Clause 17 - Imposition of requirements for approval

Private Security Industry Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 1st May 2001.

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Photo of Bruce George Bruce George Labour, Walsall South 12:45 pm, 1st May 2001

I shall not move Amendment No. 5.

During a number of votes on amendments, Committee Members might have heard my strangulated cries—the small sounds of rebellion. When Fred Mulley, a former Secretary of State for Defence, was asked in 1979 whether he was in favour of nuclear weapons, he said that he was intellectually opposed but institutionally in favour. To reverse that process, I am intellectually supportive of, but institutionally opposed to, many of the amendments that have been discussed this morning. The arguments given by my hon. Friend the Minister are not strong. However, there is no point in pursuing the amendment, because his views are set, at least until the SIA comes up with a better proposal. I find the idea that a company is not an entity unacceptable. Under the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001, the company itself must be licensed in addition to the individuals concerned. There are many examples of companies being so regulated. The idea that they can be excluded from that, and that a good company should get a kite mark of approval for being good, is laughable. I hope that my view—which is, I suspect, that of many others—will be acceptable in future.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

Order. The hon. Gentleman need not seek the Committee's leave to withdraw the amendment, as he chose not to move it. Those were his opening words.

Mr. Bercow rose—

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

Is this a point of order, Mr. Bercow, or do you wish to speak in the clause 17 stand part debate?

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I should be much obliged if I could do so.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

You can indeed.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Your natural tolerance invariably gets the better of you, Mr. Winterton, whatever the intention with which you began our proceedings.

I want to refer to subsection (1) of the clause. I shall be characteristically moderate, restrained and understated in my criticism.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

I am grateful for my right hon. Friend's sedentary encouragement.

First, suffice to say that the subsection is mildly circumlocutory. In 43 words, it appears to say that the Secretary of State will be able to prohibit categories of individuals from the provision of private security industry services unless they have been approved under clause 15. Can the Minister explain the need for a cut-across between clauses 15 and 17?

Secondly, as the Minister would expect me to do as surely as the passage of the seasons, I make my habitual inquiry as to whether the regulations referred to in subsection (1) will be subject to the negative or the affirmative procedure.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

On Second Reading and earlier in this Committee, I asked the right hon. Member for Walsall, South what his preconditions are for agreeing to the Bill. Given that it has not yet been significantly amended on the crucial issues, and that the right hon. Gentleman has told us that he is intellectually persuaded by the need to amend it, I assume that if we reach Report stage today—

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

Order. I must say to the hon. Gentleman, who has legal qualifications, that the matter he is raising does not relate to clause 17. He tried hard, but I shall not permit him to proceed.

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office

To be frank, the questions from the hon. Member for Buckingham were so penetrating that I would have welcomed the opportunity not to answer them—you standing between me and him is something that I could have lived with, Mr. Winterton.

In answer to the first question from the hon. Gentleman, negative resolution procedure will be used in this case. On the relationship between clauses 15 and 17, I am somewhat confused by his question. Clause 15 deals with the arrangements for the grant of approvals and clause 17 empowers the Secretary of State to establish regulations that extend across the legislation, which is why clause 17 relates to clause 15. I may have misunderstood his point, in which case I shall try to answer it more clearly. The purpose of the juxtaposition of those two clauses is to ensure that there is a relationship between the Secretary of State deciding whether or not to lay down regulations and the operation that exists under clause 15.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The Minister's explanation is entirely satisfactory on this occasion. However, in view of his remarks, it is arguable that the contents of clause 17 could have been contained within clause 15, which may explain my quizzical tone.

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office

One day I hope to achieve the esteemed office of parliamentary counsel, at which point I shall engage in those kinds of discussions.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.