Vincent Cable MP

Vincent Cable MP (Liberal Democrat) MP for Twickenham. Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor and Deputy Leader. Member of the All Party Internet Group. Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Intellectual Property Protection. Read Natural Science and Economics at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University followed by a PhD at Glasgow University.

Vincent worked as Treasury Finance Officer for the Kenya Government between 1966 and 1968. After lecturing at Glasgow University in economics he worked as a first Secretary in the Diplomatic Service in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1974-1976). He was then Deputy Director of the Overseas Development Institute, this included a period working for the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, John Smith MP, as a Special Advisor. From 1983 to 1990 Vincent worked as Special Advisor on Economic Affairs for the Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Sonny Ramphal. From 1990 Vincent worked for Shell International and from 1995 was Shell's Chief Economist. He has also been head of the economic programme at Chatham House.


Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act

The Register reports in Lib Dems go against RIP bill (Lucy Sherriff) 20th September 2000

"This is a civil liberties issue," Vincent Cable said. "But we can't disregard that this will impose an enormous regulatory burden on what should be one of our high growth sectors, and is unnecessary and damaging."
He also drew attention to the huge cost of implementing the legislation. He said that current estimates put the cost for the equipment would total at £640 million over the next five years, and that the overall cost to the economy would be around £50 billion.

Identity cards

Signed Early Day Motion 263 Identity Cards 06 June 2005

That this House believes that a convincing case for the introduction of compulsory biometric identity cards and a national database has not been made, that the risks involved far outweigh any discernible benefit, that the introduction of identity cards will fundamentally change the relationship between the citizen and the state, diminish personal privacy and threaten civil liberties, that the present proposals do not provide properly costed, proportionate or effective solutions to the problems they are claimed to solve; and calls upon the Government to shelve plans for their introduction.

Written question Home Department - Identity Cards 6 July 2005

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the latest estimate is of costs of (a) processing applications and enrolment, (b) producing cards, (c) database design, (d) producing identification numbers, (e) application checks, (f) updating the register and (g) operating costs for the identity card scheme in the starting and operating phases under the different scenarios of a voluntary and compulsory card, indicating expected margins of error.


Successfully shepherded a private members bill through parliament Copyright, etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002 in 2002. The bill was aimed at organised crime involved in large-scale copyright piracy. Vincent Cable obtained all party backing for the bill. Getting any private members bill passed is a major achievement as they can be easily stopped by nearly any member of parliament and often the government does not allow much if any time on the schedule for the bill. The Bill increased the maximum penalty for copyright theft in the UK from two years to 10 years it also gives the authorities increased provision to obtain search warrants and powers to seize goods.

House of Commons debate Pre-Budget Report 6 December 2006

As the Member who introduced the most recent piece of legislation outlawing copyright theft, I welcome the Chancellor's recognition of the creative industries.

Written question Copyright/Trade Marks 26 February 2004

To ask the Solicitor-General how many Crown prosecutions have been made for counterfeiting and copyright theft (a) since the introduction of the Copyright etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002 and (b) in each of the last seven years; and how many prosecutions resulted in convictions.

Written question Copyright 23 February 2004

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate HM Customs and Excise has made of the loss of government revenue from counterfeiting and copyright theft in each of the last five years.

House of Commons debate Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Bill 21 June 2002

I add my full support for the Bill, partly on behalf of my party and partly on a personal basis. I am introducing another private Member's Bill on copyright law, which has led to confusion on two levels. First, I am occasionally showered with approval from institutions involved with the visually impaired. Although I am tempted to lap up their applause, I must acknowledge that the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Rachel Squire) should receive it.
Secondly, and more substantially, people say, "You are introducing legislation that would increase the criminal penalties against those who seriously abuse copyright law. How can you favour legislation that widens access to material?" Of course, the two are not incompatible. I agree with the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson), who rightly emphasised that we must properly protect intellectual property—the purpose of my Bill is to increase criminal penalties in line with the trademark provision—but there must be exceptions.
It has always been understood that personal copying is not a problem, although the Bill goes slightly further by addressing multiple copying and copying without the author's permission, but for an entirely necessary and desirable public good. The hon. Member for Dunfermline, West painstakingly explained how she has created through the legislative process a series of safeguards that protect copyright holders. I am entirely satisfied that that meets their purposes as well as those of the visually impaired, and it strikes me that the balance has been well preserved. I fully support the legislation.
I have two final points to make. First, we are all receiving a lot of submissions from different groups, so I acknowledge the work of the universities. The Bill will contribute substantially to the work of higher education. People have been severely inhibited by copyright problems in universities, which have publicly acknowledged that the legislation will be an excellent help to them in making it possible to assist their visually impaired students without fear of legal comeback.
Secondly, the Bill will also help many voluntary organisations. Like many constituencies, mine has a talking newspaper, which has expressed full support, and I hope that the legislation proceeds rapidly.

Children's Digital Rights

House of Commons debate HM Revenue and Customs 28 November 2007

...For example, there is a new child protection database system called ContactPoint, which was created in the wake of the Climbié inquiry. As I understand it—I stand to be corrected—in the order of 300,000 professionals could have access to that database. It is difficult not to imagine that at least a few of them might have some malign intention. The problem lies in the sheer scale of the database to which they have access, however well managed it is and however good the protocols.

Internet Censorship

Signed an Early Day Motion Freedom of Expression and the UN Internet Governance Forum 30 October 2006

That this House notes with concern that internet repression is hampering freedom of expression across the world especially in Iran, Vietnam, the Maldives and China; urges companies in China, including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, to reveal which words they have banned from blogs or have filtered out of web searches; requests that they make public all their agreements with the Chinese authorities and publicly call for the release of cyber-dissidents jailed for expressing peaceful opinions online; welcomes Amnesty International's campaign to ensure that the internet remains a tool for political freedom, not repression; and urges the UK Government to make strong representations at the UN Internet Governance Forum in Athens in November to ensure that the internet remains a tool for the free flow of information and respect for human rights and that freedom of expression is a key component to any future agreement on internet governance.

DNA database

Signed Early Day Motion 1697 Use of the DNA database 27 February 2006

That this House expresses its concern about the retention of DNA data taken from children aged 10 to 18 years who have never been charged or cautioned with any offence; notes large regional differences in retention policy between various police forces; and believes that this imbalance is being further exacerbated by the Government's unwillingness to issue clear guidelines to chief constables about the removal of innocent children from the National Police DNA Database.

Freedom of Information

Signed Early Day Motion 845 Freedom of Information 06 Febuary 2007

That this House expresses concern that the proposed new fees regulations under the Freedom of Information Act would allow authorities to refuse on cost grounds a high proportion of requests which they are currently required to answer; notes that the Government's consultation document recognises that this will have a greater impact on journalists, hon. Members, campaign groups and researchers than on private individuals; considers that such changes would undermine the Act's contribution to increased discussion of public affairs, accountability and trust in the work of public authorities; and calls on the Government not to proceed with the proposals.

Signed Early Day Motion 2699 Freedom of Information 10 December 2006

That this House welcomes the finding of the Constitutional Affairs Committee (HC991) that the Freedom of Information Act has `already brought about the release of significant new information and....this information is being used in a constructive and positive way' and the committee's conclusion that it sees `no need to change' the Act's charging arrangements; views with concern reports that the Government is considering changing these arrangements to permit an application fee to be charged for all requests or to allow authorities to refuse, on cost grounds, a significant proportion of requests which they currently must answer; and considers that such changes could undermine the Act's benefits of increased openness, accountability and trust in the work of public authorities.

Wilson Doctrine

Written Question on the Wilson Doctrine 8 February 2006

Signed Early Day Motion 1378 Tapping of hon. members' telephones 16 January 2006

That this House believes there should be no change to the Wilson doctrine on tapping hon. Members' telephones without a full debate and vote in the House.

Spy Blog comments Prime Minister Tony Blair still refuses to answer questions about the "Wilson Doctrine"

There really is no excuse, in a democracy, for the Government not to answer general questions about the strategy and democratic safeguards, about any aspect of "security" policy, whilst obviously protecting current operations and methods, or the details of individual cases. Yesterday, Dr. Vincent Cable, the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, was again stonewalled by the Prime Minister regarding his series of perfectly reasonable questions regarding the "Wilson Doctrine."

Open Source Software

Signed Early Day Motion 179 Software in Schools 21 November 2006

That this House congratulates the Open University and other schools, colleges and universities for utilising free and open source software to deliver cost-effective educational benefit not just for their own institutions but also the wider community; and expresses concern that Becta and the Department for Education and Skills, through the use of outdated purchasing frameworks, are effectively denying schools the option of benefiting from both free and open source software and the value and experience small and medium ICT companies could bring to the schools market.



2008-09-15 - Computing - Lib Dems vote down e-petitions plan
Summary: A bid to commit the Liberal Democrats to an e-petition system capable of vetoing unpopular new laws has been defeated at the party's annual conference in Bournemouth. ... The debate kicked off a conference at which party leader Nick Clegg and shadow chancellor Vince Cable made clear they would seek to ditch remaining delayed components of the NHS computer system, as well as drop the government's ID cards scheme to save money to fund other social objectives, including tax cuts.
2007-12-09 - Liberal Democrat Press Release - HMRC letter shows Brown to blame
Author: Vince Cable MP
Summary: Commenting on reports that HMRC was warned in a letter three years ago about both junior staff accessing databases and weak procedures which meant that mistakes and fraud were unlikely to be detected, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader and Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable said "How can people have confidence in Government databases holding personal information when Departments like the HMRC have taken such a cavalier attitude?" "These reports also show that the blame for lost discs lies with Gordon Brown, as he should have acted on the worries of his auditors while he was Chancellor."
2007-12-06 - The Telegraph - HMRC boss admits to more data losses
Author: Andrew Porter
Summary: HMRC has admitted there have been seven other significant data losses in recent years. ... Acting Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said: "This shows an appalling lack of attention to people's security, inexplicable failure to encrypt data and a chaotic method of dealing with transportation."
2007-05-21 - Vincent Cable - Local MPs Back Freedom of MPs' Information
Author: Vincent Cable MP
Summary: Both of the Borough's two MPs supported efforts in Parliament to resist a Bill designed to remove Parliament from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Bill.
2007-01-03 - Vincent Cable - Threat to Online Communities
Author: Vincent Cable MP
Summary: Lack of volunteers and of funding mean that the future of the Online Communities - which started and flourished in Hampton before being launched in other parts of the borough - is in serious doubt. The founder, and manager of the sites, John Inglis, has decided that he cannot keep the system going in its present form because of the enormous amount of time involved, and lack of support. Vincent Cable, MP, commented that: "It would be a major loss for the local community if the Online Communities were forced to close. They have created, particularly in areas where they are well used like Hampton, a real sense of community, an electronic village. Moreover residents who use the sites have access to immediate local news, ahead of the weekly newspapers, and to debates around the local issues". "In the last parliament I secured a debate on Online Communities since it was clear that although the government, and councils, spend a fortune of tax payers money on e-government, and their own websites, the voluntary groups, like ours, reach more people, better, yet are largely ignored, disadvantaged and unsupported. Because the voluntary, network, services are free, they are largely taken for granted and their loss will only be fully appreciated when they are gone".
2006-03-29 - The Register - MPs botch HCI rescue
Author: Mark Ballard
Summary: The tax break for people who buy home computers through their wage packet was scrapped last night, despite protests from businesses endangered by the short notice of its termination. ... Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman Vincent Cable had a quick round of spot the hypocrisy, which is so much more fun in the age of the internet, public relations and misinformation. He noted a statement the Chancellor made in support of the home computer tax break in 1999, when he introduced it: "We hope [it] will encourage businesses to loan computers to their employees... there are real benefits to businesses, employees and the wider community."
2006-02-09 - Spy Blog - Prime Minister Tony Blair still refuses to answer questions about the "Wilson Doctrine"
Summary: There really is no excuse, in a democracy, for the Government not to answer general questions about the strategy and democratic safeguards, about any aspect of "security" policy, whilst obviously protecting current operations and methods, or the details of individual cases. Yesterday, Dr. Vincent Cable, the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, was again stonewalled by the Prime Minister regarding his series of perfectly reasonable questions regarding the "Wilson Doctrine."
2005-03-22 - Vincent Cable - MP Backs Local Community Web Sites
Author: Vincent Cable MP
Summary: Vincent Cable, MP, secured an adjournment debate in parliament on Friday to draw attention to the pioneering work of the independent community websites in the borough - the ten portals which form part of - and the potential threats in the future. The local community websites which grew out of Hampton Online have been growing in their sophistication, variety and audience - and are entirely dependent on volunteers. They have become, said Vincent Cable, "not just a valuable resource for local communities, traders, the police, councillors and others to communicate but the beginnings of e-democracy where the Internet connected public, a large and growing group locally, can express their ideas and be heard. But all this is under some threat". Vincent Cable argued that "by subsidising local councils to provide their own competing, if less satisfactory, website, the government is undermining independent websites. And in Richmond's case, thuggish pressure by the council on the website volunteers, shows that councils like ours don't like to have a new, genuinely independent, media shining a light on their activities (see Private Eye p11 18 Feb - 3 March)".
2003-04-14 - Vincent Cable - Local child minders worry about unwanted internet publicity
Author: Vincent Cable MP
Summary: A local child minding group, representing 400+ child minders in the borough, has asked local MP Vincent Cable to take up with Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, their fears about a proposal to publish their personal details on the internet. The proposal comes from Ofsted, the inspectorate, which wants to publish details of all child minders, including home addresses, on its website.
2002-07-30 - The Register - Tougher penalties for UK copyright thieves
Author: John Leyden
Summary: A Bill which increases the maximum penalty for copyright theft in the UK from two years to 10 years has become law. The Private Member's Bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Dr Vincent Cable, also gives the authorities increased provision to obtain search warrants and powers to seize goods.
2000-09-20 - The Guardian - Email spy law 'costly and undemocratic'
Author: Sarah Hall
Summary: Controversial new laws allowing the government to "spy" on emails were not only a severe threat to human rights and civil liberties but would undermine Britain's hopes of being a leading centre for e-commerce, the Liberal Democrats heard yesterday. The estimated cost of implementing email monitoring equipment would be £640m over the next five years, while the overall cost to the economy would be around £50bn, according to the CBI, said the Trade and Industry spokesman Vincent Cable.
2000-09-20 - The Register - Lib Dems go against RIP bill
Author: Lucy Sherriff
Summary: The Liberal Democrat's Party convention has brought a few more people out of the shadows and into the fight against aspects of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) bill. Trade and Industry Spokesman, Vincent Cable said that it was not just the huge cost of monitoring emails that should be ringing alarm bells, but the implications for civil liberties and the sheer logistics of the beast.