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In what circumstances officials of the Department of Health and of public bodies answerable to the Secretary of State for Health can search and enter the homes or business premises of United Kingdom citizens; and, in each case, what is the statutory authority for that power. [HL2409]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by my noble friend the Minister of State at the Home Office on 23 November 2005 at cols. WA 21819.
The Medicines Act 1968 regulates medicines on the United Kingdom market and makes provision for its enforcement. Section 108 of the Act places a statutory duty on Health Ministers to enforce the provisions of the Act in England. This function is undertaken by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. The Act confers specified powers, detailed in Sections 111 and 112, which include rights of entry. Section 111(1), specifically, deals with right of entry and allows duly authorised officers to enter any premises, in connection with suspected breaches, at any time. Section 111(5) additionally provides the authority of forced entry under magistrates warrant.
In respect of independent and voluntary healthcare establishments, the Care Standards Act 2000, Sections 31 and 32, provide a right to enter premises for persons authorised to do so by the Healthcare Commission. The right extends to the right to ask for information, inspect and take copies of documents, and/or interview people in connection with their enquiries.
In respect of the National Health Service sector, the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003, Sections 66 and 67, provide a right of entry by persons authorised by the Healthcare Commission to any premises owned or operated by an NHS body, and any other premises used for any purpose connected with the provision of healthcare by or for such a body. The right extends to inspecting or copying any records, removing items, and/or interviewing persons.
"(2) A person authorised by the registration authority may at any time enter and inspect premises which are used, or which he has reasonable cause to believe to be used, as an establishment or for the purposes of an agency."
As for the power to "search", by virtue of Section 32(1) of the Care Standards Act, CSCI is given powers of inspection which may or may not be regarded as akin to search in that it can, in specified circumstances, seize and remove material:
"(1) A person authorised by virtue of Section 31 to enter and inspect any premises may seize and remove any document or other material or thing found there which he has reasonable grounds to believe may be evidence of a failure to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by or under this Part."
In what circumstances officials of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and of public bodies answerable to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport can search and enter the homes or business premises of United Kingdom citizens; and, in each case, what is the statutory authority for that power. [HL2410]
Lord Davies of Oldham: I refer the noble Lord to the answer given to him on 23 November by my noble friend the Minister of State at the Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal), (Official Report,23 November 2005; col. WA 218).
The position in respect of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and those public bodies answerable to the Secretary of State is set out below. For completeness I have also provided further information on the Football Licensing Authority and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). DCMS
Regulation 5(1) of the Return of Cultural Objects Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/501)which were made under Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972provides that the Secretary of State may apply to a competent court for an order to authorise an officer of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to enter and search premises, where the court is satisfied: that there are reasonable grounds for believing that a cultural object has been unlawfully removed from the territory of a member state of the European Union and that the object in question is on the premises specified on the application to the court; and that admission to the premises has been refused, or that the case is one of urgency, or that an application for admission to the premises would defeat the object of the entry. English Heritage
Sections 5, 6, 6A, 26, 40, 43 and 44 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, Section 36 of the National Heritage Act 1983 and Sections 88, 88A and 88B of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 contain powers for DCMS officials or English Heritage officials to enter land in England. Such entry would be in connection with other provisions of the Acts; for example, for a proposal to list or de-list a historic building, to ensure a scheduled ancient monument or historic building is properly maintained, or to record any matters of archaeological or historic interest that the land may contain. Gambling Commission
Under existing legislation, Section 43 of the Gaming Act 1968 allows the Gambling Commission to appoint inspectors who are given powers to inspect premises in order to find out whether there has been a contravention of the 1968 Act or any regulations made under it.
Under Part 15 of the Gambling Act 2005 (to be enacted under secondary legislation), enforcement officers appointed by the Gambling Commission will have the power to enter and inspect premises in a variety of situations. These are mainly concerned with enabling enforcement officers to check whether facilities for gambling are being provided in accordance with the Act (including where they suspect the commission of an offence); or for enabling them to inspect premises where an application has been made for the premises to be used in providing facilities for
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gambling. In relation to a dwelling, the power of entry under Part 15 can only be exercised where it is authorised by a warrant issued by a justice of the peace (or a sheriff in Scotland). Royal Parks
Under the 1872 Parks Regulation Act, as amended by the 1926 Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act, Royal Parks Constabulary (RPC) police officers have the same powers of search and entry inside the royal parks as a police constable would have outside the parks. Policing in the royal parks is now carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), who carry out the role jointly with the RPC until a date to be designated under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (which will not be before 1 April 2006). After the designated day, all policing will be carried out by the MPS and no officials of DCMS will have any powers of search and entry and no officials will have any powers of entry and search. Further information:
Under the Football Spectators Act 1989, the Football Licensing Authority (FLA) has power of entry to football grounds at which designated football matches are played and a power to inspect both the grounds and their safety certificates. However, their inspection powers should not be equated to powers to "search"; rather they can best be described as "entry and inspection" powers. The FLA has never had to enforce its inspection powers.
In addition to the information above, although the BBC is not answerable to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport because it is independent of government, the Secretary of State has responsibility for the broadcasting provisions of the Communications Act 2003.
Section 366 of the Communications Act 2003 contains a power of entry for a person or persons authorised by the BBC, for the purposes of enforcing the television licensing requirements. The power is exercisable only with a warrant issued by a justice of the peace (or a sheriff in Scotland or a lay magistrate in Northern Ireland), who must be satisfied by information provided under oath that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting (i) that an offence of unlicensed installation or use of a television receiver has been or is being committed; (ii) that evidence related to such an offence is likely to be on premises or in any vehicle specified in the warrant; and (iii) that one or more of the conditions set out in subsection (3) are satisfied. These conditions are: that it is impracticable to communicate with any person who may grant entry; that it is impracticable to communicate with any person who may grant access to the evidence; that entry will not be granted unless a warrant is produced; or that the purpose of the search may be frustrated or seriously prejudiced unless carried out immediately on arrival at the premises or vehicle. A warrant is valid for one month after the day it is granted, and may grant powers to enter and search a specified set of premises or vehicle and to examine and test any television receiver found there. Persons
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acting under a warrant may use reasonable force in the exercise of these powers.
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