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Public Bill Committee Debates

Draft Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007



The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr. Martin Caton
Arbuthnot, Mr. James (North-East Hampshire) (Con)
Blunt, Mr. Crispin (Reigate) (Con)
Clegg, Mr. Nick (Sheffield, Hallam) (LD)
Coaker, Mr. Vernon (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Cormack, Sir Patrick (South Staffordshire) (Con)
Farrelly, Paul (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab)
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead and Highgate) (Lab)
Johnson, Ms Diana R. (Kingston upon Hull, North) (Lab)
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab)
Laxton, Mr. Bob (Derby, North) (Lab)
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham) (Lab)
Ruffley, Mr. David (Bury St. Edmunds) (Con)
Sanders, Mr. Adrian (Torbay) (LD)
Skinner, Mr. Dennis (Bolsover) (Lab)
Trickett, Jon (Hemsworth) (Lab)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab)
Wilson, Mr. Rob (Reading, East) (Con)
Celia Blacklock, Committee Clerk
† attended the Committee

Eleventh Delegated Legislation Committee

Thursday 19 July 2007

[Mr. Martin Caton in the Chair]

Draft Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007

2.30 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): I beg to move,
That the Committee has considered the draft Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007.
I welcome you to the Committee, Mr. Caton, and all other hon. Members to our deliberations. I also welcome the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds to his post, as this is the first opportunity that I have had to congratulate him on his appointment. No doubt we shall discuss a number of important issues over the next few months.
The draft order was laid before Parliament on 7 June. The Private Security Industry Act 2001 provides for the regulation of the private security industry through the licensing of individual operatives working in that industry. At present, the licensing requirement applies only to England and Wales. In Scotland, licensing will become a requirement from 1 November 2007. The main purpose of the order is to amend schedule 2 to the 2001 Act to ensure that, in line with similar functions in England and Wales, certain prison and police-related activities carried out in Scotland are not caught by the licensing requirement. The order makes a number of minor and technical amendments as well. The 2001 Act sets out certain types of activity for which a Security Industry Authority licence is required. Those activities, which are designated by orders made under section 3(3) of the Act, are listed in schedule 2 and include manned guarding, door supervision, the transport of cash and valuables, and key holding. When licensing becomes compulsory in Scotland from 1 November 2007, those activities will also be designated there.
Crown employees who hold office and undertake security activities, such as police officers and prison officers, are outside the scope of the 2001 Act. However, the original legislation had the unforeseen effect of extending to security guards who undertook manned guarding activities while working under contract in prisons, in immigration centres, as prisoner escorts, and in a number of other similar areas under the control of the police and prison authorities. They were subsequently excluded in England and Wales. Article 2 of the order will ensure that the position is the same in Scotland. Article 3 makes a minor technical amendment. Article 4 ensures that the restriction and/or removal of vehicles is not caught by the licensing requirement in Scotland. Vehicle immobilisation, or wheel-clamping, whereby a fee is charged for the release of the vehicle, is already illegal in Scotland. Article 5(2) and (5) bring the position in Scotland into line with that in England and Wales to ensure that the door supervision requirements apply to licensed premises only when alcohol or entertainment is provided. Article 5(3) is intended to establish beyond doubt that licensable security activities in respect of cash and valuables in transit, and close protection, are not caught by the door supervision requirements. It applies to all areas.
Article 5(4) avoids potential problems caused by an incorrect paragraph number in a similar amendment made by the Gambling Act 2005. The amendment makes it clear that casinos and bingo halls do not fall under the door supervision requirements in addition to requiring a premises licence under the 2005 Act. Article 5(5) amends the list of premises not to be treated as licensed premises for the purposes of paragraph 8 of schedule 2 to the 2001 Act, to make provision for the position in Scotland.
Once the order is made, the implementation of the licensing requirement in Scotland will require an order to be made by the Scottish Parliament applying the offence provisions of the Act to Scotland from 1 November 2007. The order has general support from the security industry, the Scottish Executive and all stakeholders. The SIA has overcome the problems of last year caused by a last-minute rush for licences and is well placed to extend its functions to Scotland.
2.35 pm
Mr. David Ruffley (Bury St. Edmunds) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr. Caton —in my case, for the first time. It is a pleasure, too, to be welcomed by the Minister, who entered the House at the same time as me, in 1997, and with whom I have always had a very mature and grown-up debating relationship. I am sure that that will continue while he is with the Home Office, which is dealing with some very serious issues.
The matter before us is not as weighty as crime, violence against children or other matters that we normally address. We do not have any objections to what essentially is a technical set of amendments, but without detaining the Committee for too long, I would like to raise one technical point relating to the amendment in article 5 of the order, which lists the places in Scotland where licensed premises will not require door supervisors to hold door supervisor licences. The Minister alluded to that list, which includes places “wholly or mainly” used as a theatre, casino, bingo hall or cinema where a door supervisor would not need to hold a door supervisor licence. The owner of the theatre might just want someone to stand outside in a basic security role or, for health and safety reasons, to count the number of people going in or out of the hall so that it does not exceed its health and safety capacity. That is an obvious example, and it is clear why the article contains an exemption.
The logic, obviously, is that the Government regard such places as low risk. We endorse that, despite the fact that they are licensed premises. However, I am not sure why other licensed premises are not on that list. Will the Minister elucidate? I think that all of us would consider plenty of other licensed businesses, such as hotels, cafA(c)s and parts of department stores with restaurants, to be low risk and thus eligible for an exemption, but as I read the order, such places do not appear to be exempt, unlike bingo halls and casinos. That is puzzling, not just for me, but the British Security Industry Association.
To crystallise that point, a small rural hotel licensed to sell alcohol, and which can serve drinks in rooms as well as at the hotel bar, might want to employ someone to stand on the door in a security or health and safety role, but under the proposed new regime, the owner would be forced to employ someone who has undergone full training and is a licensed door supervisor. It seems that that could discourage at the margin such an owner from employing anyone at all, because they might not want to go through the full panoply of training someone on the door.
In conclusion, the Opposition agree with the principle of exemptions outlined in the articles, because they will reduce bureaucracy and paperwork for a large number of small businesses. We are uncertain about the logic behind exempting businesses such as bingo halls, but not, on the face of it, small country hotels, so I look forward to the Minister’s comments.
2.39 pm
Mr. Sanders: I, too, welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Caton. My comments will not take long because broadly we are in agreement with the changes. The order appears to be non-controversial, and most of the changes will bring Scottish law into line with the rest of Britain. The Minister may, however, be able to clarify two things. First, the order will mean that casinos and bingo halls licensed under the Gambling Act 2005 will no longer fall under the door supervisory requirements of the 2001 Act. I am not clear how those Acts differ in their requirements for door staff to undergo various tests before they can carry out their work.
Secondly, the Minister said that clamping arrangements in Scotland appear to be different from those in England. That might be because we do not always pay attention to what is happening in the Scottish Parliament. Will the Minister confirm that clampers cannot operate on private land in Scotland whereas they are free to do that nasty work—some of my constituents have complained about it—on private land in the rest of the United Kingdom?
2.41 pm
Mr. Coaker: The hon. Member for Torbay is correct that vehicle immobilisation—wheel clamping—is illegal in Scotland and that there is a different situation in England and Wales. Court judgments in Scotland have ruled that vehicle immobilisers fell foul of the definition of theft in Scottish criminal law. The definition of theft in Scotland is not the same as the definition in English and Welsh criminal law. That is why there is a difference, and the order clarifies that point to ensure that we take account of it.
If I may stray slightly from the scope of the order, the Committee may be interested to know a little more about vehicle immobilisation in general. The Government are looking at vehicle immobilisation arrangements in the rest of the country. As always, the question is a lot easier than the answer, but we are looking at what we can do, because the issue is of concern to a number of hon. and right hon. Members. I hope that that clarifies the matter.
The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds made a point about which premises are exempted. The key point about restaurants or small businesses is that the measures will be a matter of judgment. The hon. Gentleman knows that certain establishments are exempt from the 2001 Act, and he will understand that restaurants or small business are not required to have contracted staff or to employ their own staff who would be subject to the Act. Those establishments would need to make a judgment about whether they were required to take on such staff. Restaurants and small hotels that decide to employ people to undertake door supervisory functions would be unlikely to be the small hotels tucked away in a rural idyll to which the hon. Gentleman alluded. He will accept that it is appropriate for small hotels that hold many functions, for example, to employ a door supervisor who should be licensed.
There is a judgment to be made about what is proportionate and what is acceptable to impose on business if we are to ensure that we have the correct calibre of people working in the industry, but do not over-regulate. As always, we try to negotiate and to listen to people, and the list has been drawn up in consultation with the industry and others. While there is not complete agreement about the measures, we have managed to arrive at a fair consensus.
Question put and agreed to.
Resolved,
That the Committee has considered the draft Private Security Industry Act 2001 (Amendments to Schedule 2) Order 2007.—[Mr. Coaker.]
Committee rose at fifteen minutes to Three o’clock.
 
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