§ Question again proposed, That the clause be read a Second time.
§ Mr. Onslow
I had just described the situation which would result if these amendments were enacted. I have to tell the House that the result is not one which we are seeking to achieve. The BAA constabulary must be in a position to carry out searches under the Bill, if its proposals are not to be frustrated. The Bill must make this clear beyond doubt. I cannot therefore advise the House to accept the amendments the consequence of which might be to limit drastically the resources available to combat violence 1661 against passengers, aircrew, aircraft and other property at our airports.
I hope that the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davies) will understand that I have to anticipate the points which he may make because it falls to him rather than to me to wind up the totality of the debate. It may be that some of the things I am saying are superfluous but I am not in a position to judge that because no Labour Member has spoken to these amendments so far. Concern has been expressed that members of private security organisations might be authorised to exercise the powers given to constables in the Bill by being sworn in as special constables and thus becoming constables within the meaning of the Bill. Constables cannot be created under the Bill. Special constables are appointed under Section 16 of the Police Act 1964 and their appointment is entirely within the discretion of the chief officer of police for each area.
§ Mr. Bishop
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves this point, will he clarify something which arose on Second Reading when the Minister said that only policemen would be armed? Presumably he meant police constables. However, Clause 12 says that constables will carry firearms and that, presumably, does not necessarily refer to police constables.
§ Mr. Onslow
I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong because it seems extraordinarily unlikely that the Bill would contradict itself.
I take up a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Money). He was concerned about the possibility that any persons specified in a direction under Clause 10 in accordance with that clause may exercise the special rights conferred upon them by Clause 19(2), involving the compulsory searching and detaining of persons and property on aerodromes and the right of entry by force, if they have reasonable canse to suspect that a dangerous article is on or is about to be brought on to the aerodrome. Such persons could include the personnel of private security organisations.
Again in practice they would almost certainly be policemen. Directions to undertake random searches would be in response only to specific threats and it 1662 would be only on rare occasions, in my view, that it would be necessary for this power to be extended to employees of private security organisations.
The other point about which my hon. Friend asked concerns Clause 19(1) and the reference to constables. I hope that I have succeeded in satisfying him that the reference is only to constables. I have had to cover a lot of ground. I hope that I have managed to deal with most of the points that have arisen as well as anticipating some about to be mentioned by the hon. Member for Hackney, Central.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis
About the only straightforward part of the Under-Secretary of State's speech was the way in which he dodged all the central issues. The manner in which he and some of his back-bench colleagues sought to obscure the Government's grotesque failure to consult the Police Federation with a scathing and unnecessary attack on my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) was spiteful and malicious and was unworthy of them. It was elementary to have gone to the Police Federation about this matter. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Wythenshawe for coming back from Manchester specially to participate in this debate. I am also grateful to him for the help which he offered those of us on the Opposition Front Bench in Committee. The amendments which we tabled were a direct result of the concern expressed by the Police Federation about the Bill.
The Under-Secretary of State dealt briefly but very rapidly, as he is wont to do when he is in trouble, with why the Government left out the word "police" in describing a constable. I found his explanation, as far as I could follow it, extremely unconvincing. I do not see why it could not have been made specifically and abundantly clear that the powers to be exercised by constables were to be exercised by police constables. It was not we on this side of the House but the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson), who is not present, who raised the issue.
I pass to the two main themes of the debate. Vast powers have been taken by the Government to deal with the protection of civil air transport against acts 1663 of violence. We have never demurred from the fact that such powers are necessary or raised any argument about that matter. It was unworthy of the Under-Secretary to raise that here. We regard it as a serious threat. It is not for the Government to express their bona fides about that, because it was the Home Secretary who allowed an Arab hijacker who had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment to be released. That is not the best way to show one's bona fides in dealing with this serious threat.
The second main theme is how these vast powers—and it is incontestable that they are vast, although the Under-Secretary of State made light of them—are to be carried out. The Government repose their faith in the private security firms. They are the mysterious "other persons" referred to in the Bill. They are to be used on an extended scale. The Under-Secretary makes light of the matter, as did the Minister in Committee. They are not renowned as over-zealous guardians of civil liberties. They are rather uncaring about these matters. However, we on this side of the House believe that the powers which they are seeking to invoke for private security firms are too great and that it is unhealthy to enlarge the scope of such firms. Enlarging them into the public as against the private domain is a very dangerous development which we shall resist.
The hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Tebbit) asked, "Why bother to establish yet another security force? We already have the police and the airports police". That is true. We would want another security force, if it is necessary—and I believe that it is—to take over the powers which are to be given to the private security organisations. That means that we wish to extend the scope of recruitment. We do not simply have to limit ourselves to recruiting police officers or people eligible for the ordinary regular police force.
§ Mr. Davis
The argument is this: we believe that this security force should be accountable to the Minister and, therefore, to the House.
I must spell out the powers once again. These people will have power under Clause 10(2)(c) to search without warrant both property and persons. They have 1664 the power—the Minister is wrong on this issue—to stop and detain any personfor so long as may be necessary for that purpose".That is Clause 19(2), and it is a power which can be used by a private security organisation.
§ Mr. Onslow
Not without a direction given by the Secretary of State. The hon. Gentleman has carelessly omitted to tell the House that.
§ Mr. Tebbit
The hon. Gentleman says that the right of search—he calls it a right, but it is not, as has been clearly laid down—should not be given to the employees of private companies. Does he think that employees of an airline should be allowed the right of search, if a passenger agrees to it? How are they accountable to the House?
§ Mr. Davis
I want to see a proper security organisation doing this job. [HON. MEMBERS: "Wriggling."] There is no question of wriggling. That is what we want.
The next power is power to use force quite beyond that permitted to the ordinary citizen. This is Clause 13(4),but nothing in this subsection shall restrict the use of force (whether at the instance of such an operator or manager or otherwise) by a constable, or its use by any other person in the exercise of a power conferred by the following provisions of this Act.
§ Mr. Onslow
Before the hon. Gentleman gets too excited about that, I am glad to be able to tell him that we intend to accept the amendment which he has put down on that subject.
§ Mr. Davis
That goes a little way, but it does not deal with the essential argument here. The hon. Gentleman did not say anything about that in his speech, and, although we are glad that he proposes to make that concession, it still does not justify the use of these private security organisations.
What is more, these people may use weapons—not guns, but they have their truncheons, as was made ineluctably clear 1665 —this is in col. 279—by the Minister in Committee.
There is no justification for conferring these additional and excessive powers on private security organisations. It is a sinister new development, which causes them to come into confrontation with the police. It is a development which large sections of the Press have totally deplored, a fact about which the Minister cares nothing. Moreover, it is a development which the Police Federation has stated time and again it does not like.
It happened over immigration control. I do not believe that it is a job for these private security organisations to deal with sensitive issues such as immigration control. Now, we have another field in which the private security force may be involved. The Police Review, said on 31st July 1970:the only rational solution is to hand over the job to the large regular forces.I go along part of the way with that.
The private security firms are not properly equipped to perform these additional tasks. The Government have no knowledge of the training which is provided for them; that is totally in the hands of the private security organisation, as has been admitted by the Home Office. There is no supervision over selection. We have no idea of the qualifications of the people involved. We have no absolute assurance as to their integrity. Yet they are to undertake important duties not only of search but in all the other ways to which I have alluded.
There is, moreover, a serious risk of confusion between the police and some of the security organisations. A number of special constables have written to me complaining that, whereas the regular police force was able to adapt its uniforms clearly so as to avoid that misunderstanding and confusion, they have not been permitted to do so, and they feel—they are a pretty authoritative body—that there is a genuine risk of confusion between them and the private security organisations. The Minister pours scorn on that, but he is in splendid isolation. Representations have been made to us by various bodies and the Minister has failed totally to take heed of those representations.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ The question of answerability is very important. We have already discussed the fact that there is to be no parliamentary accountability for the operation of the Bill. But it involves more than that. There is no proper complaints machinery available in regard to abuses of authority by these private security armies. It is not simply a question of their committing torts which are actionable. There is no complaints procedure to deal with cases of incivility by an employee of a private security firm in respect of an ordinary member of the public. These matters could be dealt with if we were given such a security force.
§ We have no knowledge of the cost involved because there is no direcet relationship between the Government and the security firms. Anybody who believes that the cost of employing them will not be passed on to the public is grotesquely naive. And even if they were to be directly employed by the Government, that information would be hidden from us.
§ Mr. Davis
I must get on. I do not believe that these private security organisations are completely above suspicion, as the Minister suggests. They are not licensed, there is no control over them, there is no supervision, and their members do not have to be members of trade unions. [Laughter.] Obviously. the Government benches find this most amusing. We say that a separate security organisation involved with the police would be the best way to deal with these problems. Recruitment and training would be under the control of the Secretary of State, and the force would be able to work more closely with the regular police. It would attract people who are now perhaps being attracted by Securicor and other firms, and this would provide healthy competition. Furthermore, we should be able to ask questions in the House about how the force was operating, and this, again, is a matter of vast importance.
I must deal with the arguments which have been deployed by the Minister against the use of a new addition to our security forces. We have heard the 1667 argument about "peakiness" and the fact that there is not a consistent requirement for security people. The police face similar problems and there is a problem of "peakiness" in regard to the scale of crime. These things do not happen only in the summer or at weekends since police have to be available to deal with any situation. What is the difference in principle? Even if the Minister were right and it were more costly to have such a force, I still believe that these powers should not be given to a private security organisation, but that they should be invested in a State organisation.
The Minister then said, "What is the row all about?" His attitude was, "I shall be invoking these powers only rarely and they may be only a minor extension of the present situation." But it must be pointed out that he is seeking this untrammelled power to deal with the situation referred to in the Bill and, on his own admission, this is no minor extension.
We are anxious about the role of private security organisations. We do not believe that this extension of power should be given to them. We do not believe that there should be this inability to control these forces properly, and we
deplore the increasing dependence of the Government on private security organisations. The New Law Journal said:
Security firms have become big business and have established an immunity which is incompatible with the rights of the individual It is time they were cut down to size.
§ I believe that to be absolutely right.
I refer the Minister to a speech made in 1967 by his hon. Friend who is now Minister of Aerospace and Shipping. He said about a Bill then before the House:
We will not lightly hand over to a Minister powers that are imprecise and not fully understood, and about which the hon. Member will not tell us. That is not the purpose of the House of Commons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th April, 1967; Vol. 763, c. 2018.]
§ The powers which are to be invested in these other persons in these private security organisations are imprecise, they are not fully understood, and the hon. Gentleman has not explained them. Therefore I do not believe that it is the purpose of the House of Commons to pass this imprecise legislation.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 137, Noes, 150.1669
|Division No. 198.]||AYES||[10.21 p.m.|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Mackenzie, Grego|
|Atkinson, Norman||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mackie, John|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Foot, Michael||Maclennan, Robert|
|Baxter, William||Fraser, John (Norwood)||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mallalieu, J. P. W. Huddersfield, E.)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Golding, John||Marquand, David|
|Booth, Albert||Gourlay, Harry||Marsden, F.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Marshall, Dr. Edmund|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Hamling, William||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Buchan, Norman||Hardy, Peter||Meacher, Michael|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Hatton, F.||Mendelson, John|
|Carmichael, Neil||Heifer, Eric S.||Millan, Bruce|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Milne, Edward|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hunter, Adam||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||John, Brynmor||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Coleman, Donald||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Murray, Ronald King|
|Concannon, J. D.||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Conlan, Bernard||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Davidson, Arthur||Judd, Frank||Oswald, Thomas|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Kaufman, Gerald||Paget, R. T.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Kerr, Russell||Palmer, Arthur|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Lambie, David||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Deakins, Eric||Lamond, James||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Leonard, Dick||Prescott, John|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Lester, Miss Joan||Probert, Arthur|
|Dempsey, James||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ram, N.)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Doig, Peter||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Richard, Ivor|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Loughlin, Charles||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Edelman, Maurice||McBride, Neil||Rose Paul B.|
|Evans, Fred||McElhone, Frank||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Faulds, Andrew||McGuire, Michael||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Machin, George||Silverman, Julius|
|Skinner, Dennis||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Small, William||Tinn, James||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||Tuck, Raphael||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Urwin, T. W.||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Stallard, A. W.||Varley, Eric G.||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Stoddart, David (Swindon)||Wainwright, Edwin||Woof, Robert|
|Stott, Roger (Westhoughton)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Strang, Gavin||Wellbeloved, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Swain, Thomas||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)||Mr. Ernest Armstrong.|
|Adley, Robert||Havers, Michael||Percival, Ian|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Hawkins, Paul||Pounder, Rafton|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Hiley, Joseph||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Holt, Miss Mary||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Astor, John||Hornby, Richard||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Awdry, Daniel||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Raison, Timothy|
|Benyon, W.||Hunt, John||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Biffen, John||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Iremonger, T. L.||Redmond, Robert|
|Blaker, Peter||James, David||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Jessel, Toby||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Bowden, Andrew||Jopling, Michael||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Kershaw, Anthony||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Kimball, Marcus||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rost, Peter|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Kinsey, J. R.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Kirk, Peter||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Burden, F. A.||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Knox, David||Soref, Harold|
|Carlisle, Mark||Lane, David||Speed, Keith|
|Chapman, Sydney||Longden, Sir Gilbert||Spence, John|
|Churchill, W. S.||Luce, R. N.||Stainton, Keith|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||MacArthur, Ian||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Clegg, Walter||McLaren, Martin||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)|
|Cooke, Robert||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Coombs, Derek||Maddan, Martin||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick||Madel, David||Sutcliffe, John|
|Crouch, David||Mather, Carol||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Tebbit, Norman|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Miscampbell, Norman||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Dykes, Hugh||Moate, Roger||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Eyre, Reginald||Money, Ernie||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Waddington, David|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Monro, Hector||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Fowler, Norman||More, Jasper||Warren, Kenneth|
|Fox, Marcus||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Gower, Raymond||Mudd, David||Wilkinson, John|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Murton, Oscar||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Green, Alan||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Grieve, Percy||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Grylls, Michael||Normanton, Tom||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Gummer, J. Selwyn||Onslow, Cranley||Worsley, Marcus|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Osborn, John||Younger, Hn. George|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Mr. Tim Fortescue and|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Parkinson, Cecil||Mr. Hamish Gray.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.