The Emergency Debate on the Wilson Doctrine on Monday 19th October 2015:
Commons Hansard 19 Oct 2015 : Column 694
Almost no MPs bothered to attend this Emergency Debate on the operation of the Wilson Doctrine.
The MPs who did speak:
Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con)
Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind):
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May)
Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con)
Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con)
Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab)
Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con)
Dr Andrew Murrison (South West Wiltshire) (Con)
Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP)
Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) (DUP)
Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green)
Martin John Docherty (West Dunbartonshire) (SNP)
Will Her Majesty's Opposition hold the Government to account over this shoddy deception ? Or will the Corbynistas be overshadowed by the Scottish Nationalists ? Will the handful of Conservative MPs who seem to care about liberty and privacy and freedom have any effect on the Government ?
Chris Bryant, who lead this Emergency Debate, made a lot of sense in his analysis of the current Wilson Doctrine debacle, but the attitude of the rest of the Labour party, almost none of whom bothered to turn up, is still suspiciously unclear.
He rightly chided the Home Secretary for rushing through the Data retention and Investigatory powers Act in a single day, and hoped that the forthcoming Investigatory Powers Bill which might be able to ut the Wilson Doctrine or similar into law would not be similarly rushed through.
Andy Burnham (Lab) the Shadow Home Secretary turned up for a bit, and lurked next to Chris Bryant, but did not bother to speak
Where was the Deputy Leader Tom Watson (Lab), who is supposed to be a patron of the Open Rights Group and who did ask the Question which prompted Theresa May's "caveated statement" on the Wilson Doctrine earlier this year ? ?
Where were the Corbynistas ?
Dominic Grieve's contribution to the debate was restricted to promising that as Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Committee would consider MP and Constituency interception procedures along with other legally privileged lawyers and journalists etc.
Given the other things they must look into, it is unclear if they will contribute anything before the full Investigatory Powers Bill is set in motion early next year.
Peter Bone yet again asked the Home Secretary how many MPs have had their telephones intercepted since 1966. Her silence confirms that the number is clearly not zero, making a mockery of even the very narrow definition of the Wilson Doctrine which is now being spun by the Government.
David Davis correctly summed up the Wilson Doctrine is effectively dead:
"the doctrine is dead. Whether or not it is legally dead, it is in practice dead. It is dead in the eyes of the people--whistleblowers, campaigners and so on--who might come to us, and we have to do something to replace it."
He also mentioned the vital importance of metadata, which the Wilson Doctrine sneakily does not "protect".
Spy Blog would also like to see protection for Constituents, Campaigners, Journalists, Whistleblowers and other elected representatives all the other RIPA an non-IPA surveillance techniques included in the new Investigatory Powers Bill e.g. MetaData / Communications data / Traffic Data (RIPA 2000 Part II) , compelled access access to Encrypted Data (RIPA III), CHIS Covert Human Intelligence Sources (informers and infiltrators), bugging and tracking devices (Police Act 1997 Part III) etc.
The Scottish Nationalist Party outnumbered the Labour Party and emphasised the need for Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Northern Ireland Assembly and UK Members of the European Parliament to have their communications with constituents and whistleblowers etc. protected.
The 3 MPs from Northern Ireland pointed out what even Theresa May admitted was a "conundrum" - it is unclear with the shifting changes made in secret to the Intelligence Agencies Guidance, did the Wilson Doctrine apply or not apply to those "double dipping" Members of Parliament MPs who were also simultaneously Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) ?
Caroline Lucas of course was a party to the the Investigatory Powers Tribunal case and mentioned the point Spy Blog noticed that even though the Wilson Doctrine has no legal power, neither do the Draft Code of Practice (not yet presented to, let alone approved by Parliament) nor the internal Intelligence Agency Guidance.
The lack of interest in their constituents' privacy and liberties shown by the absent MPs does not bode well for the forthcoming Draft Investigatory Powers Bill.