This week Parliament agreed the following motion, confirming the plans to have a joint committee scrutinise a draft Communications Data Bill (aka online snooping powers):
That it is expedient that a joint committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider and report on any draft Communications Data Bill presented to both Houses in the course of this Session and that the committee should report on any draft Bill by 30 November.
The last Parliamentary session saw a similar process for the proposals to introduce individual electoral registration. That process worked well, with the detailed scrutiny throwing up lots of issues that the government has taken on board by making significant changes to the Bill that is now going to go through Parliament.
That’s a promising precedent, albeit with one important caveat. On individual electoral registration the debate was mostly over how to introduce it. For the Communications Data Bill and the Interception Modernisation Programme much of the debate is over what should be done, and not simply how best to do it.