Clause 173 - Customs officers

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:15 pm ar 16 Ionawr 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath 3:15, 16 Ionawr 2003

It would be useful to have a brief stand part debate on the clause. Earlier this morning, we spoke about specified modifications in respect of service personnel. In that case, the Home Secretary applies this part of the Bill to service personnel with those modifications. Will the Minister explain how the modifications will apply to customs officers? In this clause, the Treasury rather than the Home Secretary is responsible. I am surprised that the clause specifies ''the Treasury''. Is that usual? The Minister may say that it is always stated in that form in legislation but I thought it was more common for a Cabinet Minister to be specified. The not-dissimilar provision about service law refers to the Secretary of State so why does not the clause state, ''The Chancellor of the Exchequer may by order provide''?

Many hon. Members, whether they sit on the Government or the Opposition Benches, are worried about the Treasury's powers. I often think that things happen in this country only if the Treasury is happy with them and I have spoken regularly in Government and Opposition about the Treasury having far too much power. That is not a party political point; it applies whichever party is in government.

We need more explanation if the Treasury is to be given yet more power. Conservative Members entirely understand that Customs officers should have powers but they need to be more clearly specified. What parliamentary scrutiny will the orders be given when ''the Treasury'' rather than the Chancellor has the power to issue them? Will they be subject to affirmative resolution? If not, they should be.

The clause is short enough, but the explanatory notes consist of only two lines, which merely restate what is in the clause. I hope that the Minister will expand on the measure, because this is a serious matter.