This is an interesting bat and bird amendment, which my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) has tabled. It would give the Secretary of State an order-making power to extend the enforcement provisions in section 19(3) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to provisions in any Act that aims to protect wild birds or animals.
The amendment would also have the immediate effect of extending the time within which the powers available to the police under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 can be used. Under the 1981 Act, for example, powers can be used only where it is suspected that a crime has been committed. As we have heard, the amendment would extend that provision to situations in which it is suspected that an offence is being, or is about to be, committed. It would also introduce new powers to cover the new pesticides offence in part 3.
The amendment proposes quite wide-ranging powers that would, in effect, allow access under warrant to all land on which an offence might be committed. We would require evidence to show what problem the new powers would address, the justification for such powers, what the consequences would be if they were not granted, and what other remedies, if any, might be available, and the number of offences each year that would be covered by the change. We would also need to assess the impact on police resources.
We do not believe that there is significant evidence to support the change proposed by the amendment. It would, for example, be difficult to prove with any certainty whether a wildlife offence was about to be committed. It would also be difficult to ascertain with any certainty the impact that the proposal would have on police resources in terms of deterring possible future offences.