Review by Judicial Officer

Clause 8 – in the House of Commons at 6:39 pm on 2nd April 2001.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Veterans)

Sticking exactly to procedure, I shall now deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) about this clause.

Obviously, secondary powers have been taken to make regulations governing the powers and duties of judicial officers in respect of reviews. It is certainly our intention that the actions of commanding officers in respect of initiating such reviews should be subjected to a fairly rigorous test that is properly applied. That is why the judicial officer has a role in reviewing actions.

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot

Does the Bill continue the existing arrangements that are in place under the current quinquennial legislation, or does it set out a new procedure? I am seeking to establish whether there has been a change in procedures relating to the seizure of documents and possessions and to the return of such items to their owners.

Photo of Dr Lewis Moonie Dr Lewis Moonie Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Veterans) 7:15 pm, 2nd April 2001

The clause gives powers to the Ministry of Defence police to make searches in specific circumstances, but it does not affect existing powers. Clause 7 clarifies the action that can be taken by a commanding officer when a warrant cannot be obtained. In other words, that clause deals with circumstances in which it is urgent to ensure that the material that is sought is not spirited away. The new powers that are conferred on the MOD police are the subject of appropriate safeguards; indeed, I think that the Select Committee agreed on that. As I said, the provisions allow the Secretary of State to extend regulations governing the powers and duties of judicial officers in respect of the reviews. Currently, the powers of the service police are not set out in legislation.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Chairman:

With the leave of the Committee, we shall consider clauses 9 to 17 together.

The Chairman:

Does the hon. Gentleman wish to comment on all the clauses, or on a particular one?

The Chairman:

With the leave of the Committee, we shall take clauses 9 to 14 together.

Clauses 9 to 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.