Removal of limitation on warrants under Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
Coroners and Justice Bill
David Hanson (Minister of State (Crime and Policing), Home Office; Delyn, Labour)
Lords amendments 43 and 45 are proposed changes to section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and the Government introduced them in another place. They were proposed as a result of late representations from the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency. The proposed changes are simply clarifying measures. They seek to make it absolutely clear that those working for law enforcement agencies with a national jurisdiction, such as the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency, are entitled to obtain search warrants to enter and search premises under section 23(3) of the 1971 Act, when the court is content that the statutory criteria have been satisfied.
Lords amendment 44 is also a small and minor amendment, which would correct a minor error in the commencement powers relating to clause 100. Lords amendment 87 would correct a minor typographical error in relation to section 185(5) of the Extradition Act 2003.
As this is almost the final moment of the Bill's passage, I should like to thank the official Opposition Front Benchers and the Liberal Democrat Front Benchers for their co-operation and discussions over the past year or so, during the Bill's journey through both Houses. I joined in to assist the Bill's passage in June, and the Minister for Schools and Learners, my hon. Friend Mr. Coaker, played a significant part in it in his previous incarnation, for which I thank him. I also thank my noble Friends Lord West and Lord Brett, in another place, for their work on these provisions. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I thank the Bill team and officials from the Home Office, who have spent a long time dealing with the legislation and deserve our respect and thanks.
James Brokenshire (- Shadow Minister, Home Affairs; Hornchurch, Conservative)
I support Lords amendment 43, which clarifies the rules across the country. It is interesting to note that the provisions of the amendment already apply in Northern Ireland, as one of the subsequent amendments shows, and it therefore seems a sensible proposal to adopt.
I thank the Minister for his kind comments, and in return I thank him and his team, and also Mr. Coaker for their constructive approach. As we have seen this afternoon, we have not always agreed on all issues-one would not expect us to-but we have all listened to what has taken place, and we look forward to continuing the debate and discussions on the key issues as we move forward into the next Session.
I pass on my thanks to my noble Friends for their sterling work, and to the Bill team, the officials and everyone involved in the process. It has provided an opportunity to debate constructively some very important issues that affect many of our constituents, and we look forward to continuing that debate in the time ahead.
Paul Holmes (Chesterfield, Liberal Democrat)
The amendments are variously technical, minor and consequential, and we support them. I add my thanks to everybody who has taken part in this process over the past year. The only group that we have forgotten is the humble parliamentary researchers, including mine who did all the work earlier in the year, and my new one who has done all the work to prepare for the debate in the past week.
Lords amendment 43 agreed to.
Lords amendments 44 to 88 agreed to.
Sitting suspended (Order,