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Mr. Hawkins: I am grateful to the Minister for the serious way in which he has considered these matters. As he said, there is some common ground between the parties, but is he prepared to go a little further? In any discussions that he might have with his officials over the next few days, which might lead to the Home Office advising the authority when it is set up, will he specifically draw attention to the fact that he will urge the authority to exercise flexibility when people work from home? It would be very helpful if he could say that.
Mr. Clarke: I am happy to give that important assurance. Two factors are important. First, the Secretary of State can take account of personal safety when he or she specifies the requirements for addresses and, secondly, the authority must decide whether it considers it appropriate to publish the register in full. In both circumstances, evidence--specific or generic--must be taken into account.
I can give the hon. Gentleman the specific assurance that he seeks. I will make sure that the issue is drawn to the attention not only of my officials but of any future Government--whether of his persuasion or mine--after the general election. With that assurance, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be prepared to withdraw the amendment.
Mr. Hawkins: As I had hoped, the Minister has been helpful. In the light of what he said about the advice that he is prepared to give and the fact that the authority will examine all our debates on Second Reading, in Committee and tonight, it would not be helpful to press the amendment to a Division. We have ventilated the concerns that are widely shared by all three major parties and this has been a useful debate.
We remain concerned that there will be cases in which the authority feels that it needs to give someone who is in the security sector and who works from home a dispensation so that his home address is not published in a register--either one that is open to physical inspection or one that appears on the internet--so that that person, his family or anyone who stays with him is not in danger from a grudge or revenge attack. The Minister placed much stress on the need for there to be evidence of a threat, but sometimes there is no warning of a revenge or grudge attack, which creates a difficulty.
'(3A) A person exercising the power conferred by subsection (1) shall do so reasonably only in the course of his duty and only as part of a series of routine checks or as a result of reasonable suspicion of breach of regulations or commission of an offence under any provision of this Act.'.
'(4) No document shall be published under subsection (1) or (2) unless a draft of the document has been laid before, and approved by resolution of, each House of Parliament.'.
Mr. Hughes: The amendments are straightforward. They relate to clauses 19 and 20 which are among the four clauses that deal with entry, inspection and information. For various reasons, these matters were not debated at any length in Committee.
Once a regulatory authority for the security industry has been set up under the Bill and people and concerns are regulated, clauses 19 and 20 give power for the authority to go in, inspect and regulate. One cannot argue with that; a regulatory authority has to go in and see what is going on. The amendments seek to make sure that that is not done with oppression or harassment. To step back for a second, there is a difference between the way we regulate activity subject to a licensed regime and the way we regulate normal daily activity that does not need licensing.
Motoring is an obvious example: if people apply for and obtain a driving licence, they do not have to drive a car--that is optional. However, if they do, by definition they subject themselves to a regime involving both inspection of the vehicle that they drive and related controls. People do not have to run a pub, but if they apply to run one, they know that there are certain rules and conditions when the magistrates grant a licence. That is different from the way in which we should be regulated as we walk down the street or live in our homes. I am against the idea that people should be able to climb up drainpipes, climb through windows and stop someone for no good purpose, claiming that they are just carrying out a spot check to see if he is behaving himself. That applies even to controversial things; without reasonable
A distinction therefore has to be made when we talk about the licensing regime. People do not have to be bouncers or employ others to run a security business; they do not have to be wheelclampers or work for a wheelclamping firm. The regime is therefore an opt-in regime so, naturally and reasonably, there will be powers of entry and inspection that allow the authority to exercise its proper functions, as agreed in legislation.
Mr. Bercow: I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not embarrassed about what he has just said, as he certainly does not need to be. Does he accept that his objection to the idea that police officers and other agents of public authorities should be able to go marauding around private property or commercial premises without authority or good excuse should not divide the parties in any way? The argument is between those who might genuinely be considered libertarians and those who are unthinking and arrogant authoritarians.
Mr. Hughes: I agree. I do not want to be over- distracted, but the tension between the two tendencies is interesting. Sometimes the hon. Gentleman's party expresses excessively authoritarian sentiments which, in all probability, he does not agree with; the Labour party certainly includes libertarians, but it also has people who are clearly authoritarian.
I know that the example I am about to give is not central to the Bill, but it is a parallel. Later this evening, the House of Lords will debate DNA sampling, a matter which hon. Members have already discussed. The lords will consider whether it is appropriate for the police to take samples and keep them if people are innocent of suspected crimes. Those of us with a libertarian perspective believe that it is wrong for the state to keep acquiring possessions if that cannot be justified on the grounds of an offence against the rules of the state. That is the issue.
Amendment No. 8 would impose, at an appropriate stage, a limitation to the power exercised under clause 19. The other place accepted an amendment stating that a person exercising the power of entry and inspection
In Committee, we had a long debate about the different things that the authority will do. The Bill makes provision for guidance, and the Government may introduce secondary legislation. We are pleased that there will be management of the power of the authority by a guidance document but, because rights of entry and inspection are civil liberty issues, it is important that that document should come before Parliament for approval. Amendment No. 9 requires that the guidance document will not be published unless both Houses of Parliament have seen and approved a draft. Colleagues will know that that is a common procedure when Parliament deals with sensitive matters: we allow someone else to do the work, but want to sign off the document as appropriate, having ensured that we will protect the liberties of our citizens. I hope that the amendments appeal to the House in their detail, but certainly in their spirit; I commend them to the House.