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Lord Thomas of Gresford: I have heard the noble Lord's explanation. I accept what he says. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Licensing at local authority level]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 28:

The noble Lord said: This amendment has two purposes. The first is to inquire whether the Minister can tell us what it is proposed should be delegated to local authorities from the authority itself.

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Secondly, having struggled to read this Bill, one reached the conclusion that the drafting was unnecessarily obscure. That was the point at which the fuse blew, as it were, and I fell down trying to re-write subsections (1) and (2). As presently drafted, Clause 12(1) states:

    "The Secretary of State may by order make provision for local authorities to carry out some or all of the Authority's relevant licensing functions".

Subsection (2) defines the authority's relevant licensing functions. Why not incorporate them into one subsection? I hope that the effect of the words is precisely the same as the wording of the two subsections as they stand at the moment. I also hope that it is marginally clearer. That will be a matter of opinion. As I say, it was the moment at which the fuse blew when I was reading this difficult prose that is favoured by parliamentary draftsmen. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My speaking note begins, in bold,

    "RESIST but agree to look again if extra reason given".

The noble Lord has raised a good point about the delegation to local authorities. It is intended to cover the consideration of applications for licences as door supervisors only, not other security activities, and the grant, refusal and modification of these licences. They would not need to inform the SIA of decisions for register purposes. That is what this wording attempts to achieve. My note goes on to be generous to parliamentary counsel by suggesting that we rather prefer the wording as drafted by our experienced parliamentary draftsmen; and, of course, that is the case.

I think I am satisfied with the wording. I hope that I have clarified the point raised by the noble Lord. In any event, I shall consider whether or not our wording can be further simplified, but that is what it aims to achieve.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: In view of that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Register of approved contractors]:

Viscount Astor moved Amendment No. 30:

    Page 9, line 30, at end insert ("; and

(d) the date approval was given and the date it is due for renewal.").

The noble Viscount said: According to the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, approval under Clause 14,

    "will cease after three years or after such a period as the Secretary of State may have specified by order".

This is yet another power for the Secretary of State. This amendment applies to Clause 13(3)(c), which refers to "conditions of approval". We wish to insert thereafter a further paragraph (d) specifying,

    "the date approval was given and the date it is due for renewal".

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The object of the amendment is very simple: it is designed to enable those inspecting the register to see whether a company continues to remain approved--and, more importantly, to ascertain when that approval might expire. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Clause 13(3) lists the information that will have to appear in the public registers of approved contractors. As identified by the noble Viscount, the information as currently drafted is limited to the name and address of the contractor, the security services for which the approval has been given and the conditions of the approval. The clause is not exclusive in its provisions. There is nothing to stop the SIA from publishing additional information, such as that suggested in the amendment.

However, like the noble Viscount, we recognise that the public will wish to have unambiguous information available in the register and that the amendment would provide a useful improvement to the list of material that must be published. We are not convinced that it will be essential to publish both the date on which an approval has been given and that on which it is due for renewal. The appearance of a company name on the register will, in itself, be evidence that approval is in force. But it will certainly be desirable to publish the due date of renewal.

However, the improvement made by this amendment is equally applicable to the provisions of Clause 11(3), which relate to information that must be published in the register of individual licence holders. If the noble Viscount is willing to withdraw his amendment this evening, I shall give an undertaking that the Government will bring forward their own amendment on Report to require the publication of renewal dates in both the registers established by Clauses 11 and 13--that is, the register of individual licences and that for company approvals.

Viscount Astor: I thank the Minister for her most helpful reply. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for the offer that she has made. In the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Arrangements for the grant of approvals]:

Lord Thomas of Gresford moved Amendment No. 30A:

    Page 10, line 1, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Lord said: Read with Amendment No. 30C, this amendment is a slightly clumsy way of trying to raise again the question of seeking voluntary approval--or, perhaps "the voluntary seeking of approval" is a better way to put it. The matter was referred to on Second Reading. It seems to us that leaving it simply as a voluntary scheme will not achieve a very satisfactory outcome. We believe that two different types of contractors are likely to emerge under the scheme: those who are approved and those who are not. The latter will apply different standards and will not have been through the same tests. However, both types of contractors will offer their

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services to the public. No doubt those who have not sought approval will be doing so at a cheaper rate. Therefore, many of the policy points that lie behind the Bill will be lost. Again, I shall welcome the Minister's response to the issue. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: Although I have seen representations from the industry on the point, I am not persuaded. It seems to me that the way the Government have proposed the scheme in the Bill will prove to be satisfactory. I realise that there will be two classes of company, but both will be employing licensed personnel to undertake the same job. After all, there are advantages to being an approved company; namely, that, under the Bill, you can take people on provisionally.

I believe that there would be advantages in the proposed approved status. Customers will be able to distinguish between those companies with approved status and those who are not so designated. Indeed, most serious customers will want to employ someone with approved status, providing that it does not prove to be vastly more expensive. I do not see why it should be; it is only one extra requirement. The main expense is licensing the individuals who work for such companies.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: As drafted, the Bill allows for a voluntary scheme. We consider that this is best at present. It minimises the burden on companies to one that they themselves are willing to bear. Like the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, we expect that the majority of reputable companies will want to seek approval under a voluntary scheme.

We also want to build on the self-regulating mechanisms that are already in place. Companies will be able to volunteer to be inspected to the standards that will be set for their particular sector by the authority.

However, the Bill will allow the Secretary of State to turn a voluntary scheme into a compulsory one if he judges it necessary to do so; that is, if the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, prove to be founded. The Secretary of State will be able to invoke provisions in Clause 16, which will make it an offence to provide security services unless approval is obtained under the provisions in Clause 14 via the negative resolution procedure, which will be laid before Parliament.

A decision to turn the voluntary scheme into a compulsory one would be taken only after a recommendation from the authority and after exhaustive and extensive consultation with the industry, police and other interested parties.

I hope that my response has reassured the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. We should also bear in mind the words of wisdom from the noble Lord, Lord Cope. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, feels able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: I am reassured by the response of the noble Baroness. It is sensible to

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establish in practice the way in which the authority will work. I am sure that if the matters to which I referred prove to be a problem, proper consultation with the authority and interested parties will bring about a compulsory scheme in accordance with the terms of my amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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