Nick Clegg set to oppose 'snooper’s charter'

 

Controversial moves to give sweeping new powers to the police and security services to monitor phone, email and internet use are set to be opposed by Nick Clegg.

The Deputy Prime Minister is expected to veto the draft Communications Data Bill, which has been denounced by critics as a “snooper’s charter”.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, insists the moves are essential to keep track of terrorists and major criminals that are increasingly using Skype, email and social networks to evade the authorities. It wants the new powers to be in place by 2014.

But an all-party group of MPs and peers scrutinising the draft Bill will list a series of serious criticisms of the plans in a report next month. One Whitehall source said: “The committee is becoming more sceptical.”

It will accuse the Home Office of failing to make a “compelling case” for the proposals, which it warns could infringe civil liberties and create a pool of confidential information that could be open to abuse.

The committee will also warn of the potential cost to telecommunications companies and internet service providers from having to store the required data for 12 months.

Sources close to the committee are understood to believe the Bill cannot survive in its current form and may have to be dropped altogether.

Mr Clegg, much of whose party has already signalled its hostility to the measures, told the Liberal Democrat conference two months ago that he was prepared to veto the plans.

One senior Liberal Democrat told the Independent: “If the committee says there is no compelling case for the plans, it would be pretty hard for us to support it.”

Withdrawal of Lib Dem support for the measure would open up a new Coalition fault-line at a time of intensifying tensions between the two parties. Mr Clegg has met David Cameron to discuss the likely impasse over the Bill.

The original publication of the proposals, which built on an earlier scheme abandoned by the last Labour government, provoked a civil liberties storm.

Ms May stressed the police and security services would not be able to read the contents of messages, but would merely monitor whom internet users have contacted and when and where the contacts took place.

Critics retort that in some forms of online communication it is increasingly difficult to separate the content of messages from details of when they were sent.

In the ensuing uproar over the plans, the Government agreed to publish the proposals in draft form, effectively delaying them for at least a year. At Mr Clegg’s insistence, the all-party “scrutiny committee” was established to examine the draft Bill. One of its members, the Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, recently said the measure would have to be “massively rewritten to protect our civil liberties”.

Labour is being opaque over its attitude to the plans, but a number of Tory MPs are also hostile to the moves.

The former shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, has said the new powers would be “incredibly intrusive” and only catch “the innocent and incompetent”.

Taxpayers will face a bill of up to £2.5bn over ten years for the measures, but the Government says the country will save far more from thwarting crime.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings