Select Committee on Deregulation First and Second Report


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


1. On 28 November 2000 the Government laid before Parliament the draft Deregulation (Sunday Dancing) Order 2000, together with a Statement from the Home Office.[10] We have already reported on the Government's original proposals for a rather more wide-ranging draft Order, the Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing) Order 2000.[11]

2. At present the leisure and entertainment industry is constrained by the prohibition in the Sunday Observance Act 1780 Act on charging for admission to places where dances take place on Sundays. Similar constraints do not apply in other areas of the industry and the 1780 Act no longer applies in respect of most other forms of entertainment.[12] The draft Order would allow the relevant premises, such as discotheques, to apply to operate on Sundays. The proposal would be particularly beneficial to charitable and non-profit making bodies which might organise dances or Sunday afternoon tea dances for elderly people.[13]

3. Following our consideration of the draft Proposal laid in January, which was identical to this Order, but for the removal of proposed amendments to the Licensing Act 1964, we conclude that this draft Order has met the criteria against which we are required to judge it. As respects that part of the original proposal represented in this draft Order, we did not consider that any safeguards needed to be incorporated in the Order to continue any necessary protection. The consultation exercise which preceded the laying of the original proposal gave adequate opportunity to express views on the proposed exclusion of dancing from the Sunday Observance Act 1780. We are satisfied in this particular case that there are no provisions relating to licensing (with which the Department proposes to proceed later) that ought to be in force before the current proposal is made.

4. The present draft Order is unusual in that it seeks to implement only one part (and the simplest part at that) of the more wide-ranging proposal submitted to Parliament in January. The parent Act does not prevent this course of action, and on this occasion we accept that the implementation of only one part of the draft proposal, relating to Sunday Dancing, may proceed without the other. However, it should not be assumed that proceeding in this way will always be acceptable, since there could well be occasions when the balance of advantage or disadvantage — particularly in relation to the removal or reduction of burdens — could be significantly altered if one ingredient in a package of proposals were to proceed alone: on such an occasion there might be an evident need for further consultation before the more limited draft Order could be allowed to proceed. Our approval of this draft Order should not therefore be regarded as a precedent for future orders which the Department concerned may wish similarly to divide or substantially amend.

5. Whilst content for the draft Order to proceed we invite the Home Office to consider paragraph 68 of our Report on the original proposal11 which recommended that the Home Office consider simplification of the statute book by proposing the complete repeal of what is left of the Sunday Observance Act 1780.

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

10  Copies of these are available to Members from the Vote Office and to members of the public from the Home Office.  Back
11  First Report, Proposal for the Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing) Order 2000, HC 334 of Session 1999- 2000. Back
12  For example, the Sunday Entertainment Act 1932 removed the prohibition on the charging for admission to museums, art galleries, zoological and botanical gardens, aquaria, lectures, debates and to musical entertainment at places licensed for music and dancing. It also allowed cinemas to open in some areas, subject to conditions. The Sunday Cinemas Act 1972 allowed cinemas to open everywhere, subject to normal licensing conditions. The Sunday Theatre Act 1972 allowed the use of theatres for public performances of plays, operas and ballets on Sunday afternoons and evenings. Most recently, sporting events and activities were removed from the scope of the Sunday Observance Act 1780 by means of Section 21 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994. Section 20 of the same relaxed the restrictions on cash betting on Sundays.  Back
13  One letter received during the consultation process was from Cranleigh Parish Council who expressed concerns about their ability to charge for dances in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association on New Year's Eve this year (a Sunday). Back

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Prepared 14 December 2000