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Mr. Brian Binley (Northampton, South) (Con): Before you do—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): May I remind the hon. Gentleman again about correct parliamentary language?

Mr. Binley: Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that, very often, the people in question will have three or four pints outside any given zone before entering the zone and enjoying themselves further until they reach the point where they are beyond the pale? Does he accept that, in his terms, people outside the zone are equally culpable?

8 pm

Sammy Wilson: It is a difficult question. We have to define the zone fairly well, but just because there are difficulties we cannot take the view that we should not try to recoup some of the costs associated with alcohol-related disorder.

I accept that some sellers of alcohol are more irresponsible than others. I therefore ask the Minister for some reassurance regarding the practical implications of the measure. The Bill provides for the fixing of

and different rates of discount. Will the Minister give examples? Will such conditions and provisions ensure that differentiation of premises is possible? I do not accept that we can take a black-and-white view in which some are wholly guiltless and make no contribution to the problems. We would run into great difficulties if we tried to do so. No landlord will say, "I am a bad landlord." All will say that they are good landlords, but we know that some try to get as much money as they can from youngsters in as short a time as possible. Those people will be penalised more than those who attempt to reduce the effects of the sale of alcohol.

Jo Swinson: The hon. Gentleman talked about someone going to 10 pubs and having one drink in each. Does he agree that it is likely that the landlord of the 10th pub is being less responsible because the chances are—it depends on the individual's tolerance—that by that point the individual is already intoxicated and selling alcohol to them is already an offence? Does he agree that enforcing the existing law is a way of dealing with the problem.

Sammy Wilson: That point has been made, and I accept it. However, it is not just the last landlord—others have contributed to the individual's drunkenness. Disorderly behaviour does not require a person to be totally drunk—sometimes their inhibitions are lowered
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simply by the consumption of some alcohol. It would be difficult to establish a cut-off point—to determine the point at which the person became drunk and hold only the one landlord responsible.

I seek some assurances from the Minister because I believe that there should be some differentiation. I shall listen carefully to her reply.

Hazel Blears: I have to tell the hon. Members for Woking (Mr. Malins) and for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone) that I am unable to be as generous on this group of amendments as I was in earlier debates. I propose to resist every one of them.

The whole idea of alcohol disorder zones is that they will be a last resort. It is not that we think that police and local authorities should seek an ADZ in the face of one or two irresponsible premises. They should use the powers under the Licensing Act 2003 and the much strengthened powers available under our new licensing legislation to bear down on individual premises. An ADZ is designed to deal with a significant number of premises and a general problem, and the process of applying for an ADZ makes that clear. In Committee we debated the process at some length—there will be an initial proposal, then an action plan and time to implement it, and only if that does not work will the point of designating an alcohol disorder zone be reached. Just as drinking banning orders are designed to achieve behaviour change on the part of individuals, ADZs are intended to secure behaviour change on the part of licensees of licensed premises, nightclubs and other organisations. Our aim is to ensure that people take some collective responsibility for the problems that all too often beset us in our town and city centres. The hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) made some good points about differentiation, which I shall deal with later in my speech.

Liberal Democrat amendments Nos. 38 and 39 are about culpability—their aim is to make a connection between the behaviour and the charge. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey) gave a most passionate explanation of the policy and made it clear that if we were to accept the amendments, ADZs would be unworkable. The note I made asks, "Was it the gin and tonic in the cocktail lounge that caused the bad behaviour, or was it the pint of lager in the Rat and Parrot that made the people drunk and get involved in a fight later, when they were seeking a kebab or a taxi?" It is almost impossible to ascertain which was the drink that tipped someone into committing the sort of violent crime and disorder that we want to tackle.

Having said that, we have tried to ensure that the charges that we shall introduce relate to the degree of risk emanating from individual premises and reflect as far as possible the extra services that will be provided to those premises, whether they be extra enforcement visits by the police, extra test purchasing by trading standards to determine whether alcohol is being sold to under-age youngsters, or extra street cleaning directly outside the premises to deal with the unfortunate behaviour of the patrons of those premises. A real attempt is being made to make sure that we take a bespoke approach.

Mr. Ellwood: I am pleased to hear the Minister talk about behaviour change because more emphasis should
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be placed on that aspect. Bournemouth has a lot of challenges with the night-time economy. Clause 12(2) states that provision will be made for a local authority to impose charges. What might the maximum charge be?

Hazel Blears: I am aware that the hon. Gentleman's constituency experiences a lot of night-time disorder and I commend his local police force, which was one of the first to issue fixed-penalty notices in the city centre, which has made a big difference. I am not in a position to say that there will be a specific maximum charge; I am trying to ensure that there is some local flexibility regarding different premises.

I say to the hon. Member for Woking that no, we do not have the regulations before us. However, since before the Committee stage the hon. Gentleman has had a fairly extensive paper that set out the range of costs based on the level of interventions and on factors such as basic pay, allowances, national insurance and superannuation. The paper offered a detailed calculation of the potential costs. It described several options for charges and we decided on option 1, which is to aim as far as possible for bespoke charges for individual premises without creating a completely bureaucratic system. The paper discussed exemptions from the compulsory charge—restaurants, hotels, theatres and gyms would be exempt under the two limbs of the exemption clause. We set out the process for obtaining an alcohol disorder zone designation and, in annexe B, we set out in some detail all the types of activity that could be funded under an ADZ, including employment of door staff and taxi marshals and additional street cleaning. It is uncharacteristically unfair of the hon. Gentleman to say that that information was not provided. The paper was a lengthy exposition of the matters that will be covered in regulation and guidance.

Mark Pritchard : Does the Minister agree that local knowledge will be extremely important in relation to alcohol disorder zones? If she does, does she have peace at night when she considers the Home Secretary's plans to regionalise police forces such as West Mercia police, which has that local knowledge? Regionalisation of police forces will not increase local knowledge, but diminish it.

Hazel Blears: I sleep very peacefully in my bed, when I get to it, knowing that this Government are introducing neighbourhood policing in every community across the country, which will make a real difference to our constituents.

The hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) has taken issue with the hon. Member for Woking, who tabled an amendment that would allow the Secretary of State to make decisions in Whitehall. The power is meant to be local and flexible, which has divided opinion on the Opposition Benches.

The hon. Member for Woking has said that the Association of Chief Police Officers does not support alcohol disorder zones. In its letter of 18 March, however, it stated that it did see alcohol disorder zones as a welcome step forward. It said that it responded to its long-held concern that the industry needs to shoulder greater responsibility for the disorder to which excessive drinking gives rise. Similarly, the Local Government Association supports alcohol disorder zones, so it is
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entirely wrong to characterise alcohol disorder zones as a policy introduced by the Government without the support of important stakeholders.

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