Clause 77 - Power of entry

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 27th January 2005.

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

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

The clause relates to enabling an officer to enter premises without a warrant for the purposes of silencing a problem alarm, and it sets out the circumstances in which he may do so, provided that he does not enter by force. It prompts the question that if such an offence is carried on under clause 76 and if the person is seeking the power of entry under clause 77 without using force, how can he be identified? Will he carry any written authority?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

May I help the hon. Lady? Clause 77(5) states:

''The officer must, if required, show evidence of his authority to act under this section.''

Clearly, he must be carrying it with him or he would not be able to show it.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

That is most helpful. It shows that the Minister is responding to our probing in his usual kindly fashion.

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

May I point out to the hon. Lady that it means that I have read the Bill?

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

So have we, which is why we are seeking clarification. Would not it be helpful to state evidence of whose authority and from whom? Is it from the local authority? Does it mean that, under this clause, there is no recourse to a justice of the peace?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

It refers to an authorised officer of the local authority, so clearly the authorisation lies with the local authority, as does the method of   demonstrating that authority, which in most—indeed, I think all—local authorities is in an acceptable and generally recognised form. The powers in the clause are self-evident. Were it necessary to force entry, it would need to be under other provisions. The clause refers to a straightforward situation which allows an officer to do what is necessary if he is able to gain entry without force.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 77 ordered to stand part of the Bill.