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Schedule 5 - Enforcement powers in connection with wildlife

Part of Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of James Paice James Paice Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 6:15 pm, 28th June 2005

I am grateful to the Minister for at least some of his responses. For my benefit, if not for that of other Committee members, he still needs to clarify the points that we have raised concerning PACE. I shall not rehearse them again. On qualifications, I hear the Minister’s entreaty to believe that only the very best people will be taken, and I hope that he is right; that is a minor issue. I am less persuaded on the issue of reasonable grounds. On reflection, I understand his point that one should not have to have reasonable suspicion simply to go and verify a statement or, as he said, to check on licence conditions. However, if one is ascertaining whether a group 1 or group 2 offence is being or has been committed, under proposed new section 18B(1)(a), then it must be appropriate to have reasonable grounds for suspicion.

There is no point in pursuing the amendment, because I accept that it is defective in that it refers to all the non-investigative activities. However, I hope that the Minister will be sympathetic to the point that I am trying to make. To use his expression, the provisions for ascertaining whether an offence is being or has been committed should contain some constraint to prevent fishing expeditions.

Jim Knightindicated assent.