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'Doing nothing' risks security - PM

Scrapping plans to give police and intelligence services powers to monitor all email and internet use will risk national security, David Cameron has said.

A joint committee of MPs and peers this week criticised the draft Communications Data Bill, dubbed the "snoopers' charter", and called for greater safeguards.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg later admitted the legislation could not go ahead as written.

But Mr Cameron told MPs he did not want to be the Prime Minister who saw terrorists go free because spies could not access emails and other data.

He said: "The question is simply this: because we currently have that data for fixed and mobile telephony, what are we going to do as telephony increasingly moves over the internet?

"We can stand here and do nothing and not update the law; the consequence of doing that would be fewer crimes solved, fewer terrorists brought to justice.

"I do not want to be the Prime Minister that puts our country into this position."

Speaking at Commons questions, he added: "I think this is a very, very important issue. I feel very strongly that as Prime Minister you have to take responsibility first and foremost for national security and for people's safety.

"Data communications - this is not the content of a telephone call, it is the fact a phone call took place - is used in every single terrorist case and almost in every single serious crime case."

Dennis Skinner, Labour MP for Bolsover, said if the Government proceeded with the Bill, it would be "spying on more people than all the press barons put together".

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