to legislate. “Parliament has been insulted,” he said. “[This is] democratic banditry resonant of a rogue state.”

The bill requires internet and phone companies to store the communications data generated by phone calls, email, texts and internet use for 12 months and make it accessible to police and security services.

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