HC Deb 17 June 1952 vol 502 cc972-3
12. Mr. F. Maclean

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the total number of officials authorised to carry out inspections and investigations in private houses and premises without a search warrant at 1st June, 1952.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Six thousand one hundred and twenty-eight. As I informed my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke) an urgent investigation is being undertaken into this question.

Mr. Maclean

Can my right hon. Friend say whether all private and business premises are included?

Mr. Butler

The figure includes a great variety of officials from different Government Departments, such as the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Health, the Home Office, the Inland Revenue, the War Damage Commission and the Central Land Board. Therefore, in some cases property other than private domiciles is involved.

Mr. Maclean

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this very remarkable reduction in the number of these snoopers will give widespread satisfaction in the country?

Mr. Butler

I am not sure that that is giving a right impression. It would be dishonourable of me to let such an impression go. I do not think that there has been, in fact, a satisfactory amount of reduction, and that is why we are looking into the matter.

Mr. Patrick Maitland

Will my right hon. Friend give strict instructions to all snoopers that they must produce their credentials on arrival at a place of inspection, because there have been complaints in this matter?

Mr. Butler

All these matters are governed by Statutory Instruments and these officials, commonly known as snoopers, are supposed to act according to their statutory duties. Therefore, I would not desire to alter the statutory basis upon which they act.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Chancellor not aware that to give too much protection to criminal classes against the working of the law would be dangerous to the community?