Select Committee on Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Fifth Report


The Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee has agreed to the following Report:




1. On 24th January 2002 the Government laid before Parliament the draft Deregulation (Restaurant Licensing Hours) Order 2002, together with a statement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[1] Our predecessor Deregulation Committee has reported on the Government's proposal for this draft Order, which would amend the Licensing Act 1964 (the 1964 Act) so as to enable restaurants with a Part IV licence[2] and premises with a residential and restaurant licence to serve alcohol with meals for one hour beyond the end of normal licensing hours without the need for a supper hour certificate.[3][4]

2. The Government's original proposal would also have removed the requirement that live entertainment needs to be provided as a prerequisite of obtaining an extended hours order (which authorises the sale of alcohol during a further hour beyond the 'supper hour' referred to above). Our predecessors argued that they "[had] not been presented with sufficiently convincing evidence that necessary protection will be maintained if this [aspect of the] proposal is allowed to proceed," continuing:

Although largely unintended, there are strong arguments to support the view that the current regime has indirect protective effects: the requirement for live entertainment dissuades certain restaurants from seeking extended hours orders, such restaurants are accordingly likely to close earlier than they otherwise might, and nuisance from noise and disturbance in the vicinity of such restaurants is therefore likely come to an end at an earlier time... Similarly it is clear that particular London boroughs face an unusual situation of a high density of restaurants, clubs and pubs. We are not convinced that the special problems which they face have been adequately recognised or addressed during the consultation on the extended hours proposal.[5]

3. The Committee therefore concluded "that if a draft Order is to be laid at all it should relate only to the supper hours certificate, unless the Home Office can subsequently persuade us that (a) no necessary protection would be erased by the removal of the requirement for live entertainment; and (b) the views of particular London areas have been adequately addressed".[6]

4. The House of Lords Committee, in view of its, similar, concerns about the maintenance of necessary protection, suggested that the proposal be amended to increase the influence of local councils, envisaging a system similar to that now in place under the Sunday Licensing Deregulation Order.[7] It was, however, content with the aspect of the proposal relating to supper hours certificates.

5. The Department reports that the Minister responsible for the proposal held a meeting with the Restaurant Association on 1 November last year, during which representatives of the Association made strong representations to the effect that the Order should proceed as originally proposed. No other representations were received.[8]

6. Whilst the Government has restated its original arguments in favour of the introduction of the Order as originally proposed,[9] it has not made any further attempt to persuade us that no necessary protection would be erased by the removal of the requirement for live entertainment, nor has it gone any further in addressing the views of particular London areas. The Government has rejected the House of Lords Committee's suggestion, arguing that, "adding these additional provisions to the proposals would actually make it potentially more difficult for restaurants to qualify for extended hours orders on normal weekdays than now, and would possibly result in fewer restaurants opening later".[10] Instead, it has decided to proceed with an Order relating only to the removal of the requirement for a "supper hours certificate".

7. As our predecessors concluded in their Report on the original proposal, we are satisfied that the part of that proposal which is included in this draft Order meets the criteria against which we are required to judge it. We therefore recommend unanimously that it be approved.

8. As far as the remaining aspect of the original proposal is concerned, we reiterate, in view of the failure of the Department to persuade us otherwise, our conclusion that this proposed change will be more appropriately dealt with in the context of a general licensing review.[11] We therefore look forward to the promised Licensing Bill, and to the subsequent introduction of a licensing regime which will not require repeated piecemeal amendment.

1   Copies are available to Members from the Vote Office and to members of the public from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It is also available on the Cabinet Office website /act/proposals.htm Back

2   A Part IV licence must be obtained by a restaurant wishing to serve alcohol only with meals. Back

3   Fourth Report of the Deregulation Committee, Session 2000-01, The Final Deregulation Proposals, HC 450, paras 68-111. Back

4   The draft Order would not apply to premises which operate under a full justices' on-licence, such as pubs: the licensees for such premises would still need to apply for a supper hour certificate, as at present, so that the justices can be satisfied that the extension of hours relates to the provision of a bona fide restaurant service and is not a way of circumventing normal closing hours. Back

5   Fourth Report, op cit, paras 108-109. Back

6   ibid, para 110. Back

7   See Twenty-Third Report of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee, Session 2000-01, HL 80. Back

8   Explanatory statement, para 13. Back

9   Explanatory statement, para 14. Back

10   Explanatory statement, para 15. Back

11   op cit, para 109. See also para 111. Back

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Prepared 8 February 2002