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Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News

ANGUS ROBERTSON MP SAYS SNP WILL VOTE AGAINST INVESTIGATORY POWERS BILL UNLESS GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS AMENDMENTS

03/06/2016  

Moray’s MP Angus Robertson has set out his position on the controversial Investigatory Powers legislation being proposed by Tory Ministers in Westminster.

Local MP Mr Robertson has received correspondence from dozens of constituents concerned about proposals in the bill, which many consider 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 Scottish National Party has warned the UK government that it cannot expect the support of opposition parties for its proposed Investigatory Powers legislation if Ministers continue to ignore genuine concerns over the nature and extent of the wide-ranging new powers and the lack of adequate safeguards in the Bill.

Mr Robertson met with Home Secretary Theresa May last week, along with the SNP’s Justice and Home Affairs Spokesperson Joanna Cherry QC MP to set out the party’s unresolved concerns over the plans.

Commenting Angus Robertson MP said:

“This is a serious issue about civil liberties, which a significant number of people in Moray have contacted me about.

“In our meeting the Home Secretary we made it clear that the SNP support legislation giving law enforcement and the intelligence and security services the necessary and proportionate powers to fight serious crime and terrorism, but also made it clear that we have serious ongoing concerns with the proposed legislation in its current form.

“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. The party wants to see further amendments to ensure that surveillance by authorities is targeted by means of warrants that are focused, specific and based on reasonable suspicion, and that oversight and safeguards are robust and independent of the executive. Nearly all of the amendments put forward by the SNP at Committee stage to support these principles were rejected by the UK government.

Mr Robertson continued:

“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.”

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