Senior Tories criticise plans to let police search properties without a warrant

Senior Tory MPs have criticised Government plans to allow the police to enter properties without a warrant if they have reasonable proof stolen items are inside.

Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis called it a “fundamental mistake”.

He was joined in his opposition on the Tory backbenches by Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, also a former cabinet minister, who warned against watering down “our ancient liberties”.

Sir Jacob also called on the Government to go further to reduce migration and the “burdens” of net zero emissions targets.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg
Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Criminal Justice Bill contained in the King’s Speech would give police the power to enter a property without a warrant to seize stolen goods, such as phones, when they have reasonable proof that a specific stolen item is inside.

It could mean using a device’s GPS tracking to lead police to the stolen item.

Both MPs were broadly supportive of the King’s Speech as they took part in the first day of Commons debate on the Government’s legislative plans.

But Mr Davis said allowing police to search homes without a warrant would be a “fundamental mistake” and he hoped the front bench would “think hard” before going through with it.

He said: “This is one of the fundamental foundation stones of free British society, it’s there with jury trials and it’s there with the presumption of innocence.

“The right not to have the state kick your door down without judicial approval is a massively important British value.”

David Davis
David Davis (PA)

Sir Jacob praised police but added: “Their leadership, we must acknowledge, has been pretty poor. And that seems to me not to be the time to give them a power that goes against one of our most ancient constitutional safeguards.”

He added: “If they are to come through your door they need evidence and a warrant. It is a foundation of our liberties, and I don’t think a King’s Speech as a prelude to a manifesto is a place in which to water down our ancient liberties.”

Sir Jacob also welcomed the “lifting of net zero burdens” but urged the Government to go further, saying “it is nothing like enough.”

He also referred to plans for new oil and gas licences, saying: “That of course should be pushed further.

“There has been some talk that the proposals have been watered down. Well, they should be watered back up again so that we get as much out of the North Sea as we possibly can.”

On the Government’s decision to delay the ban on new petrol and diesel cars by five years, announced in September,  Sir Jacob said: “We don’t want to force people to do things, we want the technology to be there first so that they want to do it.”

He said people gave up the horse and carriage not because of regulation but because of “market forces”, saying: “If an electric motor car is so good people will buy it, if it’s not so good they will stick to petrol. And I’m certainly going to stick to petrol for the  time being.”

On migration, he said: “As we see that there is trouble on our streets, possibly even on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, that the integration that we hoped we had in this country is not as deep as we thought it was.

“And that is something which should concern us because I thought we could be very proud of the integration that we have got in this country and the good relations that we had and we want to keep those.

“And the way to keep them is to control migration and to have it at levels that allow for integration to take place.

“And so I am disappointed that we are still focusing on illegal flows.”

Sir Jacob also called for the Government to “get rid of tariffs and barriers to trade unilaterally”, reduce regulations on business, and told MPs the way in which the Bank of England is treating the “withdrawal from quantitative easing” is “insanity”.