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The industry will be one of the prime sources of intelligence for the authority. However, there are also several other stakeholders to whom it will listen. They include the police, local authorities, customers, employees of the industry, and other public bodies and Departments.
Mr. Bercow: The Minister has reassured me that the Bill will require all existing and new operatives to be suitably qualified, and I am grateful for that. Nevertheless, he also said that he wanted to minimise burdens on business when possible. In the spirit of marrying those twin, equally important objectives, perhaps we should provide an opportunity for existing operatives to acquire the relevant qualifications by short-circuited means. It is possible to take a crash course--it is an unfortunate term in relation to driving--of lessons to qualify to drive. Would the Minister therefore admit of the possibility that existing operatives could acquire the standard and gain the qualification through an intensive course over a shorter period, rather than a more leisurely course over a longer period?
Mr. Clarke: I admit of the possibility, but I do not envisage things being as the hon. Gentleman describes them. As everyone involved in change management knows, managing change from the status quo to the required desirable state is one of the most difficult tasks. It is difficult for any organisation, including a regulatory organisation, such as the SIA when it is established, to achieve. I cannot predict specific paths or educational courses for the change from the status quo to the future, regulated state.
However, when the authority determines its regime for facilitating the change, it is right for it to take account of the fact that many people who currently work in the industry have not had the opportunity to gain the qualifications to which the hon. Gentleman refers. An overnight transformation in such circumstances would therefore be ridiculous. Such matters are all part and parcel of the art of making the change, which the new authority must tackle. That is one reason for the importance of conducting wide consultation. The board that we have discussed will comprise a range of interests that will enable the authority to operate sensitively.
Paragraph 8 of schedule 1 allows the authority to establish specialist advisory committees to help it in its work. That is another important means of establishing a regime. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South knows, we have taken the consistent view that we should not specify at this stage that committee X is right and committee Y is wrong, or that it is right to establish committees A, B, C, but wrong to set up committees D, E and F. That must be a matter for the authority. That is the only reason for urging my right hon. Friend to withdraw the motion.
I am enthusiastic about a properly harmonised regulatory regime. I believe that we should move towards universality in the way my right hon. Friend suggests. However, I do not believe that it is right to prescribe in the Bill the precise regime for achieving that. We should allow the authority to determine that, in consultation with all the relevant parties. On that basis, I ask my right hon. Friend to consider withdrawing the motion.
Mr. Bruce George: I realise that I should have contacted the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) earlier, because his knowledge of the English language is clearly infinitely superior to mine. The words "liaison committee", which I used in an earlier amendment, might have been better for this purpose. Perhaps I should have stuck to that choice, rather than using the word "harmonisation", which has connotations in relation to Europe and the dislike of anything associated with it.
The new clause is not an attempt to create homogeneity inside and outside the areas to be regulated. I merely wished to make it obvious that the world of private security is infinitely more diverse and complicated than the Bill suggests. I wanted to introduce food for thought and raise awareness in the SIA, which I hope will be enlarged, that it does not encompass the totality of the private security industry.
Because we are part of the European Union, and because existing EU directives and other forms of instructions apply to this country as well as to other member states, there will have to be a degree of harmonisation--as there is already--between the standards in our security industry and standards elsewhere, not necessarily in terms of the Bill, but in terms of training standards, for example. I gave a number of examples of that earlier. The security industry that is to be regulated in this country is therefore part of a larger jigsaw.
I have jotted down the areas covered by private security and by security and community safety in local authorities, in relation to the arrangements pertaining before and after the introduction of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. In Walsall, for example, we have market security for the mediaeval market; an art gallery that might be subject to the legislation; and significant benefit fraud investigations, as does every local authority. Our trading standards department operates according to many of the standards of policing and of private security. It investigates crime and counterfeiting, exactly as the private security industry can do, and its staff has the power to kick down doors, which is more than the police or, certainly, the private security industry have. Because of the way in which that department operates, therefore, it is partly private security and partly police.
Local authorities such as Walsall have education security and housing security. We also have architectural liaison officers, because the Home Office has inculcated a set of attitudes relating to security by design. Most local authorities have community safety departments--Walsall certainly does--and risk assessment units linked to insurance, which advise the local authority on how to minimise risk. That can involve building fences and installing alarms, which, in a way, pertain to some of the responsibilities of the private security industry.
Focusing on one local authority, Walsall borough council--albeit relatively briefly--reveals a bundle of functions within an authority's competence that are somewhere between policing and private security, both before and after the Crime and Disorder Act. I wanted to broaden the horizons of the regulatory authority, and make it realise that there was a world of security outside its scope. I did not wish to lay down communal standards: investigation of art thefts is clearly different from investigation of benefit fraud.
Standards cannot be uniform, but it is to be hoped that if different organisations are aware of the nature of private security--and of Government security that looks like private security--best practice will be disseminated from one sector to the other without the imposition of rigid standards. Perhaps reading the record of our debate will at least encourage the regulatory authority to commission research, and give it some ideas about how to operate. Even if no amendments are accepted, we shall have stimulated discussion. I hope that much of what has been said will percolate into the new authority, whose conduct and operations I shall observe with enormous interest.
'(3A) Before making an order under subsection (3) which designates any of the activities specified in paragraph 5 of Schedule 2, which relate to the security of information which is held in electronic form, the Secretary of State shall lay a certificate before each House of Parliament stating that in his opinion the order complies with the provisions of European Directive 2000/31/EC (on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the internal market).'.
'(5) This paragraph does not apply to the giving of advice in relation to the security of information which is held in electronic form.'.
Mr. Hawkins: Amendment No. 3 would require the Secretary of State, when introducing regulation of the information technology security sector, to state specifically that doing so does not conflict with the European directive on e-commerce. The issue, which we raised more than once in Committee, relates to many concerns expressed by the Confederation of British Industry and others about whether regulation of the IT
As recently as today, I have read the views of the important and influential group that was so involved in drawing attention to the Government's defects in connection with IR35. The Professional Contractors Group--the contractors' industry body, one of whose leading members happens to be a constituent of mine--says: