Lord Carlile wants communications data legislation 'expedited'

The timetable for giving police and security services new powers to intercept communications data should be "expedited" in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, a former independent reviewer of terror laws has said.

Writing in a piece for the Daily Mail, Lord Carlile outlined his belief that "now, more than ever" British security services need to be equipped with "all the powers that they need" and that "can be done without any real risk to hallowed freedoms".

As a result, he is calling on the Government to get its recently-published draft Investigatory Powers Bill into law "as soon as possible".

"I am not arguing for blanket powers for the police and other security agencies to do what they like without oversight, but for speedy confirmation of powers that, responsibly, they have asked for and which they have demonstrated they need," he wrote.

Lord Carlile said the Bill "gives our spies all the powers they need to fight terrorism" in the modern world.

"I and other politicians want this Bill to be expedited, so that rather than becoming law by the end of 2016, which is the plan, it should become law as soon as possible," he wrote.

"These are extraordinary times. The threat from terrorist attacks emanating from Syria is the highest it has ever been and we cannot wait for another horrific murder like that of Drummer Lee Rigby before we act."

Speaking to Murnaghan on Sky News, Lord Carlile stressed the need for urgency in bringing in the Bill.

He said: "My view is that we don't have time to wait, that what is in the Bill is, for the most part, perfectly reasonable - it could pass through parliament in the next three to four weeks if the Government decided that should happen.

"I believe that the necessary powers need to be on the statute book as quickly as that.

"It could have been London."

Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn was asked on Murnaghan on Sky News if he agreed the Bill should be brought forward as quickly as possible.

"I think it is important, really important, that the police and the security services have the powers they need in order to continue to try and keep us safe," he said.

"We know the technology has changed, we know that those people who would commit these crimes and are committing them are using those new techniques, and the debate is how you balance that with protection of our privacy.

"I think what the public wants to know is that effective action is being taken to protect them ... we support the Bill - there is some issues about judicial oversight as Andy Burnham the Shadow Home Secretary was saying last week - but we support the need to update our legislation and we should get on with it, but this is another issue on which we need to achieve a consensus in the House of Commons."

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