Skip to main content

Private Security Industry Bill Hl

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2001

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

8.30 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 8.

[ Amendment No. 23C not moved.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [ Revocation and modification of licences]:

[ Amendment No. 23D not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

moved Amendment No. 24:

After Clause 9, insert the following new clause—


(" .—(1) A person aggrieved by a decision made by the Authority in his case in relation to the granting, refusal, revocation or modification of a licence may appeal, within three months of the date of the decision to the magistrates' court for the area in which he resides, against such grant, refusal, revocation or modification of the licence.

(2) The Lord Chancellor may by order make provision for the procedure to be followed on any appeal under this section, including concerning the disclosure of documents or evidence, and such an appeal shall be held in public except to the extent that the interests of justice require otherwise.

(3) Magistrates hearing an appeal under this section shall have it in their discretion to make such order as to costs as they see fit, subject to the presumption that the costs of a successful appeal should be paid by the Authority.").

The noble Lord said: It is suggested that with the new clause we should discuss Amendments Nos. 25, 25A, 26, 27, 27A, 29 and 31. This group of amendments is concerned with the appeal system. It is a very important group, not least because people's jobs and businesses are involved and depend on the decisions taken. It is important that there should be an appeal system, not least in connection with human rights and so on, but also it is not a small matter to the individuals involved; it affects their livelihood and their businesses.

The Bill provides in Clause 10 that the Secretary of State "may" provide for an appeal against refusal of a licence. Under Clause 17 he "may" provide for an appeal relating to a Clause 14 application in respect of approvals of businesses. The Bill states both that the Secretary of State "may" provide for an appeal, and that if he decides to do so he "may" do it by setting up a tribunal. I am not sure what other way there is to provide for an appeal, but it is expressed as "may".

That is the first point, which runs through several of the amendments. Our amendments relating to appeals all use the word "shall" instead of "may". So does the Liberal Democrat amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, Amendment No. 25A, which is confined to that point. The same point—and a very important one—runs through all our amendments of this character.

It is essential that there should be an appeal. What is more, it is very important that the procedure should be established before the process goes active. People will be applying for licences. No doubt some will be granted them and some will be refused them. Before people are required to have a licence to carry out these activities, they must be able to appeal, if they think they have good grounds, and to have their appeal dealt with, so that either they do or do not have a licence on the day when it becomes statutorily essential to have a licence to carry out their job, whatever activity it is.

Therefore, it is important that there should be an appeal, and also that the procedure should be set up in time, before the Bill takes effect in the various sections of the security industry. To say in the Bill that the Secretary of State "may" set up appeals, if he feels like it, is not sufficient.

The next point to come out of the amendments is this: who is to set up the appeal system in the first place, and who is to supervise it? There are three suggestions in the Bill and these amendments. The first suggestion, in the Bill, is that the Secretary of State should do so. The second, in Amendments Nos. 25 and 31, is that the Lord Chancellor should be responsible for setting up the tribunal; laying down the lines on which it is to operate; how the parties are to be allowed to present their cases; what should happen about costs and disclosure of documents; and all the other matters necessary for ensuring that the appeals tribunal is a fair mechanism for arriving at a decision.

The word "tribunal", which is what the Bill suggests the Secretary of State should set up, has a legal ring to it. We think of a tribunal as being something within a legal framework. Given its important responsibilities, it should be properly set up, with proper rules about who may appear before it and whether they will be represented and what documents various parties should have to disclose in the course of an appeal. We have already discussed whether the authority should give its reasons for decisions to refuse a licence, so that the grounds of appeal are known, but it is also important that documents should be made available so that a proper and fair appeal can take place, since people's jobs and businesses are involved, and that the question of costs be dealt with.

Given this legal tone, it is important that the tribunal is properly set up in legal terms. The right person to do that is really the Lord Chancellor, who would give authority to the tribunal by being involved. His involvement would also make sure that the rules that applied in the conduct of an appeal were in line with those of other tribunals for which he is responsible.

In case that proposal does not take the Government's fancy as an improvement on the Secretary of State's doing it, we have put up another alternative in the new clause set out in Amendment No. 24, which is the lead amendment in the group because it comes first in numerical order. The amendment provides for an appeal not to a separate tribunal, but to an existing tribunal: the magistrates' court. The advantage of the magistrates' court is that its members are knowledgeable about the local scene where the activity is to take place. They are knowledgeable, too, by their nature, about the local characters who will sometimes be involved, particularly characters who have got into trouble. They will have a feel for the situation. They exist, they have rules, they have all the necessary clerks, premises and everything else to hear cases, and they have some very similar responsibilities, as we have already discussed in relation to earlier amendments.

Those are the three basic options before the Committee at the moment: first, that the Secretary of State should set up a tribunal; secondly, that the Lord Chancellor should set up a full legal tribunal; and, thirdly, that a case should go to the existing tribunal, the magistrates' court.

Other amendments in this group also refer to appeals. Amendment No. 26 provides that, whatever kind of appeal tribunal the Committee settles upon—whether it is Secretary of State, Lord Chancellor or magistrates' court—the decisions should be appealable both from the authority itself, which is what the Bill provides, and also from local authority decisions. We know that some decisions to grant licences and so on will be delegated to local authorities. I have no greater faith in local authorities than I have in the new authority. It is important that there should be a right of appeal against decisions made by the local authority in these cases as well as appeals against decisions of the security industry authority. This is a quite separate point from which tribunal is to be given the job. I hope that the amendment is so drafted as to apply to whichever tribunal is in charge of these matters.

Amendment No. 27 again embodies a separate point—whether there is an appeal only if the licence or permission, whatever it is, has been refused; whether there is no appeal if the licence has been granted. In some cases there might be, quite properly, an appeal when a licence is granted. For example, if the police thought that a particular individual was not suitable for a licence but, nevertheless, he was granted one by the security industry authority or by the local authority, as the case may be, the police may wish to appeal against it if they considered it wholly wrong that a licence should be granted. At the moment the appeal procedure is entirely a one-way street. It can only operate if a licence or permission is refused.

In addition, a person who is granted a licence with various conditions may feel that he wants the conditions altered, in which case he may want to appeal even though a licence has been granted. I am not sure, quite frankly, whether he can appeal under the Bill as drafted.

That brings me on to Amendment No. 27A, which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. The amendment seeks to make clear that the tribunal—whichever tribunal it is—can change the conditions of a licence as well as uphold a refusal or grant a licence. Again, that is important. It should not be, as it were, a yes or no answer; it may be a slightly more grey answer resulting from a more grey appeal in cases where it is not the granting of the licence that is wrong but the conditions attached to it. Amendment No. 27A is also a different point, but it is important.

Amendment No. 29, on the other hand, is simply consequential. All it seeks to do is to ensure that the words "local authority", which would be inserted by Amendment No. 26, are defined. I am aware that this is, in one sense, in the wrong place. If we were to accept Amendment No. 26, the consequential amendment would move the definition of "local authority" into Clause 22, the main definitions clause, rather than simply altering the wording here. I am against having a definition which applies to more than a section hidden away in the middle of the Bill. It is more convenient if the definitions are all in the definition section at the end. It is very much a subsidiary point. Whether we need to extend the definition depends on whether or not we can persuade the Government to agree to Amendment No. 26 or something like it.

I have made a variety of points, all relating to the very important question of appeals. I beg to move.

I listened carefully to what the noble Lord said. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, wishes to speak at this point, but it may well help the Committee if I indicate that I intend to make a confession. I am happy to explain now.

Perhaps I may say for the record that I understand the concerns behind the amendments. The noble Lord wants to make explicit on the face of the Bill the fact that an appeals mechanism will be established to deal with a range of SIA activities. This issue is quite complex and there are a number of related matters. The noble Lord was kind enough to say that he was providing us with three options. I am not going to say at the Dispatch Box which option I prefer, although I will say that we are not drawn towards using the magistrates' courts.

I should like to take away the propositions in the amendments and bring back at Report stage something which will certainly satisfy the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, and, I suspect, of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. We fully recognise that there must be a right of appeal. I intimated that at Second Reading. I said then that we would bring a mechanism forward under Clauses 10 and 17. I should like to consider how best to do that.

We were at one stage, particularly with regard to appeals from local authority decisions, considering having those heard within the security industry authority itself. Having heard the noble Lord, Lord Cope, I am no longer entirely satisfied that that would be the most appropriate way of dealing with the issue. But I should make the point that I am not convinced that we necessarily would want to set this up within the ambit of the Lord Chancellor; we would prefer to leave it with the Secretary of State.

However, I can confirm that we would like to bring forward a proposal for an independent tribunal; I can confirm that we are happy to take on board, in spirit, the points that have been made today; and I can also confirm that, having agreed to go in that direction, we will take into consideration the licensing matters currently in the remit of the local authority decision-making process. That will lead to a consequential amendment, probably with an effect similar to that of Amendment No. 29.

If the Committee is happy to leave it to us to bring forward proposals at Report stage, I shall be happy to consult with noble Lords on the shape of those proposals so that we are very much in spirit with what has been said in the debate.

I am grateful to the Minister for that indication. We shall wait to see what he wishes to bring forward.

Perhaps I may make this point for him to consider. When we were debating Amendment No. 22, he will recall that the Government were not anxious to give to the applicant an opportunity to respond to the grounds upon which it was proposed to refuse a licence. The reason given for that was that there was an appeals process. That means that, on the appeals process, for the first time the applicant will have his say on the objections that are being made to his having a licence for whatever activity. This becomes a justiciable question. Points will be put by both sides and a tribunal, however it is constituted, will have to decide precisely between the balancing forces; the objections and the responses to it. It is very much a thing for a tribunal to do.

I noted that the Minister did not consider the Lord Chancellor as appropriate and preferred to rely on the Secretary of State. The machinery for setting up the tribunal is in the hands of the Lord Chancellor anyway. He is the person who keeps the list of people who are suitable for appointment to tribunals of various kinds. It is his department that is concerned with setting up rules that will meet the criteria of the human rights legislation—rules regarding fair hearing and so on. I should have thought that from a practical point of view it would be right for the Lord Chancellor to set up the tribunal and lay down the rules. In that regard I support the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Cope. I make these points in welcoming the Minister's announcement.

My Lords, I, too, welcome the Minister's remarks. I suggest that as an earnest of his good faith and his intention to do this he might accept the Liberal Democrats' Amendment No. 25A—it is the most modest of the amendments in this group; it seeks to substitute "shall" for "may". That does not close off any of the other points.

I hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to the Lord Chancellor being responsible for the tribunals. The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, set out the reasons in support of my proposals, although with much greater legal knowledge.

I took the Minister to say that the Government were more or less decided that the appeal should apply against local authority decisions. I shall not necessarily hold him to that; however, it is clearly the way that his mind is working, which I very much welcome. Amendment No. 27A ought to commend itself as well—it would allow the tribunal, whichever it is, to make changes in the conditions.

Finally, to make the point clear, it is my belief that the provision regarding the tribunal that is set up ought to apply equally to decisions on licences under Clause 14, as well as to other licensing decisions made under this clause. Clearly, the tribunal will acquire some expertise in the matter and can make decisions on both matters. So two groups of tribunals are covered by this group of amendments and will, I hope, be covered by the noble Lord when he considers these matters.

I have listened carefully to the contributions made and I shall take away the many points raised. I also undertake to consult further with Members of the Committee. Perhaps a further meeting with officials might assist in that general direction. In saying that, I shall not commit the Government to points in the amendments as they stand; however, I hope that we can have further discussions and arrive at a point of agreement. We are at one in wanting to design a simple, effective and cost-effective appeals mechanism that works to the benefit of the industry and satisfies local authority interests as well. That is where matters stand and we shall be in touch.

The noble Lord has accepted Amendment No. 25A in principle, so we shall not press him on it. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 24.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 [ Appeals in licensing matters]:

[ Amendments Nos. 25 to 27A not moved.]

Clause 11 [ Register of licences]:

moved Amendment No. 27B:

Clause 11. page 8, line 27. leave out ("such fee as it considers reasonable") and insert ("a reasonable fee")

The noble Lord said: The amendment deals with a simple point. At Second Reading, I drew attention to the fact that between the publication of the White Paper and Second Reading, the proposed fees for licences had virtually doubled. Instead of the authority charging,

"such fee as it considers reasonable",

which is how the matter is presently phrased in Clause 11(5), the wording should be "a reasonable fee". That introduces an objective standard in relation to the fee that is being imposed.

One does not want to place too great a burden on the industry by upping the fees until the whole thing is self-financing from the beginning. It may ultimately

become self-financing, but I do not think it sensible to start in that way. My Amendment No. 43A to Schedule 1 makes the same point. The amendment seeks to replace the phrase,

"such charges as it considers appropriate",

with "reasonable charges"—again introducing some kind of objective standard into the cost of the whole scheme. I beg to move.

I support what the noble Lord has said. Over the past few weeks I have detected rising concern in the industry regarding the potential costs of this provision. Admittedly, that does not always sit well with the industry asking for the powers to be further extended; nevertheless there is concern about the cost, because it will ultimately be borne by the customer. As has been said, the proposed cost has escalated from £23 for a personal licence, as was set out in the White Paper just over 12 months ago, to more than double that—to £50 to £60 per person.

This is not an industry with high profit margins. On the contrary, sections of it, particularly the "guarding" part of it, have low profit margins. They have no alternative but to pass costs on to the customer. That is the danger facing those areas of the industry. That is why the authority should not be the ultimate decision-making body as to what is in all circumstances a "reasonable" fee that people can be expected to bear.

We consider it important that the security industry authority acts responsibly and sets all its fees at a reasonable level. Members of the Committee will have judged from my demeanour and approach during the course of these debates that we seek to introduce a "lean and mean" regulatory machine. We are not keen on extending the weight of regulatory enterprise, nor do we seek to overburden the industry. Therefore, we want the fees to be kept at a necessary minimum—I want that to be clearly understood on the public record. Fees will be kept to a level sufficient to enable the authority to be self-financing as a regulatory body. Therefore, the degree to which we can narrow the need for regulation will enable the SIA to keep its fees to a lower level.

We consider, however, that there are already a number of safeguards against excessive charging built into the Bill. Under the Bill's provision, the SIA is, for example answerable to the Secretary of State; it is required to comply with directions given to it by him. There are also other financial controls. The authority will be required to produce an annual statement of accounts for the Secretary of State and the Auditor General, both of which will have to be laid before Parliament for scrutiny and debate. We believe, therefore, that the Bill already contains adequate mechanisms to prevent any excessive charging.

It is perhaps worth further clarifying how the initial setting up costs of the SIA will be met. It obviously cannot be self-financing from the beginning. The start-up costs will be funded by the Home Office. However, it is our intention to recoup these costs over a longer period of time so that they are spread out. The fee of £35—perhaps as much as £40 on our current estimate—is for a licence usually lasting three years. We therefore feel that the burden is not excessive. Through the reporting and scrutiny process, pressure will be applied to ensure a lean and efficient regulatory body. We undertake at the outset to provide for the start-up costs. Therefore, there will be no pressure initially to increase the licensing fees to a higher level.

I hope that that explanation satisfies the concerns of noble Lords. We are happy with the wording as it stands. In any event, I am not entirely sure that the wordingsuggested by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, creates the measure of objectivity towards which he seemed to be directing us. I can assure the Committee that it is our intention to ensure that these fees are kept to the necessary minimum—but necessary, nevertheless, to provide for more than adequate financing to make the SIA effective.

9 p.m.

I ask for the Committee's indulgence briefly to mention a point that arises indirectly from Amendment No. 27B. The point was mentioned to me by someone involved in the industry but too late for me to table a particular amendment. The fee referred to in Amendment No. 27B is to inspect the register. There is a fear that if people can inspect a register containing the names and addresses of security operatives, that information may be used to blackmail and bring pressure to bear on security operatives involved in carrying cash. I am told that the modern thief does not try to break into cash vans. The modus operandi that has recently been used is to pass a note to a security guard explaining that his wife and children, whose address can easily be discovered from this register, are being held hostage and that unless lie, under their instructions, drives the van to the place in which they choose to deal with it, he will not see his wife and children again, or some similar threat. The names and addresses of the individuals concerned could be sensitive in this respect. I do not wish to press the point. I mention it because I believe it is worthy of consideration. It did not occur to me in time to table an amendment.

I have heard the noble Lord's explanation. I accept what he says. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [ Licensing at local authority level]:

moved Amendment. No. 28:

Page 8, line 30, leave out from ("Authority's") to end of line 38 and insert ("functions under this Act (other than section 6) relating to the granting, revocation or modification of licences to carry out activities to which paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 (door supervisors etc. for public houses, clubs and comparable venues) applies, for purposes and in cases and areas specified or described in the order").

The noble Lord said: This amendment has two purposes. The first is to inquire whether the Minister can tell us what it is proposed should be delegated to local authorities from the authority itself.

Secondly, having struggled to read this Bill, one reached the conclusion that the drafting was unnecessarily obscure. That was the point at which the fuse blew, as it were, and I fell down trying to re-write subsections (1) and (2). As presently drafted, Clause 12(1) states:

"The Secretary of State may by order make provision for local authorities to carry out some or all of the Authority's relevant licensing functions".

Subsection (2) defines the authority's relevant licensing functions. Why not incorporate them into one subsection? I hope that the effect of the words is precisely the same as the wording of the two subsections as they stand at the moment. I also hope that it is marginally clearer. That will be a matter of opinion. As I say, it was the moment at which the fuse blew when I was reading this difficult prose that is favoured by parliamentary draftsmen. I beg to move.

My speaking note begins, in bold,

"RESIST but agree to look again if extra reason given".
The noble Lord has raised a good point about the delegation to local authorities. It is intended to cover the consideration of applications for licences as door supervisors only, not other security activities, and the grant, refusal and modification of these licences. They would not need to inform the SIA of decisions for register purposes. That is what this wording attempts to achieve. My note goes on to be generous to parliamentary counsel by suggesting that we rather prefer the wording as drafted by our experienced parliamentary draftsmen; and, of course, that is the case.

I think I am satisfied with the wording. I hope that I have clarified the point raised by the noble Lord. In any event, I shall consider whether or not our wording can be further simplified, but that is what it aims to achieve.

In view of that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [ Register of approved contractors]:

moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 9, line 30. at end insert ("; and
(d) the date approval was given and the date it is due for renewal.").

The noble Viscount said: According to the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, approval under Clause 14,

"will cease after three years or after such a period as the Secretary of State may have specified by order".

This is yet another power for the Secretary of State. This amendment applies to Clause 13(3)(c), which refers to "conditions of approval". We wish to insert thereafter a further paragraph (d) specifying,

"the date approval was given and the date it is due for renewal".

The object of the amendment is very simple: it is designed to enable those inspecting the register to see whether a company continues to remain approved—and, more importantly, to ascertain when that approval might expire. I beg to move.

Clause 13(3) lists the information that will have to appear in the public registers of approved contractors. As identified by the noble Viscount, the information as currently drafted is limited to the name and address of the contractor, the security services for which the approval has been given and the conditions of the approval. The clause is not exclusive in its provisions. There is nothing to stop the SIA from publishing additional information, such as that suggested in the amendment.

However, like the noble Viscount, we recognise that the public will wish to have unambiguous information available in the register and that the amendment would provide a useful improvement to the list of material that must be published. We are not convinced that it will be essential to publish both the date on which an approval has been given and that on which it is due for renewal. The appearance of a company name on the register will, in itself, be evidence that approval is in force. But it will certainly be desirable to publish the due date of renewal.

However, the improvement made by this amendment is equally applicable to the provisions of Clause 11(3), which relate to information that must be published in the register of individual licence holders. If the noble Viscount is willing to withdraw his amendment this evening, I shall give an undertaking that the Government will bring forward their own amendment on Report to require the publication of renewal dates in both the registers established by Clauses 11 and 13—that is, the register of individual licences and that for company approvals.

I thank the Minister for her most helpful reply. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for the offer that she has made. In the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14[ Arrangements for the grant of approvals]:

moved Amendment No. 30A:

Page 10, line 1, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Lord said: Read with Amendment No. 30C, this amendment is a slightly clumsy way of trying to raise again the question of seeking voluntary approval—or, perhaps "the voluntary seeking of approval" is a better way to put it. The matter was referred to on Second Reading. It seems to us that leaving it simply as a voluntary scheme will not achieve a very satisfactory outcome. We believe that two different types of contractors are likely to emerge under the scheme: those who are approved and those who are not. The latter will apply different standards and will not have been through the same tests. However, both types of contractors will offer their services to the public. No doubt those who have not sought approval will be doing so at a cheaper rate. Therefore, many of the policy points that lie behind the Bill 'will be lost. Again, I shall welcome the Minister's response to the issue. I beg to move.

Although I have seen representations from the industry on the point, I am not persuaded. It seems to me that the way the Government have proposed the scheme in the Bill will prove to be satisfactory. I realise that there will be two classes of company, but both will be employing licensed personnel to undertake the same job. After all, there are advantages to being an approved company; namely, that, under the Bill, you can take people on provisionally.

I believe that there would be advantages in the proposed approved status. Customers will be able to distinguish between those companies with approved status and those who are not so designated. Indeed, most serious customers will want to employ someone with approved status, providing that it does not prove to be vastly more expensive. I do not see why it should be; it is only one extra requirement. The main expense is licensing the individuals who work for such companies.

As drafted, the Bill allows for a voluntary scheme. We consider that this is best at present. It minimises the burden on companies to one that they themselves are willing to bear. Like the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, we expect that the majority of reputable companies will want to seek approval under a voluntary scheme.

We also want to build on the self-regulating mechanisms that are already in place. Companies will be able to volunteer to be inspected to the standards that will be set for their particular sector by the authority.

However, the Bill will allow the Secretary of State to turn a voluntary scheme into a compulsory one if he judges it necessary to do so; that is, if the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, prove to be founded. The Secretary of State will be able to invoke provisions in Clause 16, which will make it an offence to provide security services unless approval is obtained under the provisions in Clause 14 via the negative resolution procedure, which will be laid before Parliament.

A decision to turn the voluntary scheme into a compulsory one would be taken only after a recommendation from the authority and after exhaustive and extensive consultation with the industry, police and other interested parties.

I hope that my response has reassured the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. We should also bear in mind the words of wisdom from the noble Lord, Lord Cope. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, feels able to withdraw the amendment.

I am reassured by the response of the noble Baroness. It is sensible to establish in practice the way in which the authority will work. I am sure that if the matters to which I referred prove to be a problem, proper consultation with the authority and interested parties will bring about a compulsory scheme in accordance with the terms of my amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved Amendment No. 30B:

Page 11, line 8, at end insert—
("(c) requirements to seek approval of the Authority of the design of any uniforms proposed to be used by the providers of security industry services, so as to ensure that they are distinguishable from the uniforms of police officers").

The noble Lord said: On Second Reading, I expressed the concern that there should be no confusion between the police and those in the security industry who provide, for example, guarding services. It so happens that yesterday I was in Altcourse prison, which I discovered was in Fazakerley, Liverpool. That prison has the acclamation of the inspector of prisons, which is not easily acquired, and that of my client, which is even more difficult to acquire, for being one of the top prisons in this country. It is also a Group 4 prison.

A noticeable feature of the service provided by that company and by others is that they go out of their way to ensure that their staff do not look like prison officers of old. They do not wear blue serge; they wear green pastoral colours. That reduces the temperature in prisons and helps to distinguish them from authority figures such as policemen.

I am concerned to ensure that security firms are distinct from those who provide security on the streets—police constables. There is no reason why the authority should not have some control over the design of uniforms that are advanced by a company seeking approval for its employees. That would ensure that no confusion occurs. I recommend the amendment for serious consideration.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomas, wants to set up the authority as a kind of taste police that examines the uniforms, or prospective uniforms, that those providing security services might have to wear. That perhaps goes a little too far.

I seem to recall somewhere in the recesses of my mind—I should be grateful if the Minister would confirm this—that adequate laws already exist in this context. I believe that there is a law that makes it illegal to impersonate a policeman. That includes wearing a uniform that is similar to or that could be mistaken for a policeman's uniform. If that is the case—I believe that it is—the amendment is unnecessary. However, if the amendment is necessary, it would be better to state that people should not wear uniforms that will be confused with those of police officers. We need not set the authority up as a new couture house that decides on the right colour of uniform for those involved in the important task of providing security services.

I had written in my notes, "style council". We need not worry too much about this matter. I do not believe that the security industry authority will set itself up with the proposed function, and I do not think that Versace standards will be applied. The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, made the point for me. We do not believe that the amendment is necessary or that it is necessary for conditions relating to uniforms to be included as a licence condition in the approved contractors scheme. As the noble Viscount said, under Section 90 of the Police Act 1996 it is already an offence to impersonate a police officer or to wear anything having the appearance of a police uniform in circumstances in which the person wearing it might be mistaken for a police officer. That ensures that those who attempt to pass themselves off as police officers are committing a criminal offence and will be prosecuted. Therefore, although the amendment is well-spirited and good-intentioned, we do not consider it to be necessary.

We want people to respect uniforms because they have an important, authoritative presence which, in certain circumstances, will be of help. I am certainly aware of neighbourhood warden schemes which attempt to achieve that objective without impersonating in any way, shape or form a police uniform or a police presence. Therefore, we are grateful for the notion, but the powers already exist and we do not believe that further powers are required. I hope that, notwithstanding his flattering comments about one of Her Majesty's prisons, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

I am interested to note that the legislation was passed in 1996. In 1996 this provision formed part of the Liberal Democrat Party policy document. Obviously, the matter was of considerable concern at that time, but I must admit that I am not an expert in the branch of the law which concerns what policemen wear. It seems that my amendment is unnecessary and, accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 14 and 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 [ Imposition of requirements for approval]:

[ Amendment No. 30C not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [ Appeals relating to approval]:

[ Amendment No. 31 not moved.]

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clause 18 [ Powers of entry and inspection]:

moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 12, line 44, after ("may") insert ("upon the granting of a warrant by a Justice of the Peace").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 32, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 32A, 33 and 33A, which deal with the same topic. They all refer to the circumstances in which representatives of the authority, authorised in writing—I believe that we could call them "inspectors"—may enter premises owned or occupied by a person appearing to be a regulated person. Later in the clause there is reference to offences of obstructing, and so on.

The permission for an inspector to enter premises is completely unfettered provided that the premises are owned or occupied by a person appearing to him to be a regulated person. That is a very strong power. Rightly, Parliament has been careful about granting powers of access and entry to inspectors and policemen. However, a large number of officials have the right to enter premises. In most cases, such officials, including policemen, need a warrant to enter and search people's homes. Two suggestions for limiting the power of entry are on offer in this group of amendments.

So far as concerns Amendments Nos. 32 and 33 in my name, I have suggested that under this provision there should be no access to domestic premises. Only business premises should be entered, and only then with a warrant from a magistrate.

I cannot see why an inspector of the security industry authority should want to go into somebody's home. There is not much to be gained by that. An Englishman's home is supposed to be his castle and I believe that it is right to protect access wherever we can rather than facilitate it. Amendments Nos. 32A and 33A, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, who clearly takes a milder view of such matters than I do, provide that there should be a warrant only in the case of domestic premises. He is happy for people to waltz into business premises without any authorisation other than their ticket.

My understanding of the clause is that the authorisation in writing by the authority will in effect be the appointment of the inspector to that post, whereas when we seek a magistrate's warrant, whether for business or domestic premises, we seek permission for that individual to inspect those particular premises on that occasion. As far as I can see, the authorisation in writing is likely to be a piece of paper or an identity card which lasts for as long as an individual does that job. It is a blanket authorisation to walk into any premises covered by it, or in this case, if the Bill is passed, any home covered by it.

There is, therefore, not only a difference in who it is authorised by; there is also the difference of whether it is authorised on that particular occasion to go into those premises for that purpose, the case having been made out to the magistrate, or whether it is a blanket authorisation to enter at any time. There is more than one layer to the proposals to introduce warrants; whether they are introduced into all premises or just domestic premises.

We should take the matter seriously. The powers of entry and inspection are powerful. Such powers are liked by police states and dictators but countries such as ours should be cautious about granting them to the authorities.

This is the most serious attack on civil liberties in the whole of the Bill. It will create a whole class of persons who may enter premises without any leave. Furthermore, any person who obstructs them or fails to provide documents or other information relating to any connected matter set out in subsection (2) is guilty of an offence and could end up in prison.

I ask the Government carefully to consider the provisions. I am sure that there is a point of principle upon which we can all unite on this side of the Committee in considering what should be done. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, mentioned a slight distinction between us. I can see that there might be a reason for business premises to be entered in an ordinary routine inspection by an inspector of the authority in following up his duties of inspecting licence holders, and so forth. However, entering people's homes, demanding papers and information and imposing a sanction of imprisonment if a person fails to co-operate is beyond the spirit in which the law of this country has operated hitherto. One envisages little inspectors in the Russian style in such a situation. I ask the Government to consider the matter again.

There has been a tendency in some parts of the press in recent months to ascribe a rather authoritarian attitude to the Minister's right honourable friend the Home Secretary. I do not share those criticisms. In general I support the Home Secretary in much of what he is trying to do. Indeed, I would sometimes go further than my own party in those respects.

I certainly cannot claim to be a libertarian of the standard that would be required if I were to ask to gain entry to the party on the other end of these Benches. However, I regard this every bit as seriously as my noble friend Lord Cope, and as the Liberal Democratic Party. It is quite extraordinary that these provisions should have been put in, and I doubt very much whether Ministers can really have considered what was involved.

After all, it is not very long ago that we were considering the Bill giving access to the countryside—a Bill which I prefer to describe as the "budgie" Bill. The Minister may not remember it because it was not his Bill, but the noble Baroness will remember because it was partly her Bill. It was a Bill which, partly because of a mistaken transfer of one schedule from one Bill to another, has presented the situation where, if someone keeps a budgerigar and allows it to escape into the wild, he can be sent to prison for two years.

It was the most extraordinary thing. Unfortunately I only discovered it on the day I was asked to speak to an earlier amendment, right at the end just before the Bill needed to become law at the end of the last Session. As a result, the Government were too embarrassed to admit that they had made a mistake and so would have had to change it. So I certainly think of it as the "budgie" Bill.

As my noble friend Lord Cope said, this is a most serious point of principle and I am worried that the Government do not take these things as seriously as they should. On the 28th October 1999 1 put down a Question for Written Answer, which was dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam. The Question was: which statutory instruments giving powers of entry to private premises have come into force since May 1997?

The noble Lord's Answer—I do not blame him: I blame his department—was to the effect that this information could only be collated at disproportionate cost. That I regard as a disgraceful answer. It is not one that I shall be prepared to let go, and at an appropriate moment I shall seek to put down a Starred Question when we shall be able perhaps to discuss this whole subject.

I warn the Government that they must not allow their officials to be so easy-going with the personal liberties about which the people of this country care passionately. I recognise that tonight we will not be able to reach a final solution to this problem —perhaps there are not enough of us here to do that—but I hope that if we do not get a satisfactory result at the next stage of this Bill we shall all unite, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, said, on this side with many Cross-Benchers. I shall take pleasure in drawing this matter to their attention, and we shall unite in this Chamber to defeat the Government on what is a most extraordinary proposal.

I shall have to take very seriously the admonition of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, but I cannot fall in with his argument. I do not recognise us as a Government who are careless about civil liberties—far from it—particularly in bringing forward human rights legislation and so on. We have an enviable track record and, certainly as someone who may not be an old-style libertarian but who values his civil liberties greatly, I tread very carefully in this particular policy area.

The noble Lord, Lord Cope, described this as a strong power and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, suggested that it was taking us closer to the sort of approach that might be adopted by a police state. I do not see that in it, but I do see the amendments being fundamental in the attack they would mount against the security industry authority's enforcement powers. They would seriously weaken them. The authority will be an important body discharging significant responsibilities. It is vital that it has sufficient authority and flexibility of operation to allow it adequately to enforce the licensing regime with which it will be charged.

A requirement on the authority's authorised operatives to obtain further approval from a Justice of the Peace would hamper its ability to conduct surprise inspections. It might also compromise the security of an inspection where an element of surprise may be important, thus allowing evidence of offences under the legislation to be destroyed. Similar concerns occur when considering the amendment restricting the exercise of the powers on non-domestic properties.

The entry and inspection powers must extend to domestic premises as many people carrying out regulated security activities will have their headquarters or offices in their own homes. That would include freelance door supervisors who operate from their kitchen table with a mobile phone. It would also include a house owner who clamps a vehicle on his private land and charges a release fee. Dentists who operate from domestic premises and clamp vehicles which are parked on their private land, for which they charge a release fee, would also be covered.

While I am as alive as ever to the human rights and privacy concerns which I am sure lie behind the amendments as much as concerns about civil liberties, the limitation on the authority's powers to enforce its licensing regime which the amendments introduce would weaken the authority's enforcement abilities.

I am not insensitive to some of the points that have been made and I am willing to look at the possibility of excluding from the powers premises used solely for domestic residence purposes. I give that undertaking, but it is as far as I can go in giving assurances. However, as ever, we will read Hansard most carefully and reflect on the points which Members have made in the debate. I hope that with that assurance, and the assurance that excesses and abuses of power would be actionable in the normal way, noble Lords will feel able to withdraw their amendment.

The Minister spoke of the need for surprise. Surely there must be many occasions when important raids are made by the police for which they must obtain a warrant. Is he suggesting that in some way the obtaining of a magistrate's warrant makes it impossible to achieve surprise? That is a most astonishing suggestion.

The noble Lord made the point that I want to make. The police and Customs must obtain warrants for cause whenever they engage in serious operations. Surprise is one of the weapons that they employ. The security of the magistrates who grant warrants is complete.

There is a weakness in the Minister's argument. No doubt the authority has wide-ranging responsibilities and will exercise them responsibly and so forth. It can be imagined that every time an inspector wants to invade the premises of a licenceholder he will go to that authority, which presumably will sit fairly regularly. However, I cannot imagine that he will go to the top and ask for permission every time he wants to do so. In other words, the decision will be made by the front-line troops; by the inspectors on the ground.

These provisions put a huge power into the hands of such people. We do not give that power to the police or to Customs officers. There is no reason whatever why a magistrate should not be involved and oversee the proper exercise of the powers of entry and inspection which are contained in the Bill. It is wrong to assume that because the authority is a responsible body these powers will always be exercised responsibly by the troops on the ground.

The Minister has given a disappointing reply. However, I am grateful for the indication that he will consider the matter further, in particular his remarks about premises that are solely domestic. I urge the noble Lord to think very hard not only about that matter but the wider aspects. The points made in the past few minutes by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, and my noble friend Lord Marlesford are extremely forceful. The Bill proposes that inspectors of the authority, which I agree has an important job to do but not as important as that performed frequently by the police and Customs, should be given greater powers than those available to police officers and Customs officers to wander into any premises whenever they wish.

I greatly respect the comments made by the Committee, particularly the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, who, as an eminent lawyer, is very experienced in these matters. It is true that the police and Customs require warrants to enter premises, but it is also right that whenever inspection regimes are set up some powers of entry do not depend on warrants. I have in mind environmental health officers and factory inspectors who operate in this way. That said, obviously I am duty bound to listen carefully to what has been said. I am sure that the Committee does not want to impose restrictions that unnecessarily inhibit the effectiveness of this important inspectorate. There will be occasions on which the inspectorate needs to move swiftly and flexibly, particularly where perhaps a corrupt firm or operator is at work and there is a suspicion that it has been involved in serious crime; for example, drugs offences and so on. One needs to take a balanced view of this matter. As ever, I shall pay careful attention to the comments made in Committee.

I am grateful to the Minister for his response. However, the noble Lord makes my point. It may be that environmental health officers or factory inspectors enter premises because they are concerned about certain matters. However, if either barged into a person's home and demanded the production of documents and answers to questions, as this Bill permits, there would be a great outcry in this country. Those powers do not exist.

I support what has been said and I shall not repeat it. This is a serious matter. I am glad that the Minister is to think about it. I believe that the noble Lord should give this matter serious consideration. We shall also think about it. I am sure that this is a matter to which we shall return at later stages. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 32.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendments Nos. 32A to 33A not moved.]

Clause 18 agreed to.

Clause 19 agreed to.

moved Amendment No. 34:

After Clause 19, insert the following new clause—


(" .The Authority shall not disclose to any person, other than employees of the Authority involved in deciding on the granting, revocation or renewal of licence applications, any information which comes into their possession under section 19.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 34 relates to criminal record certificates. The new clause seeks to provide that information from an enhanced criminal record certificate shall not be disclosed unnecessarily but retained within the authority. I support efforts for the rehabilitation of offenders. The way in which convictions are allowed to disappear into the undergrowth after a lapse of time is an important provision with regard to the rehabilitation of offenders. The longer the prison sentence, the longer it remains on the open record. These are powers for access to these criminal records notwithstanding the rehabilitation provisions. We should be careful about those. The authority should have a duty to keep them confidential. I beg to move.

9.45 p.m.

In order to determine properly that only those who are fit and proper persons should have a licence to work in designated sectors of the private security industry, it is important that the authority should have knowledge of the full criminal record of those applying for a licence. In the case of door supervisors alone, we have decided that that knowledge should be to the level of the enhanced criminal record certificate which will contain information about both spent and unspent convictions, minor convictions and local police intelligence. That is provided for in Clause 19.

It is essential that the security industry authority acts responsibly when such handling of sensitive information about individuals takes place. There are, however, already strict rules governing the disclosure of information obtained from the Criminal Records Bureau. These strict rules are contained in Section 124 of the Police Act 1997. That section outlines the limited circumstances under which a person may disclose the information and to whom. Anyone breaching these conditions would be committing a serious criminal offence. The authority will also need to have due regard to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Our argument is that adequate restrictions are already in place. These should meet the noble Lord's concerns. That is certainly their intention, and we do not wish the system to work in any other way.

I am grateful for that reply. I shall ponder on it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 20 and 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [ Orders and regulations]:

[ Amendments Nos. 35 to 37 not moved.]

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 [ Interpretation]:

moved Amendment No. 38:

Page 15, line 42, at end insert—
(""security operative" shall be construed in accordance with Part 1 of Schedule 2;").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 38 seeks to insert into line 42 of Clause 23 a reference to the definition of "security operative". It seemed odd to me that there was not already such a definition in the clause but there is a definition of "activities of a security operative" in line 2 of the clause. Therefore, I thought that perhaps the words "security operative" must always be accompanied by the words "activities of a". I then looked at paragraph 6(3) of Schedule 2 and discovered that "security operative" appears without the words "activities of". It seemed to me that it should be defined and I therefore tabled this amendment. I beg to move.

Clause 23 provides interpretation of terms not explained elsewhere in the Bill. The term "security operative" is, by contrast, already defined elsewhere. Therefore, we believe that there is no need to repeat the definition in Clause 23. Schedule 2 defines the activities of security operatives that are subject to regulation by this Bill. Paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 2 makes clear the activities of a security operative. The term "security operative" is thus used in Clause 3(3) in such a way as to link firmly the provisions of Clause 3 to the list of designated activities in Schedule 2. With that explanation on record, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Cope, will be able to withdraw his amendment.

It is not quite accurate to say that Clause 23 only defines things that are not defined elsewhere. Activities of a security officer are defined by reference to Part I of Schedule 2. That is not abnormal. Some of the other definitions are done by reference to other Acts of Parliament. I treat definitions seriously. Acts of Parliament or Bills are difficult enough to read as it is. Many years ago my noble friend Lord Renton made some excellent recommendations intended to improve the drafting. One recommendation referred to the way in which definitions should be handled. Successive governments, including those in which I was involved, have largely ignored the excellent recommendations of that committee. Nevertheless, I believe that whenever we can put them into practice we should.

Clearly, the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, will not agree to the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 38.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 23 agreed to.

Clause 24 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [ The Security Industry Authority]:

moved Amendment No. 39:

Schedule I, page 17, line 6, at end insert ("provided that there shall not be a majority of the members who are engaged in activities covered by this Act").

The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 39, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 40, 41 and 42. These amendments concern the composition of the security industry authority and the appointment of a chief executive. I am sure that the Minister will say that when they come to appoint members of the authority the Secretary of State will use his good judgment and say that it should have a person from here and another from there. This is too important to be left to the Secretary of State. There should be some guidelines by Parliament.

The amendments are quite simple. They seek to improve Schedule 1. The first provides that there should not be a majority of members engaged in activities covered by the Act. That means that lay members should have a majority on the authority, and it ought not to be just the industry. It goes on to say in the next amendment that there should be at least one serving police officer. That means that there should be a representative from the police force on the authority. I am sure that this is something that the Secretary of State would normally consider. However, we think it is important to put it in the Bill. We also felt it important that the chairman should be a lay person who could be independent when looking at the various voting issues.

Finally, I mention Amendment No. 42, which seeks to have an open application procedure determined by the Secretary of State for the appointment of the chief executive. This will be an important role. The appointment must be open and seen to be open. It must follow the principles of open government. I am sure that the Minister would agree with the principle even if he does not agree with the amendment.

It is important that the membership of the authority represents a wide range of interests. It should not be exclusive to anyone. It must have representatives from the industry and the police. The Minister might have other recommendations. We feel that these amendments at least offer suggestions as to what the membership should be. Amendment No. 40A in the name of noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, provides that there should be adequate representation of the security industry, employees' representatives, the police and customers' interests. It is very similar to our amendment but is put in a different way. I support the principles behind both amendments. They both seek the same end. We believe that Schedule 1 should provide reassurance to the industry, the police and all the parties involved that there will be adequate representation on the security industry authority. I beg to move.

Perhaps I may speak to Amendment No. 40A, which stands in my name. I am not tied to the number 10; nor do I suggest that the categories I have listed from (a) to (d) are exhaustive. What I am interested in is a response from the Minister which will outline the type of authority and the kind of representation that the Government have in mind. I look forward with interest to the Minister's reply.

These amendments all seek to insert into Schedule 1 specific requirements. I think that I can probably offer the reassurance which Members of the Committee seek.

The authority will need to work closely with the private security industry it is regulating, not least to ensure that its important regulatory regimes are deliverable. For that reason, it is likely that the Secretary of State will wish to see some industry representation among the membership of the authority. More widely, it will be important for authority members to have a proper balance of skills, experiences and interests. The noble Viscount and the noble Lord made exactly that point. We share that objective. I would be the first to agree that the authority must be independent of the private security industry and, more importantly, be seen to be independent. That is of paramount importance. I drew attention to that point during the Second Reading debate.

However, I do not agree that it is necessary to place this concept on the face of the Bill. I am happy to give an assurance that representatives of the private security industry will not be in a majority in the membership of the authority and that I think it highly unlikely that a representative of the security industry will be appointed its chair. That would tend to compromise the independence which the authority will necessarily require. There will be a representative of the Association of Chief Police Officers and of other relevant groups. All of those appointments will be made on the basis of fair and open competition.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, specifies the security industry, employees' representatives, the police and customer interests. That is precisely the range that we are looking for and there may well be others that we have not discussed during the debate.

That is our general approach. It is certainly in line with the thinking of the noble Viscount and of the noble Lord. I do not think it is necessary to put on the face of the Bill appointments to a non-departmental public body, but I am happy to reiterate that the main thrust of the concerns behind the amendments will be in the Secretary of State's mind when he considers appointments.

The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, referred to the appointment of the chief executive. Nolan principles will apply. It will be a transparent appointment. We need to have that to give a copper bottom to the independence and credibility of the authority.

With those assurances, I hope that the noble Viscount and the noble Lord will not feel it necessary to press their amendments. I am grateful to them for what they have said, which demonstrates that we are pretty much of one mind on this matter.

The Minister made a predictable reply to my first point by saying that the Secretary of State is likely to seek representatives from the industry. He gave an assurance that they would not form a majority on the authority. I take it that they will then form a minority, but that at least one representative will be appointed to the authority.

I know that the Minister spoke with the best of intentions when he said that the Government were likely to take this course. However, one is always a little dubious when it comes to appointments because one has seen how often the system of appointments has been abused. I am afraid that the noble Lord's Government do not have a totally unblemished record in this regard. We have seen in some cases the allocation of "jobs for the boys". We shall need to consider further whether we want to put a form of words on the face of the Bill.

The allocation of appointments is not something which takes place while Bills are passing through this House or another place. It takes place once the measure has been enacted. The Chief Whip of the day has a word with the Home Secretary of the day. At that stage, strange names suddenly come to light and are given appointments to quangos.

However, I recognise that the Minister was trying to be as helpful as he could and I much appreciate that. As regards my final amendment, I am entirely happy with his response. I do not know what the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, intends to do with Amendment No. 40, but in the meantime I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 39.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendments Nos. 40 to 43A not moved.]

moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 20, line 8, leave out ("the Secretary of State all") and insert ("each local authority where an order is made under section 12 all sums received by it, in connection with the local authority's area, and shall pay to the Secretary of State all other").

The noble Lord said: The amendment relates to local authorities and their money. This provision is in itself rather interesting because, without the amendment, it provides for the authority to receive funding from the Home Office, but it is to pay back to the Home Office all moneys it receives in the course of its functions. Every licence fee and so forth is to be paid back in total to the Home Office. The authority will then have doled out to it funds with which to run itself. I do not suppose that that system will encourage the authority to become self-financing. Indeed, we are not clear how the balance of moneys will work out.

In any case, the purity of that system will be somewhat sullied by the fact that some of the activities of the authority are to be delegated to local authorities. I believe that the local authorities will in their turn require a level of funding to carry out their functions. I presume that they will not be allowed to retain any of the moneys they may collect in licence fees because it appears that those funds will need to be sent to the Home Secretary. I am not clear as regards how local authorities are to be reimbursed for carrying out these new activities.

I should point out that I had some difficulty with the drafting of this amendment. Indeed, I am not sure whether it is perfect. It seeks to achieve the effect, if possible, of ensuring that local authorities should at least be allowed to keep the licence fees that they collect in order to reimburse them for their time and trouble.

Incidentally, in issuing these licences, local authorities will be put into the interesting position of issuing licences locally which will then he valid nationally. I cannot think of another example of this. A licence can be acquired in Manchester in order to operate in London, Cardiff or even North Wales. A person will be able to operate in an area on the strength of a licence issued somewhere else entirely. I cannot think of a similar case where such rules apply, but perhaps I have not thought it through carefully enough.

However, the main point of the amendment is to inquire into how local authorities are to be reimbursed if all moneys received for licences must be returned to the Home Office. I beg to move.

I am happy to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that it is important that local authorities are properly funded in any transfer of licensing responsibility delegated from the security industry authority.

Clause 12 enables the Secretary of State to make provision by order for local authorities to carry out some or all of the security industry authority's licensing functions. This is in recognition of the Government's desire to build on the arrangements in many local authorities where good registration schemes for door supervisors are already being run.

The noble Lord's amendment seems to assume that fees will continue to be paid to the security industry authority in cases in which the local authority has received delegated powers to conduct appropriate licensing functions. This is not the case. The security industry authority will derive a substantial part of its income from fees paid to it when applications for licences are made. However, Clause 12(3)(d) provides that a local authority may retain licence application fees paid to it where such delegated arrangements exist. I believe, therefore, that what the amendment seeks to do is already done by the provisions of Clause 12(3)(d).

I hope that I have reassured the noble Lord and that he will not feel it necessary to press the amendment.

I am glad to hear that the amendment is unnecessary, and I shall look in Hansard at what the noble Baroness has said. We would seem to land up in the extraordinary position that the authority will have to pay over to the Secretary of State all the money it receives for the licences that it issues, while the local authorities can keep the proceeds of the licences that they issue. That is an interesting combination.

It may help the noble Lord in considering my reply if I add that paragraph 15(2) of Schedule 1 requires the security industry authority to pay all money to the Secretary of State except where the Secretary of State directs otherwise under paragraph 15(3). He will direct the SIA to keep fee money. Local authorities will keep fees paid to them under Clause 12(3)(d), as I have said.

That is one way of putting it, but it is not the way the Bill puts it. The Bill says that the authority shall pay all sums received by it other than money given to it by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State may say "We won't bother receiving this and giving it back to you", but that is what the Bill says.

However, I shall not fuss about the detail of the wording. I shall look at it. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Schedule 2 [ Activities liable to control under the Act]:

moved Amendment No. 45:

Page 22, line 9, after ("property") insert ("including cash and other valuables in transit").

The noble Viscount said: This is a simple probing amendment. There is some confusion about whether those involved in the carrying of cash or valuables in transit are covered in Schedule 2. Therefore, I have put them in, but I am sure that the Minister will tell me that the matter is covered somewhere else. I should be grateful for a simple explanation.

Paragraph 2(1) sets out three generic descriptions of the activities undertaken by those providing manned guarding services. The three types of guarding in question are guarding premises, property and people. This approach is a common feature of the drafting of the Bill. For example, we do not attempt to list in detail every type of occupation comprising manned guarding services, since any attempt at such a list would probably be flawed at worst and cumbersome at best. Similarly, we believe that the generic approach taken in paragraph 2(1) is sufficient to cover all relevant manned guarding activities.

However, I am aware of a desire in the private security industry to be reassured that guards under contract who transport cash and other valuables are covered by the provisions of the Bill. I am happy to confirm that this is indeed the case. Cash in transit—the abbreviation used in the industry—is very clearly within the ambit of the Bill, and in particular is covered by the provisions of paragraph 2(1).

That should satisfy the noble Viscount, and I trust that he will be able to seek to withdraw his amendment on that basis.

I am grateful to the Minister. He said that this is covered by paragraph 2(1): where is it covered? Is it paragraph 2(1)(a), (b) or (c)?

My amendment, of course, refers to that sub-paragraph, which currently states:

"guarding property against destruction or damage, against being stolen or against being otherwise dishonestly taken or obtained".
Presumably, that means that "property" includes cash in transit. I am grateful to the Minister for nodding in confirmation. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 46 not moved.]

moved Amendment No. 47:

Schedule 2, page 22, line 43, at end insert—
("(2A) This paragraph does not apply to activities carried out to deter parking on private land without permission, which are conducted in accordance with regulations contained in an order made by the Secretary of State.
(2B) Regulations issued under sub-paragraph (2A) shall include—
  • (a) a maximum permitted charge for release of an immobilised vehicle which may include different maximum charges for different days and times:
  • (b) a requirement for the display of a notice describing how to obtain the release of an immobilised vehicle and during which hours it can be released;
  • (c) a requirement that, when a business owns or occupies the land, the vehicle can be released at any time within the normal hours of operation of that business: and
  • (d) a requirement that, when the land is attached to a dwelling, the vehicle can be released at any time when the premises are occupied.").
  • The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 47 concerns wheelclamping, a matter to which some attention was given at Second Reading. I think that the Committee is agreed that the activities of rogue wheelclampers should be curtailed—certainly I agree—but I do not think that it should necessarily mean that this enormously elaborate licensing scheme should apply to everyone who might indulge in wheelclamping.

    It seems to me that someone who has ground for parking attached to either their house or business premises—particularly in the middle of towns, where parking is very expensive and difficult to find; where it can cost several pounds an hour to park on a parking meter—should be allowed to deter others from parking on it, if necessary by means of wheelclamping.

    The amendment proposes that the Secretary of State should issue an order under which—provided people remained within the fabric of the regulations contained in the order—there would be a general permission to carry out wheelclamping without the need for a licence. An authority would only be troubled for the issue of a licence if someone wished to go beyond the regulations.

    As the Committee will have noticed in the amendment, I envisage, first, that the regulations should include a maximum permitted charge. It may vary according to the circumstances set out in the regulations—the time and date and so on—but there would be a maximum permitted charge.

    Secondly, there should be a requirement that a prominent notice is properly displayed, stating "If you park on this private land you may be clamped". It should state "You may obtain release of your vehicle by taking the following action: Ringing the doorbell on the left or dialling this number", whatever it is. It should state the hours during which the vehicle can be released. I should have added also the cost of release, which would be however much is allowed under the first regulation.

    There should be a requirement that the vehicle can be released at any time during business hours if it is parked on business land and at any time when the property is occupied if it is parked on domestic land.

    I am not wedded to these particular parts of the regulations and I should like to leave the Secretary of State with some flexibility in the design of the regulations. But the principle behind the amendment is that restrictions of this kind would be sufficient to stop the rogue dampers and at the same time would mean that wheelclamping was an option for someone who wished to keep his private land private.

    In the middle of large cities it is often extremely difficult to park. There is a great temptation to park on an area of empty land if you are anxious to do some shopping or to visit someone. However, a person or business has the right to keep private land free for their own or customers' parking, whatever they wish, rather than anyone being allowed to park on it. Of course, some land will have a fence around it and a gate that can be locked, but in the nature of things other land will not. Wheelclamping, properly conducted, is not an activity that we should attempt to stop or tie up with a whole lot of bureaucracy. Therefore, I suggest that a provision of this kind is desirable. I beg to move.

    10.15 p.m.

    I appreciate the sentiments behind the amendment. On the other hand, it seems rather odd that a regulating power should be introduced in the second schedule to the Bill, as opposed to having a specific clause dealing with it.

    The various matters that the noble Lord suggests should be contained in the regulations—he does not pretend that this is an exhaustive list—seem very proper. As I say, the sentiment is correct; however, I am slightly unhappy about the way in which the amendment is expressed. I hope that the noble Lord will rethink exactly how to phrase such a provision at some future time.

    I suppose that in a private moment I might have a great deal of sympathy with this amendment. We have a reasonably sized piece of land in front of our garden. I can envisage circumstances in which I might be hard-up for employment and could do with the extra income, in an unregulated form as well.

    We must look closely at the effect of the amendment. As drafted, it would remove wheelclamping on private land from regulation by the SIA and make all disputes in relation to wheelclamping a matter for the courts, as they are now. Were we to accept the amendment, it would mean that the Home Secretary could make regulations governing how wheelclamping should be conducted to avoid the need for regulation by the security industry authority. I shall return to the issue of conditions. First, perhaps I may address the proposed new paragraph 2A to be inserted into Schedule 2.

    The objective of the Bill is to regulate various areas of what has become known as the private security industry. We are doing this essentially because, as the law currently stands, it is possible for anyone to seek employment or to act in a self-employed capacity in any area of the industry without any check being carried out on any criminal activity in which he may have been involved in the past.

    A key problem arising from the amendment is that it would leave wheelclamping activities, unlike the other security industry activities covered by the Bill open to being carried out by criminals. I do not think that anyone wants that. We think it essential for the security industry authority to have the proper opportunity to refuse a licence for wheelclamping where the person seeking the licence has, say, convictions for crimes of violence. I am sure that Members of the Committee already appreciate the risks attached to allowing someone with a string of convictions for grievous bodily harm to work as a bouncer at a night-club. There have already been cases where bouncers have been, shall we say, too enthusiastic in the execution of their duties.

    Wheelclamping on private land is not dissimilar. It is not uncommon, for example, for drivers who get into arguments with dampers over release fees or what they perceive to be unauthorised clamping to be threatened with violence. If anyone could operate as a wheelclamper under the Bill as the noble Lord, Lord Cope, seeks to amend it, it would be possible for someone newly released from prison one day to be clamping vehicles late the following night and confronting motorists at times when no one else is around. When considered in that light, it is no wonder that motorists are concerned about the problems associated with this practice under the present law. That explains exactly why we have introduced this Bill to tackle the problem.

    As the Members of the Committee will have seen today, we are regulating private wheelclampers for three very good reasons. The first is to ensure that, by applying criminal sanctions to unlicensed operatives, anyone who wishes to operate as a wheelclamper will have to apply for a licence. Secondly, when applying for a licence, would-be dampers would be subjected to a check to discover whether they had a criminal record, particularly for offences of violence. If such a record did exist, the authority could refuse a licence, and any attempt to operate as a wheelclamper would then become a criminal offence. Thirdly, the authority would have the power to grant a licence on condition that the licensee adhered to a code of practice that the authority could publish or adopt. To tackle effectively the problems associated with cowboy wheelclampers, it is essential that those three conditions operate alongside each other.

    I turn to sub-paragraph (2B), which would be inserted by the amendment. The legislation that we propose would leave to the discretion of the security industry authority the provisions to be contained in a code of conduct. Common sense dictates that such a code would determine a reasonable release fee, and that warning signs should be erected in restricted areas. The draft code of conduct drawn up last year by the British Parking Association is very explicit on those precise points. I do not believe that the security industry authority would need directing in law as to what such a code should contain. I shall not allow their discretion to be fettered in that way. That would be quite wrong.

    In conclusion, it is essential that the powers that we introduce to deal with unregulated wheelclamping on private land are as straightforward, clear cut and robust as possible. Under the Bill, it is an offence, with certain common-sense exceptions, to use a wheelclamp without a licence. I would argue that any question about the way in which a licence-holder operates as a wheelclamper is, rightly, a matter for the SIA to take up on behalf of the general public, with the possibility of withdrawal of the licence if necessary.

    The proposed amendments make no reference at all to the means of resolving disputes between the driver and the damper about the latter's compliance with the regulations made by the Secretary of State. In the absence of such provisions, it is our view that the matter could be decided only by the courts on a case by case basis. That is broadly the position we are now in, and it needs to be improved. The proposals of noble Lords opposite would make it considerably more difficult to impose criminal sanctions on clampers who consistently operate outside the regime set by a code of practice. In my view, those proposals would allow cowboy dampers to continue to operate in the very way that our proposals are designed to tackle.

    With vested personal interests on one side and all matters taken into consideration, I find myself unable to accept these amendments. I hope that the noble Lords opposite will very carefully reflect on the points that I have made and will feel able to withdraw their amendments.

    First, I accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, that this may not be the ideal place in which to insert in the Bill a new power of this character, and that perhaps it should be separate. I am grateful to the Minister for his personal views, which seem to be a little more sympathetic than his ministerial views. The Minister said that the restrictions on wheelclamping should be clear-cut and robust. I believe that under the regulations that I have proposed they would be, provided—and it is rather a large proviso—the Secretary of State and those who assist him could devise clear regulations. The regulations might become a little complicated once they had been past the parliamentary draftsmen; that is where their clarity might be lost.

    As far as concerns lack of compliance, if one failed to comply with the regulations and had not obtained a licence that would constitute unlicensed clamping and, therefore, would be an offence. I do not see any particular difficulty in that respect. However, I recognise that this amendment and the thoughts behind it do not have the sympathy of the Minister in his ministerial capacity. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendment No. 48:

    Schedule 2, page 23, line 3, after ("out") insert ("in the United Kingdom").

    The noble Viscount said: This amendment has been tabled in an effort to try to understand the Government's view on those in the industry who are operating outside the United Kingdom but who happen to come to this country. For example, if someone from one of the famous American detective agencies were to come to this country and carry on work that would be covered by the SIA, would that person be obliged to obtain a licence to do so? If not, how long could that person operate without a licence? In short, I should like to know how the system will work in such a situation.

    That leads me to another point about which I am more concerned; namely, that if someone from abroad does not need a licence to operate, I am concerned that unscrupulous operators might use non-UK operators in this country in order to avoid using those who are licensed. Can the Minister outline the Government's view on those operators who come from overseas—whether it be America or the European Union—who may or may not be licensed in their own countries? If in the course of a divorce case a private investigator is sent over here from, say, Italy or Hungary, to carry out the sort of work that would currently require a licence in this country, would such a person be able to operate in the UK without a licence? Do the Government intend that to be the case? I beg to move.

    When we were considering what "skills" were necessary at an earlier stage of our deliberations today, it seemed to me that skills for the immobilisation of vehicles required the ability to use a spanner. When it came to private investigators, I had in mind the ability to be able to climb a ladder, or, perhaps, to use a camera.

    The noble Viscount has made a serious point. At present, private investigation companies are international. Some very well-known American firms operate in this country, just as we seem to send private investigators from this country to places like Cuba, curiously enough. I seem to remember that there was something of a problem about that quite recently. Therefore, it is important to know how these international operations will be run. Will an international company that operates in this country be able to seek approval and advertise itself as an approved contractor? Will people so employed in the United States need to apply immediately to the SIA for a licence to work? All these problems arise as a result of the international aspects of private investigations. I am anxious to hear the Minister's response on the subject.

    I am slightly surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, seems to think that private investigators in what appear to be—as he implied—domestic marital disputes still rely on ladders. From reading the back of various journals, I understand that there are all kinds of other pieces of high-tech equipment that avoid the need for ladders and cameras. However, the noble Lord may be quite right. Indeed, in certain parts of England and Wales, the use of a ladder may still apply.

    I am delighted to be able to reassure noble Lords that all those operating in England and Wales, including detectives from the United States or American companies, will be required to have a licence in order to operate. There is a further dimension to this particular amendment which would apply the regulatory framework of the Bill to private investigations carried out anywhere in the United Kingdom.

    Sectors of the private security industry that will be regulated under the Bill may have provoked Members of the Committee into believing that private investigations are most likely to take their practitioners outside England and Wales in pursuit of their assignments. However, the Bill will extend to England and Wales only with the sole and specifically limited exceptions that are set out in Clause 24(3). Responsibility for those matters has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive. Those bodies are currently considering whether—and if so, how—to regulate private security services in Scotland.

    Limited provisions to regulate the private security industry already exist in Northern Ireland as part of the Terrorism Act 2000. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Cope, is well versed in legislation affecting Northern Ireland.

    The amendment would create a strange anomaly in the Bill, whereby all but one of its regulated sectors would be contained within England and Wales. I am sure that no Member of the Committee would wish to risk the wrath of colleagues in the Scotland Office and the Northern Ireland Office by indicating that they supported the amendment, which would be constitutionally unacceptable.

    I hope that Members of the Committee are satisfied with that explanation and the reassurance about people operating from companies that are based outside the UK but which operate in England and Wales. I am not in a position to discuss the issues relating to Cuba, which the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, raised—my brief this evening does not cover that issue. I am sure that Members of the Committee would not wish me to go into that subject at this time of night. I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, will not press the amendment.

    10.30 p.m.

    The noble Baroness said that the amendment would create a strange anomaly in the Bill. However, it is the Government who have gone around creating strange anomalies. If someone wanders into the British Embassy in Washington and says, "I am a private investigator, and I am going to work on a divorce case", he might be asked, "In England, Scotland or Wales?". If the answer was England or Wales, he would be told that he had to get a licence, but if the answer was Scotland, he would be fine, but woe betide him if he went a mile south of Gretna Green—if he did so, he would be in trouble. That is the biggest anomaly.

    I take note of the fact that the noble Baroness said that the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament were looking into the matter. Those bodies are rather independently minded of the Government at the moment—they reject or accept government policies when they want to. They appear to have a mind of their own.

    The noble Viscount provokes me. My colleagues who are benefiting from the advantages of devolution in Scotland accept government policies when they remain to be determined here in Westminster. In other areas, they exercise their right to make their own judgments in matters that have been devolved to them by the will of Parliament.

    That is a very good defence of devolution but it does not get away from the fact that the colleagues of the noble Baroness over the Border are making decisions that are clearly not always in line with government policy on this side of the Border. We just have to read the newspapers to appreciate that.

    I am reasonably satisfied by the reply of the noble Baroness. The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, asked an important question. If someone came to this country and was asked, "Will you go to work in Cuba, or any other country?", will the relevant bodies be covered if they work abroad? Can people who are not registered to work in other countries be sent to work in other countries? I do not know what the case will be if foreign police arrive in this country. Will it be all right if they clock in officially? What will happen if they arrive unofficially to do their own investigation? Will the provisions apply to them? I do not need an answer now, but I hope that between now and Report the noble Baroness or the Minister will write to me about that.

    The Minister's response has been helpful and has answered my questions. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    The noble Viscount said: This amendment seeks to remove sub-paragraph (2), which states:

    "This paragraph does not apply to activities carried out exclusively for the purposes of market research".

    I believe that that point is covered by sub-paragraph (7), which states:

    "This paragraph does not apply to activities carried out with the knowledge or consent of … the person about whom",

    and so on.

    It seems to me that market research cannot be carried out without asking someone a question, unless the research is surreptitious, in which case one is looking at statistics or other published sources. Therefore, if a person approaches someone, tells him that he is conducting market research and asks a question, that is covered by sub-paragraph (7). The person who is asked the question has immediate knowledge of the fact that he is being interviewed.

    I believe that that general power, which does not apply exclusively for the purposes of market research, could pave the way for a loophole. It would become too easy for people to say that they were conducting market research, whereas proper market research is carried out by people looking at either published statistics or statistics in the public domain. Market research is also carried out by questioning people about what they think and whether they buy a certain product, or whatever.

    If it is the latter, that is covered by sub-paragraph (7). That is why I believe that the words which the amendment seeks to remove are unnecessary for the purposes of the Bill and possibly could be used as a loophole by those who do not wish to be regulated in their various activities. I beg to move.

    As the noble Viscount knows, the Bill is directed primarily at those who provide services under contract or, in the case of door supervisors and wheelclampers, those who are also employed in-house.

    The amendment would remove from exemption from regulation private investigation activities conducted in support of market research. Although a number of people may find it irritating regularly to be stopped in the street by market researchers or to receive their questionnaires, one cannot say that they are conducting activities which are in any way associated with the private security industry. Therefore, we take the view that it would be wrong to give a false impression that their activities might be covered by the provisions of the Bill. The exemption from inadvertent regulation, which is achieved by Schedules 2(4)(2) and 2(4)(9), is an important clarification.

    My understanding is that the amendment would take out of exemption and into regulation people who conduct market research activities. Therefore, undoubtedly the amendment would weaken the effective targeting of the regulation introduced by the Bill as it would take in people who should be excluded.

    In our view, sub-paragraph (2) is not needed because market researchers would need to ask people questions. Therefore, they would be excluded by sub-paragraph (7). We agree with that point. In any event, market research—that is, asking questions of individuals—may well be excluded by that paragraph. However, other forms of market research exist, such as general surveys and non-personalised research. We believe that the paragraph avoids doubt. I hope that that clarifies the point. Perhaps I may suggest to the noble Viscount that he withdraws the amendment. I believe that we are already well covered.

    I am somewhat confused by the Minister's reply. I think he would agree that paragraph (7) on page 23 includes activities by market researchers who ask questions. Once they ask a question, it is carried out "with the knowledge or consent". They would have to be quite clever to ask a question and for the person not to know that it was being asked. That form of market research is covered. That is the reason I tabled my amendment. I felt that paragraph (2) is not necessary.

    The Minister said that it is necessary because we need what I believe he described as "non-generalised research". I do not have a clue what that means. It would seem to me to be taking information from available public sources, whether that be from universities or wherever. It is not implied in any way that that is covered in the Bill. I cannot see that anybody will get the idea from doing market research that they will suddenly be covered by the Bill. Therefore, I maintain that the paragraph is unnecessary. I do not understand why the Minister needs it.

    However, I shall read carefully what the Minister has said. Perhaps he will consider the issue and write to me between now and the next stage and state why the Government feel that the paragraph is necessary.

    I thank the noble Viscount for giving way. I suspect that the lateness of the hour has affected my brain. Perhaps I did not explain the issue as carefully as I should. It is "non-personalised" research, in other words not asking people, that needs to be excluded. That is the point on which we may well differ. We cannot agree the amendment. We do not think that it works in the way suggested by the noble Viscount. If in what I said I inadvertently gave the impression that I agreed with him, that was not the case. However, if there is further mystery after this exchange, I am sure that it can be clarified between now and Report.

    I was not suggesting that the Minister agreed to delete paragraph (2) but that he agreed that paragraph (7) covers asking questions in the guise of market research. However, what he is saying is that he needs paragraph (2) to cover other types of market research. We shall have to study that closely to see what is covered. I shall consider it before the next stage and perhaps I may ask the Minister to do so. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendment No. 49A:

    Schedule 2, page 23, line 20, at end insert—
    ("() This paragraph does not apply to any activities of a person who is a member of—
  • (a) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales,
  • (b) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland,
  • (c) the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, or
  • (d) the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and which are carried out—
  • (i) by him,
  • (ii) by any firm of which he is a partner or by which lie is employed, or
  • (iii) by any body corporate of which he is a director or member or by which he is employed.").
  • The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 49A inserts a new paragraph, which refers to accountants. I should first declare at least a theoretical interest. I say "theoretical" because I am not a practising accountant. However, I am a qualified chartered accountant and, by that means, licensed to carry out audits, and so forth under various provisions. Nowadays the regulations have been tightened up a good deal, so I do not think that I am licensed to do much.

    I also admit at once that the drafting of this paragraph could be improved. However, the point behind it is a real one. The immediately preceding provision rightly provides that lawyers and those employed by them shall be able to carry out investigations for the purpose of their legal practice. A large number of accountants these days, particularly forensic accountants, are engaged in investigating fraud and rackets of one kind and another. On a wider level, auditors are engaged in examining books for, among other things, possible fraud. They also examine the operations of companies to ensure that fraud is not taking place. All these are investigatory activities of the kind otherwise covered. I think it is important that unless the Government want to have this security industry authority license every practising accountant in the country, with a large number of their staffs, some provision of the general character represented by this amendment should be inserted into the Bill.

    As I have said, I admit that the drafting may be rather crude but the point behind it is an important one, to which I believe we shall need to return. I hope the Government will take this away, think of better drafting and consult as necessary in order to cover the point properly. I hope that is what the noble Lord the Minister will say in response to the amendment, which I beg to move.

    10.45 p.m.

    It is not the intention of the Bill to catch groups such as chartered accountants, auditors, insolvency practitioners and all those employed in similar occupations. I think the noble Lord makes a good point.

    Primarily of course it is directed at security operatives providing services under contract: door supervisors, wheelclampers and those employed in-house, as we have rehearsed before. Those are covered by the provisions in Schedule 2. This amendment seeks to exempt chartered accountants, and I understand that. However, it is important to place on record that it has never been our intention to license anyone carrying out security activities only incidental to their main employment. Accordingly, the Bill is drafted to allow for their exclusion. Paragraph 4(8) states that the provision does not apply to the activities of any person who carries out inquiries or investigations merely incidentally to the carrying out of activities that are not those of a security operative.

    I understand the business of forensic accountants and the important investigative work carried out, but it would be our contention that they would simply stand to be exempted from the effects of the Bill. Chartered accountants would also fall into that category; so we do not think that the amendment is necessary. I have listened with interest to what the noble Lord has had to say about this, and of course I will go away and double-check the point because it is certainly not our intention to snare people inadvertently in the way he suggests. I am grateful to him for having raised the issue in the way he did.

    I am grateful to the noble Lord the Minister for saying that he will look at this matter. In doing so, I hope he will bear in mind the position not only of forensic accountants but of all investigating accountants. We should bear in mind that without a paragraph of this character, the Bill says that this licensing applies—looking at paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 2—to any inquiries or investigations for obtaining information about the circumstances in which or the means by which property has been lost or damaged.

    We established earlier in the evening that property includes cash and other valuables, but apart from that, of course, the stock of a business is an essential part of its operations, into which accountants inquire in the ordinary course of their business. It is a perfectly ordinary large part of the activities of auditors to make investigations of the kind which seem to me to be covered by paragraph 4(1) and so in these circumstances, unless there is some sort of exclusion of the kind I am suggesting, we shall find ourselves having to get licences for ordinary practising accountants as well as for forensic accountants, which firmly seem to be covered. Whether or not that is the Government's intention I am not sure. In view of the fact that this will be looked at again, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendment No. 50:

    Page 23, line 22, leave out ("with a view") and insert ("which is likely to lead").

    The noble Lord said: We now turn to journalists. Amendment No. 50 is grouped with the Government's Amendment No. 51 which modifies the definition of "journalist" in a way which is agreeable to the Newspaper Society. I support that but my amendment suggests that not everyone who says that he is gathering information in order to have it printed in a book or newspaper is likely to achieve that. Many people believe that they have a good idea and go to a great deal of trouble to carry out investigations which they say will appear in a book. There is a danger that the provision will provide a "get-out" for many people, some of whom will use it as such and some who will be cranks.

    I do not believe that the revised wording put forward by the Government in Amendment No. 51 improves the situation. No doubt the definition is better but it does not improve the situation at which Amendment No. 50 is directed. I beg to move.

    I shall deal with both amendments and I am grateful for the noble Lord's comments on both. The definition of "journalism" used in the classificatory exemption in paragraph 4(5) is purpose-based; that is, it exempts activities which are undertaken by a person who intends there to be a journalistic-type publication or disclosure of the direct or indirect results of the research undertaken. The key is that some form of publication, not necessarily immediate or directly related to the precise investigation being undertaken, must be intended.

    The amendment would remove that purpose-based concept and substitute one which is apparently more objective but which is, in reality, not helpful. Who, for example, would be the judge of whether publication was "likely"?

    The newspaper industry has suggested to us that the drafting of this paragraph could be improved. The Government agree and have tabled an amendment giving substantial effect to the suggestions made to us. We have not been advised by the newspaper industry to move away from a purpose-based definition; indeed, quite the reverse. Our amendment to this paragraph therefore maintains this approach, which we are sure provides greater clarity and is more acceptable to those affected by it.

    Our amendment is largely technical and seeks to broaden the scope of the exemption for those who undertake activities related to journalism. It is designed to ensure that those individuals are excluded from the definition of "private investigator". It is not the intention of the Bill to require the licensing of individuals who undertake activities, as defined in paragraph 4(1), where these activities are related to journalism. Paragraph 4(5) therefore provides the exemption for those activities.

    It has been suggested to us by the Newspaper Society that the definition in the Bill is narrow and could be improved. We have reflected on that and agree. The amendment to paragraph 4(5) will broaden the scope of the exemption so that it widens the range of activities. The new text explicitly takes into exemption from regulation activities which are related to artistic, literary or reference material.

    I understand where the noble Lord is coming from but, on reflection, we believe that we have got it about right. It is right to suggest that the Newspaper Society is happy with our proposals.

    I suspect that in future anyone accused of "snooping" investigations who is caught in the act will say that when he collected the information or took the photograph he intended to send it to the local paper. If he says that he is entirely free to carry on with that activity. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendment No. 51:

    Schedule 2, page 23. line 22, leave out from ("information") to end of line 26 and insert ("exclusively with a view to its use, or the use of information to which it relates, for the purposes of or in connection with the publication to the public or to a section of the public of any journalistic, literary or artistic material or of any work of reference.").

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    [ Amendments Nos. 52 and 52A not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 5:

    Schedule 2, page 25. line 11, after ("1967") insert ("is for the time being in force:
    () any premises in respect of which a licence under paragraph 1 or 4 of Schedule Ito the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982").

    The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 53 I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 54. Amendment No. 53 is a technical amendment which seeks to ensure that premises which are licensed outside London under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 are covered by the provisions of the Bill. The amendment is designed to achieve consistency and to cover events such as raves, where alcohol may not be present, which take place in London but not elsewhere. On behalf of the Home Office, I confess that this was a technical oversight as it is described today.

    I turn to Amendment No. 54 which is again technical in nature. The amendment seeks to ensure that door supervisors who operate at casinos or bingo clubs are excluded from the provisions of the Bill. Paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 contains provisions relating to door supervisors. Our policy is to require all door supervisors to be licensed by the new authority, regardless of whether they are employed in-house or supply their services under contract. However, for these purposes we restrict the definition of "door supervisors" to those who provide services at pubs and clubs, which we believe are the source of most public concern. Paragraph 8(2) defines what is meant by "licensed premises" in this context, and paragraph 8(3) provides clarificatory exemptions as to what is not meant by that term.

    We do not intend the provisions of the Bill to apply to door supervisors who operate at casinos or bingo clubs since personnel who work at those premises are already tightly regulated by the Gaming Act 1968. Unfortunately, the present drafting does not achieve that exclusion and a reference to the exclusion of premises licensed under Part II of the Gaming Act 1968 is required. I hope that the Committee will accept these straightforward, technical amendments. I beg to move Amendment No. 53.

    I am delighted to agree to the remedying of these two technical oversights, particularly as the Minister was kind enough to write to me in some detail to explain that the Government intended to move these amendments. I take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, and for that matter the noble Baroness who was in attendance until recently, for their patience and the way in which they responded to debates during Committee. I also ask the Minister to pass on my appreciation to his officials who have supported him throughout the debates.

    I associate myself with the final remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. I am most grateful to the Minister and to those who have supported him.

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    moved Amendment. No. 54:

    Schedule 2, page 25, line 32, at end insert—
    ("() any occasion on which a licence is in force in respect of the premises under the Gaming Act 1968 and the premises are being used wholly or mainly for the purposes of gaming to which Part II of that Act applies;").

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

    House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

    House adjourned at one minute before eleven o'clock.