Clause 1 - The Security Industry Authority

Part of Private Security Industry Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 24th April 2001.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 10:30 am, 24th April 2001

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Benton. We are confident that we shall prosper under your wise chairmanship as we did under that of your co-Chairman, Mr. Winterton.

Before the Committee adjourned for the short recess, I was describing the concerns of Conservative Members about the future role of the lay magistracy in relation to the Bill. That is an issue to which my noble Friend Lord Cope referred in another place on 30 January and to which we shall return when discussing subsequent clauses. However, we also have other worries about clause 1, such as those to which reference was made at column 564 of the Official Report in another place on 30 January. It concerned whether the Bill would be better if it applied to people who were employed wholly or predominantly as security operatives.

As my noble Friend Viscount Astor said on that occasion, there is still some confusion about the position of people who are working full-time or part-time in the security industry. It should be clear that the new authority is responsible for those who are either full-time or predominantly employed as security operatives. For example, let us consider barmen. They are frequently called on to exclude people from pubs. Some busy pubs in city centres operate as late-night bars and have people who look after security. However, many pubs do not employ full-time security doormen, but use the bar staff when people need to be excluded. It would be excessively burdensome for such barmen to be covered by the authority.

On Second Reading in another place, the Under-Secretary, Lord Bassam, said that the Bill might catch publicans, and we are concerned about how and to what extent that will work. An amendment was tabled to add the words

``people employed wholly or predominantly as security operatives'' and to ensure that the Bill would cover only the operation of people who work in security as a principal part of their employment.

As the Minister will be aware, there has been much correspondence from those in the security industry, particularly from the licensed trade. Some people in the industry want to extend as widely as possible the provisions of the new body. Some see it as a wonderful business opportunity. There is always the danger that a regulatory measure can act as a job creation scheme and set up a completely new bureaucracy. We sympathise with those who do not want the industry to be faced with costly over-regulation. We want the new body to work. We do not want it to be heavy-handed. We want any regulation to be a light-touch measure.