Lords amendment: No. 152, after clause 24 insert—
. — (1) In section 56 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (right to have someone informed when arrested), at the beginning of subsection (5) there is inserted "Subject to subsection (5A) below" and after that subsection there is inserted—
(5A) An officer may also authorise delay where the serious arrestable offence is a drug trafficking offence and the officer has reasonable grounds for believing—
(2) In section 58 of that Act (access to legal advice) at the beginning of subsection (8) there is inserted "Subject to subsection (8A) below" and after that subsection there is inserted—
(8A) An officer may also authorise delay where the serious arrestable offence is a drug trafficking offence and the officer has reasonable grounds for believing—
(3) In section 65 of that Act (interpretation)—
(4) Without prejudice to section 20(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Application to Customs and Excise) Order 1985 applies to sections 56 and 58 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 as those sections have effect by virtue of this section".
§ Mr. Corbett
I have no wish to detain the House on amendment No. 152, but I wish to place on record the attitude of the Labour party to these and related provisions in The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The powers proposed by this amendment are, in terms of civil liberties, quite draconian. The Bill gives the police power to delay notification of the arrest and detention of somebody for up to 36 hours for reasons which, I quickly add, are wholly justified in the circumstances.
When saying that in some circumstances this kind of intrusion into civil liberties is justified, we have to be careful. I know that the Minister understands that we are not looking for bouquets or roses, but I want to remind him again that the reason why we have gone along with this is that we are determined, as are the Government, to use every weapon in our armoury to deal effectively with people who not only make vast fortunes out of drug trafficking, which is had enough, but do it by ruining young lives. Every hon. Member wants to try to protect and save those young lives.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
Is the Minister satisfied that the powers contained in the new clause will make it virtually impossible for friends, relatives, dishonest professional advisors and others to dispose successfully of assets in the short period after arrest? I addressed that matter on Second Reading and it has been of considerable concern throughout the proceedings on the Bill. It seemed to be a lacuna in the original Bill and I hope that the Minister will give an undertaking that if the new clause does not work, new measures will be brought before the House.
§ Mr. Mellor
I admired the courage of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) in stopping you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in full flow. You demonstrated to my satisfaction tonight once again that Phyllosan really works.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for recognising that this measure is necessary. It was equally proper for him to point out that this is a limited incursion into what 1138 was otherwise a major step forward in The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, allowing much wider access to professional advice. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) put his finger on it when he said that if we are to be successful in dealing with the problem of the large assets of drug traffickers we must be able to act peremptorily to prevent them from being shifted out of our jurisdiction. We cannot expect to make watertight arrangements with every country to which assets could be moved, so that they will be in reach of our courts. I am as satisfied as I can be that these arrangements make it possible to prevent leakage of information. Although ways can always be found, we make it difficult for traffickers and that is what we all want to do.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.