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Lord Haskel moved Amendment No. 99:

Page 14, line 16, leave out ("named") and insert ("investigating").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we spoke to this amendment when we debated Amendment No. 85. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, if Amendment No. 99A is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 99B.

[Amendments Nos. 99A to 101 not moved.]

Clause 28 [Power to enter premises under a warrant]:

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The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, if Amendment No. 102 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 102A or 102B.

Lord Haskel moved Amendment No. 102:

Page 14, line 20, leave out from beginning to ("that") in line 21 and insert ("On an application made by the appropriate person to the court in accordance with rules of court, a judge may issue a warrant if he is satisfied").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 102 and speak to government Amendments Nos. 110, 114, 115, 137, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205 and 207 and Amendments Nos. 102A, 102B, 110A, 110B, 114A, 114B, 199A and 202A.

In the Second Reading debate and in Committee we discussed whether the function of issuing warrants authorising the entry of premises should be a matter for a High Court judge rather than for a justice of the peace. Amendments to that effect were tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, and the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland. I am grateful to them for having raised this point.

The Government have listened very carefully to the points made and we have concluded that it would indeed be right to make this change. Amendments Nos. 102, 110 and 114 achieve this. The definition of the relevant court for each of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is now to be found in the interpretation section (Clause 57). I might add at this point that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser and the noble Lords, Lord Kingsland and Lord Lucas, yesterday again tabled their original amendments--now numbered 102A, 102B, 110A, 110B, 114A, 114B, 199A, 202A. I can add no more than that the Government's amendments will make the change to a High Court judge as I have indicated. For the reasons I have also previously indicated, we do not think it appropriate that the president of the tribunal should exercise this function.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, perhaps I may genuinely thank the Minister for moving on this issue. If I may say so, it is an extremely wise action. It seemed to us that a justice of the peace somewhere in the United Kingdom might find it extremely difficult to exercise his powers correctly in deciding whether to grant a search warrant. I am grateful that this power has been given exclusively to a senior member of the judiciary in whichever jurisdiction it happens to be.

Perhaps I may refer to the amendment in my name, Amendment No. 111. It has been somewhat aggressively grouped with the primary amendment relating to justices of the peace. I shall be grateful for an explicit response from the Minister.

He will observe that in the second paragraph of the amendment the point is again made about,

    "reasonable time to contact their legal representatives before exercising any of the powers conferred by subsection (2)".

If the Government are of the view that such an opportunity should not be given, it would be helpful if

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we could discover their reasoning. I suspect that we know what it is, but it would be just as well to hear from the Minister.

5 p.m.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, yes. Amendment No. 111 is in this grouping. We have already discussed the matters raised by that amendment. In the light of the Government's amendments dealing with entry to empty premises, I hope that the noble and learned Lord will be prepared to withdraw that amendment since the matter has been dealt with.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 102A and 102B are pre-empted.

Lord Simon of Highbury moved Amendment No. 103:

Page 14, line 22, leave out ("believing") and insert ("suspecting").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we covered this matter earlier in the debate. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Haskel moved Amendment No. 104:

Page 14, line 27, leave out ("it is reasonable to suspect") and insert ("there are reasonable grounds for suspecting").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment was spoken to when we debated Amendment No. 93A. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 104A and 104B not moved.]

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 104C:

Page 14, line 38, leave out from ("named") to end of line 40 and insert ("senior officer of the Director who is an appropriately qualified official in the division of the OFT responsible for investigations, and other named senior officers with appropriate qualifications and from the same division to accompany him--").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, during the course of our debate at Second Reading, a certain amount was said about the director general being in the position of investigator, judge and jury. Here, we have a clause dealing with an official who will have investigatory powers. The expression used in the clause is "a named officer". We have sought in this amendment to be more specific about the category of official who is tasked. The reason is simply this. Up to now the OFT has had a kind of preliminary investigatory role. Now that its powers are to be greatly extended, it seems to us extremely important that effective Chinese walls are built within the organisation so as to give confidence to the entrepreneurial community. It is important for a company being investigated to be sure that those officers in the OFT who conduct investigations do not thereafter arbitrate on questions of, for example, penalties. That is

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the reason why the kind of officer and the task that he undertakes in the OFT are clearly set out in our amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Simon of Highbury: My Lords, I am rather surprised that we are returning to this debate since the matter was dealt with thoroughly in Committee. However, I am happy to go over the ground again.

I am aware from the debate in Committee that one of the fears raised about the investigation powers under the Bill was that difficult and sensitive matters involved in an investigation might be handled by junior or inexperienced or untrained personnel in the offices of the director or sectorial regulators. I appreciate that Amendment No. 104C seeks to address that concern by specifying qualifications or rank. However, I do not think that we can sensibly provide for such matters in a statute. How would "senior" be defined? What qualifications would be regarded as "appropriate" to the work of investigating? We have of course already debated on Report the subject of delegation in relation to the amendments to Clause 25.

Amendment No. 104C would additionally require the director and sectoral regulators to separate their organisations internally and create a discrete investigation division. This Bill, like many others, creates functions for the offices concerned. I believe it would be undesirable and impractical to go beyond providing the statutory framework and try to go further and provide for the internal organisation of those offices. As I said in Committee, we have to accept that there needs to be a delegatory capacity in the management sense in organising complex offices in the administrative terms to which we refer. The directors will have statutory functions and duties to perform under the terms of the Bill. They will themselves have to ensure that their staff and organisation are both adequate for those purposes. I therefore ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, does the Minister agree that an official exercising investigatory powers should also exercise adjudicatory powers in the matter that he is investigating?

Lord Simon of Highbury: My Lords, the Office of Fair Trading already has an investigative unit, the Cartels Task Force, which has had some successes within the limitations of the current legislative framework. That would provide the organisational base for the Office of Fair Trading's investigation function in the new Bill. However, we do not believe it right to compartmentalise the Office of Fair Trading in its exercise of the functions in the Bill in respect of investigating and making decisions. That would be wasteful of resources and would require duplication of effort.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, the Minister will not be surprised to learn that I find that reply deeply disappointing. I put him on notice now that it is a matter to which we shall wish to return at Third Reading.

Lord Borrie: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, is he aware that in a related field within the

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Office of Fair Trading--under the Consumer Credit Act,--for the past 24 years there have been investigating officers and adjudicating officers. They have been kept separate. But that provision is not written into the legislation. It is to be found only in the administrative arrangements within the office itself.

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