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Mr. Forth: Again, I am grateful to the hon. Member for Garston for her intervention. The more we consider clause 1, the more we need solid reassurance from the promoter, or the Minister, that he is satisfied that it is both as tight and as wide ranging as it should be. Section 169 of the Licensing Act 1964, to which the clause applies,
Mr. Heald: The hon. Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) explained about the training of children to drink alcohol sensibly by buying drinks and giving them to children in small quantities in pub gardens. Would not my right hon. Friend's amendment make that impossible? Specifying any facilities in licensed premises would make it an offence for a child under 18 to consume the alcohol that had been bought on the premises in a pub garden.
Mr. Forth: The more I consider the matter, the more that I realise that I shall probably not want to press my amendment. I shall not make a final decision until I hear the Minister's comments. However, in view of my hon. Friend's point, I have probably missed the target by a wide mark.
Mr. Gardiner: I want to correct the impression that I had said that part of the education of young children about responsible drinking would take place in pub gardens. I used the example of the pub garden on a separate point. There should be a proper role in the home for parents to give children under the age of 18 the chance to acquire a taste for alcohol responsibly. I was happy for that to happen in the home, but less happy about its occurrence in pub gardens.
Mr. Fabricant: My right hon. Friend shares my interest in our relations with the United States. Does he believe that the Minister's definition of bar is adequate? Perhaps my right hon. Friend has visited Ye Olde King's Head in Santa Monica, California. I was a student there--at the university of Southern California, not Ye Olde King's Head. However, I spent some time at Ye Olde King's Head. Although it had a bar, most Americans tended not to sit at the bar because there were also tables there. Strangely enough--
Mr. Forth: I am sure that, if my hon. Friend catches your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will be able to weave those comments into his speech. However, I am grateful to him, because his intervention reinforces my
I want briefly to consider amendment No. 53. Despite the marvellous, succinct history lesson given to us by the hon. Member for Brent, North, I was not entirely satisfied with his explanation for wanting to change the status of the House of Commons. My hon. Friends and I were puzzled that the amendment applied only to the House of Commons, not to the Palace of Westminster; it would be anomalous for it to apply only to this end of the Palace. It is possible to deal with the Palace from this end, and for their lordships to consider the matter when the Bill goes to another place, as it will shortly.
Mr. Fabricant: Surely my right hon. Friend does not support this potential constitutional outrage? It would be bad enough to perpetrate it on the House of Commons without extending it to the House of Lords.
Mr. Forth: I certainly do not support it. I am simply making my preliminary observations. I had not begun to describe my feeling about the thrust of the amendment and was making the point almost in passing. I am surprised that my hon. Friend is not able distinguish between my passing and substantive comments. However, my point was valid and the hon. Member for Brent, North implied that he agreed. If we want to accept amendment No. 53, it would be better to apply it to the Palace of Westminster rather than the House of Commons. However, I do not want to accept it.
Mr. Gardiner: I appreciate that the rights and privileges of hon. Members are a sensitive issue, and an amendment that applies only to the House of Commons can be properly debated by its Members. The House of Lords will be able to table amendments in due course and introduce a similar provision for the other place.
Mr. Forth: I give the hon. Gentleman some friendly advice. I would not want to suggest amendments to be made in another place at this stage of the legislative year, for reasons that he will doubtless understand on reflection. If we want to amend the Bill, we should do it properly here, so that it requires no amendment in another place. I am sure that the promoter understands that. The amendment is therefore defective.
My genuine objection to the amendment arises from the remarks of the hon. Member for Brent, North. He said that we should treat the House of Commons, or the Palace of Westminster, like any other premises for the purpose of the Bill. I disagree. This is a special place in many ways, not only because it is a royal palace, which grants it different status. I was worried by the implication that it is almost as easy for someone under 18 to be tempted to, or manage to, purchase intoxicating liquor on these premises as it is anywhere else. I hope that that is not the case.
I would add in passing that it has long been my view that we perhaps encourage too many very young people to visit the House. Although I am keen to encourage young people of a proper age to come to the Palace of
Maria Eagle: The right hon. Gentleman is as courteous as ever in giving way to me again. If we expect the rest of the country to understand, and comply with, the law, is it not important that we are seen to do so ourselves? Is not the problem public acceptance of the Bill, given that the licensing laws are not applicable here and this place is subject to the sensitivities of parliamentary privilege? The public may think that we have made an exception for ourselves. Is that not the nub of the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner)?
Mr. Forth: That is a respectable argument, but I do not accept it. I know that the hon. Lady is not trying to be devious in any way, nor even trying to be seductive in the way in which she puts the argument, but in my wilder moments I might think that she was trying to introduce the thin end of a wedge with which we have become familiar recently: why should we not have the same working conditions, working hours and so on as people elsewhere? My answer is that the House is not a factory or an office; it is a legislature. It is legitimate to discuss the fact that we do things differently and, some might think, rather eccentrically here, but I am not yet persuaded that we should necessarily make what we do, how we do it and the environment in which we do it the same as in an office or factory. I am always prepared to say, "Yes, of necessity, we do things differently here," because legislating is an unusual process. This morning's proceedings illustrate that all too well. The environment in which we legislate is, of necessity, often very different.
I do not accept the suggestion of the hon. Members for Brent, North and for Garston that we should always be role models for people outside. I accept that there is a place for role models, but it is often over-emphasised. If one considers the idolatry heaped on people as eccentric as footballers or pop singers, considerable difficulties arise. I suspect that few people try to emulate Members of Parliament. Offhand, I cannot think of anyone who, in his right mind, would do so in any circumstances. I am not too worried about people considering what we do here and saying, "Let's have some of that." I suspect that that is a minuscule, almost infinitesimally small risk to run. I do not want to flog this to death, but, although I understand the motivation of the hon. Member for Pudsey, I do not agree with him. For the reasons that I have given, the amendment is defective.
The thrust of my speech is that, although it is accepted that the House very much wants to support the Bill and to give it a fair wind, it is our responsibility to ensure, as far as possible, that it covers all eventualities, that it is fit for its purpose, that it will do what we all want it to do--no more, no less--and that we can spot no loopholes in it. That is the purpose of my amendments and my few remarks. I hope that the Bill's promoter and the Minister can guide the House to a conclusion about which we feel happy so that we can pass it on to its next stage.