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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: Perhaps if they were heard to speak.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: Perhaps I may reply to the point. My observation did not concern the colour of the skin; it was a question of reasonable grounds. Colour of the skin was an illustration of that. I wanted to ask: what are reasonable grounds? The fear in the community is that that can be abused in the heat of the argument, the excitement of the chase, or with the police officer going further than he should. Even if later the matter is not upheld by a tribunal, the damage to the person is considerable. Although I cannot support the amendment because I believe that it goes too far, I want to plead for "reasonable grounds", or something somehow to be spelt out, with more protection than there is at the moment.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: Perhaps I may say to the right reverend Prelate that the clause as drafted puts on the person arresting without warrant the burden of proving that he had reasonable grounds. The difficulty which the right reverend Prelate feels is felt by the constable before he makes the arrest.

4 p.m.

The Lord Advocate (Lord Mackay of Drumadoon): I have received so much support in opposing the amendment that it may not be necessary to say very much. I rise to challenge the amendment and to remind Members of the Committee of what was provided when Parliament enacted the Immigration Act 1971. Section 24(2) provides that:

Section 25(3) is in similar terms. It states that,

    "an immigration officer may arrest without warrant anyone who has, or whom he, with reasonable cause, suspects to have, committed an offence under subsection (1) above".
That illustrates the points raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, and the noble Lords, Lord Renton and Lord Campbell of Alloway, that throughout statute law there are numerous examples of provisions in such terms being enacted by Parliament. It would be a serious mistake to depart upon a novel basis for setting into statutory form provisions for arrest without warrant.

Clearly, concerns have been raised about issues such as the colour of skin, a particular type of accent, and so forth. Those matters require to be in the forefront of the arresting officer's mind, whether he be a police constable or an immigration officer, before he invokes the power that Parliament has given him. In the light of the concerns that are raised, undoubtedly police training will take account of them. But the fact that there may

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have been isolated incidents in which wrongful arrests have taken place does not justify the radical departure that is suggested.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester raised a particular case. Without further information about the person concerned it would be wrong to respond to that case in Committee. If the right reverend Prelate wishes to write to me with further details I shall ensure that a substantive response is given.

The amendment is an example of a number that have been tabled with a view to making more difficult the establishment of greater coherence of immigration control, which this Bill is all about. For those reasons, I invite the Committee to reject the amendment.

Lord Renton: Would my noble and learned friend care to set at rest the mind of the right reverend Prelate by confirming that when we use the expression "reasonable grounds" in our statute law we scarcely ever define or qualify them because they must depend on the circumstances of each case?

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: I am happy to confirm that and to say in addition that it is a serious mistake to seek to define them because then one becomes involved in obtuse arguments in court as to whether a particular specificity set out has been met. The courts are well used to dealing with situations in which reasonable grounds fall to be construed. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, reminded the Committee that that construction requires to be applied to the particular facts of the particular case. It is my submission to the Committee that the courts would have no difficulty whatever in deciding whether any invoking of the power by a constable was well founded.

Earl Russell: A distinction arises as regards the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. Suspicion may and should arise from the circumstances of the case. What is different about this matter is that suspicion arises simply from looking at the person and not from anything he or she has done. If we had lived in the days when physiognomy was taken seriously and bushy eyebrows were taken to be proof of a criminal character I believe that I should have been suspected more than any other noble Lord, save the noble Lord, Lord Healey.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: I do not accept that merely looking at someone would provide reasonable grounds. There would need to be something about a person's background, information that had come to hand, and other knowledge. It may well be that some aspect of the circumstances in which the constable came front to front with the individual had some bearing on it. If the individual immediately turned and ran away that might be an adminicle of evidence which linked with other adminicles of evidence to justify forming the view that there were reasonable grounds for suspecting that the particular individual had committed a particular offence to which the section applies. I suggest that merely looking at someone would not be enough.

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Earl Russell: I thank the noble and learned Lord for that reply. I was not suggesting that he thought anything else. I was merely telling him what happens on the ground.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: If the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate is saying that reasonable grounds for suspicion do not include someone's appearance or accent but only the circumstances in which a person is found and that those circumstances are positively an indication of the likelihood of an offence having been committed, that would go a good deal of the way towards calming my fears. In moving my amendment it certainly was not my intention in any way to damage the coherence of the law relating to illegal immigration. The clause provides a considerable extension of the powers of the police and immigration officers in relation to illegal immigrants in this country. Surely it is incumbent on the Government to show why increased powers are required rather than making charges of an attack on the coherence of the provision that is made.

The noble and learned Lord had a large part of a good point when he referred to the wording of the Immigration Act 1971 but I notice that even there the wording is different. The wording is,

    "has, or whom he, with reasonable cause, suspects to have".
That is different from the wording in the Bill, which is,

    "reasonable grounds for suspecting".
I do not know why it is different or whether there is any significance in the difference. However, in so far as this is not apparently a significant change in the law, which has generally found to be adequate, it is right that I should beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 71 not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 5, line 18, after ("a") insert ("named").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 72 and 73 are probing amendments with which I can deal briefly because I want only a simple explanation from the Government. I understand that:

    "If ... a justice of the peace is by written information on oath satisfied that there is reasonable ground for suspecting that a person who is liable to be arrested ... is to be found on any premises",
the written information on oath would have to be that of a named person and not just any person who might be found on those premises. I should be grateful for confirmation that that is the practice.

I also understand that when a warrant authorises a constable to enter if need be by force, the common law requires that that force should be reasonable or consistent with the needs of the occasion and that there is no change in the omission of the word "reasonable" which appears in the 1971 Act.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: I believe that I am in a position to give the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, the reassurance that he seeks. Amendment No. 72 would unnecessarily restrict matters in so far as it would make

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it absolutely necessary to have the correct and full name of the individual. As I am sure the noble Lord will well recognise, although it may be understood who the individual is and some part of his name may be known, his full details may not be available at the time at which the warrant is sought, either from the justice of the peace or, in Scotland, from the sheriff.

I am happy to give the Committee the assurance that it is not intended that search warrants will be sought on some speculative basis; for example, searching premises for anybody who might be there, whether or not he is known in any sense to the immigration authorities. I hope that on the basis of that assurance, the noble Lord will withdraw Amendment No. 72.

In relation to Amendment No. 73, again I am happy to give an assurance that no change to the application of the common law is intended. Again, the style used is that used on numerous other occasions. Officers, whether police officers or immigration officers, will be expected to behave reasonably having regard to the particular circumstances which they confront when they seek to execute the warrant.

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