Civil Liberties under attack unless new bill is toned down

Angus Robertson - concerns over Civil Liberties
Angus Robertson – concerns over Civil Liberties

CIVIL LIBERTIES WILL come under serious threat if new laws being sought at Westminster are allowed to pass through unchecked.

That is the view of Moray’s MP Angus Robertson as he warns the fears of many constituents will be realised unless the UK Government tone down several of the measures being proposed in the Investigatory Powers Bill.

The Bill includes provision on the interception of communications including retention of communications data.

Mr Robertson says that he has received correspondence from dozens of constituents concerned about proposals in the bill – claiming many of these to be a fundamental attack on civil liberties.

The SNP MP has previously made clear that, while he supports the need to update legislation to take account of new threats and new technologies that security services are having to grapple with, the legislation must not be used as a means to undermine basic rights that have been fought hard for.

The SNP has warned the UK government that it cannot expect the support of opposition parties for its proposed legislation if ministers continue to ignore genuine concerns over the nature and extent of the wide-ranging new powers and lack of adequate safeguards.

Following a meeting with the Home Secretary, the Moray MP said: “This is a serious issue about civil liberties, which a significant number of people in Moray have contacted me about.

“There have been minor concessions from the UK government following SNP pressure but the vast majority of SNP proposed amendments have been ignored and unless these serious issues are addressed by the Government then the Bill will not be in a form to which the SNP could give its support.

“The SNP is concerned that the current case for bulk powers is inadequate and that many of the powers sought in the Bill are of dubious legality and significantly exceed those provided for in other western democracies, without sufficient justification.

“People, including many constituents across Moray, are rightly concerned that these plans would be a major infringement on civil liberties.

“While I recognise that the security services and the police require adequate powers to fight terrorism and serious crime, it is vital that any new powers are proportionate, focused, and in accordance with law.

“For the UK government to dismiss reasonable SNP amendments outright means they run the real risk of putting opposition parties in the position of having to vote against the Bill in its entirety.

“That is not a decision that we would take lightly – so I call on the Home Secretary to urgently reconsider adopting our proposals before this comes to the vote.”