Intelligence services

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on the intelligence services. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

02.06.2016Investigatory Powers Bill: Committee Stage Report
The Investigatory Powers Bill was introduced on 1 March 2016 and received its second reading on 15 March.There were sixteen sittings of the Public Bill Committee, including two evidence sessions. The Bill is due to have its report stage on 6 June 2016.
19.05.2016Counter-extremism policy: an overview
Counter-extremism policy has evolved over the past few years with an increasing focus on addressing non-violent extremism. Recent policy announcements and a forthcoming Bill indicate that the Government remains determined to confront both violent and non-violent forms of extremism in its fight against terrorism.
11.03.2016Investigatory Powers Bill
The Investigatory Powers Bill would overhaul the framework governing the use of surveillance by the intelligence and security agencies and law enforcement to obtain the content of communications and communications data. It follows three important reports published in 2015, all of which concluded that the law in this area is unfit for purpose and in need of reform, and a draft Bill that has been subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary committees.
09.02.2016Wilson Doctrine
The Wilson Doctrine is a convention that MPs' communications should not be intercepted by the intelligence services. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal gave judgement on 14 October 2015 clarifying the Doctrine's status and effect and the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, published in November 2015, introduced proposals to place the existing arrangements on a statutory footing. This Briefing Paper sets out the background.
03.02.2016The Intelligence and Security Committee
This note describes the functions and powers of the Intelligence and Security Committee, which is responsible for scrutinising the UK's intelligence and security agencies. It outlines reforms to the Committee under the Justice and Security Act 2013, and summarises recent inquiries.
19.11.2015Draft Investigatory Powers Bill
The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, published in November 2015, seeks to update and consolidate the legal framework governing the interception of communications and the acquisition of communications data by intelligence and law enforcement agencies
12.06.2015Communications Data: The 2012 draft Bill and recent developments
A draft Communications Data Bill was introduced and scrutinised by Parliament in 2012-13. The draft Bill, referred to by critics as a 'snooper's charter', was not taken forward, following opposition from the Liberal Democrats. The Queen's Speech in 2015 promised an Investigatory Powers Bill, which is expected to replicate features of the earlier draft Bill.
19.05.2015Key Issues for the 2015 Parliament
This book examines the key issues facing the House of Commons over the course of the 2015 Parliament - from the public finances to the UK's membership of the EU and from school places for children to climate change.
13.03.2015Interception of communications
This Note looks at past and present law, the role of the Interception of Communications Commissioner in overseeing the present regime and recent developments in this area.
25.07.2014The Terrorism Act 2000 Proscribed Organisations
This note describes the recent history and present status of 'proscribed organisations' under anti-terrorism legislation (particularly the Terrorism Act 2000).

Lords Library Notes

03.07.2015Reports into Investigatory Powers
This Note provides a summary of the recommendations of recent reports, including the report of David Anderson QC, and supporting material on the use of investigatory powers.
14.06.2012Justice and Security Bill [HL] (HL Bill 27 of 2012-13)
This Library Note provides background reading in advance of the second reading in the House of Lords of the Justice and Security Bill on 19 June 2012.


09.03.2016Digital Forensics and Crime
Digital forensic science is the process of obtaining, analysing and using digital evidence in investigations or criminal proceedings. Digital evidence ranges from images of child sexual exploitation to the location of a mobile phone. This note looks at the use of digital forensics by UK law enforcement agencies. It covers how evidence is obtained, the legislation and regulation in this area, and the efforts being made to address the challenges faced by practitioners.
30.09.2015Forensic Language Analysis
This note examines forensic language analysis, the scientific validity of procedures and their applications, and explores the issues surrounding their use.
09.03.2015The darknet and online anonymity
A very small proportion of websites use sophisticated anonymity systems, which allow their operators to conceal their identity if they wish to. This part of the web is commonly referred to as the darknet. The darknet helps citizens to protect their security and privacy and to circumvent censorship. It also facilitate organised crime, such as the billion dollar drug market known as Silk Road. This POSTnote discusses the challenge of preventing such crimes without compromising the other uses of anonymity technologies.
31.05.2013Monitoring Internet Communications
Internet communications are often monitored to investigate criminal activity. Recent attempts to update UK regulation of investigatory powers have generated controversy. This POSTnote explains the use of different internet monitoring methods and discusses the impact of evolving technologies.

Select Committee Reports

08.07.2009The Omagh bombing: access to intelligence.
Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

25.02.2010INVESTIGATORY POWERS (S.I., 2010, No. 123)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Covert Human Intelligence Sources: Matters Subject to Legal Privilege) Order ...
That this House recognises the ruling by the Court of Appeal to publish seven previously omitted paragraphs from the judgment of 21 August 2008 relating to the case of Mr Binyam Mohamed; ...
That this House notes with extreme concern the disclosure by the BBC Panorama programme on 14th September that GCHQ possesses recordings of intercept intelligence relating to the 1998 ...
That this House notes the loss of secret papers by a member of the security and intelligence services on a southbound train from Waterloo on 10th June 2008; considers this raises serious ...
That this House notes the collapse of the case against Derek Pasquill; believes that the law about official secrets should be based on preventing damage to the public interest rather ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses