Gangmasters (Licensing) Bill

[back to previous text]

Alun Michael: On the last point, the authorisation that comes with the licence does not necessarily mean that identification has to have the same time scale. The question of identification of an individual needs to be

Column Number: 028

examined. In this place, for example, passes are issued for variable periods for a variety of reasons. That experience may be used to inform our consideration of the matter, although I am not sure that the House of Commons is necessarily to be regarded as a gangmaster. However, the Whips on some occasions—No, I will not go there.

To a great extent, the hon. Gentleman has answered his own question, and I am happy to confirm that his understanding is correct. The new clause makes it clear that everyone in the food chain has a responsibility to ensure that they are dealing with a reputable and licensed operator. When a person fails to discharge that responsibility, they will commit an offence under the proposed legislation.

As the hon. Gentleman suggests, however, we have the scope to make regulations to clarify the appropriate action for a labour user to take in checking whether a gangmaster is licensed. That will almost certainly include making a register check and a requirement that they see the original licensing documentation. However, until the authority has established the licensing procedures, it is not possible to say precisely what form the regulations will take.

I reiterate the point that the intention is to involve employers in the board and that they should be engaged in the design of the requirements that will be included in the legislation.

5.15 pm

I can confirm that my understanding of what we need to do is along the lines of what the hon. Gentleman is asking us to do. The purpose must be to make it easier for employers to comply with the law. We should not have unrealistic expectations and ask them to fulfil vague obligations that are not clear, simple or practical. Our intention is that the issue will be dealt with in the regulations and as the agency takes form.

Mr. Simmonds: I thank the Minister for that answer. I have one plea: will he ensure that the structures that are put in place by the GLA or that come through in the regulations apply not only to the first gangmaster in the chain but to all the subcontractors below that gangmaster? Thought needs to be given as to whether the employer or the first gangmaster in the chain is responsible for ensuring that all subcontractors are licensed and legitimate.

Alun Michael: I can confirm that that is my understanding and that the legislation allows for that to happen. We need to ensure that it is clear what the employer who is using gang labour has to do to comply with the law. I accept that it is important for that to be set out clearly. However, I make a plea for us not to start using initials. Neither officials nor I have ever knowingly used the initials ''GLA''. As far as I am concerned, they mean the Greater London authority. It is not necessary for us to refer to the licensing organisation by its initials, as that could raise some confusion in certain quarters.

Question put and negatived.

Clause 4 disagreed to.

Clause 5 disagreed to.

Column Number: 029

Clause 6

Short title, commencement and extent

Amendments made: No. 6, in

    clause 6, page 4, line 9, leave out subsection (2).

No. 7, in

    clause 6, page 4, line 12, leave out from 'England' to end and insert

    'and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland'.—[Jim Sheridan.]

Clause 6, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New clause 1

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority

    '(1) There shall be a body known as the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (in this Act referred to as ''the Authority'').

    (2) The functions of the Authority shall be—

    (a) to carry out the functions relating to licensing that are conferred on it by this Act,

    (b) to ensure the carrying out of such inspections as it considers necessary of persons holding licences under this Act,

    (c) to keep under review generally the activities of persons acting as gangmasters,

    (d) to supply information held by it to specified persons in accordance with the provisions of this Act,

    (e) to keep under review the operation of this Act, and

    (f) such other functions as may be prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State.

    (3) The Authority may do anything that it considers is calculated to facilitate, or is incidental or conducive to, the carrying out of any of its functions.

    (4) The Authority shall not be regarded—

    (a) as the servant or agent of the Crown, or

    (b) as enjoying any status, immunity or privilege of the Crown,

    and the property of the Authority shall not be regarded as property of, or property held on behalf of, the Crown.

    (5) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision as to—

    (a) the status and constitution of the Authority,

    (b) the appointment of its members,

    (c) the payment of remuneration and allowances to its members, and

    (d) such other matters in connection with its establishment and operation as he thinks fit.

    (6) Schedule (The Authority: consequential amendments of enactments) amends certain enactments in consequence of the establishment of the Authority.'.—[Jim Sheridan.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New clause 2

Directions etc. by the Secretary of State

    '(1) In carrying out its functions the Authority shall comply with any general or specific directions given to it in writing by the Secretary of State.

    (2) Before giving any such directions the Secretary of State shall consult the Authority.

    (3) The Authority shall provide the Secretary of State with such information about its activities as he may request.'.—[Jim Sheridan.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New clause 3

Column Number: 030

Work to which this Act applies

    '(1) The work to which this Act applies is—

    (a) agricultural work,

    (b) gathering shellfish, and

    (c) processing or packaging—

    (i) any produce derived from agricultural work, or

    (ii) shellfish, fish or products derived from shellfish or fish.

    This is subject to any provision made by regulations under subsection (5) below and to section (Territorial scope of application) (territorial scope of application).

    (2) In subsection (1)(a) ''agricultural work'' means work in agriculture.

    (3) In this Act ''agriculture'' includes—

    (a) dairy-farming,

    (b) the production for the purposes of any trade, business or other undertaking (whether carried on for profit or not) of consumable produce,

    (c) the use of land as grazing, meadow or pasture land,

    (d) the use of land as an orchard or as osier land or woodland, and

    (e) the use of land for market gardens or nursery grounds.

    In paragraph (b) ''consumable produce'' means produce grown for sale, consumption or other use after severance from the land on which it is grown.

    (4) In this Act ''shellfish'' means crustaceans and molluscs of any kind, and includes any part of a shellfish and any (or any part of any) brood, ware, halfware or spat of shellfish, and any spawn of shellfish, and the shell, or any part of the shell, of a shellfish.

    (5) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision—

    (a) excluding work of a prescribed description from being work to which this Act applies;

    (b) including work of the following nature as being work to which this Act applies—

    (i) the gathering (by any manner) of wild creatures, or wild plants, of a prescribed description and the processing and packaging of anything so gathered, and

    (ii) the harvesting of fish from a fish farm (within the meaning of the Diseases of Fish Act 1937).'.—[Jim Sheridan.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New clause 4

Acting as a gangmaster

    '(1) This section defines what is meant in this Act by a person acting as a gangmaster.

    (2) A person (''A'') acts as a gangmaster if he supplies a worker to do work to which this Act applies for another person (''B'').

    (3) For the purposes of subsection (2) it does not matter—

    (a) whether the worker works under a contract with A or is supplied to him by another person,

    (b) whether the worker is supplied directly under arrangements between A and B or indirectly under arrangements involving one or more intermediaries,

    (c) whether A supplies the worker himself or procures that the worker is supplied,

    (d) whether the work is done under the control of A, B or an intermediary,

    (e) whether the work done for B is for the purposes of a business carried on by him or in connection with services provided by him to another person.

    (4) A person (''A'') acts as a gangmaster if he uses a worker to do work to which this Act applies in connection with services provided by him to another person.

Column Number: 031

    (5) A person (''A'') acts as a gangmaster if he uses a worker to do any of the following work to which this Act applies for the purposes of a business carried on by him—

    (a) harvesting or otherwise gathering agricultural produce following—

    (i) a sale, assignment or lease of produce to A, or

    (ii) the making of any other agreement with A,

    where the sale, assignment, lease or other agreement was entered into for the purpose of enabling the harvesting or gathering to take place;

    (b) gathering shellfish;

    (c) processing or packaging agricultural produce harvested or gathered as mentioned in paragraph (a).

    In this subsection ''agricultural produce'' means any produce derived from agriculture.

    (6) For the purposes of subsection (4) or (5) A shall be treated as using a worker to do work to which this Act applies if he makes arrangements under which the worker does the work—

    (a) whether the worker works for A (or for another) or on his own account, and

    (b) whether or not he works under a contract (with A or another).

    (7) Regulations under section (Work to which this Act applies)(5)(b) may provide for the application of subsections (5) and (6) above in relation to work that is work to which this Act applies by virtue of the regulations.'.—[Jim Sheridan.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

Previous Contents Continue

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries ordering index

©Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 28 April 2004