David Cameron defends Government surveillance plans


Wednesday 04 April 2012 12:43

David Cameron today insisted there were “significant gaps” in UK security as he defended Government plans to allow all calls, emails, texts and website visits to be monitored.

The Prime Minister said his job was to do "everything that is necessary" to keep the country safe.

Mr Cameron said the coalition would "respect" civil liberties but wanted to "plug the gap" in defences.

Mr Cameron said: "It is the job of the Prime Minister to make sure that we do everything that is necessary to keep our country safe, particularly to keep our country safe from serious and organised crime and also from terrorist threats that we have faced in this country, that we still face in this country.

"As I see it, there are some significant gaps in our defences, gaps because of the moving on of technology - people making telephone calls through the internet, rather than through fixed line - but also gaps in our defences because it isn't currently possible to use intelligence information in a court of law without sometimes endangering national security.

"I want us - and the Government wants us - to plug those gaps but let's be clear, we will do it in a way that properly respects civil liberties."

Mr Cameron added: "These are difficult issues, they are sensitive issues, they require government to have deep, long conversations and work through some very tough issues.

"That is why we have published, on the court processes, a green paper, had a huge engagement with the legal profession, huge engagement with people who care about civil liberties.

"We are not at the end of that process yet. There will be a Queen's Speech later on this year, that's not a secret. In that Queen's Speech, I can't reveal the contents but these are issues we need to deal with.

"There is still time to deal with everybody's concerns.

"But we need to stand back and look at the big picture. The big picture is this: government, prime ministers, have a responsibility for national security.

"We should take every step that's necessary to keep the country safe.

"We shouldn't put our civil liberties at risk by doing so.

"But where there are gaps that need to be plugged, we need to plug those gaps.

"We should do that through consultation, with understanding, with respect to our long tradition for liberty in this country but, nevertheless, those gaps have to be dealt with. That's my responsibility and it's one I intend to fulfil. "

Asked if that meant he did not "agree with Nick" Mr Cameron replied curtly: "I think I've answered the question."


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