Select Committee on Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Fifth Report




14. On 28 November 2001 the Government laid before Parliament the proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Golden Jubilee Licensing) Order 2001 in the form of a draft of the Order and a statement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.[18] The proposed Regulatory Reform Order would amend the Regulatory Reform (Special Occasions Licensing) Order 2001 ("the Special Occasions Order")[19] to permit licensing hours to be extended for a further two hours after the end of permitted hours on 3 June 2002, the date of the celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Relevant on-licensed premises could open from 11am on 3 June 2002 until 1am on the morning of 4 June 2002, instead of 11pm on 3 June 2002. As was the case in respect of New Year's Eve last year (the only "special occasion" to which the original Order has so far applied), local residents, local authorities or the police would be able to apply for "restriction orders" imposing earlier closing times on premises which may give rise to annoyance, disturbance or disorderly conduct.

15. The House has instructed us to examine the proposal against the criteria specified in Standing Order No. 141(6) and then, in the light of that examination, to report whether the Government should proceed, whether amendments should be made, or whether the Order should not be made.[20]

16. We have concluded that the proposal should be amended before a draft Order is laid before the House. The only amendment we recommend, however, concerns a technical drafting matter and does not affect the substance of the proposal, which is very similar to two other proposals relating to licensing hours which we, and our predecessor Deregulation Committee, have previously considered and approved. Our comments on matters arising from consideration of the proposal against the criteria specified in the Standing Order are contained in the remainder of this Report.[21]

Background to the proposal

17. A consultation paper setting out the Government's proposal was issued by the Home Office on 19 March 2001.[22] This consultation document contained two proposals: the first was to amend the Licensing Act 1964 ("the 1964 Act") to extend licensing hours for on-licensed premises for twelve hours beyond the end of normal permitted hours on New Year's Eve 2001; the second was to amend the 1964 Act to allow licensing hours to extend for two hours from the end of permitted hours on 3 June 2002, the date of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. For the purposes of Parliamentary scrutiny, the two proposals were separated at a later stage. The first has already been considered by the Committee, and the resulting draft Order (the Special Occasions Order, referred to above) approved by both Houses.[23]


18. During our consideration of the proposal for the Special Occasions Order, we had cause to consider the effect of section 1(4) of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 ("the 2001 Act") on any further proposals for reform of the 1964 Act, including the current proposal. We concluded that, if such further reform was to be contemplated, the proposal would have to be amended so as to transfer the relevant burdens imposed by the 1964 Act into the Special Occasions Order. Future proposals would then seek to amend that Order, which would not be subject to s1(4) of the 2001 Act, rather than the 1964 Act. The draft Order which was subsequently laid before Parliament took account of this amendment.

19. However, in order to avoid the problems of timing which also affected the proposal for the Special Occasions Order,[24] the Government was obliged to lay this current proposal before Parliament before either House had taken a final decision on whether or not to approve the draft Special Occasions Order. In order to meet the requirement of the Regulatory Reform Act to lay "a proposal in the form of a draft of the Order [to be made under section 1 of the Act]", but without prejudging either House's decision on approval of the draft Special Occasions Order, the Government therefore laid two draft Orders: one, which would amend the Special Occasions Order, to be proceeded with in the event of approval by both Houses of that Order; and one, which would amend the 1964 Act, to be proceeded with should that Order not be approved. This, a further consequence of the Department's failure to prepare the proposal for the Special Occasions Licensing Order in good time (about which we have more to say below), was a less than ideal situation, and we hope that such measures will not be necessary in future.

Committee consideration of the proposal


20. As noted above, the proposed Order would reduce the burden imposed by the Special Occasions Order by extending licensing hours for a further two hours after the end of permitted hours on 3 June 2002, the date of the celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Relevant on-licensed premises could open from 11am on 3 June 2002 until 1am on the morning of 4 June 2002, instead of 11pm on 3 June 2002. The explanatory statement expresses the hope "that Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee will be a splendid and unique celebration that citizens and visitors to this country at that time will long remember", continuing, "The proposal for a modest relaxation of licensing hours will facilitate many celebrations and therefore contribute to the overall success of the holiday period".[25]


21. The Department estimates that the proposal would result in net savings to the industry of some £8.09 million, and to the police of around £500,000, both as a result of the removal of the necessity to apply for special orders of exemption in respect of the night in question. Costs to local residents of applying for restriction orders would be no more than £6,000 nationally. Details may be found in paras 32-39 of the explanatory statement.


22. In nearly all respects relevant to consideration of the proposal in the light of the criteria set down in Standing Order 141(6), the proposed extension of licensing hours on this occasion gives rise to no issues not already considered in the context of the proposals for the Special Occasions Order and, before that, the Deregulation (Millennium Licensing) Order 1999.[26] Consultation, which was carried out at the same time as that relating to the proposal to relax licensing hours at New Year's Eve 2001,[27] revealed more support for this proposed relaxation than for that one, and no objections were raised which were not, in our judgement, adequately responded to.[28] Subject to our comments below, therefore, we are content that the proposal satisfies the criteria set down in the Standing Order.

Review of New Year's Eve 2001

23. Before completing our consideration of this proposal, we were concerned that appropriate account should be taken of any issues which might arise as a result of the relaxation of licensing hours on New Year's Eve last year. We therefore asked for all responses to the Department's review of arrangements on that date to be sent to us.

24. According to the responses we have seen so far, the occasion appears to have passed off successfully, with no major problems resulting from the extended opening hours. We do not at this stage see any reason, therefore, to stand in the way of the further, and more modest, extension of hours proposed for the Golden Jubilee. However, one issue has arisen which concerns us.

25. As mentioned above, when considering the proposal for the Special Occasions Order, we were concerned about whether necessary protection would be maintained in the face of the very tight timescale for the introduction of the Order. Our recommendation of the approval of the Order was made only following assurances from the Department that there would be time for the system of restriction orders, which would ensure the protection of local residents against excessive noise or nuisance, to operate as intended.[29]

26. In a number of instances, however, this does not appear to have been the case. The Order came into force on 7 December 2001. Applications for restriction orders had to be made at least five days before the relevant session of the licensing authority. In some areas of the country, the licensing authority's final session before New Year took place too soon after the Order came into force for it to be possible for applications for restriction orders to be made. It was not therefore possible for local residents - or, for that matter, local authorities or police forces - to make use of the provisions designed to ensure that necessary protection was maintained.

27. No respondent to the Department's review suggested that this inability to obtain restriction orders led to any serious annoyance or disturbance on New Year's Eve. Nevertheless, we are dismayed that the assurances we were given turned out to be false, and we shall be pursuing the issue with the Department. It may be that the reason for the Department's apparent failure to comprehend the implications of the late introduction of the proposal for the Special Occasions Order is that, as the Department admitted to us in oral evidence on that proposal, it has available to it no practical experience of the implications of licencing arrangements for local authorities and others. We urge the Department to rectify this omission immediately.

28. In the meantime, we can merely express our hope that the slightly more advanced laying of this proposal will ensure that the same situation does not occur before the Golden Jubilee. If this proposal proceeds to the stage of a draft Order, we shall be looking for assurances - backed up, on this occasion, with details of timetables for the making of the Order and relevant sessions of licensing justices - that this will be the case.

Right of appeal for licensees

29. The proposed Order would make one further change to the Special Occasions Order beyond those needed to extend licensing hours on the Golden Jubilee, in that it would introduce a right of appeal to the Crown Court for licensees against the grant of a restriction order. It had been the Government's intention to include such a right in that Order from the start, but, in view of the fact that the timing of that Order meant that it would be of no practical use, we recommended that it not be included. We are pleased to see that it is proposed to be reintroduced in the context of this Order, where, in appropriate circumstances, licensees may be able to make use of it. We are satisfied that any resulting burden on the Crown Court would be proportionate to the benefit expected to result from its creation.

30. One further point arises. The appeals provisions would, under the proposal as it is currently drafted, be inserted as article "7ZA" of the Special Occasions Order. Such numbering is not in accordance with proper drafting practice, although we appreciate that the positioning of the relevant provision needs to take account of section 156A of the 1964 Act as amended by article 2(8) of the Special Occasions Order. A neater solution, however, as acknowledged by the Department,[30] would be to include the provisions relating to appeals as a Schedule to the Special Occasions Order, referred to by a new paragraph (9) in article 5, and we recommend that the proposal be amended accordingly.

Report under Standing Order No. 141

31. We recommend that the proposal be amended by the reordering of its provisions as detailed in paragraph 30 above, before a draft Order is laid before the House.

18   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

19   SI 2001/3937. Back

20   Standing Order 141(2). Back

21   Where such a criterion does not appear in this Report, we have no concerns to raise under that heading. Back

22   Liquor Licensing Deregulation: Consultation on Licensing Hours for New Year's Eve 2001 and during Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee in June 2002, Home Office, March 2001. On 8 June 2001 responsibility for licensing, and thus for this proposal, was transferred from the Home Office to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Back

23   First Report, Proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Special Occasions Licensing) Order 2001, HC 265 of Session 2001-02; and Second Report, Draft Regulatory Reform (Special Occasions Licensing) Order 2001, HC 388 of Session 2001-02. Back

24   See First Report, op cit, paras 27-43 et alBack

25   Explanatory statement, para 40. Back

26   See First and Second Reports, op cit, and Third and Fourth Reports from the Deregulation Committee, Session 1998-99, HC 532 and HC 710. Back

27   See para 17 above. Back

28   Explanatory statement, Annexes A and B. Back

29   Fourth Report, op cit, paras 36, 39, 43. Back

30   Correspondence not printed. Back

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