Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): The subject of the Bill is of profound importance to members of the public who care about such matters, and no wonder because it is the paradigmatic example of the conflict between the rights of the individual and the power of the state as enabled by technology. The Bill can be understood only in the context of the very worst crimes that our country and society face, but it is not hysterical for those who flatly oppose these kinds of measures to do so. The very worst crimes in all human history were perpetrated by states against their citizens, and we must be extremely careful about how we allow technology to infringe on our rights. If anybody wishes to see just how important that is, I recommend that they look at the transcript of the trial of Albert Speer at Nuremberg, which I put online with Big Brother Watch some time ago.
In any event, if somebody supports this Bill as an emergency measure, the key problem is that the timetabling will undermine the public’s confidence. Many people across the country think that the state is advancing too far and too fast in putting everybody under surveillance, and banging through this measure so quickly will undermine their confidence further. The Government will have more work to do to win them back, and I very much wish that they had given us far more time to discuss this measure.
The Big Brother Watch article is here. I am concerned about the prospects for liberty and privacy in a world which combines both advancing technology and the most appalling criminality.
It is now a subject to which we will return in the next Parliament.