NETWORK OF CONTACT POINTS FOR PRIVATE
Initiative of the Kingdom of Spain on the setting up of a network of contact points of national authorities responsible for private security.
|Legal base:||Articles 29,30(1) and 34(2)(c) EU; consultation; unanimity
|Deposited in Parliament:
||4 February 2002|
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 26 March 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
||HC 152-xxi (2001-02), paragraph 5 (13 March 2002)
|To be discussed in Council:
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; information on progress requested
7.1 The Spanish Presidency intends this draft Decision
to address a number of concerns about the private security industry,
and to improve the ability of companies within it to operate in
the European Single Market. When we considered it in March, we
sought clarification from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of
State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) on several aspects
of the proposal and of the Government's Explanatory Memorandum.
The Minister's letter
7.2 The Minister has now responded. He begins by telling
"The most significant development on this draft Decision
since the time of the Explanatory Memorandum has been an opinion
provided to the Presidency by the Council Legal Service, to the
effect that the proposed Third Pillar legal base
is inappropriate, and that a First Pillar base
is preferable. The Presidency is currently considering how to
"This will clearly have a significant impact on discussions
relating to what the proposal is in general trying to achieve
and hence on several areas of it where your Committee (and that
in the Lords) has rightly pointed to a lack of clarity.
"These issues, together with those others referred to in
the Explanatory Memorandum which still await clarification, mean
that ... many significant aspects of the proposal [remain] unresolved.
The Government will press for these issues to be clarified as
quickly as possible, but it must at this stage be questionable
as to whether the Presidency's hope for agreement to the draft
in April is now going to be feasible."
7.3 We had asked for clarification about how the proposal
was supposed to improve the operation of the Single Market, given
its legal base and the fact that its content was mostly about
improved surveillance. The Minister agrees that the situation
is confused. The original legal base was not related to Single
Market objectives; however, any new First Pillar base will make
it difficult for the proposal to address the regulatory and surveillance
aspects on which it is currently focussed.
7.4 We also asked why the Minister was seeking "satisfactory
arrangements in place for handling the Third Pillar aspects of
the proposal", when the entire proposal fell within the Third
Pillar. The Minister apologises for a drafting error, and adds:
"In the light of the confusion which has subsequently
arisen over the legal base and hence the underlying purpose of
the draft Decision, it would now be better to say that satisfactory
arrangements must be in place to clarify the extent to which there
are both First and Third Pillar aspects of the proposal, and for
implementing any such aspects."
7.5 In the light of the information in the Explanatory
Memorandum about the UK's current inability to identify a national
authority or to provide the kind of data envisaged in the proposal,
we asked how the Government planned to proceed. The Minister tells
"No timescale is currently envisaged in the draft Decision
for the operation of the proposed arrangements. The Security Industry
Authority being set up under the Private Security Industry Act
2001 will become operational during 2003. It was indicated in
the Explanatory Memorandum that the Government would need to discuss
with the Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations the establishment
of a national authority for the purposes of the draft Decision.
One possibility might be for the Security Industry Authority to
act as the UK contact point.
"In the absence of a compulsory system of security company
licensing, the UK will not be able to provide fully comprehensive
data on companies as foreshadowed in the draft Decision. However,
the Security Industry Authority will be responsible for creating
and maintaining a register of all companies in England and Wales
approved by it under a voluntary approval scheme. This will enable
it to provide relevant information on companies to the extent
that they have taken advantage of the existence of the scheme.
This in turn should be seen by companies as an additional incentive
to apply for approval. However, the attractiveness of this proposal
rests on the assumption that the resulting database of company
information will be a useful market tool. It is not clear that
this will be achieved by the proposal as currently drafted."
7.6 Finally, the Minister agrees with us that the initial
Presidency timetable for the draft Decision appears optimistic,
given the issues on which the UK is awaiting clarification (including
those we have raised).
7.7 We thank the Minister for his full and helpful
7.8 Our puzzlement about several aspects of this proposal
and of the Government's Explanatory Memorandum turns out
to have been well-founded. It is certainly difficult to imagine
that speedy progress can be made on this proposal, especially
if the Presidency decides to re-present it under the First Pillar
where it will be subject to different legislative procedures.
7.9 We will keep the document under scrutiny and wait
with interest to see how the situation develops. We ask the Minister
to keep us informed of progress.
The Third Pillar covers provisions on police and judicial co-operation
in criminal matters. Back
First Pillar covers traditional EC business, including Single
Market legislation. Back