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back to article UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill

Britain's politicians waved through a motion today in which they agreed that the Home Secretary Theresa May's "emergency" Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill should be swiftly pushed through Parliament. Only 49 MPs voted against the motion, while 436 politicos rubber-stamped Drip's hastily cobbled together timetable. A …

Anonymous Coward

Cooper : People will continue to support

They didn't in the first place dear. Don't try to claim that you speak for the public. You represent nobody.

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Is their a list ?

Of the MP that did not sign the Bill ?

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Re: Is their a list ?

I think it should be in Hansard tomorrow.

<pedant>You actually need to know who opposed the bill, not who did not vote for it. Unfortunately, not every MP will be in parliament today, and those not there will not vote either way. In addition, MPs in the UK do not sign legislation, and at this point, it's not even legislation. It's a draft bill on it's second reading in the House of Commons</pedant>

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Re: Is their a list ?

It will be published in Hansard.

I think this link should work tomorrow (16th): They Work For You

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Re: Is their a list ?

Also look at publicwhip.org.uk from tomorrow.

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there will be a list

The place to look for it is at www.theyworkforyou.com.

I just searched for "Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill" and it shows as "upcoming business" for today. Give it a while, and you can find the list of MPs willing to put up some token resistance against the all-powerful GCHQ.

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Re: Is their a list ?

There's a list now on the Open Rights Group blog.

I confess I hadn't heard of most of them, but there was no great surprise about the ones I had heard of. David Davis, of course, and – yet again – Caroline Lucas is a national hero.

The only surprise to me was Nadine Dorries, but I suppose she's nothing left to lose, really.

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Trollface

Re: Is their a list ?

So... you're asking if anyone has retained a list of people who were against retaining lists of people?

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ql
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Re: Is their a list ?

"There's a list now on the Open Rights Group blog."

Thanks for that. Not too many to email to thank for holding on to principles. My own LibDem MP voted for it.

There are two things to worry about here. The one is the entire charade of "emergency" legislation that is so obviously open to abuse, the scope of everyone being suspect and the increasing normality of over-arching and constant surveillance. But the one that really bothers me is the way that Westminster now behaves like a one-party state when it comes to these things, with mere factions with The Party, and a handful of rebels. Indeed, they are described as rebels. When it comes to trivial issues in comparison, like altering speed limits on a section of motorway, an enormous rumpus is created in true circus style (not sure if that;s gone to parliament, but you get the idea) while when it comes to issues concerning what we regard as our rights, there's hardly any smoke, let alone fire.

Increasingly I am thinking of spoiling my voting paper at the next election as the only way I have of expressing my concerns. No-one on that paper will bring us back to where we want to be, anyway.

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ql
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Re: Is their a list ?

"Not too many to email to thank for holding on to principles. "

I've now done this - it didn't take long and is the one way we can participate in democracy. Received a few replies of thanks and one saying he did not vote against the measure but against the timetable.

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ql
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Re: Is their a list ?

Michael Meacher has replied to my email. His speech, on his blog, seems to me to articulate exactly the issues. He further pointed out that the cabinet reshuffle meant the press hardly took an interest in this issue.

http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2014/07/my-speech-on-the-emergency-data-protection-aka-indiscriminate-mass-surveillance-bill/

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Re: Is their a list ?

>>"I confess I hadn't heard of most of them, but there was no great surprise about the ones I had heard of. David Davis, of course, and – yet again – Caroline Lucas is a national hero."

If the Greens would drop their unsupportable opposition to Nuclear Power, I'd cheerfully vote for them just to put civil liberties pressure on the big three.

(Well, big two now, since the Lib Dems formed a coalition with the Tories and probably destroyed their own support base).

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Re: Is their a list ?

"He further pointed out that the cabinet reshuffle meant the press hardly took an interest in this issue."

Yes, it was a good day the bury bad news.

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Thumb Down

If that's democracy then I'm a banana.

(where's the banana icon?)

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@Forget It

It really is representational democracy. Your constituency selected a representative (your MP) by a majority of those who bothered to get up off the sofa to vote, and they have voted on your behalf. Just because they did not represent your view does not make it undemocratic.

So does that make you a banana?

What's not right is the fact that the MPs and Lords have not had enough time to debate the bill before having to vote on it.

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill

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and how banana republics start.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Forget It

Exactly. And don't forget you vote for ONE person. Not a party, not a government, but one person to represent you. My MP is an idiot in many ways but he is very good at representing us. And that is why I would vote for him again. Not the Lib Dems, but him.

It's not rubber stamping, it's voting FOR something.

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Re: @Forget It

What is undemocratic is that insufficient time has been given to organise opposition and lobby our MPs.

MPs are elected to represent their constituents interests, not allowing them time to determine how their constituents feel about an issue before they are required to vote is grossly undemocratic.

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Re: @Eponymous Cowherd

The time allowed for debate has nothing to do with whether it is undemocratic or not. There is nothing enshrined in the UK political system that requires an MP to consult their constituents before voting on a bill. It's good form for them to, but if you look at when the system developed (admittedly before there was any effective distant communication or rapid travel possible), it was often the case that the MP completely ignored the people who elected them once they were in office!

Where there are serious problems are that you cannot currently sack your MP. They can be deselected by the party, but that does not force a by-election, which means that they can sit not representing you until the next election.

Couple that with the whipping system that can force an MP to toe the party line, and that's undemocratic.

We really could do with a local referendum system that allowed us the constituents to force our MPs to ignore the whip for particular issues. That might offset some of the major stumbling blocks with our system.

Please note that I agree with you that what's happened is an utter travesty, but it's not undemocratic, at least not according to the system.

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Re: @Eponymous Cowherd

If I could up vote you multiple times Peter I would. You have written there exactly what the system needs. Americans get referendums on the important stuff, we have no voice and we are ignored completely. There is no real democracy here.

Could you imagine if we made our shires into states and governed ourselves!

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Re: @Forget It

"Exactly. And don't forget you vote for ONE person. Not a party, not a government, but one person to represent you. My MP is an idiot in many ways but he is very good at representing us. And that is why I would vote for him again. Not the Lib Dems, but him."

In that case you are a very lucky man.

Most politicians just follow the party whip, and vote with the party. You might as well just have one guy holding up a board with Yes on one side and No on the other to count for 100 votes... He could cover the job of a large majority of the work for MPs.

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Re: @Forget It

"In that case you are a very lucky man."

Apparently he also lives in a fairly safe seat, where the MP has a majority of votes cast.

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Trollface

Votes?

How many did it get? 2600??

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the important stuff

Martin, here in the States, there are no referendums at the federal level, and only about half of the states have them at the state level.

If your shires were states, they’d probably be led along by the national purse strings just as much as the states are here. There might be a silver bullet somewhere (the Swiss constitution might be a good place to start your search), but it won’t be found here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Forget It

"Most politicians just follow the party whip, and vote with the party. "

My MP votes the party line - except on those civil issues where he says he votes according to the will of the Vatican.

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Re: @Forget It

"It really is representational democracy. Your constituency selected a representative (your MP) by a majority of those who bothered to get up off the sofa to vote, and they have voted on your behalf. Just because they did not represent your view does not make it undemocratic."

My constituency selected a representative who then voted on behalf of the PM and his American pals. There's no connection with democracy here except that the system was hammered out in the early 1900's specifically to combat the democratic movement and protect the party system that was in place at the time. By calling it "representative democracy" the ruling elites were able to undermine their opponents using the oldest propaganda trick in the book: label what you're doing what people want you to do while changing nothing of any substance.

'"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill'

How would he know?

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Re: @Me

How did I get 13 (and counting) down votes for my response to Forget it?

Come on. I'm not defining the system, just saying how it is.

If you don't like the current system, do something like lobby your MP, or stand for parliament yourself.

Anybody fancy establishing the Vulture party? After all, we have quite deep thinking (as well as some shallow - but I'll gloss over that) on these forums.

(P.S. I don't want to be the leader. After not running a company well for a few years, I don't think I would run a country any better!)

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Re: @Robert Long 1

That's an interesting point of view, and of course I cannot argue against it because I don't like party voting and the whipping system, but I wonder how the democratic movement intended to run the country at the turn of the 20th Century, when there was no mass communication, rapid transport was still fairly basic, and the public at large were largely uneducated?

Elections or referendums took weeks to organise and count, and at the time, only selected people had the vote anyway (remember the suffragettes).

If you are arguing that the political party system is an issue, then I guess there is some mileage in that, but even if you disbanded the party system, and had each MP stand for what their constituency believed, you would still get them banding together in voting blocks, not dissimilar to a party in order to get anything done.

You could also argue that the method of electing MPs is flawed, but I don't like the idea of party lists being used in a PR system, which is what seems to be touted as an alternative. I want to vote for a person, not a list.

Nowadays, in theory, it would be possible to have technology led referendums of the entire voting population (as long as you can fix the voter identity issue - machine readable ID cards anyone?), but how long do you think your average couch potato would give to looking at today's issues and voting on them? Enough time to actually understand the issues?

My guess is that if you had an hour a day to present all issues and take a vote, only a small fraction, probably <10% of the electorate would actually take the time to sit in front of their computer/television to watch any arguments. Of that <10%, probably a significant number would not understand enough of the background to make sensible decisions.

And you also have the problem of who presents the arguments. Without sufficient background, it would be entirely possible to present a totally biased view of any issue to get a particular result.

No, for the majority of issues that are debated day-to-day, a two house system, with the two houses selected in a different manner to each other is about the best I can see at this time. The real problem is that the minutia of day-to-day decision making is just not interesting enough to the general population to make any general referendum system workable for anything except really important issues, so representative democracy is here to stay. Maybe one issue a week could be handled by a technology run referendum.

I would like some more democratic control of my elected representative, especially on certain important issues, and I think that steps toward this may slowly be happening. The powers that be have been discussing the possibility of a constituency sacking an MP. That may make them more respectful of those they represent.

When Winston Churchill said that quote, he was probably actually paraphrasing someone else. Looking into it, the statement was preceded with "It has been said...".

In his life, he was a statesman, a soldier with extensive foreign service, an historian and a writer, and was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature. This makes him more qualified than many of his generation, and most of us now, to make this type of statement with some authority.

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@Peter Gathercole (was: Re: @Robert Long 1)

And yet, the Swiss manage to do precisely what you say is impossible. How? By realising that democracy – in any meaningful sense – doesn't scale well. Why are voter turnouts so low? Because, in a country of well over 60 million people, having one sixty-millionth of a say is tantamount to having no say at all.

In Switzerland, the bulk of the power is in the Cantons, not the central government. The latter is kept deliberately small and has very little power compared to its counterparts in neighbouring countries. Yet they still manage to get things done. It works precisely because people are fundamentally tribal. By focusing the democratic processes on local and regional politics, which is, frankly what most people actually care about, the national tier can concentrate primarily on harmonising legislation that has to work across Cantonal borders, as well as the occasional bit of foreign diplomacy.

Another point to note is that the Swiss system relies much more heavily on referendums. The St. Gotthard Base Tunnel (and its siblings) wouldn't have happened without one, for example.

(Incidentally, US readers might like to note that the Swiss Constitution was deliberately based very closely the US one. What you see in Switzerland is arguably much, much closer to what the US Constitution's signatories had in mind.)

At the very least, such an approach makes warmongering rather more difficult to do. It also means that most politics would be local and regional rather than national, so of more interest to those it affects.

Switzerland got it right, and did so back in the 1870s (around the same time as Italy's reunification), without the benefit of electronic communications, so it is certainly possible.

The USA does, however, provide us with a crystal clear illustration of how such a system can go very, very wrong.

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@Sean Timarco Baggaley

Thank you for pointing this out. I had not considered whether the Canton system (which is still a representational democracy) in Switzerland was applicable in the UK, but I suspect that such a system would not work here.

The Swiss population is small at just under 8 million. It has 24 Cantons, and Switzerland itself is a federal state made up of these Cantons. The population of the Cantons range from under 1.5 million down to just over 15 thousand. If we had something similar in the UK, we would end up with something over 200 regions over the population size of 100,000. We have 650 parliamentary constituencies, which means that one Canton would equate to something like 3 parliamentary constituencies. Trying to run a federation of this number of states would be much worse than in Switzerland.

Alternatively, we could escalate the county structure to become more state-like. This would give a much smaller number of states, but would end up with huge inequities, as there is huge variation in the population and revenue of the current counties, and would lead some 'states' running a permanent deficit.

Either way, the resultant federal government would be difficult to run, and would would still end up with things like surveillance and security policy having to be centrally run in a way that would not be that dissimilar to our current parliament. It would still be necessary to arrange voting blocks to get any large decisions made.

I suspect that the reason why it apparently works in Switzerland is because of how insular they are. They do not have a prominent role in foreign politics (you particularly mention warmongering), or world trade. The result is that there are fewer issues that require a referendum. They regard themselves as being too uninteresting to be invaded, and this policy served them relatively well in the world wars last century. This may be a good thing, but if every democratic country moved to a foreign policy where they hid under a rock, it would not be very long before more aggressive and territory hungry regimes were knocking at their borders.

Switzerland does not really have to worry about this at the moment because they are surrounded by relative benign states (France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein), and are not very attractive to invade anyway. If they had a border with a country like Pakistan, Somalia or maybe even Russia, I suspect that they would be significantly less insular, and worry about defence and foreign policy rather more than they do at the moment.

It will be interesting to see whether when water becomes a constrained resource, Switzerland alters it's foreign policy!

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Re: @Robert Long 1

"That's an interesting point of view, and of course I cannot argue against it because I don't like party voting and the whipping system, but I wonder how the democratic movement intended to run the country at the turn of the 20th Century, when there was no mass communication, rapid transport was still fairly basic, and the public at large were largely uneducated?"

I'm not knocking representational democracy; I'm saying we don't have one.

The answer to your question is that the whip system is specifically intended to prevent democratic activity in the Houses and the system of open voting supports that by revealing who voted which way instantly. Neither were technical requirements of the day.

The combination gives huge powers to parties and raises a massive barrier to independents who simply can't get any traction. Neither are required and in particular having voting patterns kept secret until the election would seem to be worth trying. That would cripple the power of whips and party leaders. Revealing the votes in the runup to the election would still allow the electorate to hold MPs to accounts.

But there's other approaches which are more radical and don't require any sophisticated technology - treating MPs in the way that juries are done is one: every year 1/4th of the Commons is randomly replaced by a random selection of adults capable of passing a minimal "sanity" test (e.g., "what's your name?"). There are other options and many more today.

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Re: @Robert Long 1

Points well made. Have an upvote.

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Flame

Bastards!

that is all

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xyz

You've got to ask yourself...

what exactly is the deep pile of cack that they're trying to cover over? Nope I don't know either, but it must be a belter, because someone high up has gone "shit, shit, fuckity shit" and it's all hands to the pumps.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You've got to ask yourself...

Guessing its because Cameron is as big a poodle as Blair was.

They don't "work for you", they work for Uncle Sam.

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Re: You've got to ask yourself...

Last I heard NSA was flabbergasted just how much capability GHCQ can bring to bear against ordinary citizens minding their own business - I wouldn't count the US out entirely but as with many things they learned from us not the other way round.

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Big Brother

At least everyone can joke about being on dribfeed now.

Nonetheless, Cooper said: "We cannot reject this legislation; it would be wrong to do so."

WHY?

The MP added that it could be used "to get the wider debate we need" on surveillance laws in Blighty

"We can talk whether I can have dessert or not after I have stuffed my face with this immense piece of cake."

OM NOM NOM NOM!

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Anonymous Coward

I find the timing interesting ...

seems that the wheels are coming of the Westminster Paedo Waggon. Cameron has just rearranged the deckchairs (illuminating that Hague is not only stepping down as Foreign Secretary, but *also* from parliament in 2015).

It couldn't possibly be an attempt by TPTB to gain total control of the internet, could it ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I find the timing interesting ...

It's the middle-end of the wedge, next - using Tor = Criminal offense, then using VPN + proxy servers = banned. It's not going to stop. 15 years ago we had the Iron curtain around London (facial recognition / number plate recognition). This simply puts the onus on the ISP rather than 'ahem' another agent who may or may not have been monitoring comm's since 2003 and can see a future where storage or FOIA queries starts to become an issue for them. They'll go for the most emotive topics, it's anti-copyright, then claim it helps terrorists, then the pedo's - then it will be the 'hackers', the technically literate- people able to circumvent the government censorship and firewalls.

It's happening right now, in China, in Iran, and yes - It will come to the UK, the US.

So basically they can pass any old shit through parliament on emergency measures if they just mention Terrorists or Pedo's?

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Re: I find the timing interesting ...

I don't think all that many people have been more vocal in opposition to me but this:

"It's the middle-end of the wedge, next - using Tor = Criminal offense, then using VPN + proxy servers = banned."

Bit paranoid given how difficult it is to dig out (by design). I don't mean decrypt and track, so much as being able to tell that it is Tor over ssh or https or basically anything else.

Not for nothing but recent revelations suggest GCHQ relies on Tor fairly heavily so if the government made it an offence that might be a little silly ( though I grant you GCHQ is circumventing the laws we have in spirit and in letter already).

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I wonder why Diane Abbot is saddened that the Labour front bench is complicit in steamrolling this one through when it was the old Labour front bench that steamrolled the RIPA through.

I'm all for a debate on the issue and revising the RIPA as long as the debate isn't the same as last time (La La we're not listening! We know best! Trusssst in meeeee, jusssst in meeee!) and the revision is tightening up the regs not loosening definitions and broadening the already ridiculous scope.

I'm fully expecting it to consist of "OK, look, we've had a debate about it and heard all sides speak. So now when we ignore everyone and do it the way we were going to do it anyway it's all legit, see!"

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Anonymous Coward

Parliamentary Recess

Didn't we also end up with the Digital Economy Act through this rushed period back in 2010? And Labour still doesn't seem to have learned its lesson in public relations when it comes to unwanted mass surveillance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Parliamentary Recess

They're a minority interest group not seen to be such because the majority of the electorate are hopelessly naive and can't flip the switch in their brain that enables authority figures to be perceived as sinister/amoral/incompetent/corrupt or that The Law could be anything other than by definition 'Just', even when consciously they see example after example to the contrary. I think it is fear at the very centre of their being of the implications of admitting it; in other words the most important thing, overwhelmingly, to the average enfranchised citizen is a quiet life free of controversy and they believe whatever bollocks promises to allow them to remain in their dream-world. Politics today is like one lot saying 'we'll give you twenty quid to vote for us' and the other lot saying 'we'll give you thirty!'. Neither will actually fulfil the promise, but it doesn't matter, because its only about the feel-good factor, during the campaign, with the desired outcome being not the election of this or that party, or more-specifically of the honouring of this bribe or that, but simply of the end of the campaigning. Belief in the integrity of politicians is self-delusion akin to believing in God; only the latter is much harder to sustain these days; while politicians are patently 'real'. The mark of the flim flam man can probably see that the offer is too good to be true, but so wants to believe that this time he is going to win that he ignores the voice of reason like a punter buying a lottery ticket, because it isn't the winning that matters, but the taking part, the brief endorphin cascade the act of choosing to believe produces. And so we have Westminster full of 'career politicians' the majority of the peasants think of as their betters and only a few of us see as naked, unmitigated cunts. We get the Government my sister deserves.

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Unhappy

""We cannot reject this legislation; it would be wrong to do so.""

Indeed.

Given how much of it came in under Labour.

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Re: ""We cannot reject this legislation; it would be wrong to do so.""

with the Tories complaining about civil liberties .....

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Pirate

data grab 'n' keep bill

ooooo I can't wait till I get fitted with my bar code, inbuilt cctv, and that little voice that tells me what to think, we live in a such an exciting time..

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Just another brick in the wall

See above

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Re: Just another brick in the wall

Mother : Should I trust the government ?

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Does it really make a lot of difference?

After all, the organisations allowed to access your communication data (as in the who to/from rather than what) is long, and includes just about any organisation in the country (apart from my local primary school board of governors).

Labour built the wall in AD2000, the present mob are just sliding another brick into it.

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Rubber fun

E mailed my MP voicing my concerns of yet another emergency measure rushed through that takes away that which we are supposed to be defending!

Also pointed out the past eye wateringly high cost of such Government IT projects & the dismall success & performance they deliver. Asked how does this tally in these austere times. Also asked what measures they are to be put in place to protect our data against leaks (another Gov IT failing), but also about it being flogged off, ( like our medical & tax records!).

To be fair to my MP, he does respond in sufficient to too much depth, but still tows the party line.

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