I have one concern only. I have already said that we welcome the creation of the RCPO. However, that does not mean that a number of concerns have not been left lying around, and one of those relates to this clause. One of the big concerns expressed to me in submissions—I have but one of several in my hand—has been about the coercive powers that may be exercised by the new body.
Is it correct that some of the RCPO's coercive powers will be contained henceforth in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill as a consequence of the way in which the legislation is drafted? If that is the case, are we not in danger of leaving under the aegis of that Bill some pretty wide powers that may be too broad?
For example, the Law Society believes that the range of offences to which the coercive investigative powers will apply has become far too wide. It has alerted me to clause 55(1)(d) of that Bill, which would allow coercive investigation of an offence of fraudulent evasion of VAT whatever sum was involved in the alleged offence. Would it not be sensible to have some threshold value below which the powers would not apply so that those draconian powers—and they are draconian—are used proportionately and limited to offences involving serious crime only?
It being twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
Adjourned till Tuesday 18 January at twenty-five minutes past Nine o'clock.