Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Eighth Report



I wonder if you would take the following points into account when deciding whether to amend the above order before it has legislative effect.

Prospective Licencees

There is no provision for how long a person can remain a prospective licensee, and no limit to the number of premises for which someone can hold a prospective licence at any one time.

Subparagraph 4 of the proposed new Section 8A provides (inter alia) that Paragraph 1 (C) of Schedule 2 to the Licensing Act 1964 shall apply to applications to become a prospective licensee. This would mean that such applications would have to be advertised in a newspaper and a notice placed in the premises, something which applicants for transfer are not obliged to do. Perhaps it should read Paragraph 1(b)?

Interim Authorisation

Perhaps this would be more naturally placed after Section 10 of the 1964 Act rather than Section 9?

The period of notice which must be given for the application is not stated. For information the local police advise us that they struggle to manage with the 7 day notice period necessary for protection orders!

Paragraph 9B (3) provides that the power to grant interim authorities can be exercised by a single Justice, and may be exercised otherwise that at licensing sessions. I am not clear whether the single Justice, or indeed any Justices considering an application outside licensing sessions should be a member or members of the relevant Licensing Committee. Perhaps this could be clarified?

Mr K R Doran
Clerk to the Licensing Justices
9 April 1997


Having considered the above draft Statutory Instrument in great detail, the Newark & Southwell Licensing Committee would make an initial observation that the present system of protection order and transfer works perfectly well and has put in place a scheme which ensures that applicants for licences are thoroughly vetted by the police initially and the Justices and Licensing Justices subsequently. Bearing in mind the abhorrence by courts and other authorities of the "revolving door licensee" syndrome it seems strange indeed that the planned deregulation proposal intends to a great extent to dilute this sifting process. It is well established that licensed properties who regularly change the licensee are more likely to cause a problem to the courts via breaches of the licensing laws and/or violence than those which have a settled licensee. The proposals give substantial opportunity to applicants (via their management companies and breweries) to insert people into licensed premises almost at will thus giving the opportunity for problems to arise which the current system does not allow.

In so far as the proposals themselves are concerned we would say the following:-

  1.    Approval of Prospective Licensees

Although the proposed approval gives the licensing justices the power to vet an individual and ensure that they are a fit and proper person, the approval then has no set duration. What safeguards exist to ensure that a person who perhaps subsequently is convicted of a relevant offence or because of other

factors ceases to be a fit and proper person, can then be prevented from electing that the transfer provisions will apply to him? It cannot be right that such approval of prospective licensees is open ended in this way.

  2.    Interim Authorities

Our main difficulty with interim authorities is the proposal that if made within 7 days of the transfer power being exercisable then there is a deemed grant for 14 days, ie no one scrutinises the fitness of the applicant. We are further concerned that the only potential objection is that of the police. There are many other agencies who have relevant and proper input into these issues who it would appear are prevented from objecting. Additionally why is there no opportunity for the Justices themselves to object - Licensing Justices have a great deal of experience not only of their local properties but also of local licensees and applicants for licences which may lead them to believe that a certain individual would not be suitable.

  3.    Power of the Clerk to Grant

The Committee has no difficulties as such in authorising the Clerk to the Justices in the way proposed. We would observe however, that it is possible unless the points made above are resolved, for an individual to assume the control of a licensed property after being granted an interim authority, without then appearing before any regulatory authority at all.

There would also appear to be no authority for the Clerk to the Justices to delegate his power to authorised members of his staff. Without this power to delegate we feel that the proposal is unworkable.

We have further concerns about the proposals as they stand generally:-

a)  What service requirements are there?

b)  What notice periods are there?

c)  Where does a single Justice grant the proposed interim authority?

d)  What proof will be required that an individual has held a licence previously?

For all of these reasons above we feel that the draft statutory instrument should not receive approval as it presently stands and would invite you to take into account our concerns as outlined above.

Mrs P B Rhodes
Chairman, Newark & Southwell Licensing Committee
28 April 1997


Your letter of 28 April to the clerks to the Deregulation Committees has been forwarded to me. I am sorry it has taken so long to reply. We have been waiting to see whether this order was likely to proceed, which I think it will now do.

The draft Order was reported on favourably by the Deregulation Committees in the last Parliament and has now completed its initial 60 day scrutiny.

Below are my comments on the points you raised in your letter.

Approval of prospective licensees

No time limit has been put on the duration of an approval because the intention is to simplify the process and to avoid introducing additional bureaucracy.

Interim authorities

It is acknowledged that there are some marginal risks involved in any period of unscrutinised authority to sell alcohol. The Working Group, which included representatives of the licensing justices, justices clerks, and the police, regarded this as acceptable. In practice there would be a strong disincentive for a company to put forward unsuitable persons, as refusal to grant an interim authority would result in the premises having to close. The Deregulation Committees of both Houses of Parliament accepted this aspect of the proposed order.

The proposal endorsed by the Working Group and contained in this draft measure is essentially for a fast-track procedure, which would fall automatically if there were a police objection.

I did not follow what you say about the justices' objecting: if the court does not think an interim authority should be confirmed, it will be able to nullify the authority by so deciding.

Power of clerk to grant

Our view is that existing provisions give sufficient power for clerks to delegate the functions allowed to them by the Order.

Other points

The service requirements and periods of notice are specified in the draft Order.

It would be for the courts to make their own administrative arrangements for the grant of an interim authority by a single justice. It would also be for the courts to decide what proof they require of an individual's previous licence.

Geoffrey Brown
Liquor, Gambling and Data Protection Unit
23 July 1997

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