MPs vote in controversial emergency data laws

The House of Commons has passed controversial new data laws that guarantee the UK’s security services access to the population’s internet and telephone data.

The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill, or Drip, as it is known received support from the three main parties, but has been fiercely opposed by civil liberties campaigners.

The government has been criticised for rushing the new law through parliament, which is a response to a European Court of Justice ruling in April saying that existing laws allowing long term storage of internet and security data was an infringement of human rights.

But home secretary Theresa May said: “This bill merely preserves the status quo. It does not extend or create any new powers, rights to access or obligations on communications companies that go beyond those that already exist.

“If we delay we face the appalling prospect police operations will go dark, that trails will go cold, that terrorist plots will go undetected,” she added.

But Conservative MP David Davis lashed out at the government’s handling of the bill. Speaking to the BBC, he said: “This seems to me entirely improper because of the role of Parliament - we have three roles.

“One is to scrutinise legislation, one is to prevent unintended consequences, and one is to defend the freedom and liberty of our constituents.

“This undermines all three and we should oppose this motion.”

Meanwhile, veteran Labour MP David Winnick, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “I consider this to be an outright abuse of parliamentary procedure.

“Even if one is in favour of what the home secretary intends to do, to do so in the manner in which it is intended, to pass all stages in one go, surely makes a farce of our responsibilities as MPs.”

MPs approved the bill at its third and final reading by a margin of 416 votes.

Amnesty International posted a photograph of the small number of MPs debating the Bill in the Commons yesterday:

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