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Joint submission of Evidence to Joint Committee on Human Rights

The UK Chapter has made a joint submission with the Internet Society in response to the call for evidence that was published by the Joint Committee on Human Rights regarding the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is a Parliamentary Joint Committee whose main function is to examine all bills and legislative instruments for compatibility with human rights, and to report to both Houses of Parliament on its findings.

The Joint Submission can be found here:

The deadline for submitting evidence was Monday 22 January 2024. The chapter made an additional comment directly to the Joint Committee, voicing its concerns regarding timing, since the Report Stage hearing took place on 23 January 2024, less than 24 hours later. This comment was also sent to the Chairs of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”) who have also not yet submitted their report in regards to the Human Rights implications of this new Bill.

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Att: Baroness Falkner, Chair of Equalities and Human Rights Commission (“EHRC”)
Att: Joanna Cherry KC, MP Chair of Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights (“JCHR”)

CC: JCHR Secretariat,
CC: Safia Sangster, Senior Policy Associate; Ansa Hussain, Senior Policy Associate; ECHR Parliamentary Team.

Dear Lady Falkner,
Dear Joanna Cherry,

I am writing to seek urgent clarity on the position in relation to the legislative scrutiny of the Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Bill [HL] (“The Bill”)  ( https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3508 ) and also to draw your attention that the Grand Committee Report Stage hearing appears to be scheduled for Tuesday 24 January 2024.

I can see no mention or other evidence of any legislative scrutiny of the Bill by either the JCHR or advice on the Bill to Parliament by the EHRC.

I note the “call for evidence” on the Bill by the JCHR on https://committees.parliament.uk/work/8077/investigatory-powers-amendment-bill-2023/publications/ requiring evidence to be submitted by Monday 22 January 2024.

I am the Chair of the UK Chapter of the Internet Society and we will be submitting evidence by close of play on Monday 22 January 2024.

The current status/position on the Bill as of 23:00 on Sunday 21 January 2024 is that it has reached report stage and no papers have been published.
The marshalled list of amendments is updated as of 19 January 2024 although it appears that the site is still open for amendments to be added.
The Bill, as updated with the amendments has not yet been published.

My concern is not only there appears to be a cart before the horse where the evidence as well as reports from the EHRC and JCHR will not be available in time for the Reporting Stage on 23 January 2024, but the third reading following the report stage is completing the final stages of the Bill.

In his intervention at the House of Lords debate on the Post Office (Horizon System) Compensation Bill on 16 January 2024, Lord Cormak said: “We in this House, and our colleagues in the other place, have an absolute duty to do all we can to ensure that these scandals are not replicated. We will have a far better chance of doing that if we remember the words of the late Lord Judge: if we have legislation that is properly thought out, if we abandon the Henry VIII clauses and the Christmas tree bills, and if we recognise above all else that the Executive is answerable to Parliament, not the other way round.”

Yours sincerely,

Olivier MJ Crépin-Leblond, PhD
ISOC UK England Chair

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As expected, at Report Stage, the House of Lords did not address the evidence received by the JCHR and it is unknown when this evidence will be scrutinized.

The JCHR has thanked the Chapter for its contribution and assured that the evidence collected by the Joint Committee on Human Rights will be presented to Parliament in due course.