HC Deb 21 June 1976 vol 913 cc372-4W
Mr. David Price

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list every different circumstance in which officials of his Department, and of all public bodies ultimately answerable to himself, have search and entry powers into either the homes or the business premises of British citizens, with in each case reference to the appropriate statutory authority for the exercise of such powers.

Mr. John Grant

Wages Inspectors appointed under Section 19 of the Wages Councils Act 1959 have power at all reasonable times to enter business premises where the work carried on is within the field of operation of a Wages Council to check that workers are receiving at least the appropriate statutory minimum rates and conditions of employment. Wages Inspectors also have enforcement duties and powers of entry to business premises under the Baking Industry (Hours of Work) Act 1954, the Truck Acts 1831–1896, the Road Haulage Wages Act 1938, and section 135 of the Factories Act 1961 dealing with the protection of earnings of certain pieceworkers in the textile manufacturing industry.

The Department of Employment acts as the agent of the Department of Health and Social Security in the administration of unemployment benefit. Certain officers of this Department are appointed as inspectors under Section 144 of the Social Security Act 1975. They are entitled to enter at all reasonable times premises liable to inspection under the Act—which does not include any private dwelling house not used by or by permission of the occupier for the purposes of a trade or business—and to inspect documents for the purpose of ascertaining whether benefit is or was payable to or in respect of any person.

Inspectors appointed by the Health and Safety Executive under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974—have search and entry powers—under Section 20(1) and (2)(a) of the Act—in both home and business premises where work activities are being or about to be carried on, within the relevant statutory provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. Such powers are limited, for the entry may only be made where the inspector has reason to believe it necessary to enter the premises and unless it is a situation which is or may be dangerous the time of entry must be reasonable.