Clause 301 - Evidence of authorisation

Gambling Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 14th December 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

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

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

I wish to return to the issue that I raised a few minutes ago. I am not happy with the Minister's answer. He briefly asserted that the enforcement officers and the authorised persons will have to prove who they are. Of course, that is right; such provisions appear in clauses 301 and 302. However, the other people who we mentioned in connection with new clause 19 are not covered by those clauses. In light of the case in my constituency to which I referred recently, will the right hon. Gentleman take away the thought that he might be willing to table an amendment on Report or in another place that applied clauses 301 and 302 to the other persons who will be allowed under new clause 19 to join the raids on premises?

Clearly, when the Bill was originally drafted, there was no need for clauses 301 and 302 to refer to any person other than enforcement officers and authorised persons—the new clause had not been drafted. The Bill now refers to other persons who may not have to have identification with them. However, it is a crucial part of the sort of country that we want to be that no one should be able to take part in a raid on premises without identifying themselves, so that the person whose premises are being inspected—invaded, as it were—can establish straightaway who those people are.

Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page Conservative, South West Hertfordshire

My hon. Friend is opening up something that I must confess I had missed in the welter of new clauses and documentation that has hit us. Is he suggesting that a police constable with due authorisation could take along the press, cameramen and a panoply of media?

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

My hon. Friend has in mind a further extension of what happened in my constituency. However, because the powers in new clause 19 are so wide, he must be correct. New clause 19 provides the   completely unfettered power that the enforcement officer or authorised person could take along any other person. They should have to have identification under clauses 301 and 302.

Photo of Mr Richard Page Mr Richard Page Conservative, South West Hertfordshire

I want to help the Government in this situation. Does my hon. Friend think that they should come forward with regulations on who the police constable and authorised person can take along with them, so that there is a clear list of approved people?

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

I do, but the Government could deal with the matter by amending clauses 301 or 302 on Report or in another place to take account of new clause 19. My concern once again is that, as my hon. Friend has said on many occasions, the Government are drafting the legislation as they go along. Clauses 301 and 302 should cover the extra class of people established in new clause 19. Another way of doing that, as my hon. Friend suggests, is to provide a limited list that could exclude the press. Perhaps the Government might consider that on Report or in another place.

In the case of the incident in my constituency, it took me a long time to get to the bottom of who the extra people were—they were reluctant to identify themselves in case their names became known and they were prejudiced in terms of other raids that they might make. A totally law-abiding business had people coming in who said that they had official status, but who did not actually identify themselves. That undermines the principle that an Englishman's home is his castle.

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Sport and Tourism), Department for Culture, Media & Sport

We must be careful not to predicate the whole Bill on one incident in a pub somewhere in the hon. Gentleman's constituency—that is not a good way of making law. However, I do not know the establishment or the people who entered it, and I would have to do more research to find out exactly why they did so. Broadly speaking, people do have to identify themselves, and that is also the case in this Bill—it does not deal with immigration officers or anyone else.

We have got to trust our enforcement officers. They may want to take the press along with them. In a number of cases, the police have taken the press along to show what is happening, and it has worked out well and highlighted to the public what the police are doing to protect people's liberties. In my constituency, the police took the press with them on a drugs raid and the incident entered the public domain. I see nothing wrong with that, because they are responsible people. If enforcement officers did not have that responsibility, we would not have trust and faith in them to carry out the regulations of the Bill.

Clause 301 clearly states that

''An enforcement officer or authorised person seeking to exercise a power under or by virtue of this Part must produce evidence of his identity and authority to the person (if there is one) who appears to the enforcement officer or authorised person to be occupying the relevant premises or to have responsibility for their management.'' 

It is clearly laid down that responsible people will operate and police the Bill, so there is no need for any further amendment. They will be responsible people—trained and properly qualified. If they believe that they need to take other people with them—IT experts, the press or anybody else—in the prosecution of what they have been employed to do, we should leave it up to their sensible approach.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 301 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 302 to 305 ordered to stand part of the Bill.