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The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, said the provision would cause difficulties and asks why we would want to ban the wearing of Blair and Bush masks. I say that there should be a banning of all masks. Why were people in this country able to protest for all those yearsand I have given examples from the beginning of the 1900s through to the 1980s and 1990s? People did not wear masks then. The practice has crept in, and why should we allow it? It is like everything elsean insidious introduction of one thing then becomes the norm. I do not think it is the norm for the very reason I have already statedthat of intimidation. Men do not feel anything like as intimidated as women; large women do not feel anything like as intimidated as small women, who do not want to take part in protests when they are surrounded by big hulks wearing nasty masks. Your Lordships should put yourselves into the position of people trying to take part in a peaceful protest.
If 20 people are wearing Bush masks, there could be a pile-up in which somebody goes for somebody else and causes grievous bodily harm. How on earth would the police be able to identify the perpetrator of the violence? I still think that there is a problem here. The Minister was very gentle with me about this, knowing that it is a pretty dodgy amendment. But I come back to this point: how can the police get at these people if they are masked? I can see a reductio ad absurdum situation in which a lot of people are wearing Bush and Blair masks. I do not think that there will be any Groucho Marx masks with the red nose and bow tiesthey are not intimidating. If we allow this to happen, we will find ourselves, like many other countries, not able to do anything about violent protests.
I understand all the arguments that have been made against the amendment. I pray in aid the fact that Lord Williams of Mostyn said that he was warming to it. There is a feeling in the House, even among those who disagree with the amendment, that it may have some merit. I would like to think that somewhere along the line, this issue might be aired
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(6) A relevant employee who engages in licensable conduct shall not be guilty of an offence under section 3 in respect of that conduct if it is carried out in connection with the use of a certified sports ground or certified sports stand for purposes for which its safety certificate has effect.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the amendment would remove from the remit of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 in-house personnel who undertake the activities of a security operative on any part of a premises that is covered by a safety certificate under either the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 or the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987.
Noble Lords may recall the debate we had on this subject on 17 May this year, when I tabled a similar amendment, supported by the noble Lords, Lord Glentoran and Lord Addington, who speak on sport for the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Front Benches. I am happy that they both support this amendment, as well as consequential Amendments Nos. 58 and 59. Further contributions in favour of the amendment were also made then by my noble friends Lord Hoyle and Lord Faulkner of Worcester, both of whom have a great knowledge of the sporting world.
It is worth reminding the House briefly of this issue. The Private Security Industry Act 2001 was intended to raise security standards in licensed premises and reduce criminality within the security sector. Unfortunately, the Act has been inadvertently applied to stewards employed by governing bodies of clubs at sporting grounds. There is no evidence of criminality or poor standards in stewarding services at sporting events, yet the cost to licence them under the Security Industry Authority would be prohibitively high. For many stewards involved in quite standard activity the requisite qualifications would cost several hundreds of pounds and would require hours devoted to training time. Clearly, the financial and administrative costs of licensing sufficient stewards to work at events held at ventures such as Twickenham, Lords or the Wimbledon championships would be hugeand we are not talking simply about a loss of financial revenue. As well as posing a threat in increased costs at sporting events it also threatens to divert resources away from investment in effective stewarding to licensing costs and training procedures that are not appropriate.
The amendment tabled in May was withdrawn following the Ministers reassurance that the Government would consult the sports world thoroughly on this issue and, if appropriate, return to the matter when the Bill reached us here on Report. That is what we are doing today. I pay tribute to the Minister at the Dispatch Box today, Richard Caborn and Vernon Coakerthe Ministers in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Officeand their officials, who worked diligently with me and the sports sector over the summer to get this issue right. There has been detailed consultation with the sports world, including the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Football Union, the Rugby Football League, the Football Association, the Central Council of Physical Recreation and others. I thank all those bodies for their contribution to the consultation and the briefing provided to me. I pay tribute to them, too, for the existing standards in place in our sports stadiums, which can truly be described as among the best in the world for the safety and comfort that they offer spectators.
It is worth explaining briefly to the House the specific arrangements that will apply to football grounds under this arrangement. For the official record, I should say that I am the president of the Football Foundation, a body which in its past life as the Football Trust did a huge amount of work to invest in better facilities and safety at football grounds. Much of the credit is due to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, who, when he was vice-chairman of the Football Trust, did so much of the essential work that was carried out then.
This amendment will apply also to football, which has a slightly different safety and licensing regime from that applied to other sports, coming under the remit of the Football Licensing Authority. As was previously agreed with the Home Office as a result of the problems that I outlined, football will receive an exemption from the requirements of the Private Security Industry Act 2001. The football authorities in the shape of the Football Association, the Football League and the FA Premier League have all given undertakings to the Home Office that as part of their inclusion within the framework of this amendment they will continue to implement the outlined framework that would have applied under the exemption process. In practice, that means that they will continue to operate effective steward training courses and include a recently introduced module on conflict management. The football authorities have also committed that football clubs will apply criminal record checks to their in-house security staff, who undertake activities that without my amendment would be licensable under the Private Security Industry Act. In recent years, the football authorities have worked hard to ensure that our football grounds are among the safest in the world, and these latest commitments on steward training and qualifications on Criminal Records Bureau checks will further safeguard members of the public attending football matches in this country. I commend the football authorities for the constructive approach they have taken on this issue.
I have been informed by government Ministers that, should this amendment be carried today, its consequences will come into effect immediately upon the Bill receiving Royal Assent. That is important, as it means we will minimise the time that in-house sports stewards and security staff continue to worktechnically, at leastcontrary to the law.
The amendment is slightly different in approach from that tabled previously. That is because it needs to ensure that all in-house staffthat is, those who are employed rather than contractedshould not be required to be licensed by the SIA when they undertake the activities of a security operative on any part of a premises that is covered by a safety certificate, under either the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 or the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987. The original amendment would only have removed some staff on specific premises who undertook licensable conduct, but not other personnel, including those who supervise certain other people and those who are themselves provided by their employer to a third party.
Will the Minister confirm that he will issue formal guidance notes on how the new measures will apply? It is important that sporting events organisers like the police and the SIA will understand the new arrangements, but clear guidance is also needed on the arrangements that will apply to contracted stewards, who will of course be required to be licensed only if they conduct licensable activity. I urge the Minister to publish a clear definition of licensable activity at sports grounds.
Will the Minister also confirm that in future the legal requirements for ensuring that contracted stewards working at sports grounds who are licensed falls upon the employer of those stewards; that is, the contractor and not the sporting event organiser who has purchased their service? Sports organisations I speak to are concerned that they will still be subjected to unnecessary inquiries and monitoring from the Security Industry Authority. It is important that the Minister clarifies that from the Dispatch Box.
I commend the amendment to the House by reading the following words, which have been sent to me by the Central Council of Physical Recreation. It represents the sporting sector in the UK, and says that,
Lord Addington: My Lords, I shall briefly add my words of support for the amendment moved so ably by the noble Lord, Lord Pendry. We are talking here about correcting one of the cock-ups of history. The initial Act was not supposed to get into this field at all. It was brought forward in an atmosphere dominated by stories about organised crime starting to get into the bouncer industry, leading to conflict and violence with people wanting to use facilities. That is the background. The Act then swept up huge numbers of groups who did not have any problems.
The Government have an opportunity to put their hands up on behalf of Government as a whole and say, Occasionally things go wrong, but we will address them. If they can do that today, they will be doing everyone involved in the legislative process a favour. We will always make mistakes, but if we set the precedent of correcting them when they are identified we will save a lot of time, and I hope that next time we will do it a little quicker.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I shall also be brief. On behalf of my noble friend Lord Glentoran I fully support the noble Lord, Lord Pendry, as he did in Committee. I add my own support, too. In Committee I raised questions regarding implications for those who run golfing events. I thank the Bill team for the assurances I have been given during the summer that make it clear that the European tour has nothing to fear, because its stewards would not fall foul of this legislation anyway.
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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, this is one of those happy occasions where the speaking notes start with the word accept. I put on record my gratitude to my noble friend Lord Pendry for raising this important issue in our debate of 17 May and for agreeing at that time to withdraw a previous draft of his amendment until after the conclusion of the Governments consultation exercise. I thank my noble friend for working closely with Home Office Ministers, officials and the sports sector over the summer to finalise the wording of the amendment which he so helpfully tabled today.
I am also grateful to noble Lords who have played a part in this, including the noble Lords, Lord Addington and Lord Glentoran. I thank them for making it clear during previous debates that the licensing of security staff at sporting and other events is of cross-party concern. This debate has usefully underlined that point. No one is engaging in political point-scoring here. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, that I have form on this subject. I was the Minister responsible for taking the Private Security Industry Bill through your Lordships House. I believe that at that time the noble Lord, Lord Cope, warned me of unintended consequences. I gave an assurance that the Bill would not undermine the effective and well regulated stewarding of sporting events, in the way it could have done if we had not had this useful amendment.
As my noble friend Lord Pendry mentioned, in March the Home Office published a consultation document which considered the options available for applying the Act to security staff at sports and other events, set out the Governments views on the options and sought comments on issues related to implementation. The consultation closed on 16 June 2006. The consultation paper made it clear that,
As previously mentioned, my noble friend Lord Pendry initially tabled this amendment during the consultation period. I am grateful to my noble friend for withdrawing it pending the end of that consultation. Over the summer officials discussed the issue further with my noble friend and the relevant bodies and analysed all the comments received on the issue.
In August, the Home Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Vernon Coaker, wrote to all respondents to the consultation to let them know of his decision that all in-house staff who carry out security activities in premises covered by the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 or the Fire Safety and Safety of Places of Sport Act 1987 should be removed from the remit of the 2001 Act.
Ministers have looked at this issue very closely, including at the evidence for and against the licensing of the sports sector and how the requirements of the sports safety legislation reduce risk. There is no
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The amendment of my noble friend Lord Pendry will also cover football. Ministers considered the responses to the consultation that mentioned football, and on reflection decided that the same evidence that applies to other sports also covers football. Ministers announced in 2005 their intention to grant football an exemption, through which the football authorities were required to show that they had equivalent processes in place to those imposed by the SIA. The two key gaps which were identified were about training on conflict management and criminal records checks, and action by the football authorities to address those gaps was required as a condition of the exemption. The football authorities have undertaken to voluntarily work to those same standards under the amendment. That makes the system much more straightforward without losing any of the safeguards that would have been required under the exemption. This is being addressed through an affirmative order that will amend secondary legislation to give the relevant football bodies the power to undertake CRB checks on football security staff. Work has already begun on this, and it is expected that it will come into force in December.
My noble friend Lord Pendry asked whether the Government would issue formal guidance notes on how the new measures would apply. Officials are still working on the final regulatory impact assessment, which will be published later in the autumn and which will include more detailed information. But it is important to remember that not everyone who works as a sports or events steward needs to be licensed. Those who do not need to be licensed include volunteers, ticket collectors and all safety stewards who do not undertake any guarding responsibilities. Broadly speaking, in-house security staff do not need to be licensed unless they work as manned guards in licensed premises, work as wheel-clampers, provide security services under contract to a third party, or supervise certain other licensable persons.
The Home Office is also developing draft frameworks that will set out the approach that the Secretary of State will take when considering applications for removing activities from the scope of the 2001 Act under the various routes. Those will be published later this year. The organisers of other events that do not take place in sports grounds covered by the amendment will then be able to make applications against those frameworks.
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Pendry and to all others who have contributed to the debate. I undertake to write to him on his second question, because I want to make sure that the clarification that he seeks is more precise, and I will of course share that correspondence with other noble Lords who have expressed an interest in the issue. I give notice that I am entirely happy to accept the amendment.
Lord Pendry: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Addington, spoke for the sporting world when he said that if the Minister responded positively there would be a great deal of rejoicing. I was not going to raise the question of the Minister sinning in the 2001 Act; he raised that himself. I assure him that there is not just rejoicing in heaven for the sinner who repenteth, but there will be rejoicing throughout the sporting world when it reads this debate. I thank the Minister for his positive response.
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