Clause 25 - Interpretation

Private Security Industry Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 1st May 2001.

Alert me about debates like this

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

Photo of Bruce George Bruce George Labour, Walsall South

The accountancy profession must be among the heaviest hitters in the relevant sphere. All its venerable organisations are listed to ensure that we know what ``relevant accountancy body'' means. My point relates to what was said earlier about the many investigative organisations. One of your senior civil servants met a group of them on Friday, thanks to your kind invitation—

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

Order. The right hon. Gentleman is attributing to me a power and authority, a meeting and a facility, that I do not have. I am sure that he means the Minister.

Photo of Bruce George Bruce George Labour, Walsall South 4:45 pm, 1st May 2001

I am thankful that my experience of working in Standing Committees is rare and of considerable age. If I fail procedurally, I duly apologise. I am trying to be most compliant with your wishes, Mr. Winterton. My point—it is regrettable that your intervention delayed me from finishing it earlier—was that many legitimate investigative organisations will be subject to licensing. Their direct competitors will be the big accountancy companies, all of which have forensic accountancy departments engaged in investigation. Those will run in parallel with the organisations that will be licensed.

I know that it would be more than the Minister's life is worth to change the law to put accountancy and investigation out of the frame. I merely want to make the point that such discrimination will put those to be licensed at an unfair disadvantage. If it is proven to him or his successor that such competition is disadvantageous and unfair, I hope that they will consider our handiwork and see whether anything further can be done to level the playing field.

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

We debated the issue on Second Reading, although not at length, and my right hon. Friend makes some serious points. However, I refer him to the Second Reading debate. There is no intention to advantage the great corporations. I know exactly what he refers to when he talks about an unlevel playing field between the big companies and others, but I am aware that there can be confusion on the subject, not least as a result of his interventions on Second Reading. If, as I hope, the Bill receives Royal Assent, I make a commitment to present it directly to the professions and to set out the position clearly and publicly in writing. We have no intention of skewing the whole business in favour of the KPMGs or Coopers of this world.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 25 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Sitting suspended for a Division in the House.

On resuming—