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HUMAN rights groups are urging the Lords to block the “deeply dangerous” Covert and Human Intelligence Sources Bill after it passed its final hurdle in the Commons this week.
The “spycops” Bill sailed through its third reading in Parliament on Thursday night, with MPs voting 313 for to 98 against.
The government’s Bill would allow public authorities, including MI5 and the Home Office, to authorise agents and informants to commit crimes while undercover.
Campaign groups have raised the alarm that the Bill in its current form does not rule out the authorisation of murder, torture or sexual violence.
An amendment tabled by Labour to introduce such limitations was voted down on Thursday, along with ones that sought to protect trade unions and progressive movements from being spied on.
The Bill will now proceed to the House of Lords unchanged. But Amnesty International director Kate Allen appealed to peers yesterday to introduce “urgent” amendments when they consider the legislation.
“It’s hugely worrying that we’re a step closer to seeing this deeply dangerous Bill become law,” she said. “MPs are signing off on a licence for government agencies to authorise torture and murder.
“Giving such disturbing powers to bodies including MI5 and the police could have devastating impacts.”
Reprieve director Maya Foa also called on the Lords to intervene.
She said: “Without limits on the crimes agents can commit, this Bill is wide open to abuse — and history suggests this will result in terrible harm.
“We are hopeful the House of Lords will amend this legislation to make clear MI5 cannot say what is and isn’t lawful, nor authorise torture, murder or sexual violence.”
Ahead of the vote, MPs complained that time to debate the law, which was introduced in the Commons just three weeks ago, had been severely limited.
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn described the proceedings as an “absolute travesty of parliamentary accountability,” highlighting that amendments had not been given standalone debates.
It comes amid accusations that the government is rushing through the legislation ahead of the undercover policing inquiry next month, which will investigate the conduct of police who infiltrated dozens of left-wing groups over more than 50 years.
Mr Corbyn was among 34 Labour MPs to reject the Bill, defying an order from leader Sir Keir Starmer to abstain.
The group included seven shadow cabinet members, who subsequently resigned from their posts.
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