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I thank my noble and very learned friend for his contribution. I cannot comment on the specifics of the operation of magistrates’ warrants in England, but I certainly can undertake to write to him with clarification as to how—a very large piece of paper has just been handed to me, entitled, “What will the magistrate take into account when considering whether to issue a search warrant?” If your Lordships, like me, are agog to know this riveting information, here we go.
The magistrate would need to be satisfied on the basis of the written evidence and the questions answered on oath that reasonable grounds existed for suspecting a serious breach of a condition of funding or registration, and that entry to the premises was necessary to determine whether the breach was taking place. Further to this, the magistrate would also need to be satisfied that entry to the premises was likely to be refused or that the purpose of entry would be frustrated or seriously prejudiced. These criteria will ensure the exercise of the power is narrowly limited.
Well, as FE Smith once famously said to a judge, I may not be any wiser, but I am much better informed.