The Scottish National party welcomes the publication of the Anderson report into investigatory powers, but we will oppose any plans to introduce what is sometimes referred to as a snoopers charter, that being a charter that would sanction the mass collection of data and mass spying on people’s private communications.
Although the SNP is supportive of law enforcement and security services having appropriate access to the information they require, the appropriate checks and safeguards must be in place to ensure that the requirement to keep our community safe is balanced against the civil liberties to which we are all entitled.
The Anderson report seems to urge much stronger oversight of the activities of the police and the security services, which we welcome and, like others, I wish to single out the recommendation that warrants be authorised by senior judges. However, the new legislation is required to be more than just a change of name. There must be substantial changes in substance from the previous draft Bill, which threatened to impinge on civil liberties.
Cross-party co-operation in the UK Parliament has already forced the Government to backtrack on their plans to repeal the Human Rights Act—at least for the time being. In reaching out across the Chamber to MPs with concerns about civil liberties, the SNP will also seek to defeat any Government plans to curb civil liberties in the Bill.