It is quite extraordinary that the majority of parliament have decided to vote in favour of allowing the security services to continue dredging the private communications data of millions of completely innocent people.
The Edward Snowden leaks showed the alarming extent of the security services violations of our right to privacy, their collusion with foreign powers and their evasion of democratic oversight, so it would have been no surprise at all had parliament decided to introduce emergency legislation to bring the security services back under control, however they didn’t do that at the time.
Instead they have waited over a year since the Snowden leaks became public, and several months since the EU declared the mass retention of data unlawful to suddenly launch their “emergency legislation” to protect the invasive powers of the security services.
Here are a couple of quotes from the debate?
“If the Bill is so urgent, will the Minister explain why it was not introduced three months ago, as soon as the European Court of Justice judgment was announced? Why are we debating it in one day, just before the recess?” Caroline Lucas (Green)
Why was there no discussion with parties other than the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives, even on Privy Council terms? For heaven’s sake, if there is an urgency, why keep most of the Opposition in the dark? It is absolutely disgusting, disgraceful and undemocratic. Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru)
I consider this to be an outright abuse of parliamentary procedure. I will certainly vote against the motion, and I hope that a number of hon. Members will do so as well. Even if one is in favour of what the Home Secretary intends to do, to do it in this manner—to pass all the stages in one day—surely makes a farce of our responsibilities as Members of Parliament. When one considers the issues that are involved, how can one justify saying that the Bill must pass every stage by 10 o’clock? Does that meet our duty and responsibility to our constituents? … There has been no pre-legislative scrutiny by the Select Committees—none at all. This is the sort of issue that the Home Affairs Committee and other Select Committees that consider human rights should look at in detail. None of that has been done. David Winnick (Labour)
Most reasonable people will conclude that Parliament has been insulted by the cavalier way in which a secret deal has been used to ensure that elected representatives are curtailed in their ability to consider, scrutinise, debate and amend the Bill. It is democratic banditry, resonant of a rogue state. The people who put this shady deal together should be ashamed. Tom Watson (Labour)
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