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Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007

Volume 694: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2007

rose to move, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007.

The noble Lord said: The Private Security Industry Act 2001 provides for the regulation of the private security industry through the licensing of individual operatives working in the private security industry. At present, the licensing requirement applies only to England and Wales. In Scotland, licensing will become a requirement from 1 November 2007.

The main purpose of this order is to amend Schedule 2 to the 2001 Act to ensure that, in line with similar functions in England and Wales, certain prison- and police-related activities carried out in Scotland are not caught by the licensing requirement.

The order also makes a number of minor and technical amendments. The 2001 Act sets out certain types of activity for which an SIA licence is required. These activities, which are designated by orders made under Section 3(3) of the Act, are listed in Schedule 2. They include manned guarding, door supervision, the transport of cash and valuables, and key-holding. When licensing becomes compulsory in Scotland, from 1 November 2007, those activities will also be designated in respect of Scotland. Crown employees who hold office and undertake security activities, such as police officers and prison officers, are outside the scope of the 2001 Act.

However, the original legislation had the unforeseen effect of extending to security guards who undertook manned guarding activities while working under contract in prisons, in immigration centres, as prisoner escorts and in other similar areas under the control of the police and prison authorities. They were subsequently excluded in respect of England and Wales. Article 2 will ensure that the position is the same in Scotland.

Article 3 makes a minor, technical amendment. Article 4 ensures that the restriction and/or removal of vehicles is not caught by the licensing requirement in Scotland. Vehicle immobilisation, or wheel-clamping, where a fee is charged for the release of the vehicle, is already illegal in Scotland.

Paragraphs (2) and (5) of Article 5 bring the position in Scotland into line with that in England and Wales to ensure that the door supervision requirements apply to licensed premises only when alcohol or entertainment is being provided. Article 5(3) is intended to establish beyond doubt that licensable security activities in respect of cash and valuables in transit and close protection are not caught by the door supervision requirements. It applies to all areas.

Article 5(4) avoids potential problems caused by an incorrect paragraph number used in a similar amendment made by the Gambling Act 2005. The amendment makes it clear that casinos and bingo halls do not fall under the door supervision requirements in addition to requiring a premises licence under the Gambling Act.

Article 5(5) amends the list of premises not to be treated as licensed premises for the purposes of paragraph (8) to make provision for the position in Scotland.

Once the order is passed, implementation of the licensing requirement in Scotland will require an order made by the Scottish Parliament applying the offence provisions of the Act to Scotland from 1 November 2007.

In closing, I can say that the SIA has overcome the problems of last year caused by a last-minute rush for licences and is now well placed to extend its functions to Scotland. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007. 19th report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

I thank the Minister for his explanation of the order, which, as he explained, is intended largely to bring the legislation in Scotland into line with that of England and Wales. I would welcome his assurance that the order is, as the Government said, “appropriate and proportionate” both in England and Wales and in Scotland. My party did not oppose the Act when it was brought into force, and I would welcome the Minister’s assurance that the Government have in mind not to penalise excessively the smaller businesses in this industry. We have no other objections to the measure.

I add my thanks to the Minister for his explanation of the order. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, I want to ask whether it is appropriate and proportionate. The second and only other query that I have is why there is an exception for casinos under Article 5(4).

I am grateful to both noble Lords for their kind comments of welcome to this order. The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, is right to ask about its appropriateness and proportionality. We have consulted extensively on this. There is support across the security industry sector, and business, too, largely accepts the measure as the right way to proceed. Following the passing of the Act, there was some debate about whether it had been sufficiently fine-tuned and whether, for some businesses, it could have been an excuse for over-zealous regulation. We think that we have that right, and the messages that we are getting back say exactly the same. I can tell noble Lords that a small business impact assessment was carried out before the decision was made to extend the measure to Scotland. Therefore, we think that it is appropriate and that we have the balance right in terms of proportionality for enforcement.

The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, asked about casinos. My understanding is that casinos are already exempted, so the order need not apply and it is therefore entirely workable. There is no explanation other than that.

On Question, Motion agreed to.