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Lord Bridges: I listened with attention to what the noble Baroness said. I must say that I am both surprised and disappointed by her response. It seems to me that we are dealing with a very detailed Bill, which contains provisions regarding everything under the sun. I am attempting to make life simpler for the citizen, while at the same time seeking to avoid unnecessary litigation or appeals as regards the licensing authority. I very much hope that the noble Baroness will reconsider the arguments. I may have to retable the amendment at the next stage if she is unable to give me the reassurance I seek. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: This is a very straightforward amendment. Schedule 2 deals with the provision of late night refreshments and includes the definition of "late night refreshment". The late night refreshment licensing regime will operate between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., thus reflecting the existing night cafe licensing regime.
This amendment is intended to bring into the scope of the licensing regime premises open between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m., thus extending the scope of the regime to cover the whole of the night-time period when it is generally accepted that the majority of people sleep. I beg to move.
Lord Williamson of Horton: It seems a little strange to say it at this stage, but I think that we are at a watershed in the Bill. We have left the realm of the potential imposition of licensing on the activities of Coco the Clown, the martial arts, hypnotism and noisy renderings of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", all covered by Schedule 1, and moved on to something much more simpleeating and drinkingwhich is covered in Schedule 2. That is why I am intervening now. I should like to declare an interest which applies now and for the remaining 436 amendments to which we shall come. I am a non-executive director of Whitbread plc, an extremely large hotel company and a very large owner and operator of restaurants and sports clubs. I declare that interest now as we move from entertainment more directly into the operation of hotels and restaurants.
Rather remarkably, I can support the Government on the text of the provision. I know that the Minister will be extremely pleased by that. I have been in the Committee all day, since just after 11 a.m., and I think that this is the first time that a noble Lord has stood up and supported the Government on any aspect of the Bill. I therefore know that she will be very encouraged by my view that the Government's proposal in this amendment, on going to 5 a.m., is quite reasonable.
Baroness Hanham: I apologise for not being able to participate in the Committee's earlier proceedings, but I hope to be able to take part in the later proceedings. I declare my interest now and hope that it will apply for the duration of our debates in Committee. I am a member of a local authority, and local authorities will certainly be affected by later provisions in the Bill.
I support the amendment. The provision will not matter very much in small villages, but it will matter very much in big urban areas with accumulations of premises operating late at night. Such accumulations could cause a disturbance. It may seem odd to say that those two hours can make a difference, but I think that they probably do. Control of premises open at that time, particularly as regards people entering and leaving them quietly, is probably important, particularly in urban areas.
Baroness Blackstone: I begin by declaring my great gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, not only for supporting the Government on this amendment, but for so patiently sitting through the debate. I think that he has it right. Paragraph 1 of
Amendment No. 31 would extend the coverage to all premises providing late night refreshment until 7 a.m. I think that the Committee should be very careful before accepting this proposition. Our main aim is to minimise the impact of disorder and disturbance on local residents late at night. The main cause is people who have been drinking alcohol, turning up at takeaways and night cafes on their way home and making a terrific din. If we extended the regime to the early morning, after which I believe that most of those people will have gone home and tucked themselves up in bed, we would catch all kinds of early morning cafes that provide breakfast for workers.
Members of this House may not often get up at five in the morningwe tend to get up later and work laterbut many people do. I do not believe that there is a problem with regard to those premises. Therefore, it would not be right to bring them within the ambit of the Bill. I do not believe that local authorities would want that and nor would that part of the industry that provides for cafes that open in the early morning. In the light of what I have said, I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Luke, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Avebury: The evil that the noble Baroness says that we seek to address is indeed that of some establishments catering specifically for people coming out of pubs and clubs who do not want to go home until they have eaten a burger or fries.
Last Saturday I went to central London to have a look at the late night economy. I was interested to learn from the police, particularly those in the Charing Cross division, that up until fairly recentlyI am not sure when the change was madethey experienced enormous problems with people coming out of pubs and clubs, particularly those between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square where several thousand people are being entertained at any one time, going into burger joints in that neighbourhood and causing an enormous amount of nuisance and litter which the council then had to clean up. Some of us heard about that when Councillor Simon Milton attended a meeting here sponsored by the noble Baroness. Westminster Council has to employ people who are on duty at three and four o'clock in the morningI saw that for myselfto clean up the mess left by these mostly young people who indulge in that form of entertainment.
However, the police have somehow managed to persuade the late night eating establishments to close at an earlier hour so that when people leave clubsparticularly when they do so between three and four
The Bill will allow drinking establishments to open much longer hours. People leaving such establishments may well want to visit the kind of completely unobjectionable refreshment establishments that cater for early morning workers who want a cup of tea and so on. If the result of allowing people to drink all nightwhich is what the Government's policy appears to beis that at five, six or seven o'clock in the morning they may want to eat a burger, and we do not include any measures in the Bill to deal with that situation, we might regret that.
I have some sympathy with the amendment. Will there be a power for the police, or the local authority as the case may be, to ensure that wherever late night licences are granted to allow people to drink, for example, until four, five or six in the morning, eating establishments will not continue to serve after that time as it is the juxtaposition of drinking and eating that causes problems? Could such a situation be avoided by including a provision in the Bill, whether it be the amendment we are discussing or some other measure? I hope that the noble Baroness will ascertain what can be done.
Baroness Blackstone: I am not sure that the amendment would solve that problem. If large numbers of people wish to remain at drinking establishments all through the night, they will do so irrespective of whether we extend the schedule to cover the provision of late night refreshment up until seven in the morning. If we did so, we would catch many perfectly innocent cafes that provide breakfast for people who start work early in the morning. The noble Lord needs to raise his concerns about the general issue of late night drinking when we reach that part of the Bill.
Lord Luke: This has been an interesting little debate. In view of the fact that we shall debate later some of the items referred to, notably by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.