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Mr. Andrew Mitchell: In spite of the Minister's charming concluding remarks, for which I am most grateful, her arguments are wholly inadequate and we will seek to divide the House on amendments Nos. 1 and 24, which I sense would meet some of the concerns expressed.

Nowhere was the Minister so dangerously exposed as in her exchanges with my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) and me on the issue
 
19 Oct 2004 : Column 840
 
of good reason. Hansard will show that the Government lamentably failed to demonstrate why they refuse to accept the amendments.

Colleagues raised the danger of investigators going on fishing expeditions. That goes to the heart of the sort of thing from which the House should be protecting our constituents. The failure to accept the amendments encourages officials to go on fishing expeditions and there is nothing to stop them doing so. It was noticeable that not one Labour Back Bencher spoke up for the Government.

A number of my hon. Friends expressed the sensible view that this is a reasonable Minister with a reasonable team of officials, but times can change. We cannot legislate so easily to give away such powers just because the Minister and her colleagues showed a degree of reasonableness until the Bill was discussed in Committee and on Report. The Minister does not serve the House well by dismissing so lightly our words and those of a former Labour Minister, the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher), who warned her against the powers.

The Minister summed up her case by saying that we must not allow dodgy companies to escape. Of course she is right, but we must not expose entirely innocent—perhaps wrongly suspected—people to undue pressure and unfair practices. It is that balance between protecting the innocent and catching and punishing the guilty that our amendments flag up and would change. It is a great pity that she did not heed the wise words of two senior former Ministers who served in her Department and one distinguished Cabinet Minister. They warned her in a gentle and encouraging way to think again about the powers.

The Minister addressed many of our amendments; indeed, she addressed some that Mr. Speaker did not select. We are grateful to her for covering the points that we raised. However, she has seriously underestimated our legitimate concerns. At one point she said that we should get the matter in perspective because we were talking about 5,000 cases a year, only 5 per cent. of which are investigated. That is all right, then: only 0.04 per cent. of companies are investigated. But what if it is her constituent or one of mine who is investigated unfairly and as a result of her failure to accept the amendments the law is not as constrained as it should be?

The Minister said that the average investigation lasts only three months, but 12 weeks is an awful long time if the inspector is going to sit in your home. She also said—this was the low point of the debate—that we are not talking about search and seizure operations, for which a warrant is required. I should think we are not. An Englishman's home used to be his castle. It is outrageous that she should dismiss our reasonable arguments. Our constituents' homes deserve better protection. An inspector may come to someone's home and stay there. He may have no good reason to do that. He certainly will not have to declare it. He can stay as long as he likes, including during the night. That has all the characteristics of a Chekhov play. We will vote to protect the ancient liberties that our constituents have every right to expect us to preserve.

When there is a great row in the press about excessive bureaucratic powers that have been ill exercised and the Bill is cited as the way in which those powers were given,
 
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Conservative Members will be able to say that through the amendments, painfully argued in Committee and the Chamber, we have discharged our duties and opposed the powers that the Minister is too lightly granting.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 158, Noes 255.

Division No. 268
[5:10 pm


AYES

Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Norman
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Carmichael, Alistair
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Ewing, Annabelle
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Rendel, David
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Dame Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Teather, Sarah
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Wishart, Pete
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and
Andrew Selous


NOES

Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, rh Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hodge, Margaret
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Kelly, Ruth (Bolton W)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Lammy, David
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, George
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Timms, Stephen
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Nick Ainger and
Mr. Jim Murphy


Question accordingly negatived.


 
19 Oct 2004 : Column 844
 

Clause 23


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