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Lord Bassam of Brighton: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cope, for the clarity of his explanation of what he described as a very modest amendment and one which he thought would not be too intellectually taxing. That probably means that I can cope with it.
The noble Lord is right to say that a diverse range of security activities are undertaken by the private sector, some of which are regulated under the provisions of the Bill. But the umbrella term "industry" is well-used
I do not believe that we should accept the amendment, although I can see that there might be a desire to try to think up another term. What we have proposed satisfies most people. It is certainly the clearest and most easily understood term. Therefore, at this stage, I do not think there is any useful purpose to be served by accepting the amendment. I certainly did not find anything particularly persuasive in what he said, although I thought that it was an interesting set of observations.
I have another concern about the noble Lord's suggestion. The insertion of the word "activities" may give a false impression that the regulatory body will cover something wider than the private security industry. Some might even see it as covering the Security Services. That would give a very false and misleading impression.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: I certainly would not wish to give a false impression, particularly not with regard to the Security Services. At the same time, it seemed to me that the Title of the Bill gives a false impression in another direction. However, I do not think that it is a significant enough matter to pursue. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Viscount said: In moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 46. The amendments are concerned with narrowing the definition of who will come under the Bill. Although the Minister was reasonably clear at Second Reading, there is certainly some confusion about whether a person's job is full-time in security or part-time. The Minister said that in-house providers are not subject to regulation in general. However, since then we have had rather confusing messages. My amendments seek to define who will come under the Bill and to get the Government's thinking on this issue.
It is important that the new authority should be responsible for those who are full-time or predominantly employed as security operatives. What is the position with a barman in a pub? Frequently, barmen exclude people from pubs. Some pubs have people who look after security but many pubs do not.
There has been a great deal of correspondence from various sections of the industry. I am sure that the Minister will have received it. There are those who wish to extend the provisions as wide as possible. Some wish to do so for no doubt thoroughly proper motives while others see it as a wonderful business opportunity. There are also those who seek to ensure that industry is not faced with costly over-regulation as a result of this worthwhile Bill. We support the aims of the Bill, but we want something that will work. This has to be handled with a reasonably light touch. Too heavy-handed an approach will not work.
I am sure that the Minister will respond by saying that much will depend on how the new authority conducts its business; namely, that the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I agree that that is the case and, of course, we shall be addressing the point in later amendments. However, the authority will need to take careful account of what is laid down in the Bill because the provisions of Clauses 1 and 3 will form the basis of the authority's guidelines.
We feel that these are important issues. It is necessary to define exactly who will be included in the definitions so as to ensure that those for whom the provisions of the Bill will be unnecessary and for whom the Bill would become merely a "burden on industry" are not affected. I beg to move.
Viscount Goschen: My noble friend has tabled a bevy of amendments, all of which are designed to achieve much the same aim. A great deal of harmony exists between the parties on this Bill. At Second Reading, the Minister went to some lengths to reassure the House that that he, too, did not wish to see the legislation and, to an extent, the authority brought into disrepute by having to impose considerable burdens on those for whom security duties were merely incidental to their primary activity. We have taken careful note of those assurances.
Given that, the Minister will need to put forward a strong and convincing case to explain why such groups will not be affected by the Bill. The amendments tabled by my noble friend seek to make the position much clearer.
As regards Amendment No. 2, we feel that other relevant provisions already contained in the Bill as currently drafted already take into account the level of activity which a security operative would have to undertake before a licence was required. Definitions of the activities which will require a licence are carefully listed in Schedule 2. They provide for the exemption of a number of different employment categories. Exemptions are also provided for those who carry out security activities incidentally to their main employment. There is no question that the authority would wish to impose the licensing regime on individuals who do not have significant security-related duties. We believe that the Bill as drafted will work effectively to cover that point.
I turn now to Amendment No. 9. Here again the Bill already takes account of the aim of this amendment, which seeks to exclude from regulation those individuals whose security-related activities are incidental to their main employment. Again, those are listed in Schedule 2 to the Bill. We have no desire to make the regime inflexible and unworkable and to that end we believe that the current drafting works well.
As regards Amendment No. 10, we believe that the Bill already takes into account the main objective of the amendment and that we are on common ground here. We feel that a significant measure of flexibility has already been built in to respond to this point.
A similar argument could be put forward as regards Amendment No. 11. For regulation to be effective, we think that it is important that those who own or operate companies need to be held accountable. If this amendment were to be pressed, it would exclude directors and partners who do not themselves directly carry out the designated activities. We think that that would shoot a hole through the import of the Bill. Evidence has been gathered of companies which have been established by individuals who have criminal records, some with convictions for violence and drugs offences. Although they themselves may not be directly involved in the provision of security services, I cannot believe that the noble Viscount would wish to exclude such people from the remit of the Bill. It is vital that these individuals should be weeded out of the industry and prevented from establishing themselves in it in the future.
We consider that the licensing of directors and partners will form a fundamental part of the effective regulation of the industry. Licensing will apply to directors and partners not directly engaged in the activities of a security operative but who are directly responsible for the company or those carrying out such activities.
As the Bill stands, the security industry authority will be able to identify and remove criminality at any level within an organisation. This will be a major benefit both for the industry as a whole and for the public. Furthermore, I am sure that noble Lords opposite will be aware that the licensing proposals have been welcomed by the industry. For those reasons, I shall not be able to accept Amendment No. 11.
I turn now to Amendment No. 12. Schedule 2 defines the activities of security operatives which are subject to regulation by the Bill. Paragraph 1(1) of the schedule makes it clear that the activities referred to are those undertaken by "a security operative". The relationship between Clause 3 and Schedule 2 is made explicit by Clause 3(4). That subsection confirms that Schedule 2 defines the activities that are also to be treated as security operations for the purposes of the Bill. Thus the addition of a further reference to Schedule 2 within the text of Clause 3, as proposed in this amendment, is entirely unnecessary. I hope that, with this explanation being put on to the record, noble Lords will feel able to agree to withdraw the amendment.
Finally, I turn to Amendment No. 46. Paragraph 2(5) provides an important clarificatory exemption from the need for a licence as a manned guard. Similarly, important exemptions are made in paragraphs 2(4) and (6). These provisions are designed to ensure that the definition of "manned guarding" used in paragraph 2(1) does not inadvertently take into regulation activities which have nothing to do with the private security industry.
An example of where the exemption in paragraph 2(5) would apply is the teaching profession. Teachers maintain order and discipline but clearly are not part of the private security industry. Without the text which this amendment seeks to delete, it will be less unambiguously clear that teachers--and perhaps people leading holiday expeditions--are not covered by the provisions of Schedule 2. It is important that readers of the Bill should have the minimum possible doubts as regards which activities are included within its scope. I am afraid that this amendment would increase uncertainty and for that reason I am not able to accept it.