National Party leader Bill English says Paula Bennett's remarks about criminals' human rights were incorrect.

"It clearly is not the case that some New Zealanders have less human rights than others," English told Radio NZ this morning.

Bennett said yesterday that proposed police powers to search gang members at any time would "stretch" human rights laws.

But she partly justified the policy by saying that serious criminals had "fewer human rights than others".


English said Bennett had wrongly described National's anti-gang proposals.

"The proposal was made in the context of the methamphetamine policy and real concern from the police that gangs are able to build up significant stockpiles of illegal arms.

"It wasn't the right way to describe the actual policy.

"It's just not the correct use of a term like human rights. Everyone has human rights in New Zealand."

English said Bennett's statement did not reflect a deeper disrespect for human rights, saying that she was able to work with all people in the community.

"Sometimes we just don't say the right thing."

English said the proposed search powers did not erode human rights in New Zealand, but Parliament would consider the changes "in the context of human rights".

The search powers were included in a $82 million drug addiction policy which would increase penalties for drug dealing, target supply chains, and boost funding for rehabilitation.