Select Committee on Deregulation Fourth Report


FOURTH REPORT

The Deregulation Committee has made further progress in the matter referred to it and has agreed to the following Report:-

I

THE DRAFT DEREGULATION (MILLENNIUM LICENSING) ORDER 1999

1. On 5 July 1999, the Government laid before Parliament the draft Deregulation (Millennium Licensing) Order 1999, together with a Statement from the Home Office[1]. We have already reported on the Government's proposals for this draft Order[2], which provides for the amendment of the Licensing Act 1964 ("the 1964 Act").

2. The terms of the proposal would have amended the 1964 Act to allow on-licensed premises and registered clubs to sell alcohol throughout the night on New Year's Eve, this year and all subsequent years. This would have amounted to a 12 hour extension in licensed hours, allowing uninterrupted opening from the start of permitted hours on each New Year's Eve (11a.m) to the end of permitted hours on New Year's Day (11p.m).

3. Following our consideration of the proposal, we concluded that it met the criteria against which we are required to judge it, and we recommended that a draft Order should be made in the same terms as the proposal[3].

4. However, the House of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation recommended that it should be amended to provide for an extension of hours for this New Year, but not subsequent years[4]. It believed that, in the exceptional circumstances of the Millennium Eve, to allow an all-night relaxation of hours as a one-off would not compromise necessary protection for those who lived near licensed premises, but that there was not sufficient evidence to come to the same conclusion in the differing circumstances of subsequent years. It believed that a decision on extensions of licensed hours for future years should await an evaluation of the experience this year.

5. The Home Office has amended the draft Order as recommended by the House of Lords Committee. Although we were content with the proposal in its original form, we have no objections to the amended version.

6. The House of Lords Committee also asked the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health, when laying the draft Order, to provide further evidence of the Home Office's claims that the emergency services would be able to cope at this time[5]. In his Statement to accompany the draft Order, the Home Secretary has reiterated that previous relaxations of licensing hours have not caused any increase in alcohol-related problems. He has outlined the millennium planning being carried out by the Police and the Fire Services. The Secretary of State for Health detailed the millennium planning for the Ambulance Services and Accident and Emergency Departments.

7. The House has instructed us to consider the extent to which the Minister has had regard to "any other representations made during the period for parliamentary consideration."[6]. The Department received a letter from the Magistrates Association requesting a September deadline for applications for restriction orders. We accept the Department's view that this would be unfair to those who might not think to apply for restriction orders before that time[7]. It also received a number of letters protesting that the draft Order would lead to an increase in drunkenness and disorder[8]. We believe that we took full account of these arguments in our Report on the proposal[9].

8. The Department also received a letter from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea expressing concern about the tone of the Department's press release, which gave the impression that the proposal had already become law when it was laid[10]. This was a point that we also drew to the Department's attention[11]. We note that the Department has conceded that the press release should have spelt out more clearly the fact that the proposal had not become law, and was being considered by the Parliamentary Committees.

Report under Standing Order No. 141

9. We recommend unanimously that the draft Order should be approved.


1  Copies of these are available to Members from the Vote Office and to members of the public from the Home Office. Back

2  Third Report, Proposal for the Deregulation (New Year Licensing) Order 1999; Proposal for the Deregulation (Casinos) Order 1999, HC 532 of Session 1998-99. Back

3  Third Report, paragraph 24. Back

4  Eighteenth Report of the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee, paragraph 37. Back

5  ibid., paragraph 35. Back

6  Standing Order No. 141(5)(B). Back

7  Statement, paragraph 11. Back

8  ibid., paragraph 8. Back

9  Third Report, paragraphs 11 to 14. Back

10  Statement, paragraph 9. Back

11  Third Report, paragraph 3. Back


 
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Prepared 15 July 1999