Additional Investigation Powers

Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 20th June 1991.

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Lords amendment: No. 11, in page 41, line 17, leave out from ("Where") to end of line 26 and insert ("a person who has been authorised under subsection (1) above to exercise the powers there mentioned considers that any material may be relevant to the investigation in relation to which the authority was given, Schedule 7 to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (terrorist investigations) shall have effect in relation to the material as if—

  1. (a) the references to a constable in paragraphs 2(1), 3(1) and (2)(b), 5(1) and (3), 6(1), 12(2)(b), 14(3) and 15(1);
  2. (b) the first of the references to a constable in paragraph 3(6); and
  3. (c) the references to a procurator fiscal in paragraphs 12(1) and (6), 13(2), 14(1) and 15(1),
included references to that person; and where (by virtue of this subsection) such a person has made an application for an order under paragraph 3 of that Schedule, the reference in paragraph 4(2)(b) to the constable on whose application the order was made or any constable serving in the same police station shall be construed as referring to that person.")

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney , Peterborough

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The purpose of the amendment is to extend to authorised investigators appointed under clause 57 some of the powers of a constable under schedule 7 of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989. That Act empowers a police officer to apply for search warrants and production orders in connection with investigations of terrorist finances.

Because the material obtained as a result of the execution of such warrants and orders is likely to be complex and technical, in such cases the RUC will probably apply to the Secretary of State for the appointment of an authorised investigator to assist the investigation. The amendment would simply provide that, when an authorised investigator had been appointed to deal with such an investigation, he could himself apply for any further search warrants or production orders that were required. Persons applying for such orders can expect to be asked searching questions by whomever is considering the application, and it would not be easy for anyone but the authorised investigator to attempt to answer them.

The proposal in no way alters the properly strict conditions that must be fulfilled before any order may be granted under schedule 7. It simply enables an authorised investigator to apply for such orders. It also allows an authorised investigator access to any material that is the subject of an access order. Without such a provision, the authorised investigator would have to seek a production order for the material.

Question put and agreed to.