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Some ships plying trade between two UK ports—for example, between Aberdeen and Lerwick in Shetland—will spend part of their journey outside internal and territorial waters on the high seas. The new amendment would apply the minimum wage to ships of any flag on these services, as well as to services to the Channel Islands. The UK certainly does not have jurisdiction on foreign ships while they are on the high seas, so this would not be possible; there is no way in which we could insist that it were done.

Lord Rosser: My Lords, my noble friend referred to innocent passage. Is that the basis of the Government’s objection to proposed new paragraph (b) in the amendment, or is he arguing that the national minimum wage could not apply on ships operating scheduled services between UK and EU ports and that that would be in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea?

Lord Bach: My Lords, innocent passage is not to be disregarded entirely as an argument. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says that UK-flagged ships will not be interfered with off the coasts of other states. That is important for UK ships in some parts of the world. In practice, it means that they are not searched, looked at or stopped in the course of their business. That is a kind of mutual diplomatic balance. It is certainly one of the arguments, which is why I use it.

I come on, briefly, to the anomalies which, I concede, clearly exist here. I hope that that may satisfy my noble friend Lady Turner. We do not have jurisdiction over foreign ships; there is no point in pretending that we have. We have some sympathy with the reasons for tabling this amendment. We are not setting our face against considering the anomalies; I use the word used by my noble friend. This undoubtedly underlies the concerns. There are issues which concern the union and seafarers. My noble friend Lord Rosser referred to ferry routes in particular in his intervention. I invite the union and other interested parties to write to the Minister, who I am sure would be prepared to see them about this issue, so that it can be considered in detail. We do not think that the way of dealing with this difficulty—and there clearly are difficulties as far as particular ferry routes are concerned—is to pass an amendment such as this, which would also allow other inappropriate matters to occur. Innocent passage only applies on territorial seas. However, I am advised that it is even more difficult for us to affect what happens on the high seas.

I do not want my noble friend Lady Turner to think that we are completely unsympathetic to what underlies this amendment, but we cannot accept it for the reasons I have outlined. I recommend contact with my right honourable friend.

Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that response, although it is a bit disappointing; I had hoped for a more welcoming response to the efforts that the union has made to

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come to terms with the arguments made against the original amendment in Committee. I am glad to learn that, as far as the anomalies are concerned, arrangements will be made for a meeting with the Minister to discuss these issues if the union wishes, which I am sure it does. I agree that the issues are quite complex, but there is a case for all seafarers working on British ships to be awarded the minimum wage. It still seems unfair that if two people are working side by side, one should be earning about half of what the other earns for doing exactly the same work.

I am reminded of the Labour Party’s 1993 maritime strategy document Full Steam Ahead, which I believe was written by my right honourable friend John Prescott, then Shadow Secretary of State for Transport. On the issue that I have just been talking about, he said:

The union, quite rightly, regarded that as some sort of promise. I am sorry that we have got no further towards it than we have this afternoon. Nevertheless, I accept what the Minister has said, and will pass that on to the union. I am sure that the union will take up the possibility of a meeting about anomalies with the Minister. There are still issues about innocent passage, raised by my noble friend Lord Rosser, and the noble Lord, Lord Hoyle, which we are not happy about and need clarification. Although I am withdrawing the amendment, it is with a certain sadness, because I had hoped that there would have been more of a welcome to the union’s attempt to meet the objections that were raised last time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord James of Blackheath moved Amendment No. 30:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will be aware that I first expressed considerable anxiety about the implications of this Bill following the publication for approval within your Lordships’ House on 17 December of a statutory instrument. It sought to regulate and define the terms applicable to employment agencies dealing with the recruitment of short-term staff in large numbers and, in particular, staff in the theatrical and modelling industries. I expressed concerns

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on the first night of our debate on the grounds that there was, at the time, a major hole in the welfare provisions made for the staff involved, which I sincerely hoped would be amended and addressed in the Bill. Those amendments were not forthcoming. In Grand Committee, I introduced amendments that went a little further than the ones before your Lordships today. I have simplified them to be a request for a duty of care to be extended by all parties concerned on behalf of these groups of vulnerable young people.

Before addressing those, I will deal with the group that I have no longer included in the amendment. These were the clients of what are called the outplacement agencies. I am deeply grateful to the Minister for giving me access to members of his department, who have been very helpful in discussing this with me. I am satisfied by the assurances they have so far given me in that respect—that the law of 1973 is completely adequate to deal with any transgressions of the law by agencies acting in an outplacement function. I have pointed out to them that there has not been a single prosecution, in my understanding, since 1973, whereas I am absolutely certain that I could list a great many transgressions of the law. They have told me that there is therefore to be immediate recruitment of additional inspectors of agencies. They will be employed by the department particularly to address this point. I hope that is so and I welcome it, but I assure the Minister that he can look forward to a steady stream of questions from these Benches in the months to come as to how many transgressions have been found and which prosecutions have been brought. It is a matter of great concern that we should know the law is being enforced.

I turn to the issues in the amendment. I am concerned with three groups of vulnerable young people. I am talking here about people of either sex. First, I will talk about the actresses and models referred to in that instrument of 17 December, and the staff who are recruited principally on behalf of hospitality-providing services at various sporting events. Here is a real cause for concern that we should be better informed about. I shall deal first with the issue affecting actresses and models. They are pretty well interchangeable and are, in the main, young people desperate for attention and for recognition of the fact that they are available for auditions and catwalk assignments. These are wholly at the behest of the agencies that place them and take commission for securing them.

We are all aware of previous traditions in the theatrical industry. I have been chairman of a film production company. Though I never had control of a casting couch, I am aware of its function. We should all perhaps recognise that it is something which may sound, in retrospect, okay between consenting adults and can be looked upon with some jocularity. The present reality is much nastier and more sinister. We are no longer dealing with the career aspirations of an actress and a lecherous producer, and leaving them, as consenting adults, to get on with it. We are looking at the bulk recruitment of, say, 40 or 50 young women, all of whom will do a 10 or 15-minute audition, if they are lucky, with a view to getting a part which may be remunerative and an important career stage for them. As part of the process of that recruitment or audition, they will be expected to attend a promoter’s party,

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which, in the main, will be a drinks affair with various opportunities for meeting, mingling and drinking. I hope that no nasty white substances will be circulating, but you cannot be sure in this day and age. At the end of the evening, if these young women are not considered to have been good party girls and to have entered into the spirit of the process, by which you can form your own conclusions, they will not get an invitation to another audition. That is desperately immoral and inappropriate in the circumstances, and completely in contrast to the consenting-adult concept of what went before. A lot of these people may be very young and not know what they are going to when they arrive at these functions. I am asking for a total, absolute, up-front declaration of the nature of the party, what they will be expected to do and a duty of care to ensure that nothing beyond the strict limits on which they are recruited is allowed.

This leads us into the world of recruitment of large numbers of young people and support staff for the entertainment industry and for corporate hospitality. We are talking principally of horserace meetings, motor-race meetings and golf tournaments, which are big users of short-term employment. Large numbers of young people are very happy to be offered employment at these functions for up to a week in high summer, usually during their college vacations. Recruiting practice has been to recruit the whole of a year from a catering services training college.

These functions can take place anywhere up to 400 miles from London—for example, at an open golf tournament. Therefore, these youngsters are a long way from their original base, with no direct supervision of their welfare, apart from being given accommodation for the week that they are there. There is no intent on anyone’s part that they should be corrupted or undermined, or that they should be brought together for any ancillary purposes, but the circumstances dictate that this can happen not infrequently.

Racing—I should state my own past interest in having been responsible for the Grand National meetings at Aintree, the national hunt meetings at Cheltenham, all the racing at Newmarket and the Derby meetings for a number of years—is slightly more fortunate than the other sports because it takes place in the main part of the day. Employees are gathered together by about 8 am when they set up lunch, and then serve lunch and tea. After clearing up, they are finished for the day and are pretty well on their own devices for the rest of the time.

As I understand it from young people who work in that world, the difficulty arises when one or two out of a dormitory of perhaps 50 young people encourage the trading of drugs. Peer-group pressure becomes hugely difficult for the other young people to contend with and there is no one to whom they can turn for protection or defence in this situation. My noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes has a wonderful Australian expression for this which goes to the core of the issue and, with such magnificent objectivity and brevity, I am not surprised that Australia keeps winning the Ashes. She says that we just need to give them a “go-to” person. It cannot be put more brilliantly

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simply than that. These young people need a “go-to” person in the night to help them when these troubles arise.

We are not talking about the problems of just the young women. After Royal Ascot four years ago, the body of a kitchen porter was washed to the surface during the subsequent September race meeting. He had been buried in the No. 2 car park because he had had the keys to the liquor store and would not give access to others. They had brought in a van to use in stealing the entire liquor store for the next few days of Royal Ascot. He was killed and then buried in the car park until his body was washed up by the rainstorms in September. The two people who did that are serving a life sentence and the kitchen porter is dead, so three lives have been ruined. We do not know how many ruined lives there have been because of peer pressure among young women on the campsites of race meetings where drugs have been circulated or their use encouraged.

The situation is worse at golf tournaments and motor-race meetings where there are a far higher proportion of young men, which multiplies the problems. There are more field stewards and more security staff at these tournaments and meetings, so there are also large numbers of young men, who are mostly under the age of 18. There is scope for inter-gender contact, which can be a problem and perhaps unwelcome in those circumstances. There is a real need for a “go-to” person to whom one can go when someone is trying to get the keys to the liquor locker, when someone is hawking drugs, or whatever, in the middle or the night. At the moment, there is no one—not even for someone who arrives at a site, finds the circumstances very uncongenial and wishes to go home. They may be 400 miles away without any money, because pay day has not come and they have not earned any wages yet, and they are unable to get home. There is no facility for any of this.

The worst instance of this—I believe it is no longer sub judice so we can talk about it—is the Manchester United Christmas party, which is a strange event indeed. Thirty-four young men, who comprise the first and second team squads, decided that they would each contribute £4,000, a total of £136,000, to fund a party—no definition given. Whether they go to an employment agency or to a party organiser to recruit the company for the evening is unclear. But, if they went to an employment agency, there has been a clear breach of the law. The media have given many accounts, and we have heard that the 34 young men decided that their party would be held in a hotel where they would book 34 bedrooms, in each of which there would be two high-quality bottles of champagne. They also wanted 100 of the “best-looking girls in Manchester” recruited as their company for the evening.

Why did they want only 100 girls when there were 34 men? On an average of three girls per room, two rooms would be short of a girl. Then someone pointed out to me that goalkeepers do not score hat tricks, so they did not need another two girls—two goalkeepers were involved. There is a real lack of definition. You and I might say, “What on earth did these young men have in mind when they organised this party?”, but I think we can have a fair guess. You might also say,

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“The girls are stupid if they did not realise it when they went”. No, they are not stupid. How do we know that they were not told it was not an ordinary party in one big room, as one would imagine a party to be, with the drink flowing, and people circulating and meeting each other? Instead of that, the girls arrived to find a situation where they were effectively being allocated to, or lots were being drawn for, which room they were sent to, and goodness knows what happened then.

Another mystery is the sum of £134,000 for the party. Assuming the rooms cost £600 each, the champagne cost £25 per bottle and the food cost £20 a head would be an outlay of £67,000. What did the other approximately £67,000 go on? Was it a performance-related bonus intended for the young women, in which case it is a total scandal? What was done about that? Why should these young women be deprived of a right of choice by being put in a situation where they are confronted with those circumstances and have no “go-to” person to rescue them and get them out if that is what they want?

There are issues here which are not addressed in the Bill. It is wrong that we have allowed such slack and slipshod methods of recruitment and control of the agencies to get through in that instrument of 17 December, which I suggest we would not have done four days later when we knew what had happened at the Manchester United party. A “go-to” person should be a mandatory requirement at all gatherings of 30 or more where people are recruited to be sent far from home to somewhere where they will have no opportunity to get parental help or be able to call on someone to collect them. You cannot just phone your dad and ask him to pop 400 miles up the motorway to collect you and bring you home. These young people are stuck there for the duration of the meeting. We have a major welfare issue here; the Bill does not address it, and that is a scandal. This Government have few opportunities to do something that is good and does not involve raising taxes or asking the Treasury to borrow more money, but this is one. I urge your Lordships to follow this course of action, which can only do good. We are looking at a scandal that needs correcting. The answer is in your Lordships’ hands and in this amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, I first apologise to the House for my earlier coughing fit. I particularly thank my noble friend Lord Henley for taking over with my brief from the middle of nowhere, the Minister, who came outside to make sure that I was still alive, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cohen, who rushed forward with an antihistamine tablet and told me most firmly that it was tree pollen to which I was allergic. I have taken that pill and here I am, feeling much better, but I apologise to the House.

I support what my noble friend Lord James of Blackheath said about the need to ensure that agencies providing cheap, temporary and young staff in large numbers appreciate the youth and inexperience of many of them and take reasonable steps to protect them from undue potential pressure. In Committee, the Minister said that the Government supported the intention behind the amendments that were then tabled;

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he then gave a long list of reasons why none of my noble friend’s suggestions was suitable. The amendment has since been amended and now has only one suggestion in it, so perhaps the Minister will be able to spend a little less time explaining why my noble friend is wrong and, instead, a little more time on what the Government intend to do.

Lord Jones of Birmingham: My Lords, this amendment seeks to give employment agencies a statutory duty to protect the welfare of temporary staff where 30 or more temporary workers under the age of 18 are engaged on the same assignment. The Government support the intention behind the amendment; the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, correctly referred to the sentiment coming from us as well as from the noble Lord, Lord James of Blackheath. It is essential to have appropriate protection for vulnerable agency workers, particularly where young workers are engaged on assignments away from home.

However, it is not clear that this amendment would provide significant additional protection in practice. Existing employment agency legislation already covers most of the amendment’s proposals and seeks to provide a proper balance between the interests of agency workers, the companies that hire them and the agencies themselves. Subsection (1) of the proposed new Section 6A states:

However, paragraph 20(1)(b) of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003, otherwise known as the conduct regulations, already requires the employment agency to make all reasonable practical enquiries prior to the placement,

to work in the position offered by the hirer. Indeed, that is the case for all placements—not just those covered by the noble Lord’s amendment.

In addition, under paragraphs 24(7) and 24(8) of the conduct regulations, parental consent is required for individuals under the age of 18 where an assignment requires them to live away from home. I understand that the amendment seeks to address, among other things, situations where assignments take young workers away from home for sporting or other events that involve overnight stays. Subsection (2) of the proposed new section requires that an agency or employment business must arrange for a “responsible person” to be present at the workplace for the duration of the assignment. In practice, any agency or employment business that supplies as many as 30 young people on an assignment would also ensure that appropriate arrangements were in place for their supervision and control. The supervision might be carried out by the agency or employment business, or by the business hiring the people. Those supervising would be responsible for ensuring that the protections for workers under health and safety legislation were in place.

There are specific provisions in paragraph 19 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations

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1999 to cover the protection of young people. In broad terms, employers have a duty to protect young people at work,

That definition is in existing legislation. It does not prevent an employer employing a young person where necessary for his or her training, where the young person will be supervised by a competent person and where any risk will be reduced to the lowest reasonably practicable level.

6.45 pm

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