I understand entirely why the Minister was getting ahead of himself just now and becoming confused. It is easy to confuse provisions such as ''delete subsection (c)'' and ''delete subsection (3)''. When a Liberal Democrat Member mentioned the other issue, I was going boss-eyed myself trying to work out which provisions came in what order.
To make it clear, we are now dealing with a group headed by our amendment No. 15, which is designed to delete subsection (2)(c). It is vital in dealing with such serious powers that the person executing the warrant actually possesses the real warrant at the time of the arrest. Otherwise, where are the protections of our civil liberties? It is extraordinary that the provision allows the execution of the warrant even if neither the warrant nor a copy of it is in the possession of the person executing it at the time of arrest. That goes far too far.
Distinguished commentators are also concerned about the problem. I have often referred to the worries of organisations such as Liberty, the Law Society, Justice and the Freedom Association. On this occasion, a distinguished constitutional lawyer and jurist, Leolin Price QC, has written to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset and discussed with me his concerns about the wide nature of the Government's powers. The Government propose that if the person making the arrest does not possess either the warrant or a copy, a copy must be shown to the person as soon as possible after the arrest, but as Leolin Price QC rightly says, why should the burden of the request fall on the person being arrested, who is likely to be stressed, anxious and confused? Surely the burden should fall on the person making the arrest—the state, as it were. Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming a police state.
It is extraordinary to hear the Government say that it does not matter if the arresting officer does not have a warrant or a copy of it. It is a tradition of British law, civil liberties and the protection of the subject that people are entitled to ask, ''Where is your warrant?'', if
they are about to be arrested or have their home searched. Traditionally, without a warrant, it cannot happen. Here, however, a warrant or a copy of it only has to be produced later on.
The concerns of Leolin Price go much further. He argues that the provisions do not comply with article 11(1) of the framework decision, even if allowance is made for the scope of a member state's choice of form and methods under article 34.2(b) of the Treaty of Union—
Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.