Clause 1 - Interpretation

Promotion of Volunteering Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:30 am on 12th May 2004.

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Amendment proposed [5 May]: No. 28, in

page 1, line 21, to leave out the words

', other than an employee,'—[Fiona Mactaggart.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour/Co-operative, North West Leicestershire

With this we are discussing the following amendments:

No. 29, in clause 1, page 2, line 2, at end insert

'(other than a person acting in his capacity as an employee of that organisation or body)'.

No. 30, in clause 1, page 2, line 3, leave out paragraph (b).

No. 65, in clause 1, page 2, line 7, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—

'(c) an instructor of the Combined Cadet Force, the Sea Cadet Corps, the Army Cadet Force, the Air Training Corps or any other uniformed youth organisation administered by the Armed Forces or Police whether or not such person is paid.'.

No. 31, in clause 1, page 2, line 7, leave out paragraph (c).

No. 63, in clause 1, page 2, line 8, at end insert—

' ''paid employee'' means any natural person employed by a voluntary organisation whether or not paid at the time and ''employee'' in the Act shall be construed accordingly as including any such paid employee.'.

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Shadow Minister, Home, Constitutional & Legal Affairs, Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Constitutional Affairs)

I assure you, Mr. Taylor, that I shall trouble the Committee for only a moment, as the debate has already been extensive.

As probably the only member of the Committee who has a working farm—I take a lively and direct interest in it, despite my other duties—I want to record for the information and benefit of the Committee the fact that, in my experience, permission by farmers and landowners allowing their land to be used is an important part of the scene. Although we may table further amendments in another place, I stress that the Bill is about giving such permission voluntarily rather than for payment, which is the norm. I have often said to my wife that if I kept a register of all the things that people ask to do on my land, let alone of what they might do without permission, I would have a busy time. Only yesterday, I received a telephone call asking whether some people could ride their horses on my set-aside land.

I do not want to detain the Committee, but I add one further consideration. Farmers usually give permission readily. Prudent farmers check with their insurers whether they are covered, and the typical insurance policy certainly allows such activities, on notice, without an additional premium. Nevertheless, the fact remains that if a run of adverse experience leads to claims, it will feed into the costs of premiums. As a result, even if farmers do not make money from the process—most do not do so for such occasional uses—they may be faced with higher third-party liability premiums. That would depress their readiness to allow such activities. I simply record that negative aspect for the Minister's consideration.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I am indebted to the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Reed) and to the Minister for mentioning the anomalies between the various amendments.

I stand by everything that I said about farmers and landowners—my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) has just made an eloquent point on the subject—and about the importance of the cadet corps. The bulk of the activities of the cadet corps are unpaid, except for the Army and Air Force cadets when they go off for the weekend and sometimes the Sea Cadets.

Our debate has thrown up the fact that the Bill has missed an important group. The hon. Member for Loughborough mentioned part-time coaches, but a problem also arises with regard to adventure training. The Youth Hostels Association, which is a strong supporter of the measure, would be deeply concerned if it thought that producing a certificate to secure protection would shift the burden to paid wardens in youth hostels. Amendment No. 63 would extend the measure to full-time or part-time paid employees of voluntary organisations.

Amendment No. 65 is a drafting amendment. It was pointed out to me that the description of the various categories of people is not clear. For example, some are affiliated to the Royal Navy as naval cadets, but there are at least three groups, and they have recently been reorganised. I have therefore listed the names of the principal groups and taken advice to word the provision so as to cover new groups.

As I said, I am happy to accept Government amendments Nos. 28 and 29, but I urge the Committee to resist Government amendments Nos. 30 and 31 and to support my new amendments Nos. 63 and 65.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

It is a pleasure to be chaired by you, Mr. Taylor, and I am confident that it will continue to be.

As I explained, under paragraph (b), the term ''volunteer'' would be extended to a farmer or other landowner who may permit his land to be used for voluntary or educational activity. My concern is that that would allow such a person to permit their land to be used for such activity, knowing that the land was dangerous for whatever reason, but to seek exemption

from liability in the event of an accident caused directly by their negligence.

The Bill and its promoter, with whom I have had productive conversations to try to find a way of solving the problem that the Bill seeks to address, have a difficulty. We must recognise that the Government have not used their usual powerful panoply of tricks—it is quite wrong of me to call them that; they are, rather, the resources at the Government's disposal—to destroy the Bill at an early stage, because we recognise that it seeks to address a genuine concern. Indeed, we hoped to be able to use it to deal with that concern, but our efforts were frustrated by the fact that the more we investigated the issue, the more we believed that it risked making things worse and did not solve the problem that we are all trying to solve. That is why we are here in Committee and I have not had the joy of speaking at great length on a Friday morning, which I am quite capable of doing and have done before.

The clause is an example of the temptation to try to fix a whole load of things that are perceived to be problems, but not necessarily in a way that will work. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) cited the case of the farmer who alerted him and his sons to the fact that a particular part of his land that is a vehicle dump could pose a risk and should be avoided. The problem with the clause, however, is that it would actually allow a farmer or another landowner not to provide such information at all. Indeed, landowners who allowed their land to be used in return for a fee could seek the resource—

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Shadow Minister, Home Affairs, Shadow Solicitor General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs)

I should declare that I am the owner of some farm land.

I do not want to detain the Committee, but I wonder whether inserting the phrase ''for no consideration in money or money's worth'' after the word ''shall'' in paragraph (b) would provide a solution and ameliorate the position?

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

That would deal with the specific point that I was making, but not with the whole substance of my concern. The hon. Gentleman points out a flaw that needs to be remedied in some way, but my fundamental concern is that farmers and landowners should not be allowed to permit their land to be used if they know that it is in a dangerous condition, and neither should they abdicate their responsibility in respect of such land. There is a risk that the clause would allow negligent behaviour by landowners in providing them with broad protection even when they were not acting as volunteers but merely permitting their land to be used—something that is covered by the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984.

Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Shadow Minister, Home, Constitutional & Legal Affairs, Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Minister (Constitutional Affairs)

I understand the Minister's concern that farmers might try to absolve themselves of the general liabilities arising from their occupation of the land in connection with the activities being carried on there. Those are two different risks, however, and I

should have thought that it was not beyond the wit of the Committee to devise an amendment that would split them. The provisions could enable farmers properly to assess the risks attached to the land, so that they would not transfer those risks; they would transfer the risk only with respect to the inherently risky activity.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

That is precisely why we want to remove the relevant paragraph; the inherently risky activity must be dealt with as such, and in the main, that is the approach that the Bill takes. The statement of inherent risk, about which we have reservations that will arise later, is a mechanism to deal with the risky activity. The Government want to remove the paragraph about farmers because the activity is what involves risk, whereas—this seems to me precisely what the hon. Gentleman was getting at—paragraph (b) is an attempt to introduce the issue of the state of land as a kind of escape clause, or rather, as that is not really an appropriate phrase, an issue to be thrown into the pot. It seems to us that that is inappropriate.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

On payment, I should be happy to accept on Report the amendment suggested by the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Burnett). However, with respect to the Minister's broader point, as we shall see later, the provision does not wholly remove the ability to sue where reckless disregard can be shown; it simply raises the barrier for negligence.

The fact is that it is only the willingness of local farmers that makes many field trips and scout and guide activities possible. Scout masters, teachers and others are very careful about such matters. The criminal law requires them to be careful. We owe the people concerned a degree of protection, or we shall simply lose them.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I agree that we need to encourage landowners and farmers to allow their land to be used. That is sensible. However, I do not believe that the procedure set out in the Bill will succeed in doing that. It will have unintended consequences. For example, the mechanism means that the farmer or landowner shares responsibility for the risk inherent in the activity, because he or she benefits from the statement of inherent risk. It places on the other signatory to the statement of inherent risk a shared responsibility for the risk associated with the condition of the land. Frankly, in many cases, it is not possible for people to share such a responsibility. They are not in a position to do so because it involves an unknown quantity with regard to the participants and probably also to the provider of the activity.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, because it is, relatively speaking, early in the morning, but I must say that there does not seem to be an ounce of good faith in the Government's approach. There is no allowance for the fact that, on the whole, farmers will not set out to allow young people on to dangerous land. The Minister must have anticipated the question that I am going to ask her, given last week's debate: can she provide us with an example of a farmer having allowed people on to land knowing that it was in poor condition? Perhaps she

can provide us with a plausible example, but if not, it will be clear that the Government are once again coming up with ideas that have no basis in reality.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 9:45 am, 12th May 2004

I am saying that this measure is an inappropriate way of dealing with the problem that arises. I do not believe that farmers' fear of allowing their land to be used is well founded. I am concerned that the measure is an inappropriate way of dealing with the matter and that it will increase fear in the landowning and farming communities. I am trying to point out its potential consequences. The vast majority of farmers would not do what the hon. Gentleman describes. I have absolute good will, and that is one reason why such provision is unnecessary.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Shadow Minister, Home Affairs, Shadow Solicitor General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs)

Clause 2(4)(c) states that a court shall

''only uphold any claim for negligence or breach of statutory duty where it would manifestly be unreasonable not to do so.''

If there is manifest unreasonableness, the courts could push a coach and horses through the statement of inherent risk. The Minister has things covered all ways.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I do not think so, and I will explain why. Manifest unreasonableness is required, and I do not believe that such situations will generally occur. One must consider the case law to date: in every case about landowners of which I am aware, the decision has supported the landowner—this includes parks with swings and so on—against claims of negligence related to their activities. I do not know of a single case in which the measure would be necessary, although there might be one.

Manifest unreasonableness would not necessarily cover someone who had not bothered to check whether the condition of their land was safe in every respect. The current law provides adequate protection, and the suggestion that such additional protection is required simply feeds anxiety.

Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall

I suggest that when the Minister gets into a hole on the subject of land, she should stop digging. She says that there is no problem, but we would not be supporting the Bill if it were not for the fact that so many of us know of people and groups in our constituencies who have been unable to obtain access precisely because of the problem with which it deals.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

They cannot get access because of the perception of the problem.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Shadow Minister, Home Affairs, Shadow Solicitor General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs)

That is wrong. I have not practised as a lawyer for more than 10 years, but I can refer the Minister to the two leading cases—I hope that my memory serves me right—of Pannett v. McGuinness and Herrington v. British Railways Board, in which the railway company was held liable to trespassers on the railway. If she has not seen those cases, she needs to do so. Such cases are what feed fear, cause growth in insurance premiums and destroy voluntary activity throughout the country.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I understand that. The cases that I have seen included that of the Isle of Wight and others. I will look carefully at the cases that the hon. Gentleman cites, as I have often found when looking at cases to which hon. Members have referred that their final resolutions raise questions that are rather different from those raised in debate.

On amendments Nos. 31 and 65, I sympathise with the intentions of the hon. Member for Canterbury in seeking to simplify the position of instructors of police and armed forces cadets. I have explained that paragraph (c) would give instructors volunteer status, whether or not they are being paid. Amendment No. 65 would have the same effect, but extend the scope of the Bill in this area.

There are two issues at stake, and they would remain the same even with the proposed new wording. If an instructor supervises an activity as part of his paid employment, his responsibilities are likely to be covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; the hon. Member for Canterbury and I have discussed that matter extensively. The Bill should not cut across those provisions. Employers' duty of care to their employees and to those for whom they provide a service must remain intact, and it is important that that should be sustained everywhere—in schools, and in relation to the services that have been mentioned. He would not want to lessen the impact of that legislation for cadets or trainees in those services, but I am concerned that his amendment might do so. Such services all require discipline, and introducing the proposed statement of inherent risk could open the gates to recklessness. I do not believe that that is his intention, but that is the risk.

Crucially, if an instructor from one of those services were acting in a voluntary capacity, and other than in their paid employment or on a commercial basis, they would in any event be covered by the term ''volunteer'', as defined in amendments Nos. 28 and 29, provided that the organisation for or with which they were working was covered by the definition in the Bill.

The term ''volunteer'' is very clear. When a person is involved in a voluntary activity, they are a volunteer, and when they provide a service for which they are paid, they are an employee or commercial operator. In these circumstances, I do not believe that we need specifically to identify cadet instructors. That would potentially confuse the term ''volunteer'', which is a precious term, and open up the prospect of legal challenge about its exact meaning.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

To save time, I shall ask my two remaining questions together, although they are slightly different.

First, why would a nurse walking down the street, for example, be liable to be sued if he or she helped somebody who was having a heart attack, and did so because they had a professional qualification, while somebody such as me who has no such qualification would not be liable? Would that not apply in the circumstances that we are talking about?

Secondly, what protection is the Minister offering to farmers who come a cropper after having acted in

good faith? Simply promising to do something about that is not good enough; if the Government are rejecting this proposal, we need to understand what they are promising to do and when they will do it.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

On the first point, I think that the hon. Gentleman is introducing a completely separate issue, which is dangerous. This measure covers people who are not merely walking down the street, but undertaking activities provided by a voluntary or volunteering organisation, and the question is whether they are working as volunteers or employees. That is not comparable to the issue of reasonableness and carefulness, which is different according to people's different qualifications. One example is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and it relates to someone's professional employment. The example that he cites is not connected with such circumstances, but is more related to measures debated in the previous sitting that were rejected and to the so-called good Samaritan clause.

The second point was about what we can do for farmers. My difficulty is that I do not think that the Bill will have the intended effect. It is interesting that other organisations in the sector that were enthusiastic about it have become less so, not because they do not want the problem to be fixed, but because the more they look carefully at that problem, the more they realise that it is as much about the way in which a risk assessment is conducted and about public information and the relationship between providers and insurers as it is about what happens with litigation in court. That is the risk.

Having sought carefully to collaborate with the hon. Member for Canterbury in trying to draft appropriate legislation, I have been persuaded that a Bill that focuses on the way in which the court deals with litigation and compensation claims holds within it the profound risk of worsening the problem. It could generate litigation to test the boundaries, which would push up insurance claims.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Shadow Minister, Home Affairs, Shadow Solicitor General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs)

Obviously, there will be litigation on points such as manifest unreasonableness—there is bound to be some—but at least such provision will change the boundaries of risk and lessen or mitigate it. We on the Opposition Benches acknowledge that we cannot have black and white legislation. The provision would lessen the risk and the insurance premiums, and, in due course, far more people will volunteer.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

If all that the provision did were lessen risk, it would be fine, but if it opens the door to negligence and inappropriate lack of care for children who are volunteering, as I fear it would, it would be a profound problem, which no Committee members want. That is why I am concerned.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Shadow Minister, Home Affairs, Shadow Solicitor General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs)

If there were a lack of care for children, it would manifestly be unreasonable.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I do not accept that a farmer's lack of care in investigating all the things that might exist on his farm would necessarily meet the test of

manifest unreasonableness when he says to the local scout troop, ''Oh, do anything on the land.''

Photo of Derek Wyatt Derek Wyatt Labour, Sittingbourne and Sheppey

Even if the Minister cannot tell me this now, could her legal officers put into the public domain their analysis of the insurance laws in Queensland, New Zealand and throughout America that have covered this issue? If we had such information, we would be in a better position to understand this issue.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 10:00 am, 12th May 2004

I could ask for the information, but I can tell my hon. Friend that those countries have dealt with the issue rather differently. Rather than shifting the burden of proof, which is what the Bill would do, they have created a bonding system and have organised that within the insurance market. That seems to be beginning to work. One of the problems in trying to find a consensus with the Bill's promoter is that it has not been possible to develop a system as complex as those in other countries, which might be more suitable. If the consequence of shifting the burden is to allow for negligence, I do not believe that any of us would want that.

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Labour, Chorley

As the Minister is developing the idea of the bond system, may I ask who would put up the money? We understand the insurance bond sold in relation to insurance companies; presumably, it must be the landowners that are to chip in for the bond. Will the Minister correct me if I have got that wrong?

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The bonding system works much more with the clubs and groups occupying the land, as I understand it.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

What that amounts to is clubbing together to pay lawyers' fees. I know that the Minister wants the law changed, just as practically everyone else in the Room does, and that she has difficulty with the Government's lawyers—for what they are worth. However, as I understand it, there was a common law defence of voluntary assumption of risk—volenti not fit injuria, for those who had a classical education.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

What is wrong with seeking, through the Bill, to override the provisions of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, which took away that common law defence?

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

That defence still exists. Our concern is that this proposal goes much further than volenti not fit injuria, for which there is a common law defence. The proposal would open the door to unsafe practices and allow those who conduct such practices to get away with it.

The hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon deserves a reply to his point. I have discovered the answer to his point about Panet and Macguinness, and it is relevant to our discussion. Those cases were decided in 1972, at a time when common law was generally agreed to be particularly harsh on trespassers. Those cases led to Parliament passing the Occupiers' Liability Act 1984, which sets out the

current law. It might be helpful to read what Lord Hoffman said about occupiers' liability in that Act:

''I think it will be extremely rare for an occupier of land to be under a duty to prevent people from taking risks which are inherent in the activities they freely choose to undertake upon the land. If people want to climb mountains, go hang gliding or swim or dive in ponds or lakes, that is their affair. Of course the landowner may for his own reasons wish to prohibit such activities. He may think that they are a danger or inconvenience to himself or others. Or he may take a paternalist view and prefer people not to undertake risky activities on his land. He is entitled to impose such conditions, as the Council did''—

this was in the case of the Isle of Wight council—

''by prohibiting swimming. But the law does not require him to do so.''

The concerns of the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon have been dealt with by the 1984 Act.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

My hon. Friend the Minister has raised the matter of swimming; I have received representations from the Hampstead heath winter swimming club, which tells me that it is having great difficulties in its negotiations with the Corporation of London, which is responsible for Hampstead pond, about the un-lifeguarded use of the pond. The Minister's response would mean that an organisation as responsible and well lawyered as the Corporation of London is dominated entirely not by the law, but by an urban myth that there are problems with the issue; I cannot believe that.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

The case that I cited—it was not to do with the Isle of Wight, so I apologise to the Committee—was about precisely that. Perhaps my right hon. Friend should write to the Corporation of London to point out that the claimant in Tomlinson v. Congleton Borough Council suffered a broken leg after diving into a lake in a council-run country park. Swimming in the lake was prohibited, and there a notice was displayed to that effect.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Will the Minister confirm that the case, which went all the way to the Court of Appeal, was resolved only after many years of extremely expensive litigation?

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

That is true, and it is a problem. The case went to the Court of Appeal, and I read out Lord Hoffmann's judgment, which is absolutely clear. I recommend that my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras send a copy to the corporation because the judgment deals precisely with the matter before us.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

My hon. Friend suggested that I might do well to look into things more closely. I am advised that the judgment depended on the particular facts in the case and that it is not possible to determine the extent to which the lower courts would give proper effect to the broader principles. People who are trying to swim and people who have a pond still do not feel that the law is clear enough. They think that Parliament's job is to make laws, not to say, ''Go to the courts to sort things out.''

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I understand that. The problem is that we are dealing with a matter of perception. Where the courts have reached a final decision, they have, as in the case before us, taken the view that we, as a Committee, would have wanted them to take.

Bearing in mind that many of the activities that we are discussing will be undertaken by children and that a landowner's action must be reckless if they are to be liable to prosecution, the question is whether we should legislate in a way that creates the possibility of negligence. The Bill says not that people should take basic, sensible, reasonable safety precautions, but that they can choose not to do so and that they will be free of all liability unless they are reckless in choosing not to do so. That is not what we want to achieve. All I am trying to suggest is that the risk in the way the Bill is constructed is that we will allow negligence rather than, as we all want to, preventing over-restriction, in the form of provisions that seek to make people completely bomb-proof in terms of liability.

Photo of Mr John Burnett Mr John Burnett Shadow Minister, Home Affairs, Shadow Solicitor General, Law Officers (Constitutional Affairs)

I really must come to the aid of the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, who is quite correct. The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 dramatically changed the defence of volenti non fit injuria. The fact, which is mentioned in an excellent House of Commons Library publication about the promotion of volunteering, is that the mere knowledge of risk does not necessarily imply assent. In the Bill, we are trying to redress the unfair balance against volunteers, which the House put in place in the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

Actually, most of the cases that we are discussing have little to do with volunteers. However, bearing in mind the cases that have been decided, I do not accept that we have shifted the balance in quite the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests.

There is an issue about trying to ensure that people can undertake adventurous activities safely. There should be a responsibility to conduct such activities safely and carry out proper risk assessments, and we should not encourage people to avoid that responsibility. I am concerned that the proposals might not achieve that.

I must proceed, because I am trying not to use the Committee's time excessively, yet it feels as though I am, given the length of time that I am taking.

Amendment No. 63 proposes to clarify the meaning of the terms ''paid employee'' and ''employee'', where they appear in the Bill. I am concerned that such definitions would conflict with the term ''employee engaged in volunteering'', as provided for earlier in the clause. As drafted, amendment No. 63 would enable a volunteer acting in a voluntary capacity in an organisation to be referred to as a paid employee or an employee. In such circumstances, it is right that, as has been provided for, such a person should be defined as an employee engaged in volunteering. To refer to such a person in any other way would contradict the definition prescribed earlier. Doing so would also raise questions for voluntary organisations and voluntary bodies that employ staff to pursue their work, whether those staff be employees, paid employees or employees engaged in volunteering. Such a proposal would also confuse the status of those people and would not be helpful. It is important to be clear about the status of the people whom the Bill might affect. If the

amendment were accepted, the status of people who give their time and skills freely to their employers, where the employer is a voluntary organisation or a volunteering body, would not be clear.

I have sought to cover everything. There are some further matters that, as I said, I shall seek to make more public for the Committee.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I must apologise for not welcoming you to the Chair, Mr. Taylor. With your interest in rugby league, I cannot imagine a more suitable person to chair us.

I should like to make a few quick points. First, to clear up any confusion, nowhere does the Bill touch on criminal prosecutions. The Minister raised a bit of a canard about that, but we are dealing purely with civil litigation.

Secondly, the need for the Bill derived originally from representations from my own National Farmers Union branch. Fewer and fewer farmers in my part of the world are willing to make their land available. Any hon. Member who attended the reception hosted by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) and organised by ''linking environment and farming'', a group that tries to bring farming and wider communities together, would have heard more about such problems.

The Sea Cadets is a voluntary organisation and would probably be covered as a result of amendment No. 63, without a special provision of its own, whether its volunteers are paid or unpaid. As far as the public are concerned, the other two cadet forces are, for practical purposes, very nearly the same, although they are administered directly by the Ministry of Defence. Instructors give their evenings for free. At my local branch, one is a channel tunnel manager, another a policeman and another a teacher. Instructors are paid for such things as camps, when they go away for a week. Providing them with protection for their hard work in the evenings, when they are working towards more difficult activities, but not doing so when they are actually doing the more challenging activities would be manifestly silly.

Objections were made to amendment No. 63, which was drafted Mr. Michael Harbottle, a lawyer who has provided pro bono assistance and has assisted as a parliamentary draftsman on two previous charity Bills. He assures me that using ''employees'' to cover two different categories of people, exactly as drafted, avoids a lot of consequential amendments. He is satisfied with the amendment, and the Minister did not identify a problem, although she said that there was one.

I urge the Committee to resist amendments Nos. 30 and 31 and to support the rest of the group.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 29 in clause 1, page 2, line 2, at end insert

'(other than a person acting in his capacity as an employee of that organisation or body)'.—[Fiona Mactaggart.]

Amendment proposed: No. 30, in clause 1, page 2, line 3, leave out paragraph (b).—[ Fiona Mactaggart.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 3, Noes 11

Division number 1 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 1 - Interpretation

Aye: 3 MPs

No: 11 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 65, in clause 1, page 2, line 7, leave out paragraph (c) and insert—

'(c) an instructor of the Combined Cadet Force, the Sea Cadet Corps, the Army Cadet Force, the Air Training Corps or any other uniformed youth organisation administered by the Armed Forces or Police whether or not such person is paid.'.—[Mr. Brazier.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 11, Noes 3

Division number 2 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 1 - Interpretation

Aye: 11 MPs

No: 3 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment proposed: No. 63, in clause 1, page 2, line 8, at end insert—

' ''paid employee'' means any natural person employed by a voluntary organisation whether or not paid at the time and ''employee'' in the Act shall be construed accordingly as including any such paid employee.'.—[Mr. Brazier.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 11, Noes 3

Division number 3 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 1 - Interpretation

Aye: 11 MPs

No: 3 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I beg to move amendment No. 32, in clause 1, page 2, line 10, leave out 'which' and insert 'to the extent that'.

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour/Co-operative, North West Leicestershire

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 33, in clause 1, page 2, line 11, after 'business,' insert 'it'.

No. 34, in clause 1, page 2, line 12, leave out from 'gain;' to 'or' in line 14.

No. 35, in clause 1, page 2, line 16, leave out 'school'.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

These are drafting amendments, which do not change the impact of the clause. We are merely trying to make sure that commercial organisations that provide services without profit can fall under the term ''volunteering body'' in respect of those services only, rather than in a more general way. Provided that the organisation delivering the activity did so without profit, it would be brought under the scope of the term ''volunteering body'' for the purpose of the legislation. The amendments do not have any impact on the apparent intentions of the original draft of the Bill.

We also seek to remove the word ''school'' where it appears for a second time—again, a drafting amendment.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I am happy to accept most of the amendments, but my legal adviser tells me that we should resist amendment No. 34. It could leave an area of ambiguity; an example that was given was the McDonald's clean-up squad. Those are people, in their McDonald's T-shirts, who are employed by McDonald's but work in their free time to help clean up a community. There could be a grey area as to whether they would be included under the measure. As Business in the Community was one of the early groups to support the Bill, I am anxious that those people should be included. On the strength of the legal advice on that quite complicated point, I urge the Committee to oppose amendment No. 34. I am happy with the other three drafting improvements.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I am not confident that amendment No. 34 would have the effect that the hon. Gentleman fears, but in the spirit of compromise I am happy not to press the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 33, in clause 1, page 2, line 11, after 'business,' insert 'it'.

No. 35, in clause 1, page 2, line 16, leave out 'school'.—[Fiona Mactaggart.]

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

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I am prepared to accept that clause 1 should stand part of the Bill. It is important that we know what a volunteer is, although I have reservations about some of the conclusions that we have come to.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.