Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Cope of Berkeley: Perhaps I may ask a question which has arisen from what the Minister has just said. An in-house security person on licensed premises need

30 Jan 2001 : Column 597

not be licensed unless he is the door supervisor. From what the Minister said, he becomes a door supervisor if he steps outside the premises. I am not sure if we have understood the Minister correctly, but can the definition of a door supervisor depend in any circumstances on whether he is inside or outside the premises? If so, is that what determines whether he is subject to the additional controls?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am not entirely certain that I have the matter right, but I suspect that one is a door supervisor if one undertakes specific functions and activities. Door supervisors work at licensed premises. They are fairly carefully described in the Bill. We need to rely on the Bill's definition. If further clarification is needed, I am happy to try to provide it at a later stage. But it very much relates to what they are licensed to do rather than necessarily where they are undertaking the activity.

Viscount Astor: I should like to ask the Minister a question. I declared my interest in the bars business in London at Second Reading. As far as I understand the matter, in-house security personnel who remain in-house looking after the security of the premises are not covered by the licence. But someone supervising the door, out on the street, is covered and has to be a licensed person. But if there is a fracas on the street and someone who is an in-house person steps out into the street and, say, gives them a hand, is he not allowed to do that because he is not licensed for it? I am sure the noble Lord has seen door supervisors in his trawl of the pubs and clubs. Most of them stand on the pavement with a rope, sometimes looking friendly and sometimes looking menacing, saying, "You can come in and he cannot". Do they need to be on the street? What happens to door supervisors who are inside? Are they covered by the Bill? If they are employed by, for example, the club they are in, are they in effect in-house if they are inside? Where is the demarcation line?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: We could get into some frightfully complex discussions as to whether, when and how one becomes a door supervisor and someone controlling entry. By the nature of the business, their duties are at the licensed premises. I shall go away and seek further clarification as to in what circumstances they become responsible for particular actions. But they have to be licensed. They have to be licensed for a specific purpose. It is that licence that enables them to carry out particular functions and work. That is how I understand the matter. I am happy further to pursue the detailed points that the noble Lord wishes me to. I shall provide him with further detail on that matter perhaps between now and Report stage.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: One of the problems that seems to have arisen is whether there should be door supervisors at the door and a second row inside who are under no control, have no training, skill or whatever and who have not been vetted for violence at all, who simply parcel up a person who attends one of the noble Viscount's establishments and hands him to the door supervisor to throw down the stairs. I do not

30 Jan 2001 : Column 598

think that we should leave these definitions up in the air. When one looks at the paragraph it says "Door supervisors etc". It does not say what "etc" is at paragraph 8 of Schedule 2. As the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, said, the matter should be clarified considerably.

5.30 p.m.

Viscount Astor: I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord. I should hate for someone to have the impression that any person coming to the bars with which I am involved is ever thrown down the stairs. If someone is asked to leave, that person is escorted to the door with great care and respect. We do not operate in Wales, and I have no idea what happens to people who get into trouble there.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: I have no personal experience of the noble Viscount's door supervisors or of being escorted to the door at his bars or in Wales.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for his considered response. He referred to the flexibility of the Bill in bringing in other people. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, referred to the position of a receptionist as opposed to a hospital guard. Reference has also been made to the need for definition. Paragraph (2)(5) of Schedule 2, which deals with manned guarding, states that the licensable conduct,

    "does not apply to the activities of a person who, incidentally to the carrying out of any activities in relation to a group of individuals which ... are neither ... the activities of a security operative, nor ... activities comprising the exercise of any such control as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (4), maintains order or discipline amongst those individuals".

The concept of someone doing something incidentally to their main employment does come out in that sub-paragraph as it does in sub-paragraph (6). Although it is fuzzy, it might cover the position of the receptionist to whom the noble Lord, Lord Cope, referred. Hospital guards have a very clear main activity of manned guarding; that is why they are there. It would be very unfortunate if the manned guarding among hospital staff, which is obviously in-house, should be carried out by people not properly qualified, skilled or vetted to perform that function.

I turn to CCTV. The operator at a bank of screens inside a factory or hospital is governing the way in which that building is being operated. They can stop people coming in; they can issue alarms; they can warn the police if something undesirable is happening. My point is that to permit an in-house CCTV operator such access leaves it open for an unscrupulous criminal to get control of an entire factory or hospital. All kinds of problems could then arise. The Government should have a further look at this point. I hope to come back to it at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 12 not moved.]

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 13:

    Page 3, line 50, at end insert--

30 Jan 2001 : Column 599

("( ) An order under subsection (3) shall not include any activities other than those set out in Schedule 2 to this Act.").

The noble Lord said: With this amendment it is suggested that we discuss Amendments Nos. 14, 35, 36 and 37. Amendment No. 13 is very similar to Amendment No. 12 and others that we discussed earlier. It seeks to ensure that the Home Secretary does not designate activities that are not within Schedule 2, bringing them within the licensing regime. The Minister sought to reassure us that this could not happen because of the way the Bill is worded. No doubt he will say that again.

Amendment No. 14 is of a slightly different character. It suggests that when the Secretary of State designates various activities as requiring a licence he should do so by means of an affirmative order. Amendments Nos. 35, 36 and 37 are consequential on Amendment No. 14.

The designation of activities brings into play the whole licensing regime. From that point on it will affect a person's employment and ability to obtain a job or to retain the job that he has at the moment. It will affect the ability of firms to stay in business. A series of other things flow from the licensing regime. That is what one would expect. It is important that Parliament should not leave this matter to the Secretary of State entirely but should be able to control--at least to the degree of an affirmative order--what the Secretary of State is doing.

I assume that one of the purposes of this provision will be to introduce the licensing regime by stages. That would be sensible from the mechanical point of view of the authority widening its responsibilities as it gets going.

There is considerable concern that the authority should not immediately start to do everything it can and bring in the licensing regime too quickly. Many people and firms are engaged in these various activities. There is a very large turnover, particularly in some of the categories of employment involved. The business of vetting people will be a very considerable operation. Parliament ought to keep an eye on the setting up of the authority and on the gradual extension of the licensing regime to different categories in order to make sure that it is being done within the capacity of the authority to do it sensibly. It should not over-extend itself or be pushed into over-extending itself by the Secretary of State.

I am aware of the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. It looked at all the possibilities for statutory instruments and the various parliamentary procedures to be gone through and did not especially recommend. Nevertheless, I felt that it was worth suggesting it to the Committee. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: It is important that the legislative framework underpinning the licensing regime is flexible enough to take account of future developments in the industry and concomitant future decisions about the application of the licensing regime. Accordingly, paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 2

30 Jan 2001 : Column 600

enables the Secretary of State to amend the activities which designated the licensing purposes. Any such orders proposed would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. However, orders made under Clause 3(3) are designation orders activating the licensing requirements for those security services which have been or will be designated in Schedule 2. Sectors of the industry that may fall to be regulated in future--such as perhaps alarm installers--will first need to be added by order to Schedule 2. Such an order is to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. There would then need to be a practical lead-in time to enable advance preparations to be made before licensing was activated by an order under Clause 3(3).

The scope or orders made under Clause 3(3) is limited to the activities that have already been defined through legislation as the activities of a security operative which are subject to regulation. Those are the activities listed in Part I of Schedule 2. Amendment No. 13 would not therefore have any additional effect. I hope that the noble Lord will consider withdrawing it.

I turn to Amendment No. 14. We believe that this amendment stems from a misinterpretation of what Clause 3(3) does. The number of employees in the private security industry who are brought within the regulatory framework of the Bill is, as the noble Lord recognised, probably around 300,000. That is clearly a considerable undertaking and will need to be achieved by means of a phased programme of implementation.

This programme will be activated by means of a series of designation orders, one the security industry authority and the Secretary of State have agreed an implementation strategy. Orders made under Clause 3(3) are designation orders activating the licensing requirements for those security services designated in Schedule 2. Such orders are not normally subject to the degree of scrutiny proposed by the amendment. Orders adding activities to Schedule 2 are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Clause 3(3) orders only "switch on", as it were, the activities listed in Schedule 2. I hope that my explanation will persuade the noble Lord not to press the amendment. The arguments I advanced a moment ago apply also to Amendment No. 35.

I turn to Amendment No. 36. We do not believe that there is any need for the amendment. Clause 22(4) requires the Secretary of State to consult the security industry authority before bringing forward any regulations, orders or draft orders. We intend there to be an open channel of communication between the Secretary of State and the authority and full consultations will, as a matter of good business, be essential if the authority is to do its job properly. As well as the good business sense of this consultation, Clause 22(4) already requires it to take place. I hope that the noble Lord will see that adequate provision is already made to secure the objectives that he seeks. The same factors apply to Amendment No. 37. I hope that the noble Lord will not press the amendments.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page