HC Deb 26 March 1953 vol 513 cc828-9
39. Mr. Gower

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many officers employed by his Department now have power to enter premises without production of a justice's warrant; and what steps he is taking to reduce these numbers.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Ninety-one, Sir. The need for the use of warrants issued by the Board of Trade is constantly examined with a view to keeping their number down to the minimum necessary. During the last 12 months the number of warrant-holders has been reduced by about 45 per cent.

Mr. Gower

While thanking my right hon. Friend for what has been done, may I ask whether he does not agree that it is undesirable that officers of his Department should continue to enjoy powers in excess of those possessed by our police forces, and does he agree that the protections which were designed to prevent the abuse of the powers by the police should also be made available for the public against abuse by his officers?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The number of these officers has been very nearly halved during the last 12 months, and, as my hon. Friend is aware, the retention of some power of this kind is necessary for the carrying out of the duties imposed upon them.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the basis of the totalitarian State is the right of entry without warrant? Therefore, the fewer of these people there are the less likely is it that we will become a police State.

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