Clause 1 - The Security Industry Authority

Part of Private Security Industry Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 24th April 2001.

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Photo of Ian Stewart Ian Stewart Labour, Eccles 10:45 am, 24th April 2001

Good morning, Mr. Benton. It is good to see you in the Chair. I, too, am happy with the clause. The industry to which it applies ranges from well-organised, well-regulated companies to, at the other end of the spectrum, cowboys. I want to speak about the cowboy end.

I should declare an interest. Most people know that I am a lifelong trade unionist, and although I am extremely keen for the clause to be implemented in relation to standards, I believe, on the basis of personal experience, that because of the nature of the cowboy firms—doormen in clubs and pubs provide a good example—it is problematic in terms of industrial relations. A large number of people involved at that end of the industry pursue their activities within the black economy. That militates against good and proper standards in the industry, which are the subject of the clause. The one matter cannot be considered separately from the other.

During my 20 years as a Transport and General Workers Union regional officer I had occasion to recruit those who are known, colloquially, as bouncers. The nature of the recruitment was such that I did not have to go looking for them. Every December, they would come knocking on the union's door, asking to join. I came to realise that they would knock on the door in December, make use of their union identity for that month as a bargaining lever to ensure the highest possible return for working over Christmas and the new year, and in January they would no longer be members. Such playing of the game was endemic in the black economy.

I am firmly in favour of good, sensible and appropriate minimum regulation, as outlined in the clause. In turn, however, the Government should not forget that employment regulations are equally important.