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The Earl of Kinnoull: I am grateful to the noble Earl for tabling this amendment. I am, however, advised that it is not necessary because the point is already covered by Clause 1(7) under which "intoxicating liquor" has the same meaning as in the Licensing Act 1964. I suggest to the noble Lord that it is not necessary.

Lord Monson: I have checked the Licensing Act 1964. As originally drafted, the Bill does not do what the noble Earl suggests. I give way to the Minister.

The Earl of Courtown: Perhaps I may seek to assist the noble Lord, Lord Monson. I understand that as far as concerns this clause the Licensing Act 1964, as amended, provides in its definition that:

The definition goes on to include perfumes, flavouring essences and medications. I will let the noble Lord, Lord Monson, have a copy of that definition.

Lord Monson: I am grateful to the noble Earl for clarifying the matter. It is quite clear from what he says

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that the original Act of 1964 has been updated by subsequent legislation which has the effect of excluding low alcohol beers and lagers. That is a very satisfactory state of affairs. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

House resumed; Bill reported without amendment; Report received.

Then, Standing Order No. 44 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution of 18th March), Bill read a third time.

The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the proceedings on this Bill. I am sure we all hope that this Bill achieves what is intended.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(The Earl of Kinnoull.)

On Question, Bill passed.

Public Entertainments Licences (Drug Misuse) Bill

7.50 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Licensing outside Greater London]:

Lord Meston moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 16, leave out ("or near the place") and insert ("the place or at any place nearby which is controlled by the holder of the licence").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 13. I see from the grouping that Amendment No. 14 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, is included.

The amendments return the House to the topic which was raised at previous stages of the Bill; that is, whether the licence holder should be vulnerable to the loss of his licence if the drug misuse is going on at a place near the licensed premises, over which he has no control. I, and several other noble Lords, have already expressed the view that that should not be the position. The licence holder should be vulnerable to the drastic provisions of the Bill only in respect of premises over which he has some control.

The arguments have been fully rehearsed at all previous stages of the Bill. The problem, in part at least, is the lack of definition of the expression "near the place" within the Bill as it is presently drafted. There is a vagueness about it which means that, in theory at least, the licence holder could be held responsible for a car park or something similar some distance away from his licensed premises.

More fundamentally, as presently drafted, the Bill would make the licence holder vulnerable to the misuse of premises over which he has no responsibility whatsoever. It is wrong that someone should lose his

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licence and his livelihood, and the livelihood of a considerable number of employees, if premises over which he has no power or authority are being used, and he can do nothing about it. Even if the licence holder himself is acting responsibly, and taking all possible precautions at the premises--in other words, it may well be that the licence holder is doing his best, or can be made to do his best, to put in place proper security at the door and proper surveillance within the licensed premises--he may still be vulnerable to the Bill's drastic provisions.

It has to be remembered that the Bill is drastic. It provides for the closing down of clubs. It must be remembered that in some of these situations closing the club will not necessarily deal with the drug pushers. It will merely transfer the problem elsewhere. If the problem is outside the control of the club owner, he should not be vulnerable, and so I propose the amendment. If there is a problem nearby over which the licence holder has realistically no control whatsoever, it is not for him to deal with it; it is for the police to deal with it, and the police can deal with it under their existing powers. I beg to move.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, before I address the amendment, I make the declaration of interest, as I have on previous occasions, as I am a director of Rank Leisure Limited. At previous stages of the Bill, it has been made clear that without an amendment such as the one just moved by the noble Lord, Lord Meston, there would be a serious risk that the requirements of natural justice might not have been met. I hope that my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns will look kindly upon this series of amendments. I am glad to say that she nods her head, so that is good news.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, stressed how a wide interpretation of the phrase "or near" could destroy someone's business, possibly even a small business, on the basis of a police report. I have to agree with that. That is the concern which has worried the Committee and now worries the House.

The amendment affords some protection to the licence holder with a well-run club from losing his public entertainments licence through no fault of his own. That is the crux of the matter. I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Anelay, because she has been most anxious to see that this small piece of legislation can be properly interpreted by local authorities in an even-handed way across the country. The amendment she moved in Committee, and will move on Report, has gone a long way towards assisting that. I support the amendment.

Lord Gladwin of Clee: My Lords, in Committee I spoke against an amendment which was designed to remove the words "or near the place", and was chastised by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for so doing. I still hold the view that I expressed then. I believe that the amendment weakens the Bill considerably. We shall still have problems with drug dealing in places nearby, in areas adjacent to discos, nightclubs, or raves which are not under the control of the licence holder.

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I gave the example before of problems in car parks owned by local authorities and car parks which are privately owned. We know that goes on. Drug dealing goes on in those car parks because of the nearby place of entertainment that has been licensed. However, the police will have to deal with that problem. I repeat that I believe the amendment considerably weakens the Bill, but in the interests of getting the Bill on to the statute book I reluctantly acquiesce.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, perhaps I may ask a question relating to the car parks. I was under the impression that if the car park belonged to the club it would be covered. I support the amendments because the insurance for a member of staff who might be beaten up at a bus stop might be complicated. Who would be responsible for that member of staff's insurance if they were off the premises? Therefore I believe that the amendments are an advantage.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I shall be brief, because I know that others want to move on to other business. I am glad that we have managed to reach an agreement with the noble Baroness. My noble friend and I had the opportunity to discuss this issue with her, and with the Bill's sponsor from the other place. I believe that she will indicate her support for the amendments.

The noble Baroness, Lady Masham, is right. If the car park is owned or controlled by the licence holder, he can be caught by the Bill. So that deals with the problem. If it is a municipal car park, he would not be. As a matter of common sense, he should not be. Because how can the proprietor of a club protect himself from the activities of drugs dealers in a car park which he neither manages nor controls? It would be most unjust--to put it mildly--for there to be such an outcome. I very much agree with the noble Viscount: I believe that the amendments substantially improve the Bill. I and my noble friend believe that they remove many of the anxieties that we expressed on a previous occasion.

8 p.m.

Lord Monson: My Lords, I am glad to support these important amendments which were explained so well by the noble Lord, Lord Meston. They echo amendments similar to those which I backed previously and which accord with natural justice, as pointed out by the noble Viscount, Lord Ullswater. I very much hope that they will be accepted.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I recognise that for some noble Lords the concept in the Bill as it stands of "near the place" and how that might be defined by local authorities has caused some difficulty. I am also aware of the concern expressed by some noble Lords that innocent club owners will be penalised for problems that occur in locations not directly under their control.

I understand those concerns, but I believe that tonight we must remind ourselves of the nature and scale of the problem that we are seeking to address. Drugs are posing a threat to the lives and well-being of a whole generation

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of young people. It is our young people who are being targeted by the drug dealers. Like it or not, clubs and similar venues where youngsters go to enjoy themselves act as a magnet for the drug dealers. Let us not delude ourselves about the grim consequences of a club becoming a focus for drugs.

Recently, a Channel 4 programme in the "Dispatches" series set out graphically how a club in Basildon, where corrupt door staff were actively managing drug dealing on the premises, seemingly without any intervention by the management became a central feature of a drugs and crime wave in the town. That was the club where the ecstasy which killed Leah Betts was purchased.

Local authorities need to have tough powers to deal with problems when they reach such proportions. I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwin of Clee, says tonight and I understand his comments with regard to these amendments. I sympathise with the principles behind his comments, but I appreciate that I must be realistic. I accept the amendments as the way forward for this Bill. However, I feel sure that both noble Lords whose names were put to the amendments will join me in recognising that the club trade has responsibility to play its part in society's struggle against illegal drugs and the criminals who peddle them. I hope that the Home Office, in the consultations due to take place on the draft guidance on the new powers, will encourage further co-operation between the club owners, the police and the local authorities to deal with the drug problems on club premises and wherever else club staff observe such problems occurring.

Earlier, the noble Lord, Lord Meston, referred to the fact that I shall speak also to Amendment No. 14. It does no more than Amendment No. 12 in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Meston and Lord Harris of Greenwich. It clarifies in respect of the powers of the court to revoke a licence that "premises" and "place" have the same meaning in both Acts with which we are concerned; namely, the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 and the London Government Act 1963.

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