Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Ninth Report

Memorandum by the National United Temperance Council

The members of this Council are grateful that the Home Office consulted them about the proposed changes to the Law on Sunday Observance relating to music and dancing, and to the Law on Liquor Licensing on Sundays.

They have given careful consideration to the proposals and make the following comments for report to the Deregulation and Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committees.

Paragraph 4: It is envisaged that dances and discotheques professionally organised with payment for admission would attract the same kind of large assemblies of older teenagers and young adults, as at present attend such functions on Friday and Saturday nights. It is well known that the dispersal of such groups of people causes rowdiness in City and Town Centres, and that violence, crime and motor accidents are, not infrequently, the result.

It is bad enough for these conditions to exist in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday when many citizens are not facing a working day, but for them to be extended to Monday mornings when the vast majority of people are wanting to rest prior to a day at work, at college, or at school is unwarranted and unnecessary.

The disadvantages would appear to outweigh any real need, that such extra facilities for the entertainment industry should be provided.

Consequently we would oppose the amendment to the Sunday Observance Act 1780 now proposed.

Paragraph 5: When to these arguments there is added the supply of alcohol on the premises where the dance or discotheque is being held the problems are likely to be greatly increased. Police Records will show that road accidents and street crimes follow such events and are more prevalent when people involved are under the influence of strong drink.

That such drink should become available until 12.30 am on Mondays, will do nothing to limit or reduce these occurrences and put further strain on our already over-stretched emergency services. Consequently we would oppose the amending of the Licensing Act of 1964 as proposed in this paragraph.

Paragraphs 6 and 7: The excuse for extending the Sunday licensing hours to places where dances and discotheques are held is that they can now operate on Sundays, which was previously prohibited by the Sunday Observance Act of 1780. In the case of Registered Clubs and Casinos and Licenses Restaurants, however there is no proposed change in their businesses, so there seems to be no valid reason why any alteration should be made to their current licensing hours.

In consequence we would want any amendment to the Licensing Act of 1964 as it affects such premises to be resisted.

Paragraph 8: The fact that on previous occasions special consideration has been given to the possibility of noise and nuisance when changes have been made to the Sunday Observance Act and the Licensing Acts is commendable. Nevertheless it has to be said that there is not much evidence of item (a) having been very effective.

"The special nature of Sunday", is no longer discernible in the culture of the United Kingdom. The enticement of high wages for teenagers to work as part time shop employees on Sundays has removed many who would otherwise have been in Church and at Bible-class from these activities. This has contributed to the lack of Christian teaching and the consequent land-slide in teenage morals."

It would be better if the Government were to try and re-establish the "Special nature of Sunday", rather than appealing to it to influence the now proposed legislation.

It is noted that special reference is made to residents who may be disturbed by any rowdyism arising from the amendments to the two Acts of Parliament under consideration. This is, of course, of major importance, but it should be remembered that the possible nuisance cannot be judged by such people alone. There are other people with legitimate reason to be in Town and City Centres late on Sunday nights or early on Monday mornings, and for them to be molested or accosted is also an unpleasant experience. Further, travellers on all-night transport do not find it conducive to be on the same vehicles as others who are inebriated, but because they are not resident in the locality of the offending premises their opinions are never sought. It is for citizens such as these, that this Council makes opposition.

Reverend Dr Ronald W Frost OBE, BD,
National Chairman

14 September 1999

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