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Mr. Vaz: I understand what my hon. Friend is saying, but it sounds a bit like a fishing expedition. The hope is that looking at other records might mean that other offences are discovered. Can she assure me that the records will be returned as soon as possible after the person involved has been dealt with?

Beverley Hughes: It is not a fishing expedition. I am simply making the point that seeking the employment records of a person who has been arrested or is liable for arrest because he is a suspect inevitably means that a constable must go through a bank of records to see whether the one that he wants is there. In doing that, if records of other people who may be suspected of employment offences come to light, that fact cannot be ignored.

The Government amendments seek to clarify the conditions that relate to this power and that have to be satisfied for a search to be conducted under the new section. Our amendments are perfectly reasonable and understandable. I hope that the House will accept them.

Mr. Allan: I shall concentrate on amendments Nos. 74 to 77 and I give notice of our intention to divide the House on amendment No. 74, which deals with an important principle.

We believe that whenever possible there should be prior judicial scrutiny of requests by law enforcement authorities to search for personal information on premises and remove it. We need to strike a balance between the rights of the employer and the other employees. The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) referred to a fishing expedition. Our problem is not with those fishing expeditions that are successful because they catch a full haul of fish, but with those that go through the records of innocent fish for no particular reason. People are rightly aggrieved if their privacy is breached when no serious offence has been committed.

12 Jun 2002 : Column 949

The rights of the innocent employees whose records may be seized under the provisions and the rights of the employers should be taken seriously. We would, of course, accept advice on who should seek the JP's warrant—the immigration officer and the constable as opposed to just the immigration officer, perhaps. However, without judicial scrutiny there is a serious risk that the powers could be used in an overbearing way.

If the judicial scrutiny element is included in the legislation, we could develop systems that work. That is especially relevant to those cases in which a constable or immigration officer believes that offences are liable to be committed and that employer X is employing people illegally. In those circumstances, there is no reason why they should not go to a magistrate and get authority for a search warrant as they would in many other instances that require law enforcement agencies to have warrants.

An additional safeguard is required. There is a risk that the powers will be used inappropriately if the Bill is left unamended, so we will seek to divide the House on amendment No. 74.

Mr. Malins: There is a problem with the clause. Whenever one sees a reference to search warrants, one wants to see a reference to the courts. The Minister will know that when an officer wants to obtain a search warrant for premises on which there are drugs, he goes before a district judge or magistrate, swears an information setting out his reasons for believing that the premises contain drugs and is then examined by the court, which asks for more information and cross-examines him on it. Only when the magistrate or district judge is satisfied that there is a reasonable case does he grant the warrant.

Proposed new section 28FA states:


In the example that I gave of drugs on the premises, there was a possible challenge to the constable's reasonable belief, which would have been made before the warrant was executed by the district judge. However, the Bill makes no provision for the reasonable belief of a constable to be challenged because there can be no prior challenge and a subsequent challenge would effectively be invalid. The Government have to address that dilemma.

The other dilemma that they face has been alluded to: will the proposal result in a fishing exercise? The amendments tabled by the Liberal Democrats attempt to narrow the remit to the employee records of the employee concerned. When the Minister reads Hansard, she will observe that she referred to the importance of "the relevant employee records". In other words, the records should be limited to that employee. She said that one has to search records thoroughly to find the relevant ones, but what distresses me is that all the records of a firm can be searched, removed and acted on because of the reasonable belief of an immigration officer, which is not capable of challenge. That is a big worry.

Beverley Hughes: I simply commend the amendment to the House.

Amendment agreed to.

It being Nine o'clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put the remaining Questions required to be put at that hour, pursuant to Order [11 June].

12 Jun 2002 : Column 950

Clause 126

Power to search for evidence


Amendment proposed: No. 74, in page 71, line 16, leave out from "if" to end of line 17 and insert—

'on application made by an immigration officer a justice of the peace is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing'.—[Mr. Allan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 58, Noes 292.

Division No. 271
[9 pm


AYES


Allan, Richard
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Brake, Tom
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Carmichael, Alistair
Chidgey, David
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Doughty, Sue
Ewing, Annabelle
Foster, Don (Bath)
Galloway, George
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)
Heath, David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Kirkwood, Archy
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Pugh, Dr John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tyler, Paul
Weir, Michael
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wishart, Pete
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Andrew Stunell and
Sir Robert Smith.


NOES


Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beggs, Roy
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burnside, David
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Charles
(Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Rt Hon Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lammy, David
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
Lyons, John
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mahmood, Khalid
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simon, Siôn
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Nick Ainger and
Mr. Ivor Caplin.

Question accordingly negatived.

12 Jun 2002 : Column 952

Remaining Government amendments agreed to.

Order for Third Reading read.


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