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Investigatory Powers Bill to be rushed into Parliament on Tuesday

When engages with experts it loses, says backbench Tory MP

IPB The Home Secretary will formally introduce the Investigatory Powers Bill to Parliament on Tuesday, it is rumoured, inviting criticism that the Snoopers' Charter is being rushed through while MPs are distracted by the UK's looming EU membership referendum.

The final draft of Theresa May's new Snoopers' Charter is ready to be put forward, despite the 123 recommendations which had been made by three separate Parliamentary inquiries within the last four weeks.

As The Independent claimed: “Government whips have told Labour that the Bill will be published on 1 March, with a second reading – giving MPs a line-by-line debate on the Bill – scheduled for 14 March. The Bill will then go to committee stage for scrutiny on 22 March, with a final vote expected in Parliament by the end of April.”

Some amendments have been made to the draft bill, but the content of the revisions are not yet known – and the speed of the Home Office's schedule for the bill's passage through Parliament suggests there will be little room for MPs to analyse them.

The Home Secretary's previous attempt to explain why mass surveillance is necessary did little to convince Lib Dem peer Lord Strasburger.

The Don't Spy On Us coalition stated that its members recognised the time constraints the government faces with the IPB, but believed it would be necessary to split the bill to meet them.

We understand the Government's desire to pass the Investigatory Powers Bill before December 2016 when the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) sunset clause expires. We believe that the best way to address this would be to split the Bill. The data retention powers that are affected by the imminent sunset clause could be published as a stand alone Bill and dealt with in the relevant timeframe. This would enable full consideration to be given to the committees’ recommendations and scrutiny of the remaining powers.

According to the the Indie, David Davis – an outspoken backbench Conservative MP – disputed the government's argument in this area, stating that DRIPA's sunset clause could be extended for another year. Davis suggested triggering this extension was necessary, as “when you work it out, it’s a 300-page Bill – so that’s something like five seconds to consider each line on second reading.”

“It all keeps with [the government's] strategy,” added Davis, “which is to rush everything through. They know when they engage with experts they lose. This is the way they will try to get this through – on the rush. There’s no doubt about it.” ®

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