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Lords Chamber
30 January 2001
Volume 621

House Of Lords

Tuesday, 30th January 2001.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Southwark.

The Steel Industry

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asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have had any recent discussions with Corus on the future of the British steel industry.

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My Lords, both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry have held discussions with Corus at the highest level and will continue to do so. It would not however be appropriate to disclose the details of commercially confidential discussions between Ministers and private companies. The Government will continue to take all the steps they can to try to secure jobs in the steel industry.

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My Lords, does the Minister recognise that the steel industry is of basic importance to the nation? Does he further recognise that at Llanwern there is a highly trained, skilled and adaptable work force which is being treated badly? For months the future of those jobs has been hanging like a gossamer thread, with no consultation whatever. As the Government are so enamoured with Europe, why have they not signed up to the directive on information and consultation? Further, what are they doing about the large quantities of dumped steel which are arriving from Russia and the eastern bloc? America and China have taken action. Must we go cap in hand to Brussels before we can take action?

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My Lords, I am more than happy to agree that the steel industry is a key part of the British economy and that it is extremely efficient. Between 1998 and 1999 alone, it increased productivity from 533 to 571 tonnes per person, which is well above the levels in Germany and France.

As regards the directive, we believe that we should not accept it while there are procedures for consultation. We also believe that we should maintain the flexibility which exists in this country. Furthermore, if there is any, the Government would be only too keen to see any evidence of dumping and charges so that they can take appropriate action.

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My Lords, will the noble Lord take on board the fact that Corus shed some 2,000 jobs in Wales last year and that thousands more job losses are expected? What plans do the Government have to replace those jobs or are they at a loss on this?

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My Lords, I am well aware of the significant redundancies which have taken place in the steel industry in the past months. It is a bitter blow for people in that industry. If further job redundancies are announced shortly, we shall take the action that we have taken in similar cases to ensure that we create jobs in the area and enable people to search for new jobs.

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My Lords, does the Minister agree that although the steel industry is more efficient and competitive than it was two or three years ago it is faced with bankruptcy? Given those circumstances and the fact that the Government recognise that the principal problem is the misalignment of the euro and the pound—indeed, the whole international community recognises that the euro is undervalued—cannot the Government think of short-term ways of compensating Corus so that its long-term capacity and presence will remain and be secured? That would help to meet a relatively short-term difficulty.

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My Lords, as far as I know, Corus is not faced with bankruptcy, although it is having to take serious action. We have spoken to it about the amount of action that we can take commensurate with the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty, but it has made it clear that that will not affect its position on saving plants or jobs. We are taking all the action we can to help, but longer-term problems exist.

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My Lords, I recognise that it is mainly for Corus to solve its own problems, but there are issues which the Government can take up and I hope that they are doing so in their discussions. First, following the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Shore, can the Government persuade the company to take a long-term, strategic view? Circumstances vary from time to time and it would be harmful if we now disposed of steel capacity which we could need in the future. Secondly, in view of the forthcoming climate change levy, which will have a major impact on the steel industry as an intensive user of energy, cannot the Government seek to postpone its effect on that industry or modify it in other ways?

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My Lords, we hope that Corus will take a long-term view of the matter because, undoubtedly, the major issue is the exchange rate. A movement of 10 pfennigs in the exchange rate has an impact of some £80 million on the company's profitability, which is substantial. Since last December, when the two chief executives left the company, there has been a movement of about 10 pfennigs in the exchange rate; so considerable movement is already taking place. We very much hope that the company will take a long-term, not short-term, view of the situation. As to the climate change levy, in terms of the overall picture and particularly the exchange rate, the levy is a comparatively small amount and is the sort of issue that could be considered in any kind of small package.

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My Lords, can the noble Lord give the House an indication of how many tens of billions of pounds have been put into the coal, car and steel industries in recent years? Does the Minister agree that none of that money has been successful in reversing the trend?

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My Lords, I do not believe that I can give the figure that the noble Lord requests. I agree that as a long-term solution such subsidies do not rectify situations which are due to an uncompetitive position. As I hope I made clear, Corus has had an amazing record in increasing productivity. We very much hope that short-term considerations will not play an overwhelming part in this particular situation.

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My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is the substance and outcome of discussions between the Government and Corus which are important? Can the Minister tell the House about the company's response to the package put together by the National Assembly for Wales, which I believe is supported by the Government, to maintain the current plant configuration? Does the Minister also have a view as to the recent announcement by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation to set up a consortium to purchase the plant at Llanwern if the worst comes to the worst?

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My Lords, I do not believe that I can go into the details of discussions. However, as I hope that I made clear, there was a package which was subject at least to preliminary consideration. It was made clear by the company that that would not affect the situation that it faced in relation either to plants or jobs and, therefore, that it could not correct that situation.

Farm Incomes

2.45 p.m.

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asked Her Majesty's Government:

How soon they expect the extra public funds being made available to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to lead to positive improvement in the financial position of farmers.

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My Lords, while farm incomes in the United Kingdom have been severely depressed by global factors such as world commodity prices and exchange rates, and the aftermath of BSE, the Government have taken a variety of measures to assist farmers financially. Since 1997 we have injected some £1.2 billion into the sector to provide agrimonetary compensation, assistance to hill farmers and offset SRM inspection and cattle passport charges. This supplements the £3 billion paid annually in direct CAP payments.

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My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that Answer. I declare an interest as chairman of the Sussex Downs Conservation Board. Does the Minister agree that despite all of that there is still no sign of a "positive improvement in the financial position of farmers"? Does the noble Baroness recall the observation of the chairman of the Hills Task Force last week in the West Country that there remain a number of barriers to farmers who cannot find their way through the system? Is not the first task of MAFF to try to make all the new green schemes (for want of a better expression) more easily comprehensible to the ordinary farmer and see the money allocated to them more quickly?

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My Lords, I have sympathy with the point raised by the noble Lord, although there are some sectors of the industry, particularly pigs and to a lesser extent poultry, where there are signs of an upturn. Overall, the industry has had a terrible time over the past few years. However, the very substantial individual grants and assistance provided by the Government, particularly agrimonetary compensation, have helped the financial position of individual farmers. As to the availability of straightforward information about schemes under the rural development plan, for example, assistance to those who seek to diversify, or advice to small farmers, all those matters are in hand and we shall continue to take them forward.

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My Lords, will the Minister do her best to ensure that there is an end to stop and go in the assistance given to farmers who convert to organic methods? Will the noble Baroness bear in mind that more than half the organic food consumed in this country is imported and that conversion normally means a reduction in total production?

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My Lords, we have put a considerable sum of money into support for organic farming in recognition of its environmental benefits to the country. That sector has expanded. For example, in 1996–97 support for organic farming amounted to about £374,000 a year. This year we plan to spend £18 million on organic farming, which is 50 times as much as before. That steady expansion will continue under the ERDP.

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My Lords, can my noble friend say more about the Government's rural development programme and the likely future financial benefits which will flow to farmers?

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My Lords, we put great emphasis on the rural development programme. We have an ambitious programme that involves expenditure of £1.6 billion over the next seven years. That allows us significantly to expand existing schemes and introduce new measures to aid rural enterprise, vocational training, processing and marketing, and energy crops. All of that allows the industry to be sustainably redirected in future. One of the sadnesses is that the historic underspend on agri-environmental and rural development measures is responsible for the very low allocation of EU funds to this particular budget.

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My Lords, does the Minister acknowledge that pig farmers are likely to lose £26 million unless it is claimed under the outgoers and ongoers scheme by the end of March? Further, will the Government ensure that the necessary legislation is passed in time to claim that sum and that it is used in advance of the pig levy scheme to compensate pig farmers whose livelihoods have been affected by swine fever or related restrictions?

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My Lords, two different issues have to be separated. One is the implementation of the levy that will add 25 per cent, 25 pence in every pound—the industry levy—for those who are affected by swine fever. The MLC has finished its consultation. We have every intention of taking that matter forward quickly. The other is the pig industry restructuring scheme, announced in the action plans for farming. It has taken much longer than we wanted to get EU approval. However, the outgoers element was open for applications on 4th December last year and the ongoers element was opened on 22nd January 2001. We have £40 million available for the scheme in the next two financial years. We are determined to ensure that the scheme achieves its objective.

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My Lords, are the Government considering a pension scheme for the many small farmers who will go out of business? I have in mind a bond scheme—a bond issued for a certain number of years which can be cashed by the farmer. And what are the Government prepared to do to help the marketing organisations improve their position against the buying power of the supermarkets and others? It is important that the marketing position is improved to the level of, say, that in Denmark.

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My Lords, there is a difference between bond schemes for people who are going out of an industry and pension schemes per se and, indeed, the outgoers scheme in the pig industry restructuring scheme where, obviously, the financial consequences have to be considered. As to marketing, one of the main thrusts of policy with Nick Brown as Minister of Agriculture has been to try to join up the food chain in particular sectors and to recognise the impact on producers right through the chain to retailers. As the noble Lord will be well aware, because I know of the close interest he takes in milk-related issues, we have set up the Milk Task Force as part of the Government's action plan, which includes representatives of producers, purchasers, processors and retailers. That will report at the end of March.

Commonwealth Scholarship Commission

2.53 p.m.

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asked Her Majesty's Government:

What discussions they are having with the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom about planning future developments of the scheme.

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My Lords, the commission has now submitted to the Secretary of State for International Development its report which she requested, which is a review of the Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan and its contribution to international development. This makes a number of recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the CSFP and enhancing its contribution to development. The Secretary of State will be meeting shortly with the chairman of the CSC to discuss these findings and their implementation.

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My Lords, does the Minister agree that the recent report of the United Kingdom Scholarship Commission, which was submitted to the Commonwealth Education Ministers in Canada, provides dramatic factual evidence of how many of those who received United Kingdom Commonwealth scholarships have gone on to take up leading positions in their own countries? To use the department's phrase, "Many of them have become trainers of trainers in their own country". Will the Government therefore explore positively how we can build on this British success story and adapt the scholarship scheme to meet the needs of the modern Commonwealth?

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My Lords, a report on the CSFP was discussed by Commonwealth Education Ministers at their triennial conference in Halifax. They made a number of proposals to change the administration of the scheme which were designed, for example, to raise the profile of the plan to increase the number of participating countries; to expand its flexibility; to improve communication and overall co-ordination; and, in particular, to strengthen partnerships in the nomination and selection of candidates. The DfID's review of the scheme has come up with a number of recommendations which dovetail with that. We shall be looking at those recommendations. Obviously the Secretary of State's meeting with the chairman of CSC will be important in that respect. We will then come forward with recommendations as to how we can ensure that the scheme dovetails with our development objective.

I agree with the noble Lord as regards the substantial impact that the scholarships have had. It is pleasing to know that 95 per cent of participants from developing countries continue to work in those countries after the scholarship has been completed.

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My Lords, will the Minister join me in welcoming the steps taken by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in recent years to promote genuinely shared provision between UK universities and those from developing countries. Does she agree that measures such as split-site qualifications have immense potential to raise long-term capacity in recipient countries as well as benefiting the individual scholars?

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My Lords, we agree that some of the developments—for example, split-site qualifications—have been very successful. Some of the review's recommendations will go further down that road. We are looking to develop the long-term capacity and skills of students from developing countries so that they can make a contribution to the development of their own countries, either when they return to those countries or through the process of split-site education.

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My Lords, can the Minister think of any way of assisting potential scholars in countries where there is no freedom of expression, bearing in mind that in the past the CSFP was based on the principle that nominations come only from governments? Will the Government consider the possibility that nominations could be made by qualified NGOs of suitable recipients in countries such as Zimbabwe where there is a lack of freedom of expression?

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My Lords, that is a matter which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, raised with me in November last year. It is true that at present national agencies in each Commonwealth country are responsible for submitting nominations. So candidates who are, for example, persona non grata in their own country are unlikely to be nominated. In the review of the scheme we are considering, in consultation with the Hugh Pilkington Charitable Trust, whether changes should be made to address that problem.

The noble Lord talked in particular about NGOs. A limited number of applications from DfID local offices, local NGOs and agencies working with groups such as refugees could possibly be submitted directly to the CSC in London. We are currently looking at that possibility.

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My Lords, does the Minister agree that education and learning are the hoops which bind our commonwealth together and give it more power and influence in the global context? Does she recall that when her government came to office one of the big upgrades in the Foreign and Commonwealth Mission Statement was that the Commonwealth would have much more prominence? Yet it seems that the numbers in the Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan are shrinking. Can she tell us when, in line with government rhetoric and declarations, that will be reversed and we shall see more people involved under the scheme?

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My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord is not aware that the UK is the largest contributor to CSFP. We have provided two-thirds of total awards under the scheme over the past three years. The noble Lord will recall that DfID has prioritised the whole area of basic education because of our commitment to meeting the universal primary education target. In the past three years we have spent £500 million in developing countries on promoting universal primary education. So the Government have certainly put their money where their mouth is.

Emergency Contraception For Girls Under 16

3 p.m.

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asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether a parent has the right to know if and when a daughter aged 16 or below has been given the "morning-after-pill" by her school.

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My Lords, where a school nurse provides emergency contraception she works within the same legal framework and government guidance as other health professionals providing contraception to under-16s. They must always encourage the young person to involve her parents, but the nurses' professional code states that, if the girl refuses, confidentiality must be maintained unless there are serious child protection issues.

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My Lords, can the Minister say how many school nurses are available to the 4,000 secondary schools on a daily basis? Does he not agree that parents can be made responsible for misdemeanours of their children in school and yet do not have the right—I believe that is the import of the Minister's answer—to know when medication is being given to their children aged between 11 and 15 years. Does the Minister agree with that?

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My Lords, I do not have figures for the number of school nurses. I will find out if they are available and let the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, know. Certainly, nurses play a very important role. I believe that in relation to sex education they can play an invaluable role in advising young people.

No school would introduce such a scheme without full consultation with the parents. Existing government guidance to schools makes this clear. The guidance for health professionals issuing contraception to girls under 16 makes clear that they must, first, encourage the young person to involve her parents. At the end of the day, if that young person is not willing for the matter to be discussed with her parents then the health professional has to use his or her own judgment. Surely, that is the most appropriate way forward if young girls are to be encouraged to come forward to speak to nurses about these issues.

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My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the Family Law Reform Act states very clearly that consent given by a young person of 16 is as valid as if given by an individual of full age? Further, does he agree that during my term of office on the General Medical Council in the 1980s that council agonised over this issue following the Gillick judgment? Eventually the council came to the conclusion that if a doctor were consulted by a young person under 16 about issues relating to contraception then it was the doctor's duty to try to persuade—particularly a young girl—to consult her parents about that matter. If that young girl adamantly refused to do so it was the doctor's duty to preserve her confidentiality even if he did then prescribe for her. Does the noble Lord agree that that applies equally to school nurses?

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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Walton, puts the matter accurately and effectively. The point I make is that the advice that school nurses and other health professionals can give to young people can often encourage the young people to have the confidence to go and talk to their parents. That is what we would all wish to happen. If that young person is not prepared to do so the school nurse and other health professionals cannot turn that person away. They have to use their professional judgment.

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My Lords, perhaps I may follow up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Walton. Can the Minister confirm that the guidance issued to schools is entirely in line with the Gillick case decided in 1985, that the Government see good sense in that case and have no intention to change it?

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My Lords, the noble Lord is right. The circumstances that he mentions go back to the Gillick judgment and the Fraser guidelines, as they have been called. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that the Government have no intention of making any changes.

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My Lords, did the Minister in his speech winding up the debate last night imply—when suggesting it did not matter whether chemists could judge accurately whether a girl asking for the pill was 16 or not because doctors gave contraceptive devices to girls under that age—that the Government intend shortly to abolish the age of consent or lower the age of 16?

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My Lords, it is some hours since we had that debate. I do not recall making any such remarks. I made it clear that the minimum guidelines laid down by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society have to be followed by pharmacists in exercising their judgment in relation to the sale of emergency contraceptives to women of the age of 16 and over. Pharmacists who are in breach of those guidelines are subject to the disciplinary procedures of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. I fail to see how the noble Baroness could possibly take from what I said any intent to change the law on the age of consent.

Business

3.3 p.m.

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My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is being made in another place on the Alder Hey inquiry report.

I take this opportunity to confirm that this evening's Unstarred Question will take place during the dinner break. I understand that the white edition of the Notices and Orders of the Day contains a printing error that may have led some noble Lords to believe that it would be taken at the end of business. It will be taken in the dinner break in the usual way.

Commonhold And Leasehold Reform Bill Hl

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My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the order of commitment of 29th January be discharged and that the Bill be committed to a Grand Committee.—( Lord Irvine of Lairg.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Private Security Industry Bill Hl

3.5 p.m.

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My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—( Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [ The Security Industry Authority]:

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moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1. line 7, leave out ("Industry") and insert ("Activities").

The noble Lord said: For the reassurance of the noble Lords who are leaving the Chamber, this is a modest amendment that probably will not lead to a clash of intellects across the Floor of the Committee. Unless noble Lords have a serious interest in the Bill, they are wise to leave.

The Bill sets up a new regulatory authority to be called the security industry authority. The amendment suggests that it should be called the security activities authority. The point being made is that this authority will regulate a good many activities that are not generally considered part of the security industry. So far "the security industry" has not been a very carefully defined and understood term and many people would not know what the definition covers.

The British Security Industry Association has a number of large and small firms in its membership. It covers many of the activities that are to be regulated by the Bill. One of the activities is wheelclamping. As the Bill stands, it will cover wheelclamping by private individuals who are not any part of what one might think of as the security industry. It covers private detectives. In some senses they belong to the security industry, but one has to define it very widely to include them. It covers keyholders. Those often are some of the large and well-known firms in the industry. But it also concerns door supervisors—"bouncers", as some people call them—who frequently are not part of the security industry as such. "Bouncers" and wheelclampers are covered whether or not they are under contract to a large firm. In-house door supervisors and in-house wheelclampers are covered. So the Bill is extremely wide in terms of the coverage of the new authority.

It seems to me that it might be sensible to think of a different name which indicates that the authority will not only regulate the security industry itself but also these extraneous activities. I beg to move.

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Perhaps I may add a few brief words of encouragement to my noble friend in respect of his incisive amendment. Clearly, this is a way to illustrate the fact that the Bill has a wider application than merely to those who work full-time in the private security business. A number of other people will be affected. The arguments put forward so convincingly by my noble friend also apply to a later amendment relating to the Long Title of the Bill. The Long Title states:

"Make provision for the regulation of the private security industry".
However, the Bill goes wider than that. I shall be interested to hear the Minister's response to my noble friend's suggestion on that issue.

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I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cope, for the clarity of his explanation of what he described as a very modest amendment and one which he thought would not be too intellectually taxing. That probably means that I can cope with it.

The noble Lord is right to say that a diverse range of security activities are undertaken by the private sector, some of which are regulated under the provisions of the Bill. But the umbrella term "industry" is well-used and widely accepted and is probably the term that is best understood. For example, it is used by both the main trade associations—the British Security Industry Association and the Joint Security Industry Council. It is also the case that during the consideration of the Bill and in the discussions that have taken place inside and outside the House the notion of it being called the security industry authority has become widely known and probably widely accepted as the most likely and perhaps most useful title for that agency.

I do not believe that we should accept the amendment, although I can see that there might be a desire to try to think up another term. What we have proposed satisfies most people. It is certainly the clearest and most easily understood term. Therefore, at this stage, I do not think there is any useful purpose to be served by accepting the amendment. I certainly did not find anything particularly persuasive in what he said, although I thought that it was an interesting set of observations.

I have another concern about the noble Lord's suggestion. The insertion of the word "activities" may give a false impression that the regulatory body will cover something wider than the private security industry. Some might even see it as covering the Security Services. That would give a very false and misleading impression.

For all those reasons, I cannot accept the amendment. I urge the noble Lord to reconsider his position and withdraw the amendment.

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I certainly would not wish to give a false impression, particularly not with regard to the Security Services. At the same time, it seemed to me that the Title of the Bill gives a false impression in another direction. However, I do not think that it is a significant enough matter to pursue. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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moved Amendment No. 2:

Page I, line 12, after ("of') insert ("people employed wholly or predominately as").

The noble Viscount said: In moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12 and 46. The amendments are concerned with narrowing the definition of who will come under the Bill. Although the Minister was reasonably clear at Second Reading, there is certainly some confusion about whether a person's job is full-time in security or part-time. The Minister said that in-house providers are not subject to regulation in general. However, since then we have had rather confusing messages. My amendments seek to define who will come under the Bill and to get the Government's thinking on this issue.

It is important that the new authority should be responsible for those who are full-time or predominantly employed as security operatives. What is the position with a barman in a pub? Frequently, barmen exclude people from pubs. Some pubs have people who look after security but many pubs do not. In that instance, they should obviously not be covered. At Second Reading the Minister said that to some extent the Bill will catch publicans. We need to know to what extent and how that will work.

Amendment No. 2 seeks to add the words,

"people employed wholly or predominantly as",

security operatives. Amendments No. 9 seeks to include the words,

"as a principal part of his employment".

Amendment No. 10 is very similar. Amendment No. 12 refers to Schedule 2 to the Bill. Amendment No. 46 narrows the definition in Paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 2, which also allows ticket collectors as well as firemen to maintain discipline.

There has been a great deal of correspondence from various sections of the industry. I am sure that the Minister will have received it. There are those who wish to extend the provisions as wide as possible. Some wish to do so for no doubt thoroughly proper motives while others see it as a wonderful business opportunity. There are also those who seek to ensure that industry is not faced with costly over-regulation as a result of this worthwhile Bill. We support the aims of the Bill, but we want something that will work. This has to be handled with a reasonably light touch. Too heavy-handed an approach will not work.

I am sure that the Minister will respond by saying that much will depend on how the new authority conducts its business; namely, that the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. I agree that that is the case and, of course, we shall be addressing the point in later amendments. However, the authority will need to take careful account of what is laid down in the Bill because the provisions of Clauses 1 and 3 will form the basis of the authority's guidelines.

We feel that these are important issues. It is necessary to define exactly who will be included in the definitions so as to ensure that those for whom the provisions of the Bill will be unnecessary and for whom the Bill would become merely a "burden on industry" are not affected. I beg to move.

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My noble friend has tabled a bevy of amendments, all of which are designed to achieve much the same aim. A great deal of harmony exists between the parties on this Bill. At Second Reading, the Minister went to some lengths to reassure the House that that he, too, did not wish to see the legislation and, to an extent, the authority brought into disrepute by having to impose considerable burdens on those for whom security duties were merely incidental to their primary activity. We have taken careful note of those assurances.

Given that, the Minister will need to put forward a strong and convincing case to explain why such groups will not be affected by the Bill. The amendments tabled by my noble friend seek to make the position much clearer.

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I am grateful to both noble Viscounts for their contributions to these amendments and for the clarity with which the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, moved his amendment. His concluding comments summarised his position; namely, that we need to strike a balance between proper regulation and the need to avoid over-regulation. That probably forms the parameter of this debate and I accept the point. I hope that I cart offer the reassurances sought by the noble Viscount. Perhaps I may address each of the amendments in turn.

As regards Amendment No. 2, we feel that other relevant provisions already contained in the Bill as currently drafted already take into account the level of activity which a security operative would have to undertake before a licence was required. Definitions of the activities which will require a licence are carefully listed in Schedule 2. They provide for the exemption of a number of different employment categories. Exemptions are also provided for those who carry out security activities incidentally to their main employment. There is no question that the authority would wish to impose the licensing regime on individuals who do not have significant security-related duties. We believe that the Bill as drafted will work effectively to cover that point.

I turn now to Amendment No. 9. Here again the Bill already takes account of the aim of this amendment, which seeks to exclude from regulation those individuals whose security-related activities are incidental to their main employment. Again, those are listed in Schedule 2 to the Bill. We have no desire to make the regime inflexible and unworkable and to that end we believe that the current drafting works well.

As regards Amendment No. 10, we believe that the Bill already takes into account the main objective of the amendment and that we are on common ground here. We feel that a significant measure of flexibility has already been built in to respond to this point.

A similar argument could be put forward as regards Amendment No. 11. For regulation to be effective, we think that it is important that those who own or operate companies need to be held accountable. If this amendment were to be pressed, it would exclude directors and partners who do not themselves directly carry out the designated activities. We think that that would shoot a hole through the import of the Bill. Evidence has been gathered of companies which have been established by individuals who have criminal records, some with convictions for violence and drugs offences. Although they themselves may not be directly involved in the provision of security services, I cannot believe that the noble Viscount would wish to exclude such people from the remit of the Bill. It is vital that these individuals should be weeded out of the industry and prevented from establishing themselves in it in the future.

We consider that the licensing of directors and partners will form a fundamental part of the effective regulation of the industry. Licensing will apply to directors and partners not directly engaged in the activities of a security operative but who are directly responsible for the company or those carrying out such activities.

As the Bill stands, the security industry authority will be able to identify and remove criminality at any level within an organisation. This will be a major benefit both for the industry as a whole and for the public. Furthermore, I am sure that noble Lords opposite will be aware that the licensing proposals have been welcomed by the industry. For those reasons, I shall not be able to accept Amendment No. 11.

I turn now to Amendment No. 12. Schedule 2 defines the activities of security operatives which are subject to regulation by the Bill. Paragraph 1(1) of the schedule makes it clear that the activities referred to are those undertaken by "a security operative". The relationship between Clause 3 and Schedule 2 is made explicit by Clause 3(4). That subsection confirms that Schedule 2 defines the activities that are also to be treated as security operations for the purposes of the Bill. Thus the addition of a further reference to Schedule 2 within the text of Clause 3, as proposed in this amendment, is entirely unnecessary. I hope that, with this explanation being put on to the record, noble Lords will feel able to agree to withdraw the amendment.

Finally, I turn to Amendment No. 46. Paragraph 2(5) provides an important clarificatory exemption from the need for a licence as a manned guard. Similarly, important exemptions are made in paragraphs 2(4) and (6). These provisions are designed to ensure that the definition of "manned guarding" used in paragraph 2(1) does not inadvertently take into regulation activities which have nothing to do with the private security industry.

An example of where the exemption in paragraph 2(5) would apply is the teaching profession. Teachers maintain order and discipline but clearly are not part of the private security industry. Without the text which this amendment seeks to delete, it will be less unambiguously clear that teachers—and perhaps people leading holiday expeditions—are not covered by the provisions of Schedule 2. It is important that readers of the Bill should have the minimum possible doubts as regards which activities are included within its scope. I am afraid that this amendment would increase uncertainty and for that reason I am not able to accept it.

I hope that these explanations will persuade the noble Viscount to withdraw his amendment.

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I should like to return to Clause 3(2)(f) which Amendment No. 11 seeks to delete. This states that,

"a director of any body corporate … engages in licensable conduct",
if any of his fellow directors do so under the provisions of paragraphs (a) to (e). A large engineering firm, for example, may hire a private security firm to man the gates and to provide manned guarding at night. That activity is covered by the Bill and would require a licence. Given that, the personnel director or manager in charge of security for the engineering firm as a whole would also require a licence. Under paragraph (d), he will be acting as the supervisor to those engaged in a relevant activity. The guard may belong to Securicor, but the manager is responsible for him as regards his work at the engineering company. For that reason, the manager or the personnel director would also require a licence simply because he is responsible for making sure that the security industry firm does its job. That means that, under paragraph (f), every director of the engineering firm must have a licence.

This appears to apply to just about every company quoted on the stock exchange, and many that are not, because there is a kind of escalation. The guards may be employed by Securicor, Group 4, Reliance, any one of the large firms. The engineering firm—though it could be anything: a chemical firm or whatever—supervising those people is definitely caught under paragraph (d). Therefore, under paragraph (f) every other director of virtually every firm will require a licence. I cannot believe that that is what the Government intend, but it seems to me, reading these paragraphs together, that that is how everybody will be caught.

3.30 p.m.

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This matter has caused concern in industries across a wide range of activities. For example, the cinema industry has expressed concerns very similar to those expressed by my noble friend, Lord Cope of Berkeley, in connection with paragraph (d). I understand—the noble Lord the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—that the industry is exempt from some other provisions of the Bill in the day-to-day conduct of its business. But if a cinema company brings in security guards for a premiere, or some other special event, there will be a burden on the person within that cinema company who contracts with the security company in that that person will need to be licensed. This would be a very good opportunity for the Minister to clarify his understanding of the implication of paragraph (d). Basically, the question is this: does it mean that any company that hires a security company must itself be licensed?

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I am grateful to noble Lords for their further clarification of the amendment. Perhaps to say that we are at cross-purposes would be to use the wrong term, but there may well be a misreading of the clause, because it is certainly not our intention that the personnel director of the engineering company in the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, would have management responsibility for the security staff at the gates of the company's premises, nor that that director would need to be licensed. We are talking about the management of the security company itself, not of the engineering company that is contracting those working for that company.

I hope that that clarifies the point. I shall be more than happy to provide further chapter and verse in correspondence if noble Lords wish, but I hope that I have dealt with the point clearly.

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The Minister has dealt with Amendment No. 11 to a degree. What he is saying, as I understand it, is that anybody who uses a firm will not be covered by the provision; it is only in the firm doing the security work that the director is covered. That is fine as far as it goes, but some very large companies contain individual companies—wholly owned, associated or whatever—that have contracts between themselves. Therefore, it is perfectly possible for there to be large organisations that in certain circumstances carry out security work in a plant that they perhaps do not wholly own. Whatever the reason, it seems in principle that if they could be covered it must make sense for liability to attach only to those who are, as it were, licensed people themselves. Paragraph (f) seems to extend the responsibility to those who will not be licensed by the new authority. That seems wrong in principle.

I accept the principle that if one is involved in the security industry and is a licensed person, whether an individual, a partner or a director of a company, one should be responsible, and that that licensed person must be the responsible person. But it seems wrong to extend that responsibility perhaps even to a non-executive director of a security firm and make him or her responsible for the activities of the managing director or someone else in charge. That is in fact what the Bill does, and it is a step too far.

I hope that the Minister will consider the matter, because we shall want to return to it at a later stage. I cannot believe that it is the Government's intention to extend that responsibility further than necessary, bringing in a whole class of people. I am all for making those who come within the orbit of the security industry authority become licensed, making them responsible in a corporate, individual and partnership way, but there must be some ring-fencing or the matter will become very difficult.

I do not find much on which to disagree with the Minister as regards my earlier amendments. As he said, it is very much a matter of how the new authority will work. The more I listened to what he said—and I shall read it carefully in Hansard—the more I realised that we shall have to examine Schedule 2 more carefully, and perhaps look to add detail there. The schedule can be changed by the Secretary of State by order. Therefore, it can be changed in any direction, in effect depending on the Secretary of State of the day. We shall want to make sure that Clause 1 says what it means to say and what the Government mean it to say. There is a tendency in the passage of legislation for the Government to say "This is what we think the Bill says. If we have got it wrong, we shall change it by order later". We should like to try to avoid that and get Clauses 1 and 3 right before the Bill leaves the House.

I am grateful to the Minister for his answers. We shall return to this issue. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 1, line 19, after ("engaged") insert ("or suspected of being engaged").

The noble Lord said: We now come to the question of inspections. We propose adding the words in the amendment because the first point on inspections is that the inspectors employed by the authority will presumably not only inspect those who have licences, or are clearly engaged in activity which requires a licence, but will also, at the margin, look to see whether some people who do not have licences, and are not necessarily clearly engaged in licensable conduct, are engaged in conduct for which they should have a licence. Therefore, the inspectors will be able to check up on them and fine them if necessary, or ensure that they obtain a licence. If the inspectors find themselves rejected, as it were, by a firm that they think may require a licence but does not have one, they may have difficulty.

This question also raises more general points as to who and what the inspectors will inspect. Some in the industry have called for what they describe as mandatory inspections, which I take to mean that there would be a regular inspection once a year, or at some such period, of everybody with a licence. But that would be enormously expensive and not necessarily essential. We are all keen—I know that the Government are, as we are—to keep the regulations in proportion to the difficulties in this field.

The question of who and what will be inspected makes a difference to the number of inspections required. We know that several hundred thousand people will require licences. There are various estimates, but 300,000 is widely suggested. To have any reasonable inspection, even ongoing, of 300,000 people and the companies they work for, spread around the whole country, will take quite a large force of inspectors. That in itself will be reflected in the cost of the whole regime, which will fall on the industry. It would be helpful to know what kind of inspection is envisaged by the clause giving this duty to the authority. Flowing from that, how large a team of inspectors, roughly speaking, do the Government anticipate will be required to carry out this duty? I beg to move.

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As I understand it, the amendment seeks to extend the authority's inspection function to those suspected of being engaged in licensable conduct. It seems to me to be a novel device for expanding the remit of the security industry authority.

We take the view that the security industry authority already has more than enough powers and teeth to enable it to carry out its inspection function using the provisions contained in Clause 18. After all, these powers would allow a person authorised by the authority to enter premises and to carry out inspections of the documents of any person appearing to be a regulated person. I suppose that "appearing" in these terms could be construed as being in some way similar to "suspected". This refers, broadly, to someone who has, or the authority believes ought to have, a licence. We consider the powers to be sufficient for the effective enforcement of the licensing system. For those reasons we do not think that the amendment is needed.

The White Paper looked at this question and suggested a low estimate in terms of numbers. We do not want to see a massive inspectorate but one which is proportionate to the size of the problem. In constructing the inspectorate we shall, of course, talk very carefully with the private security industry. If we were to expand the remit of the authority in the way suggested by the noble Lord's amendment, we would push those numbers up. As the authority will be financed through fees collected, that would tend to lead to an excessive burden on the industry. That is not what we want. We need to keep the numbers in proportion.

We expect the number of inspectors to be at the lower end of the range. I cannot be precise on numbers today. However, I undertake to take the matter away and do more research. Obviously, in constructing the size of the inspectorate, we shall consult carefully with the industry. In the light of those reassurances, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

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I am not sure whether the Minister was hinting that if my amendment was rewritten to say something like "persons appearing to be engaged in licensable conduct" it would be more acceptable. I am not trying to hold out any particular credit for the drafting used in my amendment as opposed to other drafting, but the Minister's words seem to indicate the difference between Clause 18, which allows powers of entry to premises owned or occupied by any person appearing to be a regulated person, and Clause 1 where it is only persons engaged in licensable conduct who are to be inspected. There appears to be a difference between the two clauses, the difference hinted at in my amendment. We may try again with different drafting to see if we can bring this matter into line. At this point, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

Alder Hey Inquiry Report

3.45 p.m.

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My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, I wish to make a statement about the inquiry into events at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool.

"I am today publishing the report of the inquiry into the Royal Liverpool Childrens NHS Trust, known as the Alder Hey Hospital. I am publishing alongside it two further documents: first, the Chief Medical Officer's census into the extent of organ retention in the NHS in England; secondly, the Chief Medical Officer's recommendations for reform of organ retention procedures. All three documents are now available in the Vote Office.

"I am grateful, Mr. Speaker, for your agreement that the parents affected at Alder Hey should also have access to copies of the report.

"I should like to record my thanks to the chairman of the Alder Hey inquiry, Mr Michael Redfern, QC, and his fellow panel members, Dr Jean Keeling and Mrs Elizabeth Powell, for conducting this difficult inquiry.

"The inquiry was established in December 1999 following evidence to the Bristol inquiry that a large number of hearts from deceased children had been retained at hospitals in the NHS.

"Alder Hey was one such hospital. It is a world-renowned hospital, treating 200,000 children a year. For many years, the hospital has made use of human hearts for research and teaching. The Redfern report says that,
'there are now more than 1,600 living children who would have died in infancy or childhood without the improvements in surgical techniques and care which were pioneered in Liverpool'.
"But as the inquiry report makes perfectly clear, many of these hearts were obtained without consent. According to the report, in addition to over 2,000 children's hearts, there are large numbers of brain parts, eyes taken from foetuses, over 1,500 stillbirths or foetuses and, perhaps most disturbingly of all, a number of children's heads and bodies.

"The Redfern report reveals,
'a lack of respect and a failure to appreciate the circumstances which led to the taking of human material'.
For example, the report cites entries about foetal material labelled with the words:'neck deeply lacerated. Pull it to pieces sometime and reject'.

"Some of these entries date back many years. The number of organs retained by Alder Hey increased dramatically in the seven years following the appointment by the hospital and the University of Liverpool of Professor van Velzen in 1988. He was appointed as chair of foetal and infant pathology in the department of pathology.

"During van Velzen's time at Alder Hey between 1988 and 1995, he systematically ordered the unethical and illegal stripping of every organ from every child who had had a post-mortem. He ignored parents' wishes, even when they told him explicitly that they did not want a full post-mortem, let alone the retention of any of their child's organs.

"According to the report, van Velzen lied to parents; he lied to other doctors; he lied to hospital managers; he stole medical records; he falsified statistics and reports; and he encouraged other staff to do the same.

"For any parent the death of their child is a tragedy. To bury that child, to grieve, to hold precious their memory over the years is how many families gradually come to terms with their loss. It is hard to imagine the trauma and anguish which each of the Alder Hey parents faced when, many years later, they discovered that their child's body had not been buried intact as they believed but had been stripped of its entire internal organs, leaving the body as a shell.

"This happened not to one set of parents in Liverpool but to several hundred. The hospital and the university now admit that they will never be able accurately to tell parents what happened to every organ of every child between 1988 and 1995.

"What we do now know is that the vast majority of organs which were taken were never used for medical research. Parents cannot even take comfort in the knowledge that their children's organs were used to help other children. It is clear from the report that the understanding of cot death—for which Professor van Velzen was funded—was not advanced one iota by his practice of stripping of organs from children.

"The question in the minds of parents and of others is how van Velzen got away with it for so long. The answer is that the hospital authorities and the University of Liverpool failed to monitor his practices and failed to take action to stop them. Numerous complaints were made. Problems were not properly investigated. Action was not taken.

"These failures were compounded by the incompetence and insensitivity of both the hospital and university authorities once the truth did begin to emerge. The hospital seemed overwhelmed by events; the university simply turned its back on parents. Some parents faced up to four funerals as different organs from their children were returned to them at different times. The pain caused to the parents by this dreadful sequence of events is unforgivable. I am deeply sorry for the wrong that was done to them, their families and their children. Those who did wrong will now be held to account.

"The inquiry report says that Professor van Velzen must never be allowed to practise again in this country. I can tell the House today that he has been referred to the General Medical Council for disciplinary action. I understand that he has been summoned to appear before the GMC later this week. I can also tell the House that the inquiry report has been referred to the Merseyside police and passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions. They will determine whether criminal prosecutions should now proceed.

"Four NHS staff—including the current chief executive of the trust—have today been suspended. Their employers will now consider appropriate disciplinary action. The role of other NHS staff will be examined by their employers. The doctors criticised in the report have been referred to the General Medical Council. Other staff have been referred to the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine.

"My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has asked the president of the council of the University of Liverpool to review the evidence in the report and to take appropriate disciplinary action. The current acting chair of the trust board is today leaving the trust, along with two non-executive directors whose resignations I have today accepted. I have today appointed Angela Jones as the new chair. It is right that the trust should have a fresh start.

"Alder Hey Hospital relies on its dedicated staff. They have been as shocked, as we all are, by these events. I want to thank those staff today who, through these difficult times, have continued to provide treatment and care for children from Liverpool and elsewhere. The action I have taken today should assist those staff to re-establish the hospital's relationship with the community it serves. I am confident that Alder Hey can recover and rebuild its reputation as a leading national and international centre for specialist paediatric care.

"What the report describes as 'the exceptional practice of van Velzen' between 1988 and 1995 made Alder Hey unique. But elsewhere in the NHS it is clear that organ retention without relatives' full knowledge and agreement was widespread. The recent national summit on organ retention organised by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, confirmed that this was also the experience of parents in many other parts of the country.

"professor Donaldson's census shows that 105,000 organs are retained across the country. Poor standards of cataloguing and record-keeping mean that these figures may not be wholly accurate. Twenty-five thousand hospitals account for 88 per cent of the organs. At least 16,500 of these organs and tissues have been retained in apparent contravention of the law because they came about as a result of coroners' post-mortems where the organs should not have been kept beyond the time needed to establish cause of death. As at Alder Hey and Bristol, the coroner's system across the country has proved ineffective in this respect. The current law and post-mortem consent forms are both ambiguous. They talk of taking tissues when in fact they often mean taking organs. They record 'lack of objection' rather than positive consent.

"In the last four years the Government have made an unprecedented effort to better protect patients. The changes we have already introduced and the reforms that are still to come enjoy widespread support among both patients and doctors. The NHS is full of good doctors, not bad ones. Our reforms are aimed at supporting them to become even better: a new statutory duty of quality on every NHS trust; independent inspection through the Commission for Health Improvement; annual appraisal of doctors linked to period revalidation; reform to self-regulation to make it faster, more open and more accountable.

"Now we need to go further. The CMO census, the consultation we have had with parents and the medical profession and the reports from Bristol and Alder Hey have formed the basis for Professor Donaldson's recommendations for reform. I am accepting them in full. The major proposals are as follows.

"First, I am establishing a special commission under the chairmanship of Margot Brazier, Professor of Law at Manchester University, to oversee the return of organs and tissues from around the country to their families should they wish to have them. We have made sure that parents seeking more information today can obtain it by contacting the NHS Direct telephone helpline.

"Secondly, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has set in train a review of the coroner's system so that we can learn the lessons of what went wrong at Alder Hey and elsewhere.

"Thirdly, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment will establish a review of the accountability and management arrangements between NHS trusts and universities where senior staff are employed on joint contracts.

"Fourthly, we will ensure that all NHS trusts provide support and advice to families at the time of bereavement. I expect this to be in place throughout the NHS later this year.

"Finally, the law will be changed to enshrine the concept of informed consent. The existing law in this area has become outdated. The 1961 Human Tissue Act does not even contain penalties for breaches of its provisions. The law has ill served bereaved parents in our country. It causes confusion for staff. It must now be changed.

"I will bring forward measures urgently to amend the Act to clarify that informed consent must be given, that organs and tissues must be specified and to make it a criminal offence to ignore informed consent. We will also undertake a wider review of existing laws on all aspects of taking, storing and using tissue and organs from both the living and the dead. When the review is completed we will seek to legislate to bring in the necessary changes.

"These changes in the law will be supported by a new statutory code of practice which will be issued to the NHS. It will cover the issue of organs being used by the pharmaceutical industry. The code of practice will be accompanied by a new standardised consent form which will be introduced throughout the NHS.

"There is one other important point. Informed consent need not be at the expense of medical research. Proper post-mortem procedures and archived tissues and organs hold the key to much medical advance—discovering the effects and causes of disease, finding cures for illnesses that disable or kill. But retaining public confidence in these procedures requires public consent. Members of the medical profession share this view. Indeed, it is reflected in recent guidance issued by the Royal College of Pathologists. When I met families from Alder Hey, from Bristol and elsewhere, many told me that had they been asked properly, they would have been only too willing to allow their child's death to help another child live.

"Doctors and pathologists have an incredibly difficult job to do. They have usually acted with the best of intentions: to bring about greater understanding of disease and to improve standards of care—and to do so in a way that avoids causing further anguish to grieving families.

"These are laudable aims. They are honourable intentions. But as the events at Alder Hey have proven, modern patient expectations and traditional clinical practices have grown apart. The NHS can no longer assume that the benefits of science, medicine or research are somehow self-evident regardless of the wishes of patients or their families. The relationship between patients and the service today has to be based on informed consent. That will require changes in practice and changes in policy. It will require changes in medical education. As I have made clear today, it will also require changes to the law.

"The parents I have met from Alder Hey and elsewhere have acted with great dignity and purpose. I pay tribute to them today. I hope that the reforms we will now make will provide some comfort for the pain they have endured. I commend the reforms to the House".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4 p.m.

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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement made in the other place. We on these Benches accept that this is a balanced Statement which accurately and broadly covers the issues raised by the inquiry, even though it does make for very harrowing reading. We further agree that the NHS is staffed primarily by good doctors, rather than the type of bad doctor exemplified in this Statement.

The situation at Alder Hey and elsewhere is troublesome. We on these Benches extend our deepest sympathy to the families involved. People will be rightly shocked by the revelations emanating from Alder Hey that the NHS has sold retained body parts without the knowledge and consent of parents or families. It is a disgraceful situation and one that rides roughshod over the dignity and respect that should be accorded to families in extremely distressing personal situations. However, we must keep the matter in perspective and resist the temptation to over-react.

There are two clear issues. The first concerns the activities of one specific professor who consistently lied and broke the law in an otherwise outstanding hospital. Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether Professor van Velzen is being investigated elsewhere, or indeed in another country. The second issue is a more general one—that of how to approach the retention and use of tissue and organs. The retention of certain body tissue is critical to medical research and must continue. Other patients can and do benefit from the use of otherwise discarded tissue. To ensure the continuance of medical research, we need adequate mechanisms for the giving of consent.

The Statement by the Secretary of State mentioned that the law will be changed to enshrine the principle of informed consent. We on these Benches have offered to incorporate that principle into the Health and Social Care Bill, currently being debated in the other place. From a personal point of view—and I can speak from the heart on this, as I have suffered the terrible tragedy of losing a very young baby—I would have been prepared to allow tissue to be used for medical purposes in order to help others, provided that the pros and cons were properly and sympathetically explained. However, that would require us to ensure that parents and families were informed by carefully trained staff, who will hold these discussions in what are certain to be very trying circumstances. The Statement mentioned that all NHS trusts will have in place support mechanisms for families at the time of bereavement. Will the Minister tell the House what those mechanisms will be, what guidelines will be put in place, and when?

We feel that there is a need for the special commission under Professor Margot Brazier to be particularly sensitive when dealing with the return of organs. Some families undoubtedly will wish to have them returned. For others, that would simply reopen painful memories. We ask the Government to pay particular attention to this matter and to ensure that, if multiple organs are to be returned, they are returned at one and the same time, thus avoiding repeated suffering for the families involved.

In conclusion, we welcome the broad thrust of the Statement. It is vital that the Government act to respond to the real concerns raised by the Alder Hey inquiry.

4.4 p.m.

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My Lords, I, too, join the noble Lord, Lord Astor, in thanking the Minister for repeating the Statement made in another place. We on these Benches also very much welcome the Statement. It is a truly appalling story, which seems to illustrate practices of the 18th century taking place in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The Chief Medical Officer's report is, if anything, more shocking than the Redfern report, because it demonstrates that the culture is at fault. The findings in relation to Alder Hey are particularly shocking because of the activities of one man. However, the CMO's survey appears to indicate that the failure to obtain informed consent was part of the culture of organ retention in many hospitals. Alder Hey is not a completely isolated example of the culture. We therefore need a complete culture change in addition to any legislative change. The problem concerns not only the law but also the language.

I was interested to note that in his Statement the Secretary of State illustrated that the word "tissue" is a euphemism. "Tissue" also covers organs. While welcoming the Secretary of State's commitment to changing the provisions of the Human Tissue Act 1961, we hope that any change to the law will explicitly make it clear for what informed consent is being obtained. That is absolutely vital.

Like the Secretary of State and the noble Lord, Lord Astor, we agree that research is important. In the wake of this extremely harrowing report and the CMO's findings, it is important that the Department of Health should carefully consider what steps can be taken to restore public confidence in scientific research. As we have heard, much of the Alder Hey research into heart surgery was extremely important for some of the children involved. I commend the Secretary of State's speech made yesterday to the King's Fund. The benefits of scientific or medical research are not self-evident, but we should not stifle the benefits of scientific inquiry. I do not believe that the public will recognise the benefit of scientific research unless it is clearly seen to be useful. It is therefore for the scientific and medical community to persuade the public of the benefit of that research; and they must be quite open about the nature of the research.

I greatly welcome the indication in the Statement that other steps are planned by the department. I welcome the setting up of the special commission to oversee the return of organs and tissue, and I add my voice to that of the noble Lord, Lord Astor, about the process by which that is to be done. It is quite unacceptable that Alder Hey parents had to hold several funerals for organs returned at different times. A review of the coroner system is well overdue. In view of the joint tenure of many doctors clinically active in hospitals and engaged in university research, accountability and management arrangements between NHS trusts and universities is also an extremely important issue. We welcome the proposal for a statutory code of practice governing the retention of organs. In view of the recent case revealed at Alder Hey, and only today at Great Ormond Street, it is important that the passing over of organs in return for an administration fee (or whatever euphemism may be used) should be covered by such a code.

I have a few questions for the future. The Statement makes it clear that Professor van Velzen will be pursued under the criminal law and by the GMC in relation to his professional practice. However, other clinicians are also involved. A Dr Bouton practised in the same hospital prior to Professor van Velzen. I have no doubt that clinicians in other hospitals have breached the Human Tissue Act and have, to say the least, been cavalier in their treatment of consent. I hope the Minister can assure us that hospital trusts will be encouraged to ensure that those doctors are brought before the GMC to have their records examined.

The requirement for legislative change is all very well, but the key issues concern monitoring, how consents are obtained and how storage is effected. It is extraordinary that the hospital authorities did not raise their eyebrows in relation to the practice of storing these organs. Can the Minister say what arrangements will be made to ensure that such practices are properly organised in future? What compensation will now be offered to some of the affected parents?

Further, will the General Medical Council be drawing up guidelines to ensure that such issues are properly tackled from now on? In particular, what is to become of these collections? As can be observed from the CMO's report, we are talking about major collections. Can we start afresh with some of these issues? For example, even if such organs cannot be identified, do we need to keep such macabre collections of organs in hospitals and universities throughout the country?

Finally, will the Polkinghorne code of 1989, which related to foetal material, now be revamped and incorporated in the guidance on tissues and organs? After all, one of the most scandalous issues relates precisely to foetuses at Alder Hey, which, in a sense—again, it is a use of language—might be excluded from examination if we were purely talking about individual organs.

I accept the statement made by the British Medical Association that it wants to work in partnership with patients in discussing acceptable ways in which organs are used for scientific and medical research. As a result of the appalling events at Alder Hey, and the unacceptable practices discovered in NHS hospitals and universities, I hope that we can use today to make a fresh start.

4.11 p.m.

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My Lords, perhaps I may begin by thanking both the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for their measured response to the Statement. As the noble Lord, Lord Astor, said, the report comprises over 500 pages and makes harrowing reading. He is right: it was a disgraceful situation. Our sympathies are very much with all the parents involved.

I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Astor, said—indeed, this was mentioned in the Statement—that, overall, we have very dedicated doctors and other staff within the National Health Service. We need to reflect on that fact when considering the action that now needs to be taken. However, there is no doubt that there has been a significant cultural change in our society over the past 20 or 30 years. What may once have been acceptable practice is no longer so. I believe that many people working in the NHS have failed to realise that that change has taken place. If we are to see good coming out of this report, it will be by way of a change in the overall culture of the health service. We must also strive to make sure that it helps us to change our practices. In turn, that will ensure that the public, parents and relatives are fully aware of what is happening to their loved ones, so that when they are asked to give consent they will do so in the full knowledge of what they are being asked to do.

The noble Lord, Lord Astor, asked me what action is being taken against Professor van Velzen in other countries. My understanding is that there has been an investigation by the Canadian police, but I have no knowledge of the outcome. As I said when repeating the Statement, the GMC has called a hearing for Friday of this week. In addition, the Redfern report has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Astor, who talked about the benefit of organ retention for research purposes. It is absolutely essential. However, as I said, it can be done only on the basis of informed consent and a proper process whereby parents and relatives can be properly counselled and advised. They must have a full understanding of what it is that they are being asked to do. If we can do that and change the culture of the NHS, I also believe that parents would, if they so wished, give their consent on that basis.

I took note of the offer from the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, of the Opposition's help in regard to legislation. No doubt that will have to be discussed in other places. I thank the noble Lord for his suggestion. I can tell him that we shall seek to introduce legislation as soon as possible. That is certainly so in relation to the Human Tissue Act 1961, the core issue of consent, and the issue of sanctions against doctors who do not carry out the provisions of that legislation. One of the problems with the Act at present is the fact that there are no sanctions. As well as the immediate issue of the Human Tissue Act, we shall need to look at legislation in the long term to ascertain whether the whole area of regulation in relation to organs needs to be tightened and considered afresh.

Both noble Lords referred to the position of families as regards the support to be given to them. In particular, they asked what arrangements will be put in place for counselling generally throughout the National Health Service. I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that, in terms of compensation, it is up to individual families to decide whether they wish to take legal action. In that event, they would have to establish legal liability. I cannot comment any further in that respect.

I can tell noble Lords that we expect effective counselling and support to be available, both in relation to parents affected by what has happened at Alder Hey Hospital, and in relation to the many other hospitals throughout the NHS with retained organs which are likely to receive inquiries from parents regarding whether any of their children's organs have been retained.

We accept that bereavement advisers should be available in all trusts to explain and/or arrange full clinical explanation of the circumstances of death, the reasons for post-mortem examination and the need for consent to hospital post-mortem and retention of organs. In the interim guidance issued by the Chief Medical Officer in March 1999, we called for a designated person to fulfil that role. I have no doubt that the new commission on organ and tissue retention will follow that through, as will the department, to ensure that that happens. In addition to overseeing the return of tissues and organs from collections around the country, it is worth pointing out that the role of the organ retention commission will be to ensure that suitable counselling is available for families. More importantly, it will act as an advocate for parents if problems arise. Given the sensitive nature of this issue, parents need someone to turn to for help and advice. Above all, while acting as an advocate for parents and handling inquiries from families and the public, the special health authority will have a crucial role to play in that process.

The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, referred to the culture change needed in the NHS. I agree with him and, indeed, have already spoken on that issue. The noble Lord asked how that would be effected. The outcome of the Alder Hey report and the census by the Chief Medical Officer, together with his recommendations, will be very powerful accelerators to that culture change. But the code of practice that will be issued, the change in the law and, I believe, the work of the newly established commission will all have a part to play in that development. I certainly accept the point that the noble Lord made; namely, that we also need effective performance management within the NHS to ensure that that change takes place. In that way we shall restore public confidence.

The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is also right to say that we need to do more in the area of public education in terms of research—and not just as a result of what has happened at Alder Hey. More generally, we must encourage greater public confidence in what we seek to do by way of research. Again, the report of the Chief Medical Officer touches on that point.

The noble Lord also referred to the issue of university/trust relationships. One of the most important points in the Redfern report is that Professor van Velzen was not dealt with effectively, despite the fact that poor practices were known about, because of the difficult relationship between the university and the trust concerned. We therefore asked the DfEE to review the issues that arise in relation, in particular, to doctors who have joint contracts with a university and a trust, and it agreed to take the lead in that process. I hope that that review will also examine some wider issues. At the end of the day, we need good, robust relationships between universities and university trusts with regard to teaching, research and further education.

As to disciplinary action, I confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that we have indeed referred several of the doctors who are mentioned in the report to the General Medical Council. We have also referred two medical laboratory scientists to the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine. Several other people who are named in the report have been referred to their employer's authorities for the consideration of disciplinary action.

We have identified a problem with NHS mangers who move from one trust to another and for whom there is currently no professional regulation. We shall institute discussions with the NHS Confederation, the British Association of Medical Managers and the Institute of Health Services Management to establish whether it is possible to develop codes of practice and of conduct for those managers.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, that we need to consider the future of collections that are put together by universities and hospitals. We look to the commission on organ and tissue retention to advise us on that matter.

4.22 p.m.

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My Lords, for two years from 1990 my then two-year-old daughter was operated on and treated at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool. I put on record my admiration for and gratitude to the staff—the nurses and doctors—for the extraordinary love, care and professionalism they showed during that period. I do not believe that I am alone in saying that; I do so on behalf of the many parents whose children have been treated there over the years. We have watched this unfolding scandal become a tragedy for that fine hospital. It is a tragedy that the actions of predominantly one man have brought the hospital into such disrepute. His actions destroyed the reputation of a fine hospital and caused immense grief to parents who had already suffered the pain of bereavement.

I want to put four brief points to the Minister whose Statement to the House this afternoon I welcome. The first concerns the legislative changes that he announced today. Will the Government make it a criminal offence to possess and use any or all human material without consent? Secondly, will he reiterate the importance of the family and its protection, especially at times of sorrow and bereavement?

Thirdly, I turn to the desirability that the Minister and others rightly expressed about the use of organs in circumstances in which consent has been gained. Does he agree that even when written consent was obtained at Alder Hey Hospital, in most if not all cases the retention of tissues and organs was not fully and properly explained? Parents were not told what material would be retained; in particular, as the Minister said, they were not told that whole organs would be kept by the hospital. The word "tissue" was not explained, so that even those who read the consent form would not know that "tissue" could comprise major organs. Parents were not told how retained material would be used or for how long it would be retained.

Finally, following the revelation of the sale of glands of living children, which has already been referred to, will the Minister review the way in which commercial arrangements are entered into and the possibility that such considerations have been allowed to overshadow the high sense of idealism, ethics and humanity that should characterise the medical profession?

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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for making those important points. Yes, the problems at Alder Hey Hospital are very much focused on one man. Although the system clearly had several failings, which added to the awful impact of what Professor van Velzen did, there is no doubting the fact that he is, by a very long way, the most culpable person in this sorry affair.

I agree with the noble Lord that Alder Hey Hospital has for many years had a wonderful reputation, not just in this country but throughout the world. Although it is suffering at the moment from enormous criticism and adverse publicity, I still say that its work is first class. It is important for people who work in the hospital to have confidence in it and to believe that it is a fine hospital, as should people from Liverpool and others who come to it from all over the country because it is of such repute and quality. The appointment of a new chair today allows a fresh start to be made. The hospital's reputation must be treasured and supported, and improved in future.

In response to the various questions that the noble Lord asked, the answer is, I think, yes to all of them. We want to ensure that, with regard to legislative changes, a criminal offence will apply to those who break the law. As I explained, the current problem, apart from the obscurity of the Human Tissue Act 1961, is that there are no sanctions against a doctor who breaks the law.

I agree with the noble Lord's comments on the family. The report of the Chief Medical Officer is strong in that regard. If there is to be proper and informed consent, parents and relatives need fully to understand what has happened to their loved ones—they should be told in as sympathetic and supportive a way as possible—why a post-mortem is necessary, and why it may be helpful if certain organs or tissues are retained to help with research and education. If we can do that properly, I am convinced that many parents will give their consent.

The noble Lord was absolutely right to say that that approach was not adopted at Alder Hey Hospital. Even when parents signed a consent form, they did not know what they were signing. The word "tissue" does not convey to many people the concept of an organ of the body. Indeed, until I became involved in this issue, I thought that "tissue" meant a bit of skin and that it could not refer to the heart or another organ of the body. Parents did not understand what they were signing. In addition, it is clear that parents were asked to sign a form without any explanation. That is the key lesson that we need to learn.

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My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the great triumphs in the field of public health in this country in the 20th century was the massive drop in infant and child mortality rates? The earlier higher rate was caused by disease and defects. The horrific report and the work carried out at Alder Hey Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital have to be seen against that background.

I return to the question that my noble friend asked about culture. The general public are concerned not so much about one doctor as about the desensitising of medicine, especially among senior researchers. What plans does the Minister have to ensure that what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans referred to as the proper respect for human dignity is part of the culture of medical and nursing training? That is an important part of putting right the problem.

The Minister referred to the fact that a number of firmer codes of practice are being put in place. However, the medical profession is notoriously hierarchical. Can the noble Lord assure the House that within the health service protection exists for whistle-blowers? That protection is also a guarantee against mavericks who try to ignore codes of practice.

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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for raising those points. I accept the point that he made about the importance of research. Indeed, in the Statement I referred to the enormous impact which the research at Alder Hey Hospital has had on the saving of many lives. We need to reflect on that.

However, the extraordinary and disturbing point about the Redfern report is that, although the practice during the van Velzen years was to retain organs from every child after a post-mortem, virtually no research of any value was carried out during that period. Therefore, parents and relatives did not even have the comfort of believing that at least the organ retention served some purpose. That is a stark and disturbing fact.

The noble Lord then went on to ask how we change the culture and ensure that the code of practice and other initiatives are ingrained in the National Health Service. I am convinced that the medical profession wishes the culture to change. I believe that the Alder Hey case and, indeed, a number of other disturbing cases which have taken place over the past two or three years have come as a profound shock to the profession. From meetings which I have held locally and with the leaders of the profession, I am convinced that the great mass of doctors recognise that they must change. Equally, I recognise that procedures and processes must be put in place to encourage that to happen, and I believe that change will occur in a number of ways.

First, the code of practice will need to be implemented in full by every NHS trust in the country. We shall use our power of direction to ensure that that is the case. That will be backed up by the clinical governance process which will ensure that, just as in the past the boards of trusts have been concerned with financial issues, they must now ascertain corporately that the proper procedures are in place so that clinical decisions are carried out in a framework which ensures effective governance. That process has not been in place before and it is already beginning to bite. Already doctors are approaching trust boards to say that current practices in certain hospitals must change because they are no longer acceptable in safety terms.

In addition, through the new assessment centres which we are setting up, I believe that we have developed a much more robust way of dealing with poorly performing doctors. In the past, culturally the health service has had great difficulty in tackling poorly performing doctors. The new mechanisms that we have established enable us to deal with such a situation in a less confrontational way than in the past and at an earlier stage so that problems can be nipped in the bud. Taking all that into account, I am confident that we can effect the type of change the noble Lord asks for.

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My Lords, the Statement and the report sound more like a Frankenstein novel than an actual situation. Our sympathy must go out to the parents who are suffering gravely as a result of the actions at Alder Hey Hospital and elsewhere.

I very much welcome the Government's Statement and the actions that they are to take. Although I understand that they have received criticism, I also welcome some of the statements made by the Secretary of State, particularly in relation to his desire that patients should be treated with respect and consideration. I believe that he is on to a very good point. All too often in the National Health Service patients are treated as supplicants rather than paying patients who, on average, pay £40 per week per family for that service.

We have heard of many scandals in the health service. I have been involved in one or two cases which have occurred, for example, in mixed-sex wards. Such incidents horrify people in all parts of the country. I welcome the new approach of the Secretary of State towards not only this but other matters, too. I hope that my noble friend can assure me that this inquiry will not simply be a flash in the pan but an ongoing examination of how people are treated in the National Health Service and whether they are treated as individuals and not as a mass. I hope that my noble friend will be able to give me that assurance.

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My Lords, I thank my noble friend for raising those apposite points. I believe that circumstances have arisen in which patients and members of the public have not been shown the proper respect and consideration which are due. My noble friend mentioned mixed-sex wards. I know how much concern that matter has brought to patients—particularly older patients. He will know that we are determined to phase out mixed-sex wards. We have made considerable progress but there is more to do.

I also believe that the National Service Framework for Older People will reflect many of the points that my noble friend has raised. After all, older people are the biggest users of the National Health Service, and it is they who sometimes find that they do not receive the respect and consideration that they deserve. I know that your Lordships have raised the issue of mixed-sex wards and the question of how people should be addressed when they are in hospital. The assumption that people always want to be called by their first name is not necessarily correct. We need to respect how people wish to be treated and addressed.

My noble friend also raised a fundamental question which goes to the heart of the culture and philosophy under which people in the National Health Service work—how the service is led and how people are trained. I believe that we have a massive job to do in turning around that situation. I agree with my noble friend that it cannot be dealt with in a flash-in-the-pan manner. We must ingrain it within everything that we do. I believe that some of the changes announced in the National Plan will be important in that regard—for example, the appointment of modern matrons with more authority at ward level, and changes in the curriculum which affect nurses in particular.

Many mistakes were made in Project 2000. Training was taken away too far from wards and into universities. I am sure that it was right to link training to academic ability and to ensure that universities were involved in the training process, but not at the expense of practical skills and work. I, for one, regret what happened to enrolled nurses. I believe that through phasing them out we lost a huge raft of people who knew how to talk to and treat people with respect.

I turn to the question raised by the noble Lord in relation to whistle-blowing. We issue guidance and advice to all NHS organisations on that matter in line with the requirements of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. We also encourage staff to raise concerns about standards of patient care.

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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for all that he said about the intention to make respect for persons and informed consent by patients and families central in this area. I first became aware of the legal vacuum some six years ago when, as a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, I worked on our report on the medical and scientific uses of human tissues: tissues being by us well understood to be diverse in their significance and sometimes to include organs.

We were, curiously, least aware of how difficult things might be in the case of tissues removed under coroner's authority. Can the Minister reassure the House that in reviewing the matter, account will be taken of the two other contexts in which tissues are removed and retained for a range of purposes? I refer first to the process of treatment where tissues may be removed for the benefit of patients but may be retained for pathological examination to the benefit of that patient, other patients, medical education, medical audit and, indeed, research. The other context—here, I believe consents are generally much better—is in the case of human subjects of research where a greater degree of understanding of the particular research project has been required. In all of this one has to see that pathologists deal with a large range of tissues procured in different circumstances and for a large range of purposes. It would be a pity to lose the opportunity by looking too closely at the specific events that have caused these particularly sad and appalling outcomes.

I have one further point. Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether particular care will be taken in the review to consider the question of the financial transactions that may or may not be involved. I, am sure that I am not alone in noticing the "scare quotes" around the word "sell" in virtually all the newspaper reports. People are not sure whether things are being sold to someone's benefit or whether all that is going on is a handling charge. I believe that steps have already been taken in the case of blood—that, too, is tissue—to clarify these issues. I hope that we shall see them clarified with respect to other tissues. I hope also that we shall take account of the strong differences in practice in different parts of the world; the fact that this is much closer to being a commercial culture in the United States, and that in some parts of the world there is no regulation.

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My Lords, we are considering the legislation in two phases. We want to deal immediately with the issue of consent and sanctions as regards the Human Tissue Act. Equally, I accept the point raised by the noble Baroness. We need to look at a number of wider questions, which may require legislative change. I can assure the noble Baroness—indeed, I should be interested if she wanted to talk to the department—that we shall also consider those wider issues.

As regards the commercial uses of tissue, thymuses were collected at Alder Hey between 1991 and 1993. I understand that an annual handling fee was paid by the company to hospitals collecting thymus fragments. We understand that a number of hospitals had similar practices up until 1995. There is clearly an issue of consent, which appears not to have been sought in those cases. However, I can assure the noble Baroness that the code of practice—which, as I stated, will have the backing of statutory direction to NHS organisations—will also lay down that explicit consent must be obtained before tissue can be provided for use in products, product development or research by commercial companies.

Private Security Industry Bill Hl

4.44 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 1.

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moved Amendment No. 4:

Page I, line 22, leave out ("training") and insert ("skill").

The noble Lord said: The first and most obvious point made by the amendment is that expertise in all the various fields covered by the Bill, as well as much more widely, is acquired by both training and experience. It seems to me that the wider word "skill" would reflect that fact. It would make the authority and everybody else conscious of the fact that they are not thinking just in terms of training but of the skills acquired by the individual.

This clause is separate from those which deal with licensing. It gives the authority the function of setting and approving standards of conduct for adoption by the people involved. The authority can make other requirements under the criteria for issuing a licence. The fact that its only concern here is training does not necessarily mean that the criteria for a licence might not include an element of experience or probationary conduct.

A number of British standards in this area will no doubt assist the authority when it comes to carry out its functions under this subsection. Some are set out in the White Paper. As they stand, they are not onerous. I refer, for example, to two days' initial training. Nevertheless, they have been set out and agreed. Since the British standards listed in the White Paper, BS7960 of 1999 takes the matter further.

I realise that the authority will not have legal permission to run training courses. That is not provided for in the Bill; quite rightly. I do not believe that that is its function. I am unclear as to whether approving the standards of training in the way suggested will give the authority permission to run examinations, for example, and whether the Government envisage that happening. A large number of training courses are already organised in the industry, notably by the Security Industry Training Organisation, which is a joint body set up by the industry. That organisation, and others, are capable of running the training, so I do not think the authority needs to do that. Whether it should consider examinations is a different question. I beg to move.

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Amendment No. 4 would mean that the security industry authority was required to set and approve standards of skill instead of standards of training. The Government agree that it is important for the security industry authority to have the ability to incorporate references to skills into the standards which it sets. We believe, however, that subsection (2) as drafted already allows the authority to achieve that. The subsection also requires the authority to set standards of conduct, training and levels of supervision. The provision would therefore allow the authority to incorporate relevant skill levels into the standards it sets for conduct and training. It already achieves the objective of the amendment.

In addition, I believe that it is widely acknowledged that the private security industry is acutely aware of the importance of training and attaches considerable importance to the authority being proactive in setting standards in that area. We believe that to delete the word "training" from the statement of the authority's functions would be undesirable. It would shift the area of responsibility, which we do not think would be wise.

As we envisage the SIA, it will not run examinations itself. However, we do recognise that there is a need to consider how examinations might contribute to its standard setting and delivering role. The authority will have an interest in this aspect, but will not run it. The examinations will be set and run by others. The authority may well monitor this and report on it, and obviously it will have a carefully thought-through role in the examination process.

If we were to accept the amendment it would rather change the nature of the SIA's role, and that would not be wise. Obviously we shall read carefully what the noble Lord has said because these matters will need to be studied carefully within the industry itself.

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I am grateful to the Minister, particularly for his undertaking to ponder the matter between now and the later stages of the Bill. In the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 2. line 4, after ("anything") insert (", except borrow money,").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 5, with which it is suggested that we should discuss Amendment No. 43. Both are about the power of the authority to borrow money. The Bill provides in paragraph 14 of Schedule 1 that the authority can borrow money with the permission of the Secretary of State. The amendment suggests that it should not be able to borrow at all. It is a probing amendment. I do not intend that it should never be allowed to borrow in any circumstances, but I should like to know how borrowing by the authority will be dealt with in the Home Office's accounts, particularly now that we are on resource accounting. Will it show up as government borrowing? I suspect that it will not, and that is because permission of the Treasury is not required. Generally speaking, in matters of borrowing or expenditure the Treasury is careful to make sure that this is written into every Bill. As far as I can see, permission of the Treasury is not going to be specifically required although it may have have sufficient control over the Secretary of State for Home Affairs to deal with it.

I hope that the authority will not be borrowing large sums of money, although it may not be able to function entirely without borrowing. Any well conducted business should certainly consider doing that and indeed may have to borrow considerable amounts. I do not see why the authority should be different in that respect. However, because it is a public institution dealing with public money, it should obviously be carefully supervised in this respect.

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I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving me the opportunity to explain lines of accountability. The SIA will be established as a self-financing non-departmental public body. The bulk of its income will be derived from fees charged for individual licence applications and inspections under the approved contractor scheme and will be used to fund these processes. However, we believe there is a case—I think the noble Lord accepts this—for the authority to have limited ability to borrow money. I emphasise the word "limited". This would allow it some flexibility in conducting its business. It is not an open-ended guarantee. Any wish to borrow money will require the consent of the Secretary of State. So there will be parliamentary accountability and he will expect to see a proper business case made out.

The authority will also be subject to external controls. It will be required to keep proper accounts and to prepare a statement of those accounts annually. These will be laid before Parliament and will also be subject to audit by the auditor general. So although we understand the nature of the amendment, we think it would unnecessarily constrain the operation of the authority—a point which I believe the noble Lord accepts. I urge him to withdraw the amendment.

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Will any borrowing show up as government borrowing in the main government accounts?

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I am sure that this body, as a non-departmental public body, will operate like all other such bodies. Borrowing by the SIA will be reported within the accounts; it will be necessary for the Secretary of State to approve it, and he will consult with Cabinet colleagues as appropriate. This would allow an opportunity for the Treasury to give its 'view. Borrowings would therefore be clearly shown in Home Office accounts and properly fed through to Parliament and there would be all the other checks and balances which operate throughout Whitehall.

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I am grateful to the Minister for putting that on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [ Directions etc. by the Secretary of State]:

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moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 2, line 23, at end insert—
("() The Secretary of State shall lay a copy of any such direction before each House of Parliament.").

The noble Viscount said: This amendment relates to directions given by the Secretary of State. The Explanatory Notes say clearly that the authority must comply with directions given to it by the Secretary of State and must provide any information requested by him. Also, the Secretary of State must consult the authority before giving any directions.

My first question is a general one. I should like to ask the Minister what kind of directions the Secretary of State might give. What area might be covered that is not in the Bill and cannot be done by either an order under Schedule 2 or in some other way? Can it relate to costs, for example—either the annual running costs of the authority or indeed the costs or charges that the authority might impose on the industry? The Minister will realise that there are many order-making powers within the Bill, giving the Secretary of State the chance to do lots of things in Clause 2 and Clause 3(3) about designated activities. What kind of things have the Government in mind under these rather broad and sweeping powers?

Also, it is not guidance; it is a direction. The Bill says that the authority will comply with any general or specific directions. What is the difference between a general direction and a specific one? Presumably any direction would have to be specific if the authority was to comply with it. I do not understand the meaning of the phrase "general direction". Surely, the general directions are largely contained in Clauses 1 to 3. Indeed, if it is a specific direction, will it not be included in the general powers in Schedule 2?

My last question is: how will the Secretary of State give these directions? Will they be laid before Parliament, enabling Parliament to see the nature of the extraordinarily wide power that the Home Secretary is giving himself in relation to the authority? These are important questions and I beg to move.

5 p.m.

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There will probably be a wider variety of possibilities, from requesting special reports about incidents of concern to the addition of reports if need be. I believe that the standard arrangement is for the Secretary of State to be able to give directions to non-departmental public bodies. If necessary, that could include the placing of a cap on fees. Therefore, they are general reserve powers. I understand that they will be subject to the usual statutory instruments procedure.

I hope that that reply is helpful to the noble Viscount. I do not believe that the consideration is as sinister as he suggested. We believe that it is a helpful way of assisting the Secretary of State to conduct business flexibly.

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Before my noble friend responds, will the Minister explain the position a little further? He said that directions would comply with the normal statutory instrument procedure but I wonder whether he is sure about that. If so, would they be affirmative or negative instruments?

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In giving the Minister time to consider his answer perhaps I may turn to Clause 22, which defines orders and regulations and their use. I have studied the clause with some care. I may have missed something, but I cannot find anything relating to the directions which may be given out by the Secretary of State under Clause 2. Therefore, I do not believe that the directions are given by any form of statutory instrument, whether negative or affirmative. It is important that we have a clear answer from the Minister on this.

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On this occasion, the noble Viscount is right and I am wrong. I apologise to the Committee for that. Directions are not statutory instruments; they are merely a mechanism for a more informal way of establishing priorities and registering concerns. I hope that that clarifies the matter and I apologise to the Committee for having misled it earlier.

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I am grateful to the Minister for that correction. Will the directions be published?

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If the noble Viscount will bear with me, no doubt I shall be able to give him an answer. I would hope that such directions would be a matter of public record because they would be helpful to all concerned. It is important that we are clear about what we are trying to do with orders and directions.

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I rise in anticipation of the Minister's reply. We should be extremely unhappy if the directions were not a matter of public record and all those licensed and involved in the industry were not clearly able to see directions made by the Secretary of State.

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There is no absolute obligation to make them public. However, having heard what the noble Viscount said, I am prepared to reflect on the matter. In some situations, there may be an advantage in clearer communication and there may be benefit in that communication being in the public domain. I shall reflect on the point and happily write to the noble Viscount.

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Will the Minister also agree that there could be circumstances in which the authority would want to see publication of the directions? It could then make clear to those being regulated why it had taken a certain action.

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As always, the noble Viscount makes a sensible and telling point and I shall reflect on it. He is probably right.

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The Minister's final words in reply to my question went to the heart of my amendment. It is important that the Home Secretary cannot impose secret directions on the authority, leaving those licensed or affected by the authority unaware of them.

I am grateful to the Minister for saying that he will reflect on the matter because if he had not done so I should have been forced to take it further and test the opinion of the Committee. However, I am grateful for the Minister's constructive attitude and I shall return to the matter on Report. By then the Minister will have had an opportunity to reflect on what has been said. It is important, not only in safeguarding the industry but also the authority and the role of the Secretary of State in giving such directions. I am sure that the Minister believes in open government. We must try to make these provisions as open and clear as possible. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [ Conduct prohibited without a licence]:

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had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 7:

Page 2, line 29, leave out ("it shall be an offence for a person to") and insert ("a person shall not").

The noble Lord said: I do not propose to move Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 because of the most useful meeting that the Minister arranged for me with some of his officials.

[ Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

[ Amendments Nos. 8 to 11 not moved.]

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moved Amendment No. 11A:

Page 3, line 45, at end insert ("; or
(k) he is required in the course of his employment to engage in licensable conduct falling within paragraph (b)").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 11A, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 52A. They have only one thing in common; they deal with issues in respect of which the Government have completely reversed their thinking.

As regards Amendment No. 11A, the Government stated in their White Paper that the provisions of the Bill are to include in-house directly employed security personnel. They added that:

"The Government believes that to exclude in-house security personnel from the scope of licensing would create an unacceptable loophole and reduce confidence in the system".

I took up that matter during the Second Reading debate. In reply, the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, stated that the Government had changed their thinking since publication of the White Paper, further stating:

"In-house guards are vetted by employers and we see no need to add a further layer of bureaucracy".—[Official Report, 18/1/01; col. 600.]

Therefore, the reason for changing from an unacceptable loophole reducing confidence in the system to the Government's present position was simply because employers vet their employees.

That misses the point entirely. The whole purpose of the Bill is to ensure that those who engage in security work are properly vetted and trained and have the necessary skills and ability to deal with the public which will enable them to carry out their tasks properly.

If people are simply vetted and then engaged by an employer, who may or may not know anything about the provisions of this Bill or check the skills and training of those individuals, almost certainly a loophole will be created. Through that loophole can creep undesirable people. Firms will believe that they have engaged individuals who can carry out the functions of security guards but they will be deceived. In the end, what is achieved is a two-tier system whereby those who are employed by security firms are properly trained and have the necessary skills, and those who manage to creep into jobs with employers are not. I agree with the Government's original view that that is unacceptable and look forward to hearing the Minister's response.

I turn to Amendment No. 52A which deals with installers and so on. In paragraph 5.12 of the White Paper the Government state:

"The lower end of the domestic market does not tend to be covered by these arrangements and although reputable companies do exist, it is likely to be those that are most vulnerable who will be most at risk from unscrupulous operators".

The White Paper goes on to make the very good point that,

"Those who install or maintain alarms and CCTV systems have a unique opportunity to gain inside knowledge of the systems which could be used to facilitate or commit crimes".

I also raised that matter at Second Reading on the 18th December, and at col. 600 the Minister responded:

"[The Government] take the view that that sector is already well regulated. It already has to meet high police and insurance standards and purposes. Also, it consists of many small businesses".

I cannot over-emphasise the current role of CCTV systems in dealing with crime. They have a central role in dealing with major criminal activity in this country. For much of the evidence adduced in court the role of CCTV is crucial in relation not merely to burglaries and break-ins but to violent scenes and so on. If a criminal gang infiltrates a CCTV managing system so that it controls what pictures are taken, retained and so on, big criminals, not small ones, will have an important opportunity to commit serious crime. As the White Paper originally suggested, I believe it is sensible that unscrupulous operators should be kept out of this field entirely. Those who are unlicensed and without the necessary skills, training, vetting and so on provided for by the Bill should not be allowed to offer their services to the general public. I look forward again to hearing the Minister's response. I beg to move.

5.15 p.m.

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I absolutely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, that the Government have made an about-turn between the publication of the White Paper and the introduction of the Bill. However, unlike the noble Lord I believe that the Government are right to do so. Within the industry many large firms, trade associations and so on are keen that in this field both in-house operatives and those who fit alarms and deal with CCTV should be covered by the licensing system. The Bill, however, provides that only in-house door supervisors and wheelclampers, if a release fee is required, should be included, not those concerned with either alarms or CCTV.

I refer first to other in-house guards. One of the matters to be considered is what I term the "receptionist problem". Almost every business, professional firm or doctor's surgery has a receptionist of some kind at the front door who deals with visitors. From time to time, the receptionist, commissionaire or whoever it is, may have to deal with someone whose presence in the building is not welcome and fulfil guard-type duties. That may involve sending for others to assist in the process. We have heard a good deal recently about violence in hospitals, but it also occurs in health centres and doctors' premises. One of the difficulties is where one draws the line in relation to a person in that position who provides an element of guarding. That will vary from one doctor's practice to another. Some practices will be in inner-city areas where there are drug problems to which they will be much more susceptible. An individual who does that job will spend much more time engaged in that kind of activity, whereas in another area no such trouble may arise from one year's end to the next.

Where does one draw the line between the two? However, there must be a clear line because a licence is required. A person can be fined or sent to prison if he does not have a licence. The public and individuals are entitled to know whether or not a licence is required. Therefore, there is great difficulty in definition. In any case, I am temperamentally against regulation unless it is absolutely necessary. An enormous amount of legislation already affects firms of all sizes and to extend it further is something of which we should be very leery. I made that point at Second Reading and shall not labour it.

I do not believe that there is much difference between alarm companies and locksmiths. In each case someone comes to one's house or business premises and fits the necessary equipment, whether it be an alarm or lock of some kind, and leaves knowing the security precautions that have been taken. To a degree one needs to trust that those people will not misuse the information that they have gained. One can extend that to others who are not locksmiths but fit items that are to do with the security of premises. They may do the job incorrectly or pass on information. There is also a problem as to where one draws the line.

The position in relation to CCTV is a little clearer. We all know what we mean by it. However, I am not in favour of including something unless it is absolutely necessary. A firm or individual who hires a specialist organisation needs to be able to rely on the fact that it is up to the job and has proper standards. The Bill will provide that safeguard statutorily as opposed to the voluntary standards that apply now. I am not in favour of extending it further than is needed. Therefore, on this particular matter I prefer the Bill as drafted.

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I declare an interest as a director of Reliance Security. Conceptually, I am very much in favour of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, but I believe that this is a matter of definition. If a suitable form of definition can be found to cover in-house security men—I slightly question whether it can—it should be explored very carefully.

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I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, for tabling these amendments. It gives the Government the opportunity to explain why we have taken a different view, although some of these arguments were rehearsed at Second Reading. As the noble Lord said, in our White Paper we propose to regulate the whole of the manned guarding sector, including in-house staff.

However, we are a government who listen. We gave the matter further consideration. We concluded that to require all in-house staff to undergo what would effectively be two vetting processes by the employer and by the authority would add a largely unnecessary layer of bureaucracy on to business. Having heard comments today in your Lordships' House, it is plain that there is a fair measure of support for not going along that route.

In general, we believe that we can rely on companies satisfying themselves about the probity of their own, or potential, employees. However, it is also the case that the Bill seeks to regulate some in-house staff. Door supervisors and wheelclampers are sources of particular public concern. These operatives are in a different category. Door supervisors are in a position of authority, often with young people, and wheelclampers are in a position of considerable power over the owner of the vehicles they have immobilised and which only they can release. We therefore believe it is right to extend regulation to all those working in these sectors, the in-house employees as well as those supplying services under contract.

The noble Lord asked, why exclude the locksmiths and the alarm installers? He rightly said that in the White Paper we suggested they would be subject to regulation. We recognise that these industries wish to be included in our regulatory proposals. But we have decided not to include them for a number of reasons: first, there is no evident high level of criminality in either of these sectors. That is a widely accepted point.

Secondly, and this touches on what the noble Lord, Lord Cope, said, self-regulation has worked particularly well in the alarm installation sector due to the influence of the insurance industry and the police; for example, the police will not guarantee an immediate response to an alarm unless it has been fitted by a company approved by an ACPO recognised inspectorate. That makes a big difference.

Thirdly, there is a significant number of small businesses in this sector. We are conscious of the regulatory burden this might place on them and of the barrier to them expanding and developing their business.

Fourthly, the main focus of the Bill relates to those sectors of the industry where there is the biggest problem, particularly door supervisors and wheelclampers. Could the locksmiths and alarm installers be included later? We have established a flexible framework within which Parliament can include or exclude particular sectors of the industry according to perceived need.

We would prefer to get the SIA, the authority, up and running with the significant body of work the Bill already gives it and then make an assessment as to whether other categories, such as locksmiths and alarm installers, might be a priority for legislation. We are prepared to look at these matters at a later stage. We do not think that at this stage they are a priority. Therefore, we do not believe that they should be brought into the remit of the Bill. It is about getting the balance of regulation right. The Government do not want excessive regulation or to overly burden business. We believe that we have the balance right in this case.

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Perhaps I may ask a question which has arisen from what the Minister has just said. An in-house security person on licensed premises need not be licensed unless he is the door supervisor. From what the Minister said, he becomes a door supervisor if he steps outside the premises. I am not sure if we have understood the Minister correctly, but can the definition of a door supervisor depend in any circumstances on whether he is inside or outside the premises? If so, is that what determines whether he is subject to the additional controls?

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

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

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

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One of the problems that seems to have arisen is whether there should be door supervisors at the door and a second row inside who are under no control, have no training, skill or whatever and who have not been vetted for violence at all, who simply parcel up a person who attends one of the noble Viscount's establishments and hands him to the door supervisor to throw down the stairs. I do not think that we should leave these definitions up in the air. When one looks at the paragraph it says "Door supervisors etc". It does not say what "etc" is at paragraph 8 of Schedule 2. As the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, said, the matter should be clarified considerably.

5.30 p.m.

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

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

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for his considered response. He referred to the flexibility of the Bill in bringing in other people. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, referred to the position of a receptionist as opposed to a hospital guard. Reference has also been made to the need for definition. Paragraph (2)(5) of Schedule 2, which deals with manned guarding, states that the licensable conduct,
"does not apply to the activities of a person who, incidentally to the carrying out of any activities in relation to a group of individuals which … are neither … the activities of a security operative, nor … activities comprising the exercise of any such control as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (4), maintains order or discipline amongst those individuals".
The concept of someone doing something incidentally to their main employment does come out in that sub-paragraph as it does in sub-paragraph (6). Although it is fuzzy, it might cover the position of the receptionist to whom the noble Lord, Lord Cope, referred. Hospital guards have a very clear main activity of manned guarding; that is why they are there. It would be very unfortunate if the manned guarding among hospital staff, which is obviously in-house, should be carried out by people not properly qualified, skilled or vetted to perform that function.

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

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 12 not moved.]

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moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 3, line 50, at end insert—
("() An order under subsection (3) shall not include any activities other than those set out in Schedule 2 to this Act.").

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It is important that the legislative framework underpinning the licensing regime is flexible enough to take account of future developments in the industry and concomitant future decisions about the application of the licensing regime. Accordingly, paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 2 enables the Secretary of State to amend the activities which designated the licensing purposes. Any such orders proposed would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. However, orders made under Clause 3(3) are designation orders activating the licensing requirements for those security services which have been or will be designated in Schedule 2. Sectors of the industry that may fall to be regulated in future—such as perhaps alarm installers—will first need to be added by order to Schedule 2. Such an order is to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. There would then need to be a practical lead-in time to enable advance preparations to be made before licensing was activated by an order under Clause 3(3).

The scope or orders made under Clause 3(3) is limited to the activities that have already been defined through legislation as the activities of a security operative which are subject to regulation. Those are the activities listed in Part 1 of Schedule 2. Amendment No. 13 would not therefore have any additional effect. I hope that the noble Lord will consider withdrawing it.

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

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

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

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The interesting point about the Minister's response to the amendments was the hint that she gave, presumably to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, that the Government might extend the order-making power in Schedule 2 to cover alarm installers.

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To be fair, and to have placed it on the record, I think I indicated that there is the facility for so doing under the terms of the Bill. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, allowed us to make that clear.

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As a matter of fact, it was relevant to the previous amendment. But that later intervention of the noble Baroness has poured cold water on the idea that the Government will extend the provision in the near future. She drew back from saying that it does anything more than provide the facility for them to do so.

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For the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, and also for the benefit of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, it is important that I place on record that I was neither indicating a willingness or desire to do so immediately nor any rejection of that course of action. Perhaps I should place on record my interest in this subject. On the night before a rugby match I was refused entry to a public house in Wales by a bouncer. Members of the Committee will not be surprised to learn that all I wanted to do was buy a packet of cigarettes. He said that no one who was a stranger would be allowed across the threshold in case they started a fight.

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The noble Baroness appeals to our sympathy with her account of that unfortunate experience. We know that in matters of cigarettes it is sometimes important that supplies are available to people. However, I shall draw a veil over that. I thank the noble Baroness for making clear—or clearer—the Government's intentions with regard to alarm companies and others. In view of the substance of her remarks on the various amendments, I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 13.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[ Amendment No. 14 not moved.]

5.45 p.m.

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moved Amendment No. 14A:

Page 4, line 5, leave out from beginning to ("shall") and insert ("A person is guilty of an offence if he wilfully contravenes subsection (1) of this section and").

The noble Lord said: I am sure that had the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, been wearing a red jersey and a red and white bobble hat on that occasion she would have had no trouble in getting her cigarettes.

With this amendment I seek to raise the question of absolute offences. As the Bill is drafted, Clause 3(1) states:

"Subject to the following provisions of this Act, it shall be an offence for a person to engage in any licensable conduct except under and in accordance with a licence".

I approve of the proposed amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, to remove the words,

"it shall be an offence for a person",

and have a simple prohibition that a person shall not engage in any licensable conduct. But I have not been party to his discussions with the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, and so I do not know what has emerged from them.

The purpose of my amendment is to introduce into the concept of an offence which carries a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months the idea of knowledge or intention. The word "wilfully" is appropriate in such circumstances. In order to make it absolutely clear that a person is not committing an absolute offence to which he has no defence, Amendment No. 14A introduces the words,

"wilfully contravenes subsection (1) of this section".

Amendment No. 23B is linked to Amendment No. 14A and refers to Clause 8. In Clause 8 we have something rather worse. One has a reverse burden of proof. It is clear from Clause 8 that an absolute offence is set out in subsection (4). It states:

"Any person who contravenes the conditions of any licence granted to him shall be guilty of an offence and liable … to a term of imprisonment".

There is a statutory defence in subsection (5) that,

"it shall be a defence for that person to show that he exercised all due diligence to avoid a contravention of the conditions of the licence".

Reverse burdens of proof of this kind are reasonably frequent in the criminal law but they do cause problems. Instead of the prosecution having to prove the case, it is for the defendant to prove his innocence. That is what it amounts to. Human rights considerations do arise. Amendment No. 2313 seeks to insert the word "wilfully" into subsection (4) and Amendment No. 23C seeks to omit the statutory defence for the purposes of clarifying that mens rea—intention and knowledge—must be proved before people can be sent to prison for up to six months for a breach of the legislation. Heaven knows, the legislation that goes through the House introduces so many new offences. It should be government policy to ensure that in all those cases absolute offences are not created and that mens rea is a necessary ingredient. I beg to move.

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I should like to support in particular Amendment No. 23B, spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, when he moved Amendment No. 14A. He referred in particular to the absolute offence which has been created here.

The Bill will confer substantial powers on the Secretary of State through various order-making procedures and, indeed, by in effect issuing directions to the authority. The security industry is large and complicated. Given that, orders will be introduced over a comparatively long period and the transition period will be lengthy. I believe that it will be extremely difficult for everyone to remain absolutely innocent all of the time. No doubt some corners will be cut and grey areas encountered. The authority needs to be given time to work out those problems.

It seems to me that, without incorporating a defence of some kind, we shall run the risk of convicting a person because there will be no choice but to convict him, simply because that is what is stated in the law. However, that person may have a perfectly valid and reasonable explanation that should, under normal circumstances, be taken into account in any court of law.

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The Government consider that, for regulation to be effective and for the authority to have teeth, it is important that the licensing provisions are supported by criminal offences. I would hope that all of your Lordships involved in these discussions and debates would support that principle. However, it is important that the offences created are appropriate for the type of conduct they have been designed to prohibit and that they can be clearly understood.

Clause 3 as drafted creates a strict liability offence of engaging in licensable activity without a licence and no proof of intent is necessary. The penalty for this offence is set out in Clause 5. The purpose of the offence is to put the burden on operatives within the industry to ensure that they are properly licensed for the activities which they perform. To accept this amendment would be to add a requirement that a prosecution of an unlicensed person must also prove that they "wilfully" or intentionally failed to have a licence. In our view that would draw the teeth of the offence. It would be difficult to show that a failure to have a licence was "wilful". A defendant could easily show that, far from being wilful, he had been simply negligent or had made a mistake. As it stands, the clause properly puts the burden on the operative.

Clause 8(4) creates a strict liability offence of contravening the conditions of a licence. The purpose of this offence is to put the burden on operatives within the industry to ensure that they do not breach their licence conditions. To accept the amendment would mean that the prosecution would again have to prove that the person wilfully or intentionally breached their licence conditions. That would effectively shift the burden of proof away from the defendant.

We want to give defendants adequate protection where there is no intention to subvert the licensing system. We also want to put the onus on them to ensure that they hold the appropriate licence for the work that they are performing. That is an important point. For those reasons, I cannot accept the amendments and I hope that the noble Lord will now consider withdrawing them.

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The Minister pointed out that a person must take steps to have the appropriate licence for the job that he is performing. Perhaps I may cite the example of a person employed by one of the large security firms. That person will hold a licence. Does that mean that many different types of licensing will be necessary for someone undertaking many different tasks? What will be the appropriate licence in each case? Will one person hold a licence for guarding and another person hold a licence for a different duty? If an employee of a large firm is licensed and his firm says, "Tomorrow you are going to do this", is the onus then put on the employee to check whether his individual licence covers that duty, or will the licence be a corporate entity?

I might have misunderstood the noble Lord when he referred to "appropriate licences". I was not entirely clear about what he had in mind.

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The noble Viscount will appreciate that licences will relate to individuals. In other words, the individual must hold an appropriate licence to enable him to carry out the duties included in his job. It is the licence which needs to be "appropriate". I hope that that explanation is of help to the noble Viscount.

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I believe that an important matter of principle has arisen in relation to these amendments. The Government are not being consistent here. On reading Clause 18(3), which deals with entry, inspection and information, a person is guilty of an offence under that clause if he "intentionally obstructs any person" or,

"fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any requirement".
Furthermore, Clause 20(1) states that,
"A person is guilty of an offence if for any purposes connected with the carrying out by the Authority of any of its functions under this Act—
  • (a) he makes any statement to the Authority which he knows to be false in a material particular; or
  • (b) he recklessly makes any statement to the Authority which is false in a material particular".
  • It appears that some of the offences which can be committed under the provisions of the Bill will be absolute—if you are found guilty you are liable to be sent to prison, even if you were acting with a completely innocent mind and had no idea that a licence was required for what you are doing. That is wrong.

    There is no consistency in the Bill because mens rea is required for other offences. The problem is therefore highlighted. I would ask the Government to think again on this point because I shall certainly return to it at a later stage. For the moment, however, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 3 agreed to.

    Clause 4 [ Exemptions from licensing requirement]:

    [ Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 not moved.]

    6 p.m.

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    moved Amendment No. 17:

    Clause 4, page 4, line 47, at end insert—
    ("() A person shall not be guilty of an offence if he—
  • (a) carries out any of the activities prescribed by Schedule 2 to this Act without financial or other reward and he does so where he, and those for whom he so acts, perform such activities on a non commercial basis;
  • (b) is not ordinarily employed as a security operative or required, in the course of his employment, so to act; or
  • (c) is employed (whether remunerated or not) by a school, church or a registered charity.").
  • The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 17 seeks to insert into Clause 4 the words as set out in the Marshalled List. In a moment we shall discuss with it Amendment No. 18.

    Amendment No. 17 comprises a new subsection of three paragraphs, each of which excuses people from committing offences under the Act. Paragraph (a) would excuse those carrying out activities on a non-commercial basis. Paragraph (c) covers those,

    "employed … by a school, church or a registered charity.

    They are similar, although not identical. Paragraph (b) has in effect already been covered. It refers to a person,

    "not ordinarily employed as a security operative".

    although he may act as such from time to time. As I have said, we have already discussed the matter of security activities being "incidental" to the main activities. For that reason, I shall not press new paragraph (b) of the amendment.

    However, as regards paragraphs (a) and (c), I think that it is important that the regulations and licensing system should not cover innocent people who would be criminalised by the Bill if it was strictly interpreted. One can cite all kinds of activities where people take on the role of temporary door supervisors. I have in mind several jumble sales that I have attended in Chipping Sodbury town hall. Sometimes a considerable press of people wishing to get into the jumble sale first to secure the best bargains may be encountered at opening time. The same can happen in commercial premises, but when the jumble sale is run, as such sales habitually are, by a charity or some other deserving cause, this can occur. On a strict reading of the Bill, someone acting as a door supervisor for that purpose might be held to require a licence. If so, the organisers of the event would also require a licence, because they would be taking on people to act in that capacity, even if there was no remuneration.

    It is also regrettably the case that occasionally a church service is disrupted for one reason or another. We all know that there was an interruption in Canterbury cathedral in the middle of a sermon by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury not so long ago. I am thinking particularly also of midnight masses at Christmas and Easter, which sometimes coincide with the pubs turning out. That can lead to unfortunate incidents, one of which I witnessed a few years ago. In such cases, people have to act as door supervisors, sometimes for an extended period. I want to be sure that that kind of activity is not covered and that there is no requirement for a licence. Another example is a school caretaker who provides security services occasionally, but he is probably covered by the "incidental" words we discussed earlier.

    Amendment No. 18 provides that one can go to the local magistrates' court to apply for a temporary licence. This is intended to cover a one-off event, where the organisers may wish to take people on to act as door supervisors and so on. There are some large one-off events in our part of the country. One thinks of the Glastonbury festival. I have never been to it, but a large number of people do go, and the organisers have a great deal of trouble controlling the entrance, to such an extent that they are not holding the festival this year. Such events can be policed—if that is the right word—by one of the large security firms, but also by people employed by the organisations running the events.

    No doubt under the Bill, although there is no special provision for this, organisers could ask for a temporary licence from the security industry authority. However, it would be more sensible for them to be able to go to the magistrates, although the magistrates should use the same criteria as the authority would. We have made it clear in the amendment that the licence would exist for only one month and would not be renewable, so this is not a way of opening up a separate channel for acquiring a licence.

    The magistrates' court is probably a good place to go for a temporary licence, particularly as the magistrates will be likely to be issuing a temporary licence for the sale of alcohol, for example, and perhaps for dancing or public entertainment; they are likely to be in the business of licensing the particular event that is being organised. Rather than having to apply separately to the security industry authority, a person should be able to apply to the magistrates for the necessary security licence as well.

    The provision would also cover urgent cases in which something was being set up quickly. The national authority may be very slick in its operations and its issuing of licences to individuals and firms, but not all such authorities have proved very slick in the past, whereas the magistrates' court is up and running and one can go to it any day to apply for licences and get going. Once again, the licence would run for only one month. If it was a permanent activity starting urgently, one would still need to go to the authority to obtain the proper licence to proceed.

    I expressed on Second Reading my concern that the Bill, which we support in principle, should not catch unnecessarily activities outside the main stream of the security industry, and these two amendments are designed to try to bring this matter into focus and to make sure that the Bill does not apply to people to whom the Committee—and, I feel sure, the Government—would not wish it to apply. I beg to move.

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    I support the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, on these two amendments. With the jumble of images that he has given us—the bursting open of the door at jumble sales, the vergers at risk on Christmas Eve and so on—he has painted a picture of the kind of situation in which people become involved in performing, on a temporary basis, some of the activities described in Schedule 2, and those people should not be caught by the provisions of the Bill.

    I also agree with the noble Lord that the swift procedure of obtaining an order from the magistrates' court would be of great value. If the application could be heard together with the applications for the temporary liquor licence and the temporary dancing licence, that would be a very easy way of having some control over the kind of things that go on at special events. I am sure that the authority itself would welcome the use of the magistrates' court, rather than having to set aside part of its operations to deal with urgent and temporary applications.

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    If I ever have to attend a jumble sale in Chipping Sodbury I shall now feel much more secure in the knowledge that the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, is likely to be on the door taking my 10p, or whatever the entry fee is.

    It is not our intention to be excessive in the way in which we apply this part of the legislation. No person falling into the categories which are the subject of Amendment No. 17 will be taken into the regulatory regime established by the Bill as currently drafted. The Bill is directed to those who provide services under contract, or, in the case of door supervisors and wheelclampers, those also employed in-house, as I clarified earlier. These are covered by the provisions of Clause 3 and Part II of Schedule 2. The licensing arrangements do not apply to those who undertake the activities of a security operative on a non-contract or reward-free basis, nor to those who carry out security-related activities which are incidental to their main employment, a matter that we have already discussed.

    If a school, church or registered charity hires security operatives under contract, we still take the view that it is right that those organisations should expect them to have been vetted to a national standard and licensed. If the security operatives that they use are employed in-house, they will be exempted from the licensing requirement; in those circumstances it will be the responsibility of the organisation to vet its own staff.

    The Bill already takes account of the issues which the noble Lord has suggested as the basis of the amendment, and we think that for that reason the amendment is unnecessary.

    Perhaps I might add that it is not our intention to cover innocent people inadvertently, and I hope that the clarification I have given will help in that regard. Regulations may specify in greater detail by description who is excluded. Further than that, the security industry authority itself will be able to make it clear that groups such as those mentioned in paragraph (c) of Amendment No. 17 are not covered. I hope that that helps the noble Lord.

    Turning to Amendment No. 18, we do not believe that a temporary exemption from the need for a licence is necessary or desirable. It would potentially introduce an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy into the licensing process. It could also lead to different standards being temporarily applied across the country. That would be a recipe for confusion and would lead to the development of a rather uneven package. That is not something we should encourage. We want a level playing field.

    Provisions already exist in Clause 4 for exemptions from the need for a licence. Clause 4 permits exemptions where the authority is satisfied that a valid alternative to its own vetting procedures exists. It also allows firms which have received approved contractor status under Clause 13 temporarily to engage unlicensed persons who have none the less applied for a licence.

    The security industry authority will be a one-stop shop arrangement. To establish a separate exemption scheme through the courts would again lead to confusion. It would weaken the licensing regime rather than strengthen it and add to the work of magistrates.

    The noble Lord suggested that one-off events could be approved by magistrates' courts in the same way as a temporary licence. We would argue that one-off events needing door supervision on a licensed basis should be staffed by properly licensed people, particularly an event such as a pop concert. It is appropriate that such events continue to be covered. In some respects, urgent cases may be an ideal opportunity for criminals to offer their services. Where the need arises rather rapidly is exactly the kind of situation where people with a dodgy background may seek to become engaged.

    For those reasons—to ensure probity and evenness of application—we do not think that the amendment should be supported. Having heard that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

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    So far as concerns Amendment No. 17, can I take it from what the Minister said that the Government do not wish to catch people working for charities and so on, even if they are lowly paid or volunteers? The suggestion seemed to be that if they were paid they were covered. Sometimes people who undertake these duties get a small remuneration.

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    If it helps the noble Lord, that is exactly the case. I completely concur with the extra elucidation given by the noble Lord and with his interpretation.

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    I am grateful to the noble Lord. He also said that regulations could vary. I am not sure which regulations he had in mind.

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    The point I was trying to make was that in the description of regulations we will be much more forthcoming in setting out how they might work and how the exemptions might work. There will be further clarification then.

    6.15 p.m.

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    We shall look forward to that. So far as concerns Amendment No. 18, I am not really persuaded by what the Minister said. He talked of marginally differing standards. The Bill provides subsequently for local authorities to have powers of licensing. Presumably that will lead to marginally different decisions being made by local authorities. So the Government are already providing for that on a permanent basis. Under the amendment there may be slightly different standards between magistrates' courts—although they are supposed to apply the same rules as the security authority—but, by definition, they will apply only temporarily, for not more than one month. I do not think the Minister has a powerful argument in these circumstances. A licensing system whereby a temporary licence can be granted by a magistrates' court—particularly in combination with an application for a licence to sell alcohol or for dancing and so on, as I described—could be extremely helpful.

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    I can see the parallel and the comparison, but, of course, singing, dancing and entertainment licences are taken through the local authority process. It is our long-term intention to bring liquor licensing into the local authority orbit as well. The noble Lord's argument—certainly in the medium to longer term—does not hold quite as much water as he would have us believe.

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    It may be the intention of the noble Lord and his colleagues in government to bring licensing into the local authority's purview instead of the magistrates' court, but it is certainly not Parliament's intention—not yet, at any rate. I am not inclined to think that that is a good idea. But that is not an argument for today.

    I do not share the view which seems to be taken by the Government that magistrates' courts are something basically to be got rid of—at least that the lay magistrates' courts are something to be got rid of. The Government seem to want to stick pins in them all the way round. However, that is a much larger argument. We should not involve ourselves too much with it today.

    Magistrates' courts will be very good places to go for licences as long as they are responsible for alcohol licensing, dancing, entertainment and so on. If at some future stage the Government lay a Bill before the House to remove that power from magistrates and give it to local authorities in respect of alcohol sales and other matters, no doubt the power to license in this case would be removed at the same time. That would be logical.

    But that is a different argument from the one that applies today. We have to proceed on the basis of the law as it is. And the law states that alcohol licensing and so on is carried out by the magistrates' courts. That is why it is a sensible arrangement to have the temporary licence provision arranged in the way I suggest.

    From the nature of his reply, it seems to me that the Minister does not want to give this matter further consideration. I am encouraged by the support of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, and the Liberal Democrats to seek the opinion of the Committee.

    On Question, amendment negatived.

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    moved Amendment No. 18:

    Page 4, line 47, at end insert—
    ("(6) A person may apply, on notice to the Security Industry Authority, to the magistrates' court having jurisdiction over the area affected by the designated activities, for an exemption from the requirements to apply for a licence and the Lord Chancellor may make an order as to the procedure to be followed on such an application, including on urgent applications; and the test to be applied by the court is the same as that which would have been applied had an application been made to the Security Industry Authority.
    (7) A licence under subsection (6) shall not be granted for a period exceeding one month and shall not be renewable.")

    The noble Lord said: I have spoken to the amendment. I beg to move.

    6.19 p.m.

    On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 18) shall be agreed to?

    Their Lordships divided: Contents, 88; Not-Contents, 98.

    Division No. 1

    CONTENTS

    Addington, L.Luke, L.
    Alton of Liverpool, L.Lyell, L.
    Astor, V.Maddock, B.
    Astor of Hever, L.Mancroft, L.
    Attlee, E.Mar and Kellie, E.
    Barker, B.Marlesford, L.
    Beaumont of Whitley, L.Molyneaux of Killead, L.
    Blaker, L.Montrose, D.
    Blatch, B.Moynihan, L.
    Boardman, L.Newby, L.
    Bridgeman, V.Northbrook, L.
    Brougham and Vaux, L.Northesk, E.
    Burnham. L. [Teller]Park of Monmouth, B.
    Byford, B.Peel, E.
    Campbell of Croy, L.Phillips of Sudbury, L.
    Chadlington, L.Plumb, L.
    Colwyn, L.Reay, L.
    Cope of Berkeley, L.Rees, L.
    Crickhowell, L.Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
    Dean of Harptree, L.Renton, L.
    Dholakia, L.Roberts of Conwy, L.
    Dixon-Smith, L.Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
    Elliott of Morpeth, L.Rotherwick, L.
    Elton, L.Russell, E.
    Flather, B.Sandberg, L.
    Fookes, B.Scott of Needham Market, B
    Gardner of Parkes, B.Seccombe, B.
    Garel-Jones, L.Sharp of Guildford, B.
    Glentoran, L.Shaw of Northstead, L.
    Goschen, V.Shutt of Greetland, L.
    Greaves, L.Skelmersdale, L.
    Harris of Richmond, B.Stodart of Leaston, L.
    Haslam, L.Strathclyde, L.
    Henley, L.[TeIler]Swinfen, L.
    Higgins, L.Taverne, L.
    Hooper, B.Thomas of Gresford, L.
    Howe, E.Thomas of Gwydir, L.
    Howell of Guildford, L.Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
    Jopling, L.Tordoff, L.
    Kimball, L.Waddington, L.
    Kingsland, L.Wallace of Saltaire, L.
    Knight of Collingtree, B.Walmsley, B.
    Liverpool, E.Williams of Crosby, B.
    Lucas, L.Young, B.

    NOT-CONTENTS

    Acton, L.Islwyn, L.
    Ahmed, L.Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
    Allenby of Megiddo, V.Jeger, B.
    Alli, L.Jenkins of Putney, L.
    Amos, B.Judd, L.
    Andrews, B.Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
    Archer of Sandwell, L.Kirkhill, L
    Bach, L.Lipsey, L
    Barnett, L.Lockwood, B.
    Bassam of Brighton, L.Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
    Berkeley, L.Mclntosh of Haringey, L.
    Billingham, B.[Teller]
    Blackstone, B.Mclntosh of Hudnall, B.
    Borrie, L.Mackenzie of Culkein, L.
    Bragg, L.Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L
    Brookman, L.Mallalieu, B.
    Brooks of Tremorfa, L.Marsh, L.
    Burlison, L.Mason of Barnsley, L.
    Carter, L. [Teller]Massey of Darwen, B.
    Cocks of Hartcliffe. L.Merlyn-Rees, L.
    Crawley, B.Molloy, L.
    David, B.Morris of Manchester, L.
    Davies of Coity, L.Nicol, B.
    Davies of Oldham, L.Orme, L.
    Dixon, L.Palmer, L.
    Dubs, L.Patel of Blackburn L
    Elder, L.Plant of Highfield, L.
    Evans of Parkside, L.Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
    Evans of Temple Guiting, L.Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
    Evans of Watford, L.Rea, L.
    Falconer of Thoroton, L.Rendell of Babergh, B.
    Farrington of Ribbleton, B.Sewel. L.
    Filkin, L.Shepherd, L.
    Fyfe of Fairfield, L.Simon, V.
    Gale, B.Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
    Gibson of Market Rasen, B.Smith of Leigh, L.
    Goldsmith, L.Stoddart of Swindon, L.
    Gordon of Strathblane, L.Stone of Blackheath, L.
    Graham of Edmonton, L.Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
    Hardy of Wath, L.Taylor of Blackburn, L.
    Harris of Haringey, L.Turnberg, L.
    Hayman, B.Uddin, B.
    Hollis of Heigham, B.Walker of Doncaster, L.
    Howells of St. Davids, B.Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
    Howie of Troon, L.Weatherill, L.
    Hughes of Woodside, L.Whitaker, B.
    Hunt of Chesterton, L.Whitty, L.
    Hunt of Kings Heath, L.Wilkins, B.
    Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)Williams of Mostyn, L.
    Woolmer of Leeds, L.

    Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

    6.29 p.m.

    Clause 4 agreed to.

    Clause 5 agreed to.

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    moved Amendment No. 19:

    After Clause 5, insert the following new clause—

    LIABILITY FOR SECURITY OPERATIVES

    (" .—(1) An individual, partnership or company which employs security operatives to which paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 to this Act applies (door supervisors, etc. for public houses and clubs and comparable venues) shall be liable (in contract and in tort) for the acts and omissions of those individuals.

    (2) It shall be the duty of any such individual, partnership or company, to maintain, for public inspection, upon reasonable notice and upon the payment of such fee as the Secretary of State may from time to time prescribe, a list of the individuals and their addresses, to which paragraph 8 of Schedule 2 to this Act applies and the dates upon which they worked, and their hours of work.

    (3) For the purposes of this section, an individual, partnership or company employs a security operative if he has security operatives on his premises, notwithstanding the fact that those security operatives may be employed or remunerated by another individual, partnership or company.").

    The noble Lord said: This proposed new clause provides a liability for the acts, or omissions, of door supervisors when they do the wrong thing. In order to police the liability, the amendment goes on to provide that those who employ door supervisors must keep a record of those whom they employ in that capacity and their times of employment. As subsection (3) makes clear, that applies even if the security operative—in this case the door supervisor—is the employee of another company but is merely working in that club or public house at the time.

    The purpose of the amendment is to provide a remedy to a problem which I am told is quite common; namely, the trouble that may arise between a door supervisor and some of the guests or customers of an establishment. If there is an argument that the door supervisor has assaulted a customer, it is often not possible for that customer to pursue a civil action against that individual because the door supervisor will almost certainly lack the means to pay any necessary damages. It appears that employers are unlikely to be found liable in such cases because the victim (the customer) is likely to be met with the defence that the employee was acting on his own behalf, that he was on a frolic of his own and was, therefore, outside the course of his employment.

    I express myself in those terms in the light of conversations that I have had with a barrister who has experience of these matters. As the law stands, if a night club reasonably contracts out its security functions to another company, an action against the venue could not succeed. This amendment seeks to ensure that if an altercation takes place, during which a customer feels he has been unfairly set upon by a door supervisor, it will be possible for him to bring a successful action for damages against the company that owns the club or public house in question. That may not occur in the best conducted establishments, but it may and apparently does occur in some.

    In my view, it is the duty of a club to keep control over its employees. If those employees behave improperly and, for example, throw somebody down a flight of stairs, the company, as well as the individual security operatives, should be liable. I should add that that concept will not necessarily always involve a flight of stairs. The altercation may take place on the pavement outside the premises, which would make it all the more difficult, as the law stands at the moment, to pursue the club itself. The purpose of the amendment is that one should be able to pursue the club as well as the individual door supervisor. I beg to move.

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    If this amendment is intended to cover a security operative who acts on a frolic of his own, it is a startling extension of liability in contract and in tort. It has wide insurance implications. For example, if a door supervisor produced a knife, which the owner of the club had no reason to suspect he had on his person, and used it, the club would be liable for the injury that was occasioned. As I understand the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Cope, puts the case, it may or may not be desirable from a public point of view, but it does have very wide implications.

    With regard to subsection (2) of this new clause, anyone with experience of the Crown Courts of this country will understand precisely the problem to which the noble Lord referred; namely, that security operatives who cause trouble disappear or cannot be identified, either in respect of their criminal liability or their liability in tort. It is a very good idea to have a register of club or public house door supervisors. Whether it should encompass the whole of this clause, with its wide extension of liability, is a different matter.

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    I support the intent behind my noble friend's amendment. There clearly is an issue to be considered with regard to the relationship between the management of clubs and the actions of door supervisors. I have listened with care to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, about the various legal difficulties with this approach. There is perhaps another approach that the Minister or another Member of the Committee might volunteer. However, it would be extremely regrettable if the management of a club could say, "We have moved from the previous position of employing any old gaoler on the door. We have now employed a licensed doorkeeper, who has committed an act for which we have no responsibility whatever".

    One of my concerns relates to drug dealing by doormen and the control of drug dealing in night-clubs. Responsible night-club owners will want to ensure that drugs are not used in their night-clubs. However, there are rogue night-club owners as well as rogue doormen. In the circumstances that I have described, how does the Minister suggest the relationship between club management and doorkeepers should work? In the example of a doorkeeper throwing someone down a flight of stairs or on to the pavement, the management may say to a doorkeeper, "We employ tough doormen who will throw people out. We do not want any bother. We want to see these guys out on the pavement and treated harshly". The doorkeeper may do exactly that, and the customer may try to pursue a claim against that doorkeeper. However, the fault could well lie with the management of the club for encouraging their doormen to exercise undue violence, or because of concerns relating to dealing in drugs.

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    I have some sympathy with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. However, I am not sure that this amendment deals with it in the right way. I prefer the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. The amendment would place additional requirements on employers of door supervisors and those who may use door supervisors. I also argue that it places a vicarious liability on those employers or other users for the actions of their door supervisors.

    We believe that the duty that would be placed on employers to keep publicly available records of door supervisors' names, addresses, dates and hours of work would impose an additional burden on employers for very little public benefit. Any member of the public who has a complaint against a door supervisor should already be able to ascertain the relevant details from his employers, and, if necessary, the police may be called upon to assist.

    We believe that this additional burden would go too far in the direction of a regulatory burden on companies. We take the view that reputable companies should already be able to do what the amendment seeks to impose. Although I am not at present in favour of such a requirement, if a problem should arise and it became apparent that it was larger than at first thought, there would be nothing to stop the security industry authority from making it a condition of the approved contractors scheme under Clause 14—a scheme that we expect the majority of reputable companies to join.

    The issue of vicarious liability raises further questions. Vicarious liability is firmly established at common law as a principle that will make employers liable for the acts and omissions of employees who are acting,
    "in the course of their employment",
    rather than, as has been said, going off on a frolic of their own. The amendment would extend the vicarious liability principle substantially. A bouncer's employer would be liable in contract and in tort for all actions and omissions of his employee. Theoretically, a situation could arise where a pedestrian, knocked down by a motorist who happens to be an off duty bouncer, would be able to claim against the bouncer's employer. More practically, if a bouncer decided to stab someone while carrying out bouncer duties, it means that the employer would be liable to pay compensation for the actions, even if the bouncer were acting independently out of anger or revenge.

    Subsection (3) of the amendment considers that an employer employs a bouncer if he has bouncers on the premises, even if that person is supplied under a contract of services. So a landlord may go to the trouble of employing a reputable company and yet still be liable for misdeeds on the part of the bouncer.

    The proposed extension of the vicarious liability principle goes far beyond the needs of common law. We believe that it would impose an unfair and unjust system on those who retain door supervisory staff. Therefore, in good conscience, I am afraid that we cannot support such a measure. In view of my comments, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment. For my part, I shall certainly reflect on the issue raised. However, I cannot recommend the proposed new clause as a solution to the Committee.

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    I thank my noble friend for his support for my proposed new clause. I believe that there is a problem in this respect. Indeed, the Minister has agreed to reflect further on the matter. As regards subsection (1) of the amendment, I realise that this proposes a very considerable extension of the liability involved. If there is an easier way out of the dilemma that occurs from time to time, we should obviously choose it.

    Notwithstanding the support that I received from the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, I am also very susceptible to the argument that subsection (2) would, as the Minister said, place an "additional burden" on companies. In the circumstances, I believe that we should all reflect further on the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 6 [ Licensing criteria]:

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    moved Amendment No. 20:

    Page 5, line 42, leave out paragraph (b).

    The noble Viscount said: The two amendments in this group are probing amendments that are designed to highlight a range of issues that arise as a result of Clause 6 and subsection (3) in particular. We seek clarification on how the authority will be able to gauge "the skills" and the "criteria" when deciding whether to issue licences. If Members of the Committee look at Clause 6(3)(a), they will see that it refers to,

    "such criteria as the Authority considers appropriate for securing that the persons who engage in licensable conduct are fit and proper persons to engage in that conduct".

    That seems to be perfectly reasonable. It is normal duty that is often imposed upon such bodies.

    However, subsection (3)(b) extends the criteria, in that the authority will have to consider whether such persons,

    "have the skills necessary to engage in the conduct for which they are licensed".

    What do the Government mean by "skills"; for example, what skills are these people supposed to have? I can only assume that they mean "training" in some way. If that is the case, the legislation ought to say so. Will training schemes be set up for the purpose? Will the authority demand that people undertake some training before they can be considered for a licence? If so, will that training form part of an educational system like NVQs? What form will such training take? I do not understand the position. Such a requirement seems to me to be unnecessary. "Skills" seems to be a rather meaningless word in this context.

    Can the Minister say what kind of skills applicants will be required to have? Either those concerned will be fit and proper persons or they will not be. I do not understand the meaning of the word "skills" in this provision. It seems to me to be both confusing and unnecessary. If the Government really mean to impose a serious regime of training for the industry, they should say so. They should come clean and state their position clearly on the matter.

    I turn now to subsection (3)(c), which seems to me to be an extraordinary belt and braces clause. It appears to say, "If we haven't covered anything further than the conditions in paragraphs (a) and (b) which relate to someone being a fit and proper person and having the necessary skills, we can consider anything else that we want, no matter what it is"—in other words, the authority will have a totally undefined power that will enable it to say, "Whatever we think, we can say no".

    I should like to know why the Government consider such a provision to be necessary. If the authority is to be responsible for people's livelihoods, it seems to me that a clear duty should be placed upon it to state what it regards as being "fit and proper" and what is not; and what it regards as appropriate training. As it stands, this is an incredibly wide provision, especially when one considers the extraordinarily wide powers that the Secretary of State will have to add further provisions to various parts of the legislation.

    The Minister may correct me if I am wrong in this respect, but it seems to me the current licensing functions will be sub-contracted out to local authorities. Therefore, the powers under Clause 6(3)(a)(b) and (c) will also be sub-contracted to local authorities; in other words, local authorities will have a whole series of rather vague rules by which they will have to decide such matters.

    When we discussed a previous amendment, the Minister said that the one thing we do not want is different rules applying to different areas. So how will these provisions work? Before the authority contracts out to the local authority, will it stipulate "the skills" required? Further, will it state what training will be required and then outline all the different conditions that are to be attached to the licence application? When one looks at the Bill, one sees that the authority has the power to add conditions once a licence has been issued. How will that work in practice? Like the Minister, I am concerned that there should not be different rules for different parts of the country.

    I should like to hear more from the Minister about how the proposed system will work with local authorities. The Government must define what they mean in subsection (3). Indeed, the Minister must explain why it is necessary to have paragraph (c) in the clause. I beg to move.

    6.45 p.m.

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    My noble friend has highlighted an interesting inconsistency. I recall that we argued a similar point a short time ago. At that stage, my noble friend Lord Cope sought to have the word "skill" inserted into the Bill in place of the word "training" in Clause 1(2)(e). However, we have a direct reference to "skills" in Clause 6. The Minister put forward a convincing argument against the word "skill" at that time. He said that it was much better to have the word "training" in that clause. Nevertheless, a few pages further on in the Bill, the Minister had changed his mind by the time that we reached Clause 5, where we have the word "skills" instead of the word "training". It seems to me that both words should be used. We could then sleep carefully and safely at night.

    As Amendment No. 21 has been included in this group, perhaps I make take this opportunity to raise a rather wider point that I trust the Minister can answer at this stage. However, if he cannot, perhaps he will be able to respond in relation to another clause of the Bill. Although the issue is relevant to Clause 6 and Amendment No. 21, the point goes a little further and relates to the issue of revocation. Criticism has been made of the Bill that it will target individuals and that the licensing system is based around the activities and licence ability, if you will, of the individual concerned, not of the firm for which he works. I understand that criticism and to some extent support it. There will be individual licensing of all individual security operatives rather than one overall licence for a firm and the imposition of duties on that firm, which would ensure that the people who worked for it were the right sort of people. There is a difficulty concerning bad firms.

    What happens when firms go wrong? One knows that the dodgier elements, to use the Minister's expression, of the security business have in some unfortunate episodes overlapped with some elements of the criminal fraternity and that criminals have been involved with the provision of security services. That is why the Bill is felt to be necessary. I am concerned that licences may be given to firms that are substandard and, perhaps, run by criminal elements.

    Amendment No. 21 relates to Clause 6(3)(c), which states that the authority,
    "may also include criteria relating to such other matters as the Authority thinks fit".
    It would assist the Committee if the Minister said whether the type of employer will be taken into consideration when a licence is issued. In other words, a firm may be known to be dubious—it may be infiltrated, owned or run by criminal elements—and someone in it, perhaps a new recruit, may apply for a licence. That person may be perfectly acceptable, apart from the fact that he works for a dubious firm. Will that be taken into account in an application or would that discriminate against the individual, who may be a perfectly decent person? There may be a failure to impose sanctions on a substandard firm.

    My point boils down to this. How can substandard firms—by "substandard" I mean those about which the police and the licensing authority have strong suspicions that criminal activities are going on—be effectively put out of business? As I interpret the Bill, various individuals can have their licences suspended or revoked, or they may not be issued in the first place, but that does not appear to be the case with a firm as a whole.

    I do not think that I should prejudge the Minister too much if I guess that his answer will involve a reference to the approval scheme. Some of my remarks definitely relate to it. At Second Reading, he said:
    "But we do not believe that the threat of withdrawal of approval will necessarily be a deterrent if companies feel that illegal activities are the way to gain their business objectives".—[Official Report, 18/12/00; col. 600.]
    That explanation did not involve the approval process.

    That argument, which is relevant to Amendment No. 21, involves the type of criteria that the authority can take into account when deciding whether to issue a licence. However, that argument is also part of a much wider question. I should appreciate it if the Minister would respond to that wider question, but if he cannot at this stage perhaps he would discuss the narrower question of the issuing of licences in connection with an employer.

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    We have had a useful debate on the two amendments. It is important for the authority to have the flexibility to decide on the licensing criteria that should be applied. Each sector of the industry has different requirements, and the authority may decide, following consultation with the industry, police, local authorities and other interested organisations, that to obtain a licence in order to undertake a particular type of recruitment activity, a particular skill or standard would need to be achieved. That is an important tool, which the authority will use to drive up standards across the industry. The Bill is therefore designed to give the authority flexibility in determining the criteria that will best ensure that standards are raised in an appropriately targeted way, where necessary, and that regulation is overall more effective.

    The noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, raised the prospect of the relevant criteria perhaps being skills and/or training.

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    And training.

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    Yes. I am attracted to that proposition and I am grateful to the noble Viscount for making it. It may help us to clarify the word "skills" in line 43 on page 5. I shall take the suggestion away without commitment, although I am interested in it. It may help us in relation to the clause and with our earlier debate—it may be relevant in both instances. I hope that we can be helpful in this regard.

    When the authority sets out criteria against which it will judge licence applications, subsection (3) will require it to include criteria to establish whether applicants are "fit and proper persons". That subsection will also allow the authority to include criteria relating to necessary skills. Amendment No. 21 would remove the authority's ability to include a third set of criteria relating to,
    "such other matters as the Authority thinks fit".
    From our perspective, that amendment would reduce the authority's flexibility. It is important for the authority to have the flexibility to decide on the licensing criteria to be applied. Each sector of the industry will have different requirements, and the authority may decide, following consultation—this is important—with the industry, the police, local authorities and others, that to obtain a licence for a particular kind of security work a particular skill standard should be required. That is an important tool, which the authority will use to drive up standards across the industry. That is why we want it. It would be wrong to remove the authority's room for manoeuvre when it responds to particular demands. It goes without saying, of course, that it will not use that flexibility capriciously or without good purpose. It is important to remember that the criteria will continue to be published, so that applicants for licences will know what is expected of them.

    The noble Viscount, Lord Astor, asked why paragraph (c) was so open ended. The relevant conditions will be published by the security industry authority as part of its public statement on standards. It would need the flexibility to review old conditions as circumstances demand. The relevant conditions will all be published, so people will know what is required.

    The noble Viscount also asked about how skills will work when contracting out to local authorities. Local authorities will need to give effect to the authority's standards and published criteria; they will not be able to introduce their own criteria.

    In a helpful contribution, the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, asked whether the type of employer would be taken into account when a licence was applied for. Personal licences do not necessarily relate to the individual's employer—such licences are, after all, personal. There is a common understanding in that regard. If the security industry authority knew that a substandard firm was seeking involvement, it might add—I argue that it should add—conditions to a personal licence, which would ensure that the threshold would be raised. Clearly, that would create the necessary difficulties.

    Perhaps I may refer to our earlier debate about the need to license directors or those with management responsibility. That would provide another safeguard and check. I believe that I made the point that we need to regulate properly the owners or directors of a company precisely to see off the type of difficulty which the noble Viscount mentioned in his contribution to the debate on this amendment. I hope that I have answered most of the points raised.

    7 p.m.

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    I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way and for his helpfulness in covering my wider points. I give notice that I should like to return to this point on Report.

    Given the Minister's explanation of where the matter now lies within the context of the Bill, I am not sure that sufficient leverage can be applied to a rogue firm. I understand his point with regard to the licensing of directors. However, as we know, the nominal directors of an unscrupulous company may not reflect who controls and, indeed, owns the benefits from the company. I believe that such information would be more difficult to tie down. If an individual is not overly concerned about having people "roughed up" or if he deals in drugs, and so on, he will probably not be too concerned about the provisions of the Companies Act or shadow directorships. Therefore, I believe that the Bill is not yet sufficiently tight in that regard. However, I appreciate the Minister's explanation thus far.

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    I understand the issue that the noble Viscount raises. He is trying to get to grips with the character of a company and the company which its owners or directors might keep. I shall reflect further on that matter but I do not believe that there is an easy solution. We may well get to the root of it by taking the approach which we suggest in relation to setting standards and criteria. I am prepared to give the problem further consideration. If the noble Viscount is able to put forward any ideas in the interim, I shall happily pursue those, too. In the meantime, perhaps I may suggest to the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, that he withdraws his amendment.

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    I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Goschen for putting forward the argument about skills and training. The words in the Bill are almost contradictory in that Clause 1 refers to training and Clause 6 refers to skills. The Minister kindly said that he would address that issue.

    I want to put three questions to the Minister. First, I believe that the criteria will be crucial to the successful running of the authority. I should like to receive a commitment from the Government that they will publish draft criteria for consultation. Secondly, the security industry training organisation has been established. Can the Minister tell me whether that will be used in assessing the criteria for training?

    My third question is a request for confirmation of what the Minister said. I believe he said that if anything were contracted out to a local authority, that authority would have to take note of the criteria. In order to clarify my understanding of the situation, am I right in believing that he is saying that the security authority would not contract out to a local authority unless that local authority, in effect, signed up to the criteria and that, therefore, there would be no question of a local authority using criteria which were different to the criteria decided by the authority?

    I am grateful to the Minister for his reply and, of course, shall withdraw Amendment No. 20. With regard to Amendment No. 21, I note his reply and am somewhat delighted by it because I feel that it will provide me with a far more powerful argument when I come to deal with my Amendment No. 23. In the meantime, I give the Minister the opportunity to respond to those questions.

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    The answer to the noble Viscount's points are: yes, no and yes. That is as brief and as complex a reply as I would wish to give at the moment. However, I believe that we do meet the points that he raises. First, yes, the draft criteria will be published for consultation. Secondly, no; possibly they will be used to examine training criteria, but we do not want the SIA's hands tied at this point. Thirdly, yes, the local authority will not be able to introduce its own criteria; we believe that that would be quite wrong.

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    I am grateful to the Minister for being clear. With regard to my second point, the security industry training organisation has been in place since 1991 and has a number of years' experience. Therefore, I ask the Minister to consider how that industry organisation, which is well respected, will be brought into discussions about the authority. Obviously, I shall let the Minister consider that point and, in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 21 not moved.]

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    moved Amendment No. 22:

    Page 6, line 14, at end insert—("() In determining whether or not a person is a fit and proper person to hold a licence, the Authority shall have regard to any representations made to it, whether in orally or in writing, and it shall in any event seek such representations in advance of refusing to grant a licence, giving the applicant an opportunity to respond to any grounds upon which it proposes to refuse a licence.").

    The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 22, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 23. I do not believe that I need to say a great deal about them because the Minister will see that we have been somewhat verbose in our drafting, perhaps in order to make our views clear.

    I shall deal, first, with Amendment No. 22. It is important that the authority has regard to the representations that are made to it. It will have the opportunity to be as open as possible with those who apply for a licence. That will be a complicated process and there will be various transitional provisions. A huge number of individuals—as we have heard, more than 300,000—within the industry, not including new entrants, will have to apply. It will be easy for people to fall through the gaps and not be given a licence, but they will not know why. The process will be difficult.

    The Government are trying to raise standards in the industry. We do not want people to have to wait or to remain unpaid because they cannot obtain a licence. We want people to have confidence that when they apply for a licence they will have a reasonable chance of obtaining one. If they are not to be granted a licence, they should be told the reason why. We have all had experience of records kept by government organisations or large bodies being wrong. In fact, they are more often wrong than right. I believe that an applicant should have the opportunity to make his case and find out what happened.

    That leads me to Amendment No. 23. As we heard, the authority will have extraordinarily wide powers to say "yes", "no" or "maybe" to an applicant. I believe that any quango with that type of power over people's lives should be mindful of the consequences. One way to make government organisations mindful of the consequences is to include a process whereby, if an applicant has been treated badly and claims to have suffered damage, under reasonable terms as set out in Amendment No. 23 the authority would have to pay compensation. I do not believe that such a situation would arise often. However, it would be in the minds of those who run the authority that they must operate with care and in a proper manner.

    The Minister may reply that recourse may be made to judicial review. That response is often given by governments; we have heard it time and time again. However, we all know that judicial review is enormously cumbersome and incredibly expensive. Anyone who applies for a job for the first time does not have a hope in hell of going down that path. 'Therefore, that is not a good argument and I hope that i t will not even be considered by the Government.

    I accept that perhaps these two amendments are not drafted as well as they might be. However, I hope that the Government will consider the principle behind them and be able to give the Committee some reassurance. I beg to move.

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    Amendment No. 22, moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, would oblige the security industry authority to have regard to any representations made to it and require it to seek such representations before it refuses to grant a licence. The Bill already provides for a transparent system of licensing. The criteria upon which the authority will reach its decisions will be published. The authority will wish to ensure that applicants are given every opportunity in their application forms to provide the strongest case in support of their applications. Unsuccessful applicants will have rights of appeal against the decision to refuse them a licence.

    Therefore, the Government do not believe that it is necessary to add a further requirement for applicants to be afforded an opportunity to comment when the authority is minded to refuse a licence. The noble Viscount recognised that we are already proposing a complicated process. To do what he asks in the amendment would add a disproportionate further layer of bureaucracy and cost in contrast to no real gain in natural justice for the applicants. There is already a duty to make a speedy response so as not to cause applicants to have to wait too long. The SIA's published criteria should include a statement of its turnaround times for applications and targets. Some applications may be more difficult than others. However, applicants are justified in expecting to know when a decision should be available.

    I hope that that has reassured the noble Viscount, who we know does not want to see the system become more time-consuming or more cumbersome. There will be a system of appeals against SIA decisions, as the noble Viscount said. Ultimately, there will be the availability of judicial review, but that would be additional to the right of appeal which is set up under the Bill.

    I turn to Amendment No. 23. We believe that the duties of the authority and the rights of individuals already exist within the drafting of the Bill or elsewhere in existing statute or common law. Therefore, Amendment No. 23 would not add substantively to either the duties of one or the rights of the other. As the noble Viscount said, the security industry authority will, in common with other public bodies, have a general duty to act reasonably, including with appropriate care and skill.

    Similarly, individuals already have the right to take legal action where their rights have been infringed. We believe that individuals who consider themselves adversely affected by the decision not to grant a licence to undertake security activities or to modify or revoke their licences will, in addition to any more general rights of redress, have a specific right of appeal against the authority's decision.

    I hope that in the light of those explanations and assurances the noble Viscount will not press his amendments.

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    I am grateful to the noble Baroness for those explanations. She referred to a general right of appeal. I presume that she referred to Clause 10. As far as I can see, the Secretary of State has to make an order for the bringing in of appeals. I wonder whether she could answer my question on that. Is there a right of appeal elsewhere in the Bill or is it just in Clause 10 and has to be initiated by an order?

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    The process of setting up and enacting the Bill on completion of its passage through Parliament is one that has to be phased through a series of orders by the Secretary of State, as we recognised earlier. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, recognised that there needs to be discussions with industry. That is why there is a process. The process of bringing into effect the matters referred to in Clause 10 is the one which I have outlined. I hope that that satisfies the noble Viscount. If it does not, I shall write to him with further clarification.

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    I think that means that the noble Baroness agrees with me that an appeal system will be brought in by order by the Government under Clause 10. We shall see what that order says. I give the Government due warning that if I am to withdraw my amendment now, we want them to take note of what has been said during this debate so that they may get right the order. Otherwise, we shall have to look at it. I am sure the noble Baroness will consider that.

    As regards Amendment No. 22, the comments of the noble Baroness satisfied me to a degree. I am not quite so happy with her reply to Amendment No. 23. It is always difficult for someone to obtain compensation. That is always a good test to put on anybody. Perhaps this should be dealt with by an order. It may not be right for it to be dealt with on the face of the Bill. I shall consider that point and read carefully what the noble Baroness said.

    7.15 p.m.

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    It may assist the noble Viscount if I remind him that in responding I also said that the right of appeal is set up by the Bill. The procedures, details and timing are obviously part of the negotiations and discussions with the industry. However, the right of appeal is established.

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    I am grateful to the noble Baroness for repeating her comments. My point is that we shall have to consider the nature and terms of appeal. As regards Amendment No. 23 and compensation, we shall have to consider whether we need to be specific. The noble Baroness said, quite reasonably, that the authority will have to have targets and turnaround times. We all know about government targets and turnaround times. We know how long it takes to reach targets, and about the targets for asylum seekers, which have not yet been met. I think that almost no turnaround time in government has ever been met by anybody. That was the same when we were in power, just as it is now. Perhaps it has become worse; perhaps not. Who knows?

    It will be extraordinarily difficult for the authority to keep to its target. The only way it will do so is by having a long transitional period. Otherwise, it will never get through all the people who are to be covered by the Bill.

    I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply. I am somewhat satisfied by her reply to Amendment No. 22. I shall consider carefully whether I wish to come back on Amendment No. 23. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 23 not moved.]

    Clause 6 agreed to.

    Clause 7 [ Licences to engage in licensable conduct]:

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    moved Amendment No. 23A:

    Clause 7, page 6, line 41, at end insert—
    ("() The Authority shall state its reasons in writing, by reference to the criteria, for—
  • (a) a refusal to grant a licence under subsection (4), and
  • an imposition of additional conditions under subsection (6).").
  • The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 23A is linked to Amendment No. 23D. Under Clause 7, Amendment No. 23A is concerned with the refusal of a licence. Amendment No. 23D is concerned with Clause 9 and the revoking or modifying of a licence. All those are decisions which are likely to give rise to an appeal by the applicant—adverse decisions to him.

    I was pleased to hear the noble Baroness refer to the intention to create a transparent system here. The purpose of my Amendments Nos. 23A and 23D is to achieve transparency because it is necessary for the authority to state its reasons for a refusal on the one hand and the revocation or modification of an existing licence on the other. Those reasons should be given in writing and they should refer to the criteria which the Government have indicated are considered to be very important so that an appeal can be effective.

    A simple blank refusal of a licence without reasons or the modification or revoking of a licence without reasons would clearly be contrary to natural justice and probably to the rules appertaining to tribunals in any event. So those reasons should be given. I hope the noble Baroness considers this a sensible suggestion, and I await her response.

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    Before the noble Baroness replies, I should like briefly to say that we support the intentions of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, in his amendments. In these he might have gone a long way to satisfy the concerns which were behind our earlier amendments. Therefore I look forward to the Government's reply.

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    Before the noble Baroness replies, I have said nothing about the proposed subsection (5). It seems to me that there is missing from the Bill a duty to notify the authority of matters which may lead to the modification or revocation of a licence. Two bodies are concerned: the police and the public. If the police hear of something adverse to the licence holder there should be an arrangement enabling the police to inform the authority of that so that consideration can be given to the continuation of the licence either as it exists or in some modified form.

    As for members of the public, no doubt they will have complaints against licence holders from time to time. How are they to be dealt with? It is no use writing to the authority if its response is, "I am sorry: we have no way in which we can give effect to your complaint." There must be some way in which the authority can respond to the proper concerns raised by members of the public in respect of their particular licence problem.

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    I think all sides of the Committee share a concern that this system will work. We do not believe there is a need for the requirements to be on the face of the Bill. The establishment of an appeals mechanism against licence decisions by the authority will require the authority to state in all cases the reasons for a decision it has reached—a point which I hope will please the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford—and these must be set out very clearly against the criteria which it must also have published. The SIA will need to work closely with the police, as the noble Viscount recognised, and come to an operational understanding with them as to how to pass on relevant information. We believe that precise arrangements are best left to the authority, once established, and the police to decide that they are required to do this. We do not want to shackle the arrangements that will be reached in achieving the objectives we all share by prescribing them in detail on the face of the Bill.

    The authority will also wish to establish a complaints procedure against licence holders. In deciding whether to continue, modify or revoke a licence, the views of the public and customers of licence holders will, as your Lordships recognise, be an important factor. Therefore it is important for the authority to establish and publicise a complaints system. Again, we see no need to specify this as a requirement on the face of the Bill.

    I hope I have been able to give an assurance that will enable the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, to withdraw his Amendment No. 23A and not press Amendment No. 23D. I can assure both speakers in this short debate that the Government share their concern that this procedure should be absolutely clear and reassure them that the Bill requires that this process be followed.

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    Before the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, replies may, I say that it seems to me rather a contradiction for the noble Baroness to say, "This is what we are going to do but we don't want to put in the Bill that we are going to do it." If the Government are going to do it, I do not see why it should not be in the Bill. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, will consider that.

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    Before the noble Viscount sits down, can I make it absolutely plain that the detail of how to achieve the objectives we all share, we believe, should not be on the face of the Bill. The requirement to provide that detail and to work closely with the police to make it work is a duty to be achieved by the Bill.

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    I have listened to the very helpful reply of the noble Baroness. I am not seeking for detail on the face of the Bill, as she will observe. So far as subsection (5) of Clause 9 is concerned, I am simply setting out the duty of the authority to do precisely what she says it is going to do. I do not think that that unduly clutters up the Bill. It is not detail, and it is not seeking in any way to impose a straitjacket upon the negotiations with the police or to prescribe precisely how complaints from the public are to be handled.

    I should have thought that as a matter of public presentation a duty of this sort should he made absolutely clear because unless it is on the face of the Bill it is impossible for anybody to demand it of the authority, once set up. I shall think very long and hard about what the noble Baroness said. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 7 agreed to.

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    I beg to move that the House do now resume. In doing so, I suggest that the Committee begins again at 8.30 p.m.

    Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

    House resumed.

    Olympics

    7.28 p.m.

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    rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure sufficient financial support for British competitors at the next Olympics.

    The noble Lord said: My Lords, I make no apology in begging to move the Motion standing in my name some three months after the event. And what an event it was for our men and women, boys and girls, at the Sydney Olympics, the Para Olympics and the World Junior Championships in Santiago.

    I know that the whole House will join with me in congratulating all of the team. Our Olympic team surpassed all our expectations and, as we know, they won 22 gold, 10 silver and seven bronze medals, putting the team 10th in the medals table. Whilst we all measure Olympic success by the number of gold medals or the total number of medals won, overall Team GB achieved another 30 performances in the top six, including 12 fourth places. In addition, no fewer than 98 personal bests were set by our athletes.

    What is more encouraging is the spread of the 11 medal winning sports compared to previous games. The Sydney Olympics were Team GB's most successful games for 80 years. It is more than obvious that lottery funding played a major part in our success. As Stephanie Cook said—and others too—"There is no way I could have achieved this standard without it.

    There is one other vital factor which helped our team and that is the facilities on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane which the British Olympic Association secured, organised, managed and funded. Athletes who used those facilities in 1999 and last year prior to the games indicated that the facilities, management and expertise available were crucial in enabling them to perform at their best.

    However, if you consider the population of the UK and compare our results with those of other countries with a similar population, apart from the USA, Russia and China, there are five countries of a similar size which did better, or a lot better, than we did.

    In 1960, after the Rome Olympics, Germany, which won precious few medals, set up training facilities up and down the country, as did France, both spending vast amounts on providing the right kind of environment to encourage their sports men and women to train and reach the high standards that they now have. Likewise, Australia, having won no gold medals in the Montreal games, was determined to create a sports institute. It nurtured 16 gold medallists in Sydney some 24 years later, placing Australia fourth on the medals table at the games.

    In 1993–94, our lottery was started and by 1996–97 Sports England set up a programme of funding top athletes costing £60 million a year. It was the first World-Class Performance aimed at those who have a realistic chance of a medal. Then there is World-Class Potential for those who can win medals within 10 years. Lastly, there is World-Class Start, aimed at the young at school where our medal winners of the future will come from. We need school sport and physical education.

    In a recent European survey we came bottom of the league. It showed that five years ago only 33 per cent of our young did two hours of physical education a week. The most recent survey showed that only 11 per cent did any. That has an affect on all our sports. It has been said that in a few years' time there will be no British football players because all the young do is sit in front of the television and eat junk food.

    The Government's strategy, "A Sporting Future For All", proposes ensuring that the UK Sports Institute is fully operational by the summer of 2002. The Government also refer to the UKSI acting in partnership with the sports councils in order to co-ordinate the delivery of all these services to elite athletes. Also, my party's paper, A Future for Sports, refers to the UKSI and the need for "well co-ordinated centres of excellence".

    The UKSI, if properly funded and strategically organised on a UK basis, if delivering best practice at elite level and if encouraging the strategic development of much needed elite-level facilities, could have a profound and sustained impact on further improving the performance of British athletes for the next games. The Australian model, the Australian Institute for Sport, as I have said, offers an instructive guide.

    The UK has 16 50-metre swimming pools but there is no Olympic-size pool in London capable of hosting an international meeting. The UK needs more Olympic-size pools and other elite facilities if British athletes and the country as a whole are to build on our collective success. Any new facilities must be built as part of a UK strategy. That will go some way to ensuring that there is no unnecessary concentration of facilities in any one home county or in any one area.

    The policy to develop the UKSI should, however, be driven centrally so as to ensure a co-ordinated and British-driven approach. Devolution must not be allowed to dilute the effectiveness of this excellent initiative if we aspire to future success at the Olympic Games. A British philosophy must drive British sport and investment should reflect this focus.

    Facilities should ideally be spread evenly throughout the UK. If athletes from all areas of the country are to be encouraged to participate, lottery funding and government support of elite-level Olympic athletes undoubtedly contributed to the British success in Sydney. However, if we are to build on our achievements at future games, as we must, levels of funding must be increased and not merely maintained.

    In September last year, the Government guaranteed that the current level of funding for elite sports of £28 million per annum would be maintained. It remains to be seen whether that guarantee includes an indexation element. I hope that the Minister can give us some news on that in his reply.

    The British Olympic Association aspires to build on our success in Sydney at future Olympic Games and aims to be placed even higher on the medal table in Athens. To do so will require not only increased levels of funding but also clear strategic leadership and direction for the distribution and use of those funds.

    To improve on Britain's success at future Olympic Games, we must seek to raise the aspiration of school children by committing further funding and resources to developing sports facilities in schools and by offering school children, both male and female, incentives and added encouragement to take part in sport. Let us not only follow Australia's example but let us go one better and get into the top three of the medal table.

    Finally, I thank all noble Lords who are taking part in this short debate and I and others outside look forward to the Minister's reply. I would also like to thank Sport England and the British Olympic Association for their help in preparing the debate.

    7.37 p.m.

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    My Lords, we are indebted to the noble Lord. Lord Brougham and Vaux, for initiating the debate, not least because it gives the House the first opportunity, although belated, to congratulate Britain's Olympic athletes who performed so spectacularly well in Sydney.

    It is also an opportunity for me to say how much I miss Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge. He encouraged me to speak in the debate on school sport soon after I joined the House and he was a model of kindness and courtesy on that occasion. I certainly miss him a great deal and miss his presence in a debate such as this.

    I intend to speak mainly about the new elite sports funding review group which the Government have set up under the chairmanship of Dr Jack Cunningham. The establishment of that body is most welcome but I want to hear from the Minister more about what it is doing and hopes to do. It seems to me that there a number of issues which it must address. The noble Lord, Lord Brougham, referred to one of the most important—the devolution issue. We must maintain a United Kingdom approach for as long as there is one team representing Britain at the Olympics rather than separate teams from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    The second issue is the quality and availability of world-class facilities for practising and competing. UK Sport needs to take the lead in strategy and planning and ensuring that the facilities are built as part of the same United Kingdom approach. The chief executive of the British Olympic Association, Simon Clegg, spoke to me, and I assume to a number of your Lordships, while I was preparing for the debate. He said:
    "Achieving British success at future Olympic Games will depend largely on implementing a successful strategy to increase the funding, available for UK distribution as opposed to home country distribution. This will ensure that smaller home country sports councils do not suffer at the expense of their larger better funded neighbours and that sufficient and appropriate facilities exist across the United Kingdom as a whole. When the country competes as Great Britain the team may as a result be representative not only of the country as a whole, but also be selected from a larger and high quality pool".
    The third issue is the need to maintain and sustain funding levels for our elite athletes. Traditionally, they have received financial support from a variety of sources. I briefly mention the Foundation for Sport and the Arts with which I am associated as a trustee. My noble friend Lord Attenborough and the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, also sit on that body. When the funding of that foundation was at a higher level than it is today it was able to provide substantial sums to Olympic athletes. Among many grants, it contributed sums of £39,000, £40,000 and £30,000 to individual athletes who competed in 1996 and 2000.

    Obviously, today the main source of funding of Olympic athletes is the lottery, but there is some uncertainty about it. The level of funding will depend on the fluctuating sales of lottery tickets, unless it can be underwritten in some way by exchequer funds to guarantee stability. What will happen if lottery sales fall? Is there any possibility that a fixed sum of money rather than a percentage of lottery income can be guaranteed?

    The announcement of £750 million of National Lottery money for school community sports facilities was very welcome news. The investment of New Opportunities Fund money will start to provide funding for school sports facilities, which is long overdue, and may allow the Sports Lottery Unit to release additional funds for elite sport. But what will happen when the three-year NOF funding of school sports comes to an end? Is there not a risk that the Sports Lottery Fund will be squeezed and unable to fund elite athletes without having to reduce community sports funding?

    It is also important not to lose sight of the role of the 150,000 voluntary sports clubs, for it is as members of those organisations that many of Britain's Olympic medal winners learn to compete and succeed. It is also in those clubs that sports such as sailing, shooting, rowing and cycling are developed. Those sports produced seven of Great Britain's 11 gold medals in Sydney.

    Finally, there is the question of whether we should again seek to host the Olympic Games in the United Kingdom. The benefits of doing so are enormous. The Spanish Government calculate that the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 were worth £7 billion to the country. Further, the staging of the games acts as a catalyst in improving a nation's sporting success, in its briefing the BOA refers to how many more medals a nation wins if one of its cities is chosen as host, South Korea and Australia being two particularly good examples.

    Tonight I do not have time to enter the debate about the future of Wembley, other than to say that we shall require a first-class venue if we are serious about hosting any great international sporting event. However, it is important that in our pursuit of the long-term dream of staging the Olympics we do not lose sight of the need to ensure that our athletes are fully prepared and financially supported for the games in 2004.

    7.43 p.m.

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    My Lords, I welcome this debate initiated by my noble friend. Bearing in mind the Olympic motto that the important thing is to take part rather than to win, I cannot resist the temptation to participate. I do so, none the less, with considerable diffidence.

    It is almost 50 years since I last took part in an Olympic Games and more than 50 years since I first participated. Matters have changed considerably since then. At that time the maximum prize that an individual could accept was £15. If one exceeded that one was cast into the outer darkness of professionalism. There was nothing by way of sponsorship at that time. The situation today is very different. The other side of the coin is that at that time there was no temptation to take drugs because all one tried to do was prove that one was better than other competitors. Once there is a degree of professionalism the temptation becomes very real. It is important that testing for drug abuse is improved, and I believe that if someone offends the disqualification should be permanent.

    I echo my noble friend's congratulations in three categories. First, undoubtedly Sydney hosted quite the best Olympic Games ever. Secondly, congratulations should go to our athletes, who produced the best results for 80 years. Thirdly, we should also congratulate the British Olympic Association, which played such a vital role in ensuring that our athletes had facilities to enable them to compete successfully. Nowadays, one cannot hope to achieve Olympic standards, or to become part of an Olympic team, without the kind of back-up which the BOA provides. Understandably, the association concentrates on the need to ensure that so-called elite athletes manage to achieve the highest level.

    However, the BOA also plays an important role as far as concern schools and so on. That raises the difficult question of funding. The Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995, of which I was a co-sponsor, has been of considerable importance in that context. Clearly, we need to ensure that our athletes have the best facilities.

    I should like to make just three brief points, the first of which is one of my hobbyhorses. Despite all the excellent coaching and magnificent individual performances by our athletes in Sydney, both the men's and women's 4 x 110 teams were a failure. I believe that the reason for that was twofold. First, one member of the women's team said afterwards that the athletes had not trained together very much. That is of particular importance now that one can substitute another team member at different stages between heat, semi-final and final. Secondly, they continued to use the wrong method of changeover. The hand of the recipient was held up and the baton was held down, instead of the other way round, which would have avoided fumbling it. If one fumbles it one goes over the line.

    I take up two important points made by noble Lords. First, I believe that the Olympic team should be a British team and not as some suggest, particularly those in another place, participants from England, Wales and so on. In the Commonwealth Games the teams are from England, Scotland, Wales and so on but the environment is very different from the Olympic Games. If we are to compete successfully at the Olympics it is crucial that we have a British team rather than teams from parts of the United Kingdom.

    Finally, 2012 is probably the earliest that we can hope to host the Olympic Games. The last time the games were hosted in the UK was in 1948. Given the post-war environment, we did magnificently. Nowadays, enormous investment is required. The spin-off in terms of encouraging one's own athletes is enormous. I very much hope that that can be achieved. We need to plan now for the future, and it is important that the British Olympic Association is supported in that regard. I look forward to hearing my noble friend on the Front Bench whose father, together with the Marquess of Exeter, was such a tower of strength to the International Olympic Committee over the years. I also look forward to hearing the Minister.

    7.48 p.m.

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    My Lords, I thank my noble friend for tabling this Question. I declare an interest as both an Olympian and president of a governing body of sport; namely, the British Bobsleigh Association.

    The Sydney Olympics were a huge success by British standards, but we should not kid ourselves: we are not yet in the first division of Olympic medal winners. We came below such European countries as France, Germany and Italy. We have a long way to go, although we did extremely well. Congratulations should go to all our wonderful athletes and the BOA led by Simon Clegg.

    A successful team needs long-term planning and investment at the right level. For success the elite level in UK sport needs continuous funding. The objective must be to fund a continuous flow of world-class athletes across the board and to plan that flow at three levels: the start, the potential and the elite. This should not be done at the expense of sport in the community and schools. The home country sports councils are responsible for community sport and the first two of those levels.

    The Olympic charter requires us to compete as Great Britain and Northern Ireland until, and if, we move from devolution to independence. Success at Olympic level requires sustained focus year in and year out from all concerned. Devolution is the greatest threat to sustained Olympic focus. It will, and indeed has, led to fragmentation and duplication. Other countries are rationalising their structures while we are adding layers of bureaucracy as a result of devolution. It is possible that Ministers of devolved governments will consider success in Commonwealth Games more important for their country than success at the Olympics for the United Kingdom.

    The British Academy of Sport, now the UK Sports Institute, set up by the previous government, was intended to be the hub for excellence. Unfortunately, it was recently moved to Sheffield. No one wanted to go there. It has since been downgraded. Therefore, we have a spoke in Sheffield, and I am not sure what we have, other than bureaucrats, in the institute.

    To do as well, or better, in Greece than we did in Sydney, the funding for sport as a whole must be increased. In particular, the funding for elite athletes must remain, at a minimum, at the same level that it was for the run-up to Sydney. Under the present funding structure there is a significant gap. This is almost a direct result, I understand, of a reduction in lottery funding for sport from 20 per cent of lottery proceeds to 16.66 per cent. Can the Minister tell the House how the Government propose to fill that gap and create the necessary funding structure, cohesion and focus that is necessary to give our elite athletes a fair chance of winning gold in the next games? The Olympic Games are seriously commercial. They require long-term significant investment to reap the real rewards.

    Before I sit down, I should like to follow the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, in paying my respects to my late friend Lord Cowdrey. It seems very strange to be speaking in a sporting debate without Colin beside us.

    7.53 p.m.

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    My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, has initiated this important debate. It gives us an opportunity to celebrate two outstanding successes: first, the success of our British athletes, both in the Olympics and the Paralympics in Sydney last year; and, secondly, that of our Government, whose strategy for sport has helped create such outstanding success, making our athletes the envy of the world.

    The Government aim high. In contrast with the past, where success has been achieved despite the systems in place, we are pledged to long-term, all-round support. The benefit of this support is twofold: first, our athletes are now guaranteed a future where funding, facilities and technical support are of the highest quality and firmly in place; and, secondly, and equally important, there is support to inspire young people to take up sport, emulating their sporting heroes.

    With a gold medal tally of 11 in Sydney it was the best performance by our athletes since the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp. Our other medals were equally impressive. I do not need to remind noble Lords that our Paralympic athletes did even better—131 medals, including 41 golds. We congratulate all the athletes who brought us such pleasure at the Olympic Games in Sydney.

    But how did it happen? What was the magic formula, the magic ingredients? As other noble Lords have said, a major part was probably lottery funding. That was acknowledged by all the competitors. In the three years prior to the Sydney Olympics our athletes received £60 million from the Lottery. The Government are committed to continuing to build upon that success. Support is pledged through world-class programmes. The Sports Cabinet last October agreed to provide the Sports Council with £100 million over the next four years. Thus the long-term support is assured.

    A few weeks ago I attended the all-party sports group in this House. We had an excellent presentation by Simon Clegg of the British Olympic Association and by Liz Nichol and Steve Cram. They are delighted with the Government's proactive and positive stance. The most difficult task ahead of them is making decisions on which sports will have what level of funding. Does success demand greater financial reward, or should the weakest be given more? Those are fortunately not questions for us, nor for the Government, but for those who run sport on our behalf. I am confident that their decisions will be wise and fair.

    I want to flag up other positive initiatives from the Government aimed at helping sport. The UK Institute will provide expertise and training facilities which are so desperately needed. We are targeting schoolchildren with high-quality teaching and a much welcomed expansion of competitive sports. Yes, competitive sport is back in schools. For the first time we are giving money to build multi-purpose sports halls in primary schools. In short, school sport is being transformed from the miserable legacy of the previous government to one of which we can be quite rightly proud.

    In conclusion, as a lifetime sports enthusiast, still playing tennis three times a week, and as a county selector for Oxfordshire, I am delighted to speak in this "good news" debate. I have absolute confidence that the nation's sporting future is perfectly safe in the Government's hands and that many more glittering prizes lie ahead.

    7.57 p.m.

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    My Lords, I am tempted to say "follow that". I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Brougham and Vaux for giving us the opportunity this evening to debate this subject. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, will have noted from the Speakers' List that there are two Olympians on the Benches in your Lordships' House. I can think of only one other Parliament which might have Olympians on its Benches, and that is Switzerland, but the Swiss take part in all kinds of different sports. It might be the same for the United States.

    I was delighted that my noble friend Lord Higgins reminded me of his athletic achievements. I had not appreciated that he ran in shorts and singlet in two separate Olympiads. I took very much to heart his motto that taking part is the most important thing. I and many other noble Lords remember that every year when in January Members of the Lords and Commons Ski Club are shot out of a start gate in blinding snow down a slalom course which they cannot see. They are not like the "pussy-cats" in St Anton—or, perhaps as we might see next year in Salt Lake City—they really take part.

    There cannot be many other legislatures in the world where one has a gold medallist sitting on its Benches. My noble friend Lord Higgins referred to 50 years ago. Nearly 50 years go I recall my noble friend who then, in Eton-speak, classified himself as "Mr Dixon". He was even then an all-round athlete, but in 1964 I recall with enormous pride and delight watching his efforts with Mr Nash in the bobsleigh in Innsbruck and bringing back gold medals for the United Kingdom. It proves what we see tonight and what we saw then; that it can be done. If an all-round athlete trains and works hard enough, even in the—I hesitate to call it—somewhat esoteric sport of bobsleighing he can reach the elite standard and win a gold medal.

    I hope the Minister will take on board the last two words of the Question tonight, the "next Olympics". In case he thinks it is 2004, perhaps I may remind him that next year—2002—it is the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

    I happened to be watching Eurosport in Switzerland. There was a competition in a place called Soldier Hollow in Utah. It was cross-country skiing. I needed rehabilitation having watched these people charging around a 30-kilometre course at speeds that gave me the collywobbles while viewing the television. I hope that the Minister will have something good to say about the Winter Olympics. I hope to have some good news about what the Winter Olympics Association can do for the athletes in bob, luge, alpine skiing, biathlon and ski-jumping and something fascinating called the Nordic combination. One of my noble friends thought it was some form of winter underwear. I am given to understand that it is a group of brave people who go around a 15-kilometre cross-country skiing course and then take off down a 70-metre ski jump. I do not like looking at Olympic ski-jumping on television, let alone putting on cross-country skis.

    I hope that the Minister will have good news as to how the British Olympic Association can be given some assistance in terms of government help and, above all, ideas. We have been reminded of the situation by the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, and, in the past by Lord Cowdrey. I hope that the Minister will tread lightly if he gives any predictions. The Minister may recall that we had a sporting debate in April. On that particular evening my noble friend made a powerful speech. The Minister said that he had news for us. He thought we were all waiting for the result of a mighty football match. He told us Manchester United 3: Real Madrid 2. We went outside to find Black Rod rending his garments, saying that it was the other way round. I hope that the Minister will take immense care when he gives any predictions this evening. I hope that when the figures come out he will be able to give us his ideas on how the British Olympic Association can be given government support both in terms of finance and ideas.

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    My Lords, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Brougham, for initiating this debate.

    I have one small caveat. The thought of competition as exemplified by the Olympics might be a better phrase. It is always easy to sit back and say that we did well and we must go forward. One forgets the other games. The Commonwealth Games have been mentioned; there are European Championships and World Championships in which to take part. It is ongoing. The fact that it is on-going and will continue after the next Olympics is probably the most important factor in this debate. We should make sure that athletes for the future, with a life style that is focused and dependent on competing at these events, get through and try to achieve their best. They should be able to get through and be educated to do so.

    For the first time we have something that allows that to happen. Someone said to me that it was something that others had been doing for over two decades, and we have been fairly slow. Along with the Australians, who felt that winning nothing was humiliating, finally we seem to have got our act together after a couple of disasters. For far too long we have allowed our sporting pride to be nurtured by the odd burst of brilliance here and there. The brilliant will always emerge. We merely try to give them a few extra hurdles to jump over. At last we are giving these people a chance to compete consistently. The answer is consistency. The National Lottery has been seen as the crock of gold that is allowing this to happen. Unfortunately, since the National Lottery has been in existence the good causes that drink from this bountiful cup have grown. The amount of money available is becoming smaller. Initially, it made far more money than people expected. We said that we should do something else. In the original debates it was said that this was designed not to supplement taxation but to be extra money on top. We have already crossed the line, where certain things we expect the Treasury to have financed out of public taxation have come from the lottery. It was inevitable, but I did not think it would happen this quickly. The slices are becoming awfully thin. If the cake disappears we are in trouble.

    I attended a conference about sport and health at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in December 2000. The Secretary of State for Culture and a Minister from the Department of Health attended. They both said that sport is great and that the lottery helps. It reduces the necessity for ideas to limit spending in other departments. It is good in itself. It gives people motivation. Unless we are prepared to guarantee that funding, even if it means funding something out of taxation, some of these good results will disappear: the incentive to do well, the bonus of feeling good about something and of achievement and a healthy life style by playing sport at any level. Let us face it, the designer label Lycra culture does not drag many people to sport long term. Aerobics does not do it, but possibly playing tennis and enjoying it, as the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, said, will keep one fitter and healthy for longer. Certainly, it is a better strategy. Is that something that would be helped by these achievements? It is good in itself and it gives society a bonus by having a lower burden on the National Health Service.

    We are here to encourage the Government to make sure that we do not drop this ball in our hands. I use an analogy from my sport; the try line is not that far away. The only thing we can do is to fall over our own feet but let us make sure that we do not undo our laces on the way there. We have to make sure that we give it a bonus.

    I make a comment about the national dilution from the sports councils. We have to recognise that the culture of sport is very important. If certain people in certain sports regard the fact that they should have Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England represented separately, we have to accept that that will happen. The culture of sport is something one cannot remove. It is ultimately more important that an athlete gets to the Olympics in the best shape to compete rather than whose jersey he is wearing when he takes part. I leave your Lordships with that one thought.

    8.7 p.m.

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    My Lords, I echo the words of noble Lords in thanking my noble friend Lord Brougham for initiating this short but important debate. I feel daunted by the Olympians behind me. I miss my noble friend Lord Cowdrey.

    I have a personal interest to declare. As my noble friend Lord Higgins mentioned, my father was a representative member of the International Olympic Committee in Britain for many years and a member of the Finance Committee of the IOC for much of that time. He would have been immensely proud of the games in Sydney, not only because of the great success of British athletes but also the universal praise the organisation and presentation of the games achieved.

    It is now the right time to tap into the interest of the British people, so very well nurtured by the BBC presentation, and to start thinking about four years hence. We must look at where we could do better. The answer is everywhere. Despite our successes in Sydney, as mentioned by my noble friends Lord Brougham and Lord Glentoran, our average number of medals compared to population is not very good.

    The services have become a great deal better recently but are still lacking. Swimming and diving have been two of our best post-war successes in the Olympics but not at Sydney. We need many more pools. There is no Olympic-sized pool in reach of London. Why not? Surely that is a priority. To compete against the rest of the world, let alone to win against the best in the world, requires continual upgrading of facilities and coaching at all levels, upwards from young children. All these requirements cost, and continue to cost, increasing amounts of money. In my view, the advent of lottery funding, effectively from 1996, under a Conservative Government is the significant factor in our performance in Sydney, as my noble friend Lord Brougham said. Can the Minister clarify for me the press speculation on the amounts available in the next two or three years? Can he also comment on whether the Government agree with Sir Rodney Walker, speaking as chairman of UK Sport, when he said that unless the Government provided more money, funding for sport would decrease from next year?.

    Facilities need to be widely and properly spread across the UK. It is essential that Sport England uses this criterion above all in its decisions regarding the distribution of lottery funds. So perhaps I may mention to your Lordships the case of the rowing lake in Bedfordshire of which I spoke briefly in my Second Reading speech on the Culture and Recreation Bill. It has had its request for funding turned down for what seemed to me to be very inadequate reasons. It is really well placed to provide facilities for middle England rowing—not on the Thames—and to provide help for Bedford itself, which is shortly to be joined to the Grand Union canal, thereby making competitive rowing on the Great Ouse almost impossible. The situation is delicate, with a decision on appeal expected very soon. Support for it is right across the hoard. The original application was submitted in April 1997. This initiative fits exactly into the criteria we have been discussing and includes a catchment area of 3.5 million people. I hope that the Government will take due note and employ their influence.

    One of the great successes at Sydney was cycling. The main reason for that was the existence of the Manchester velodrome. Are there plans to build any more? Certainly, I suggest, London will not host the 2012 games without one. Indeed, does London have any Olympic-standard facilities at the moment? Getting the games to London in 2012 will do more to focus the attention of aspiring athletes of all ages and to all sports than anything else.

    The coming on stream in 2002 of the United Kingdom Sports Institute is very important, as is continuing support for the British Olympic Association. It would also be very helpful if the Government could redress their broken promises to protect playing fields, particularly school playing fields. During the year April 1999 to March 2000 some 646 applications for development on playing field sites were made. Where are the revised planning and policy guidelines on sport and recreation? Money is short, so when will the £20 million paid to help provide athletics facilities at Wembley be returned, or is there another U-turn on this matter?

    There were 98 best personal performances a t Sydney by British athletes in many fields. Getting the games to London in 2012 would be wonderful. But when will the Government sort out the Wembley Picketts Lock situation and give urgent priority to the badly needed facilities in London and elsewhere? I look forward, as always, to the noble Lord's reply.

    8.13 p.m.

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    My Lords, I join other noble Lords in expressing gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, for initiating this debate. I congratulate him on attracting such a distinguished group of speakers, including, as has been said, distinguished players and competitors. We do indeed miss Colin Cowdrey. I assume that Mr Hague needs the noble Lord, Lord Coe, so much these days that he could not spare him for this debate. I personally regret that.

    I join other noble Lords in congratulating all our Olympic and Paralympic competitors—the Paralympics were not mentioned in the debate and should have been—with the medal winners deserving particular praise. We look forward not only to the 2004 Olympics in Athens but also—pace the noble Lord, Lord Lyell—to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. I shall not forecast whether we will have any success, but we do have six Winter Olympics competitors in the top world 100 compared with only one a couple of years ago. The British Olympic Association is setting up a training camp in Calgary, Alberta, comparable to the Gold Coast camp which existed before the Sydney Olympics. It can be said, without making any forecasts, that we are taking that seriously.

    As will become clear during the course of my remarks, we have high aspirations for sport in this country. We take the view that sporting success is important for the country. It lifts morale and brings the country together. It captivates the imagination of our young people and encourages them to participate and emulate sports people.

    In congratulating those who took part in the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics, I can only repeat the highlights of what has already been said. The medal haul of 11 golds was the best performance since 1920. We secured 28 medals in total. We were 10th in the final medals table, the best since Los Angeles in 1984. Of course, it is never good enough and it is true that we are still behind some countries with smaller populations. But this is very considerable progress. The Sydney Paralympics were the best ever games so far. Great Britain and Northern Ireland won 131 medals—41 gold, 43 silver and 47 bronze, and we gained second place in the overall medals table. That is worthy of congratulations. I join the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, and others in congratulating the British Olympic and the British Paralympic associations, the coaches, the performance directors, the physios, the doctors and all those who took part. I join the noble Lords, Lord Higgins and Lord Luke, in agreeing that Sydney was outstanding as a venue for the games.

    What do the Olympics and the Paralympics teach us? They teach us that investment in sport works. I hope to be able to say something helpful about that. It is not simply enough to carry on as before—even with the significant investment we are now making. We need to learn the lessons of Sydney in order to provide the maximum benefit. Kate Hoey has had meetings with the British Olympic Association and the chief executives and performance directors of the Olympic sports to identify the lessons learnt from Sydney and to discuss how the support to our athletes can be improved. She was also at the training camp in the Gold Coast before the Sydney games to hear at first hand from athletes, coaches, sports scientists and others. I am sure that she would have been glad to hear the expert advice of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, on the hand-over in the relay, although I do not think that it is quite the job of the Sports Minister to intervene in that way.

    My right honourable friend Jack Cunningham is to lead a review of the World Class Programmes structure and funding, to which my noble friend Lord Faulkner referred, and the relationship with the developments taking place with the UK Sports Institute. The review will report back by mid-2001. The terms of reference and membership of the group were published in the Official Report. My noble friend Lord Faulkner would like to hear more on this issue. I could go on about it for a long time but I shall say that the review body met only today. It has been in active contact with the home countries. It has already talked to Sam Galbraith, the Minister with responsibility for sport in Scotland. Tomorrow, it is going to Wales to meet the Sports Council. I hope that that whets my noble friend's appetite.

    I acknowledge that devolution and the issue of what national teams are fielded are significant matters. But I do not think that it is a defect. I know that some people call for teams to be either more local or less local. But I do not think that the way we are organising support for sport has been adversely affected by devolution. It is right for the noble Lords, Lord Brougham and Lord Glentoran, to say that we should not let devolution damage our chances. However, I think that the distinction which has been made; namely, of UK responsibility for elite athletes—those who will compete in the Olympics and other international competitions—and most other aspects of sport, including the Commonwealth Games, coming within devolution seems to be working fairly well.

    In order to ensure that it does work well, we have set up the Sports Cabinet which brings together the Ministers responsible for sport in the four parts of the United Kingdom under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The chairs of the five Sports Councils may be invited to attend the meeting, as may others. They met for the first time in November 1998. The next meeting is to be held on 16th February. That meeting is succeeding in its efforts to co-ordinate the work of all of the devolved administrations as well as of the Westminster Government.

    On the subject of funding, of course the lottery is probably the most significant individual factor. Funding from the lottery has made an enormous difference. In view of the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, I do not think we need fear that the amounts are getting smaller. It is still the case that amounts going to good causes are greater than the £9 billion originally anticipated. Sport is receiving money not only from the original sports scheme; it also receives an enormous amount from the New Opportunities Fund.

    In the three years leading up to the Sydney games, more than £60 million of lottery awards was given to the programme for British Olympic and Paralympic sports. Home countries also supported home country-based sports, Sport England world class programmes, Wales Elite Cymru and Scotland and Northern Ireland's talented athletes programmes. In response to those who expressed fears that these initiatives might not continue, last October the Sports Cabinet agreed to continue the World Class Performance Programme at least at its current level of funding. That will provide UK sport with £100 million over the next four years for the UK element of the programme. The record of lottery funding is unassailable.

    I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Luke, will expect me to comment on individual applications such as the rowing lake in Bedfordshire. Indeed, that would breach the arm's length principle which the Opposition have been at pains to defend, with some reason.

    I turn now to the UK Sports Institute, referred to and welcomed in particular by my noble friend Lady Billingham. In addition to direct financial support, elite athletes and governing bodies benefit from the facilities and services of the UK Sports Institute, which is not based in Sheffield. It is only one of the centres, contrary to what was originally intended. The institute consists of 10 regional networks in England, along with national network centres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will be fully operational by the summer of 2002. A central services team is in place, which provides sports with technical, operational and programme support services. We are investing £120 million in 80 facilities for the English Institute of Sport network. Over £80 million of new lottery funding has so far been committed by Sport England, with most of the remaining lottery applications—over £40 million—to be made over the next six months. Comparable figures are available for Scotland and Wales.

    I turn now to what is a proper concern of the debate; namely, Exchequer funding. The spending review announced Exchequer funding for sport effectively to be doubled to £102 million by 2003–04. Of course, the advantage of having three-year expenditure figures is well recognised. Under those circumstances, the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Brougham and Vaux, as regards whether this is to be index linked rather takes a back seat. In any case, the expenditure is linked to a review of programme success rather than to any other measure.

    Furthermore, I challenge the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, that there is a gap in the funding. I have said that we are committed to continuing world-class funding. All these issues are included in the Cunningham review. Our investment will produce a major step-change in children's participation in sport through high quality sports teaching and coaching, as well as the expansion of competitive sports in schools. I address that remark in particular to my noble friend Lady Billingham.

    As regards the issue of anti-doping raised by the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, the Government are funding the UK sports testing programme and will continue to do so.

    The situation on playing fields is simply not true. Under the last government, we were losing 40 playing fields a month. We are now losing three playing fields a month. Those fields are almost all related to schools which no longer exist or which no longer require them.

    I should like to have spent more time discussing schools sport and grass-roots support for sports. Although the Question concerns the next Olympics, if we are to look further ahead we must consider not only support for those who are already elite athletes, but also those who will come from our schools and move into sporting excellence over the coming years. As I said, we are committed to strengthening schools sport at every level. We are spending £120 million to set up a network of 1,000 school sports co-ordinators by 2004. The first 145 were appointed in September last year. We aim to designate 150 specialist sports colleges by 2003. Already 83 have been designated in England. We are spending £130 million to develop the new Spaces for Sports and Arts facilities on primary school sites; £580 million from the New Opportunities Fund to strengthen the foundation of sport across England by building and refurbishing PE and sports facilities in over 1500 schools; £50 million from the New Opportunities Fund for outdoor adventure activities; £22 million from the New Opportunities Fund Green Spaces initiative—all of these real developments which ought to be recognised.

    As regards the national curriculum, to which several noble Lords referred, I must refer to the announcement made on 11th January that there is no longer merely an aspiration but an entitlement to two hours of sport and physical education a week. All that stands apart from what is being done for sport in the New Deal.

    If I continue for two minutes, we shall be able to avoid adjourning during pleasure. I hope that that is acceptable to noble Lords. I should like to say a few words about the next Olympic bid, a matter referred to by the noble Lords, Lord Brougham and Vaux, Lord Higgins and Lord Luke. My noble friend Lord Faulkner mentioned his dream of staging the Olympics in Great Britain. Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, remembers his participation in the 1948 games held in London. I recall those games as a mere schoolboy spectator. It was enormously exciting and it would be wonderful to see the Olympics held here once again.

    So far the department has seen only a draft of the British Olympic Association's report which is to be presented to Ministers in February. It indicates the substantial level of public infrastructure investment—billions of pounds worth—which will be needed to stage an Olympic Games. The association has not yet taken a decision on whether to bid for the Olympics in 2012 or later. The decision rests with the association, which has already stated that any UK bid would have to be based on London. We have not yet taken any decision as regards whether to support such a bid. We have a manifesto commitment which states that we shall continue to work with national and international bodies to try to attract more major events to the UK. We also remain committed to supporting a viable bid for the Olympic Games. However, at the moment the ball is firmly in the court of the British Olympic Association.

    We share the great pleasure expressed from all quarters of the House over the success of our athletes and players at Sydney, both in the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. I hope it is clear that we have practical programmes in place for the next Winter Olympics and the next Olympics in Greece and that we have longer-term plans and commitments to substantial increases in expenditure which will fulfil this Government's commitment to the long-term future of sport in this country.

    Private Security Industry Bill Hl

    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.

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    moved Amendment No. 24:

    After Clause 9, insert the following new clause—

    APPEALS

    (" .—(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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    moved Amendment No. 34:

    After Clause 19, insert the following new clause—

    DISCLOSURE OF ENHANCED CRIMINAL RECORD CERTIFICATE

    (" .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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.]

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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]:

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    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.

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    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.