This is my last word on the Terrorism Bill debate, I promise, until the Bill returns to the House of Lords, which should be sometime in early March: the 6th has, I understand, been mooted.
I watched the latter stages of the debate on clause 3 of the Bill, which deals with ‘take down’ notices for websites and, if you’ve read one of my previous posts, you’ll recall I mentioned an exchange involving the Tory MP for New Forest East, Dr Julian Lewis.
What I want to do here is replay that exchange just so everyone is clear what was said and what Dr Lewis was suggesting.
I’ll start a little before the key exchange between Lewis and Hazel Blears, as other points emerge in this part of the debate that are worth noting, so to begin with, here, Hazel Blears outlines the role of Special Branch in relation to this legislation.
May I set out the detail of what the special branch officers will do, as it will give the House some reassurance? An officer in the anti-terrorism branch of the police service who carries out such duties is known as the single point of contact, and deals regularly with internet service providers and the communications industry. Our relationship with the communications industry does not simply focus on terrorism, and there are a range of issues on which the police must foster good relations. The accredited single point of contact officers will ensure efficiency and good practice in their management of relationships. They will use only practical and lawful requirements for the acquisition of communications data, and they will provide a guardian and gatekeeper function to minimise the burdens on internet providers so that a huge amount of bureaucracy is not created. At the same time, however, they will ensure that there is access to the information that could help us to tackle such problems.
Most of this is simply managerialist guff:- “The accredited single point of contact officers will ensure efficiency and good practice in the management of relationships