The Minister for Social Security and Disabled People (Mr. Nicholas Scott) : On Friday last, during consideration of the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, I stated in response to a question from the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) that my Department had played no part in the drafting of any amendments tabled by a number of my hon. Friends, and that
"to the best of my knowledge, nobody in my Department has been involved in the drafting of any amendments in this area".--[ Official Report , 6 May 1994 ; Vol. 242, c. 991.]
Immediately afterwards, in response to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), I drew attention to the fact that the Lord President would be replying to a question from him, which asked how many amendments had been drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. That answer confirmed that amendments tabled on 3 May had been drafted in Parliamentary Counsel's office. My statement on Friday that my Department had not drafted any amendments was true, but, as I explained in a letter to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), the Department, with my authority, had been involved in their preparation. I therefore felt that I should offer this clarification of my remarks to the House as a whole.
I very much regret that by not giving a fuller explanation at the time the effect of my reply was misleading, and I offer my unreserved apologies to the House.
Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Is it in order for Government Members to congratulate Scottish National party Members on converting so many Labour Members to their party colours ?
Mr. Roger Berry (Kingswood) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister for Social Security and Disabled People is not only the hon. Member who misled the House on Friday. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland), to whom I have given notice that I would be raising this matter, said on Friday :
"the new clause and amendments were mine and mine only"--[ Official Report , 6 May 1994 ; Vol. 242, c. 974.].
Yesterday the hon. Lady said :
"it would be totally unfair to suggest that they came from any other source."--[ Official Report , 9 May 1994 ; Vol. 243, c. 23.] It is clear that, along with the Minister, the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam has misled the House. Has the hon. Lady requested your permission, Madam Speaker, to make a similar statement of apology to her colleagues ?
Of course, I cannot investigate the accuracy of everything that hon. Members say to the House, but the hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Berry) is alleging a very serious parliamentary offence. Therefore, as he and the House know, the hon. Gentleman must write to me. If it is a matter of privilege, it will be dealt with.
Mr. Sheerman : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) accused me directly of casting a slur on her reputation and yesterday in the House asserted that the Labour party was trying to use disabled people as a political football. Will the hon. Member get off scot free again ?
Madam Speaker : Providing that what is said by the hon. Lady, or by any hon. Member, is within the rules and procedures of the House, I have no alternative but to accept it. [Interruption.] Order. I cannot investigate every comment which is made by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : We have heard--not today, because we cannot question a personal statement, but on previous occasions--that the Government allowed amendments to be drafted which would suit the Government. What has not been explained properly, but what ought to be, is that those amendments were drafted
Column 157not to suit the Government but so that the Government could turn them down. That is not what the Minister told us today. The Government were so Machiavellian that they drew up amendments which they could conveniently say they were not prepared to accept. That is the dirty manoeuvre, and that is why the Minister should resign.
Mr. Gordon McMaster (Paisley, South) : On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Is not the central issue that we have heard a personal statement from the Minister that the Government were involved in dirty tricks to try to block the Bill on Friday ?
Mr. McMaster : Further to that, Madam Speaker. We now have a decision of the House which surely should not stand because of the tactics which were deployed. Can we have another opportunity to report the Bill ?
Mr. O'Brien : My point of order is this. On a statement such as the personal statement that we have heard today, which related to an incident in the House of great importance to all of us, is a different procedure available to Ministers by which they could make such statements which would allow us to question them about it ? They are serious matters.
Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No.101(1) (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.) .
That the draft International Transport Conventions Act 1983 (Amendment) Order 1994 be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.--[ Mr. Conway .]
Question agreed to .
Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No.101(1) (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.) .
That the draft Local Government Act 1988 (Competition) (Defined Activities) (Housing Management) Order 1994 be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.
That the draft Education (National Curriculum) (Foundation Subjects at Key Stage 4) Order 1994 be referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.--[ Mr. Conway .]
Question agreed to .
Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West) : I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the licensing of the security industry ; and for connected purposes. There is a growing perceived need for the work of private security firms, but at present there is no apparent check on their operations and no apparent way in which their work with members of the public and small businesses can be certified, registered or inspected to protect those same members of the public. Their work, principally in residential areas, involves not policing but an operation of merely maintaining a presence to protect the security of householders. As such, it is being welcomed increasingly in many areas of different types, not least in my constituency.
In the absence of any licensing or security procedures for such firms, there is a fear that villains will masquerade as honest men and, in doing so, provide not security but an opportunity for further crime. Similarly, in the absence of any provision for a check on the financing of such firms, there is the risk that ordinary members of the public will find themselves paying for the additional security that such firms offer only to discover that the organisers of the firms are men of straw, as appears to have happened, for example, with a firm known as Town and Country which was operating in my constituency recently.
Therefore, a measure to introduce regulation, licensing and inspection for private security firms is overdue. Indeed, it appears to have the support not only of large sections of the police, including the expressed support of the chief constable in my area, but the full support of the British security industry.
The Bill provides for the licensing of the security industry. I must underline that it merely provides powers which my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary can choose whether to use and to what extent. It would in no sense force him to go down a road that he did not wish to follow. It merely gives him a suggestion of a road that he might usefully follow in order to provide greater reassurance to my constituents and others.
The Bill would cover security services provided by personnel whose main or only function was the protection of premises, property and persons. It would cover personnel whose main or only function was the prevention and detection of theft from retail premises. It would cover personnel and vehicles for the secure transport of cash and other items of value. However, it would not cover, nor would it seek to impinge in any way on, the work of a police force maintained under the Police Act 1964 or any other Act or any directly managed or contracted out prison or any prisoner escort arrangements within the meaning of the Criminal Justice Act 1991.
Column 160The Bill would not impinge in any way on the legitimate, valued and valuable work of our police and prison services. It is designed merely to act as a proper adjunct to the existing work of those services and any necessary expansion of it. The Bill would empower the Home Secretary to license security firms attempting to provide a service to members of the public and to withdraw any firm's licence. It would empower my right hon. and learned Friend to impose fees for such licensing and regulation procedures so that no charge would fall on the public sector. It would empower my right hon. and learned Friend to decide a commencement date for any or all of the provisions. In other words, the powers that it contains could be brought in at the convenience of the Home Secretary and of the prison and police services and as was generally deemed appropriate. For obvious reasons, the Bill would not apply to Northern Ireland. Like many other people, I am always wary about the introduction of additional enforcement licensing and regulation, which is often unnecessary. However, I suggest that in this case it is necessary not only to provide for the proper expansion of an industry already seen by many people as a necessary part of life but also to deal with a number of deficiencies and dangers in the industry.
At present, no training policy is applied across the industry as a whole. Under the Bill the Home Secretary would have power to bring in, or to empower others to bring in, a training policy regarded as appropriate to the work that the industry is peculiarly capable of doing. At present there is nothing to prevent criminals or ex-criminals from setting up security firms and selling their services to the public. Under the Bill, the Home Secretary would be empowered to stop just this sort of practice.
There is a fear among many people that if we do not allow the security industry to grow naturally, as appropriate, under suitable regulation we shall open the door to something that I am sure that no hon. Member wishes to see on our streets--the growth of vigilante groups, people's armies and workers' militias and of all the other things that we have seen in many other countries. We do not want to see such things imported into the United Kingdom.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Michael Stern, Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith, Mr. Alex Carlile, Sir Jerry Wiggin, Mr. Michael Mates, Mr. Michael Spicer, Mr. Don Foster, Mr. Charles Hendry, Mr. Harold Elletson and Mr. Toby Jessel.
Mr. Michael Stern accordingly presented a Bill to provide for the licensing of the security industry ; and for connected purposes : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 20 May, and to be printed. [Bill 108.]
As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
That the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill, as amended, be considered in the following order, namely, New Clauses, except new Clauses relating to burdens imposed by public bodies and to the duration and expiry of Chapter I of Part I, amendments relating to Clause 5, Schedule 1, Clauses 6 to 8, Schedule 2, Clauses 9 and 10, Schedule 3, Clause 11, Schedules 4 and 5, Clauses 12 to 16, Schedule 6, Clauses 17 to 19, Schedule 7, Clauses 20 to 26, Schedule 8, Clauses 27 to 29, Schedule 9, Clauses 30 to 40, Schedule 10, Clauses 41 to 47, Schedule 11, Clauses 48 to 58, Schedule 12, New Clauses relating to burdens imposed by public bodies, Clauses 59 to 66, Schedule 13, Clauses 67 to 71, Schedule 14, Clause 72, New Schedules, New Clauses relating to the duration and expiry of Chapter I of Part I, amendments relating to Clauses 1 to 4-- [Mr. Conway. ]
.--(1) In Part II of the Charities Act 1992 (control of fund-raising for charitable institutions), section 58(1) (definitions) shall be amended as follows.
(2) In the definition of "commercial participator", after "person" there shall be inserted "(apart from a company connected with the institution)".
(3) In paragraph (a) of the definition of "professional fund-raiser", after "institution" there shall be inserted "or a company connected with such an institution".'.-- [Mr. Sainsbury.] Brought up, and read the First time.
The new clause is a response to points raised by the eighth deregulation task force, chaired by Tessa Baring, which has been examining charities and voluntary organisations. The new clause is also in line with the outcome of a consultation exercise that the Home Office carried out last year.
As right hon. and hon. Members may be aware, the eighth task force was appointed later than the seven business task forces. Mrs. Baring and her colleagues have examined a great amount of regulation conscientiously and enthusiastically and we are most grateful for their efforts. Their report has been prepared in draft form and is being considered by the relevant Government Departments with a view to publication soon--including a Government response to their recommendations.
As with the other task forces, a copy of the report will be placed in the Library of the House. Part II of the Charities Act 1992 introduces controls on professional and commercial involvement in fund raising for a charitable institution--for a charity or any other charitable, benevolent or philanthropic organisation.
Part II applies where there is a solicitation on behalf of a charitable institution, or representation during a promotional venture, that contributions are to be given or applied for the benefit of a charitable institution. In such cases, part II requires two things : that a written agreement
Column 162with the organisation is already in existence, in accordance with prescribed requirements ; and that a statement is made about the arrangements and accompanies each relevant solicitation or representation.
Part II is not yet in force. Draft regulations were issued for consultation last July and it had been intended that the provisions would be brought into force by now. It was decided, however, that commencement should wait until the views of the eighth deregulation task force were clearer. In fact, the task force is not--as I understand it--likely to recommend any fundamental changes to part II. Indeed, there is widespread support for its provisions and a wish to see them in force. The task force is likely, however, to endorse two key views that emerged from consultation on the draft regulations : the need to clarify the position over connected companies ; and the need to allow longer time between the making of final regulations and their coming into force.
During the passage of the Charities Act 1992, the Government clearly stated that part II was not intended to regulate charities or companies connected to them--in other words, companies that are wholly owned or controlled by charities. Those who advise charities have had doubts, however, and think that the wording of part II does not achieve that intention to their satisfaction. The amendments effected by the new clause are designed to put that right.
I am sure that the House will agree that there should be no question of significant differences of interpretation, even before the law comes into operation. With that in mind I must make it clear--as does the legislation- -that a company connected to a charitable institution may nevertheless be subject to part II if it is acting in concert with an institution to which it is not connected.
The two amendments grouped with the new clause are consequential on it and amend clauses 30 and 72, to provide that the new clause will come into force on Royal Assent and that it will extend only to England and Wales. The amendments are the only changes that the Government are proposing to the Charities Act at this stage of the Bill's passage, since the deregulation task force is still completing its report. We are examining carefully the case for further urgent amendments which it may be appropriate to table in another place. We have in mind the introduction of a new light-touch reporting regime for the smallest charities and hope to reach a conclusion on that issue shortly. Meanwhile, I urge the House, in the interests of charities, to accept this useful deregulatory measure.
Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central) : I am grateful to the Minister for the introduction to new clause 12 and its purposes, and his reference to the consequential amendments. We shall certainly support new clause 12. What the Minister had to say makes a great deal of sense. They are technical issues, but they tidy up the Bill. We go along with the Government on that basis.
We also welcome the future reference to light touch reporting for smaller charities, which makes a great deal of sense. There may be an argument about the definition of a smaller charity, but the lighter touch would save money and time in terms of red tape.
The fact that the Opposition accept new clause 12 is typical of our approach throughout the proceedings on the Bill--if there is a sensible approach to removing regulation, of course we will support it. We shall not,
Column 163however, support those attempts to deregulate which put at risk the rights of employees and consumers. As new clause 12 does none of those things, we shall support it.
Mr. Sainsbury : I am grateful to the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) for what he said and I am sure the charity world is, too, as it will help deregulation. I am also grateful for what he said about supporting useful deregulation that does not reduce necessary protection but erases burdens. We are both of one mind as that is clearly set out as being the intention of the entire Bill. Perhaps it is a good omen for speedy progress.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
.--(1) The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 shall be amended as set out in subsections (2) to (5) below.
(2) In section 5(1), for "Good Friday, Christmas Day or Sunday" there shall be substituted "Good Friday or Christmas Day". (3) After section 10, there shall be inserted
"Rights of betting office workers as respects Sunday working. 10A. Schedule 4A to this Act (which makes provision in relation to the rights of betting office workers as respects Sunday working) shall have effect."
(4) In Schedule 4, in paragraph 1, for "Good Friday, Christmas Day and every Sunday" there shall be substituted "Good Friday and Christmas Day".
(5) After Schedule 4 there shall be inserted the Schedule set out in Schedule ( Schedule to be inserted in the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 after Schedule 4 ) to this Act.'.-- [Mr. Paice.] Brought up, and read the First time.
Schedule to be inserted in the Betting Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 after Schedule 4
1.--(1) In this Schedule, except where a contrary intention appears
the 1978 Act' means the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978,
betting office' means a licensed betting office within the meaning of this Act,
betting worker' means an employee who, under his contract of employment, is required to work in England and Wales at a track for a bookmaker or totalisator operator or in a betting office on a day on which betting transactions are effected at that track by or on behalf of that bookmaker or totalisator operator or at that betting office, bookmaker' has the meaning given in section 55(1) of this Act, the commencement date' means the day on which this Schedule comes into force,
dismissal' has the same meaning as in Part V of the 1978 Act, notice period', in relation to an opting-out notice, has the meaning given by paragraph 6 below,