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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, the noble Baroness makes a very valid point. I certainly hope that we shall be able to get the information from the Magistrates' Association. That would certainly be the body to give such advice.
Money values have changed so much. In my day, the old-age pensioner came for a half-a-crown extraction. You took the tooth out for that amount. Whenever I quote something at an old price, my sister tells me that I am still thinking in the days of the threepenny
The noise patrol that I mentioned is a 24-hour, seven days a week service. The local authority had chosen to fund it as part of its expenditure. It may be that in another area the call-outs would be few. In the case of the Pink Elephant, which we both knew well--it was not exactly a disco; in those days such places were called late night music and dancing establishments--the licensing control lay with the Greater London Council. Every time we used to bring in a busload of local people to explain how awful it was. The case was heard across the water. The people sitting there frankly did not believe it. There was no objective evidence. Had the decibels been measured it might have been rather more effective. Measurements could have been taken in any one of 20 houses in the area. Since then, licensing has moved to the local authorities. The London Borough of Enfield would now know what was happening. In fact, the London Borough of Enfield opposed renewal of the licence, but that had no effect at all because it was seen as the view of "Big Brother" without anyone being informed. It is very important that control now genuinely comes under the local authority.
The noble Lord, Lord Graham, mentioned being outdoors in the summer. As I understand it, the Bill will not cover noise out of doors; it will only cover noise affecting people within a building. I find the one-off celebration the most difficult. I would hope that in most cases people would go round to see their neighbours and say that they were having a 50th wedding anniversary or 21st birthday party. It depends on an area, but very often people will ask those who live locally to join in. Then there is a great tolerance of such an event. Even if that were not the case, the officer could issue a warning, or could call first and give a verbal warning before entering into any of these formal procedures.
In the past, for years I knew people on whom the police had called before the nuisance legislation came in. People would turn the music down until the police car had gone round the corner and would then immediately turn it up again to its previous level. The
Walkman radios have affected people's hearing to the extent that sounds now need to be louder than they used to be. One is meant to use the Walkman radio in one ear at a time so as not to damage the hearing too much. But the people who sell Walkmans do not ever advise that. However, it means that people's hearing has in fact been damaged, as research in America shows. Also, people's sensitivity to sound differs greatly. That is why an objective amount above the noise level is an appropriate objective assessment. Traffic in general is covered by different regulations and does not come into the Bill at all.
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