As published in 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 49 rebels included four Liberal Democrat MPs, 10 Conservative MPs and 21 Labour MPs, including ex-cabinet ministers, Nicholas Brown and Andrew Smith.
The vote on the timetable motion for the data retention and investigatory powers bill, known as the Drip bill, came as the home secretary confirmed that she is 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. The review to be led by David Anderson QC is to issue an interim report before next year’s election.
The home secretary, Theresa May, also told MPs that she was accepting Labour’s proposal that there should six-monthly reviews of the bill’s operation by the interception commissioner, making clear whether the security services were using the legislation to extend their powers.
A code of practice will be produced that will cover issues such as whether the police and security services can access data covered by legal privilege.
But the former Tory shadow home secretary, David Davis, who voted against the rush to legislate warned ministers that they were leaving themselves “wide open to legal challenge” by failing to comply with the privacy safeguards set out in the European Court of Justice ruling in April that had struck down the current EU data retention regime: “While this may be law by the end of the week, it may be junk by the end of the year,” warned Davis.
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 . . . so what the coalition cannot decide in three months this house has to decide in one day,” said Davis.
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 shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said Labour was supporting “this sticking plaster bill” but accused the government of failing to initiate a much bigger debate on safety versus civil liberties over the past 12 months.
The bill requires internet and phone companies to store communications data generated by phone calls, email, texts and internet use for 12 months and make it accessible to police and security services.