Coalition split on online monitoring
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 09 April 2012
David Cameron will have to resolve a split in the Coalition over a "Big Brother" plan to allow monitoring of everyone's online activity.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said yesterday she hoped for quick action on a Bill to permit the police and intelligence services to obtain details of messages sent via Skype and social networks. She said: "I would expect us to be able to do this in the next session [of parliament starting next month]." Her remarks appeared at odds with Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, who promised anxious Liberal Democrats last week that the controversial Bill would be published in draft form only to ensure widespread consultation – a move which could delay its passage through parliament.
Yesterday Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat president, confirmed a report in The Independent on Saturday that his party could "kill" the Bill unless it is watered down. He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "If we think this is a threat to a free and liberal society then there would be no question of unpicking them or compromising, this just simply must not happen."
Ms May also promised a crackdown on the "abuse" of human rights laws that stop foreign criminals being deported. She said tougher immigration rules would be in place by the summer to stop all but the most "exceptional cases"succeeding on appeal using the "right to a family life" to stay in Britain, she told The Sunday Telegraph.
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