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Mr. Gardiner: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that point. As someone who has presided over bottle stalls on numerous occasions and over raffles on even more numerous occasions, I can only tell him of my habitual practice, which I recommend to him. I automatically tell any minor holding a winning ticket, "You will have to go to get your mother, father or another responsible adult because I will not give a bottle of alcohol to a minor." I hold to that whether I am on a bottle stall at the local school fete or involved in a raffle for which alcohol is one of the possible prizes. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to follow that practice because, in his position, it is best not to be seen to be dishing out alcopops or any other form of alcohol to young people. It is as simple as that.
Mr. Heald: During the hon. Gentleman's reminiscences about bottle stalls, it occurred to me that his amendments on other methods of provision, apart from sale, might affect raffles. The reason why a raffle does
If I expanded the scope of the hon. Gentleman's example to a raffle on licensed premises, there would be force to his point that such a raffle might fall under the Bill's provisions. However, my understanding is that a raffle not held on licensed premises would not be covered by the Bill.
Mr. Brown: On the issue of raffles and the purchasing of raffle tickets, I am sure that each and every one of us in this House has at some stage purchased a raffle ticket for our children or even grandchildren. I am sure that none of us has passed alcohol to our child or grandchild if we have been fortunate enough to see their ticket drawn. As responsible adults, we purchase such tickets in good faith, but would never intend to pass on the winning prize, should it be alcohol, to any of our children aged under 18.
Mr. Gardiner: Absolutely; I concur with my hon. Friend. It has cost me quite dear on occasions to purchase, as it were, from my child the right to do him out of what he saw as his raffle prize. When my children have won a bottle of spirits or other alcohol in a raffle, I have bartered with them, as I said earlier. I say, "I will buy you a packet of Pokemon cards but you can't have the bottle." It is all a matter of negotiation with one's children, and I am afraid that, over the years, my children have become extremely adept in such matters. I take my hon. Friend's point; of course he is right. No responsible parent would allow their child simply to take a bottle of alcohol as a raffle prize and retain it at their own free disposal. It simply is not the action of a responsible parent.
The amendments are positive and helpful. They are designed, not to detract in any way from the Bill, but to strengthen it and reinforce its provisions. They would help to create an environment in this country in which young people were not exposed unduly to the dangers of alcohol, or to the circumstances that gave rise to the case that prompted my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey to introduce the Bill. We want no more tragedies associated with under-age drinking to occur.
The hon. Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) has given the House not only a tour de force, but an informative speech that has highlighted some of the potential difficulties inherent in the Bill, which others of us have also spotted. To ensure that the Bill fully achieves its purpose--let there be no doubt that that is the reason why we are all here today--we must satisfy ourselves that it neither goes too far, nor falls short of that purpose.
The Bill would operate in a surprisingly complex area. The first complexity, which I and others have spotted, is the use in proposed new section 169A of the phrase "in licensed premises". That raises several questions, which the hon. Gentleman touched on, connected with the relationship between those making the purchase, those making the sale and the way in which the transaction is carried out. Even though the Bill uses the words "in licensed premises", the long title extends it far more broadly. In the references to car boot sales and raffles, we begin to see the potential difficulties arising from the bewildering variety of ways in which items, whether intoxicating liquor or any other goods, can pass from one person to another.
In simpler days, in West Kilbride and elsewhere, we all thought that we well understood the direct nature of sale and purchase. I am an old man whose memory stretches back even further than the hon. Gentleman's, and I can remember the days long before credit cards, when all sales were cash sales--unless, as he rather ingeniously points out, they were achieved through some sort of informal credit arrangement, or, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Garston (Maria Eagle) has helpfully pointed out, through some sort of barter.
We might want to return to the issue, but, in passing, it is worth saying that we realise that, for the Bill to function fully and properly, it must cover all the bewildering variety of means of transaction available for the sale and purchase of intoxicating liquor. That is the
We can well imagine the many different ways in which transactions can take place. There is the conventional way, through the use of cash, occurring in licensed premises, which is the most basic, straightforward and simple method of transaction and the one that probably springs to mind first. I suspect that, when he was framing the Bill, the hon. Member for Pudsey envisaged a person walking into licensed premises, ordering intoxicating liquor, handing over some cash and then leaving with the cans or bottles in his possession. It is relatively easy to frame provisions to deal with such transactions.
However, broadening our notion of modes of transaction makes the issue more complicated. The ordering process can be carried out over the telephone, or by fax--I would imagine that many licensed premises now have fax facilities, and people generally have such machines in their workplace and increasingly in their home--or via one of those ghastly e-things that I keep hearing about.
I do not want to dwell on such issues at this stage, as I suspect that my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) or my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant), both of whom are expert in these matters, might wish to elaborate, should they catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I hope that they will. I merely introduce the subject. However, even with my almost zero knowledge of such matters, I am aware that commercial transactions can now be effected through the use of e-things. I presume, therefore, that it is possible to order intoxicating liquor e-wise. Given that the ordering process is possible via voice telephony, fax--I managed to operate the fax machine in my office for the first time this morning, which engenders a feeling of triumph--or some sort of e-facility, we have to broaden our conceptualisation of the Bill and its purpose to encompass the modes of transaction that are now widely available to people under 18.
Related to that is the fact that transmission of the product--in this case, intoxicating liquor--from the person who makes the sale to the purchaser now occurs to a lesser extent on licensed premises. Increasingly, the product is delivered, or it is distributed by the less than legal means mentioned by the hon. Member for Brent, North, or is passed on through barter. I am not sure whether barter is illegal; perhaps the hon. Member for Garston can advise us. I see that she has a sheaf of papers in her hand and I am aware of her enormous legal expertise. Given that it was she who raised the issue of barter, it is possible that she can advise us as to its legality in the context of the Bill, if not otherwise.