In a report published on 3 November 2011, the Lords Constitution Committee sounds an alarm over sweeping new powers proposed under the Protection of Freedoms Bill to allow ministers to change the basis on which law enforcement bodies can enter private property
Government authorities and agencies are currently allowed to enter private property for law enforcement purposes under more than 1,200 separate powers of entry. The Committee says reform of this “veritable jungle of law” is long overdue.
However, the sweeping powers proposed which would enable ministers to get rid of any power of entry they consider unnecessary would also allow ministers to create more extensive powers of entry to homes and premises.
The Committee says that whatever reassurances are given by this Government as to these powers being used primarily to consolidate the law, it should not be assumed that future Governments will have such benign intentions. As drafted, the Bill “does not strike an appropriate constitutional balance between the executive and Parliament”.
The Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on Tuesday 8 November.