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Baroness Buscombe: This has been a worthwhile debate because clearly we need to understand a little better the Government's thinking behind the requirement to keep a register. There is definitely considerable agreement in terms of the principle of keeping a register which can be applied as uniformly as possible across the country. That makes sense. In that case, if the Government are clear that we want to avoid inconsistency, I question why the Bill is not a little more straightforward. Under Clause 8(2) why should not the Bill say,

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Under Clause 8(6) we have suggested an amendment that,

    "The Secretary of State shall arrange for the duties conferred on licensing authorities".

The Government are clearly not keen to be seen to be too forceful on the face of the Bill as regards how the register should be kept. I wonder whether that is because they want to avoid the question of costs. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, for pointing out the question of costs because it is clearly something that is terrifying the industry. The Government have said that the local authorities will not incur additional costs. The industry itself is very much concerned about the costs that will fall on it in setting up these systems and administering them.

I read the Government's response as being, "We are not quite sure that we want a national system up front because we would have to pay for it. If we start with a system from the local authorities and build upwards, that way we avoid the cost of setting it up, but we can, if we feel like it, and when we like, prescribe how it should be administered and what form it should take". If the Minister is clear as to how this matter should be developed, the Government should be a little more up front, a little clearer in the Bill, as to what is expected. I believe that we are going to have some pretty robust debates in relation to the fees before the Committee stage is complete because it is very hard to believe that it will not add enormous cost for whoever has to pick up the tab. At the moment it appears that it will be the industry. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 125 to 128 not moved.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Proceedings of licensing committee]:

[Amendments Nos. 129 and 130 not moved.]

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Sub-delegation of functions by licensing committee etc.]:

[Amendments Nos. 131 and 132 not moved.]

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [The relevant licensing authority]:

[Amendment No. 133 not moved.]

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Authorised persons, interested parties and responsible authorities]:

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville moved Amendment No. 134:

    Page 8, line 3, at the end insert—

"( ) any other person who, in pursuance of arrangements made with the licensing authority, is so authorised, and any employee of such person,"

The noble Lord said: In this instance, Amendments Nos. 134, 137, 281 and 284 pick up the same subject, but in relation to clubs as against licences for premises. The amendment is designed to enable the employees of

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contractors, or other third parties, to exercise the functions of an authorised person, for instance, rights of entry. In the absence of such an amendment it would not be lawful for a local authority to delegate such functions to a third party.

This part of the Bill is unnecessarily restrictive at present because it prevents local authorities from contracting out functions, which many seek to do. I believe that it is a commonplace throughout this House that increasingly over the past 25 years local authorities have contracted out functions. I adverted on a previous occasion to the fact that the department sponsoring the Bill did not seem wholly familiar with some of the changes that have occurred in local government in the course of the past 10 years. The Bill as drafted would prevent any such contracting out and the amendments are intended to address that issue.

4 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: Clause 13 sets out those who are authorised persons, interested parties and responsible authorities in relation to premises licences for the purpose of the Bill. Clause 68 makes similar provision in respect of club premises certificates. The categories of authorised persons are identical. Authorised persons are given certain powers under the Bill for inspection purposes. For instance, Clauses 58 and 94 provide that authorised persons may enter a premises to inspect it when an application for a premises licence has been received in respect of those premises. Clause 174 provides authorised persons with the authority to enter a premises with a view to seeing whether a licensable activity is being carried on and in accordance with an authorisation.

Authorised persons do not, however, have exactly the same powers in respect of licensed premises operating under club premises certificates as those operating under premises licences. The power that I have just described, for instance, does not apply when a premises is used under the authority of a club premises certificate only.

The amendment would extend the persons defined as authorised persons to include any other person authorised by the licensing authority and their employees. The powers of inspection and entry in the Bill, which are necessary to support and monitor compliance with its provisions to ensure that we have a fully effective and efficient licensing system, are by their very nature intrusive. Those powers are essential, though, for the success of the system but we must make sure that only those who are needed to supervise and inspect the system—that is, professional experts—have those important powers along with the police.

The right of entry provided by Clause 174, for instance, should only properly be exercised by local authority officers who have been authorised or by the police. It would not be appropriate to allow licensing authorities to subcontract third parties to exercise powers of that nature. Although I accept the noble Lord's remarks about the development of subcontracting in many other areas, I am advised that local authorities do not wish to subcontract in this area.

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A licensee whose premises might also be his home would be reasonably comfortable about letting a local authority officer who had a recognised role inspect the premises but the licensee might not feel the same about someone working for a private company operating under contract. Similarly, I would not want to see a licensing authority engaging a private company and providing it with the power to enter premises to see whether the appropriate safeguards were in place for the activities being carried out there.

I do not believe that the amendments are appropriate and I hope very much that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw them.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I am grateful to the Minister for the spirit of her reply and the fullness of the detail she set out. I shall read her remarks carefully before we return to these matters on Report. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount Falkland moved Amendment No. 135:

    Page 8, line 10, leave out "statutory functions" and insert "legal powers"

The noble Viscount said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 153. Clause 13 refers to the statutory functions or duties of local authorities but clearly they have many other duties and functions that arise under common law or the European Convention on Human Rights—such as control of nuisance. Local authorities also have powers that become duties where it falls upon them to take action in respect of licensed activities—using powers conferred on them from whatever source.

The amendment seeks to increase the accuracy of the reality of the situation by using the words "legal powers", which include all those duties, rather than "statutory functions". Amendment No. 153 follows on. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: The noble Viscount may be reading more into Clause 13(2)(d) than is there. That subsection simply describes an environmental health officer—nothing more. By including that officer in the definition, such officers are conferred with the powers of an authorised person for the purposes of the Bill.

Substituting "legal powers" for "statutory functions" would not alter that and might be confusing by departing from an accepted definition of that official. The same point applies in respect of Clause 68. Local authorities and their officers may only exercise the functions that have been conferred upon them. Against that background, I hope that the noble Viscount will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Viscount Falkland: I thank the noble Baroness for addressing the points that I raised. I understood exactly her remarks but I am not sure that I understand many of the implications. I shall not go further today but I wish to consider the Minister's reply against the

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advice that I have received and perhaps return to the matter at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Viscount Falkland moved Amendment No. 136:

    Page 8, line 12, at end insert ", the prevention of crime and disorder, ensuring the safety of the public and protecting children from harm"

The noble Viscount said: The clause refers only to the statutory function to control the risk of pollution. I referred in my previous amendment to the prevention of nuisance as being one of the licensing objectives. Local authorities have both statutory and non-statutory duties with respect to the other licensing objectives. It is important that they are able to perform those functions with respect to their licensing duties. I beg to move.

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