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Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for his full response. He will not be surprised to hear that I am not entirely satisfied. Members on all sides of the Committee have good reason to believe that the function of the designated premises supervisor is unclear. I urge the Minister and his officials to consider between now and Report stage my points about the functions of the designated premises supervisor. We understand what he says about policing and the need to ensure proper management of all licensed premises, but if for smaller owner-run pubs it is all right for the personal licence holder to be the designated premises supervisor, why is it not all right for larger organisations?
We do not understand the need for the additional layer, not least for the reason I suggested, that there appears to be no particular function that such a supervisor could or should carry out over and above that
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: A designated premises supervisor is a personal licence holder. There may be a number of personal licence holders working at the premises. The designation tells the police who is in charge; that is all. There is no additional layer of bureaucracy.
Baroness Buscombe: I am not satisfied that it is necessary to have a specific separate person as a designated premises supervisor. Will the Minister and his officials consider what Members of the Committee
The noble Lord said: Perhaps I may briefly finger my scalpel on this issue. Having heard the Minister I went through a variety of emotions. He began by describing the role as if it were an area manager covering a number of pubs. It became clear as he was questioned that the police will ensure that there is one person who is a designated premises supervisor and they will not permit him to be designated for more than one premises. It will be permissible for him to have more than one premises but it will not be practical because the police will object.
The Minister had the attractive idea of having the name above the pub door, for which I have a great deal of sympathy. But we have in essence two boxes; the premises licence and the personal licence. The Minister is putting an arch between the two, which is the present licensing system; namely, having above the door of the pub the name of the designated premises supervisor, as we do at present. We have taken the present licensing system and added two more boxes to it. I beg to move.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The scalpel kills as surely as the cleaver if it is wielded inexpertly. I am not saying for a moment that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, is inexpert; he is clearly extremely expert. If the designated premises supervisor is not identified in the original premises licence or any premises licence as subsequently amended at the time when the application is made, which is when full consideration is given to the circumstances of the licence, there is no opportunity to include what is entirely relevant to local people, the police, the licensing authorityeveryone concerned with the licensing objectives of public protection, health and safety, public nuisance and so on: who is going to be in charge. Surely this is precisely the time at which we should name the person who is going to be in charge.
The noble Lord said: I give an undertaking that I shall not mention scalpels or any form of cutlery or silverware. This amendment does not remove the designated supervisor, but really deals with some of the arguments associated with the clause.
There are two independent arguments here. One is concerned with the system built up around the designated premises supervisor and the other with the powers of the police to object to the individual named as the designated premises supervisor. They are not dependent on each other, but are separate aspects of the Bill.
The amendments as proposed by the industry to the procedures and obligations surrounding the designated premises supervisors are supported by the British Beer & Pubs Association, the British Hospitality Association, the Restaurant Association, the Association of Multiple Retailers, Business in Sport and Leisure and the British Retail Consortium. Members of the Committee will be aware that this represents a very large and diverse part of the leisure and hospitality market. Those organisations have discussed the issues with the Local Government Association which agrees that the procedures are unnecessary. The police have expressed their concern that the personal licence holder is known to the premises licence holder. This is covered by the requirement to obtain the consent of the premises licence holder.
The industry has discussed the issues at length with the Government and is very disappointed that the arguments they have made have not received any robust response from them. The industry itself proposed the concept of split licensing and, in its original proposals long before the White Paper, recognised that the personal licence holder would need to be known to the authorities and that this information would need to be registered. It therefore has no quarrel with the need to identify and register the premises supervisor.
However, it does not support the linkage to the premises licence holder through the requirement to regard the change of licensee as a variation of the premises licence and the requirement to write the name of the designated premises supervisor in the premises licence.
The premises licence should stand alone as it is concerned with the suitability of any particular premises to provide alcohol and/or public entertainment at the time and under the conditions granted for it. This must stand irrespective of the personal licensee who has the duty and the responsibility to uphold the terms of the licence and the law in general.
The premises licence must be altered every time there is a change of manager. That can happen very frequently in the larger businesses where managers are constantly moving for career development or other reasons.
The process described in the Bill is anything but simple. At this point I say that I believe that the light touch to which the noble Lord alluded perhaps slightly understates the complexity of the situation. In discussions with the DCMS the industry has suggested that the name of the licensee be displayed at the premises. That obviates the need for the name to be included on the premises licence and can be very easily changed on the arrival of a new designated premises supervisor. In his earlier and very detailed response, I believe that the Minister said that he personally thought that that is an excellent idea. I very much hope that he will be taking it up with the officials at DCMS.
The Bill also requires the name of the designated premises supervisor to appear on the operating schedule. That is completely unnecessary as the operating schedule is concerned exclusively with the premises. That would have to be changed and re-submitted every time a manager changed.
The requirement also to name the premises supervisor in applying for a new licence under the transitional arrangements poses problems as it will be around six months before the licence is confirmed. The designated premises supervisor might well have moved on by then. What purpose does it serve to have this name? Surely, the premises licence is about the premises, not about who happens to be running them at the time.
The industry merely wishes to keep the process simple. It recognises the burden that would fall on local government through the paper chase that would result from the attachment of the individual name to the premises licence. Simple notification, a duty laid strictly on the business, is the simple and effective way to achieve everyone's goal.
I turn to the police powers to object to the transfer of a personal licence holder. Nothing in the arguments about the simplification of the system of notification of the designated premises supervisor precludes the police objecting on receiving such notification. But should the police have these powers? Do they need them? Do they really provide any safeguard? Are these powers proportionate to the harm envisaged? It is a question of whether the uncertainty introduced by
Do minor traffic offences result in a motorist being prevented from driving on certain roads? Surely, a minor infringement is just that. If the courts have decided a suitable punishment, should the licensee be in double jeopardy in that he is prevented from pursuing his or her chosen career? Is it not arguable that such a licensee, having had such a warning, might even be a more diligent licensee as a result?
Surely, premises with a history should be dealt with. One of the weaknesses of the current system is that such premises are not dealt with. The problem of the particular business should be dealt with and closed if necessary. The police are being given the power to decide who runs a "dodgy business".
These provisions re-introduce the "fit and proper" test by the back door, which is something which the White Paper set out manifestly not to do. The police also seem to want to vet potential licensees on the basis that they might have criminal connections. If the licensee is a criminal then he or she must be brought to trial for such crimes. To seek to prevent them running a pub or a supermarket does not really make sense. We want the police to concentrate on criminality.
How indeed would the licensing authority, whether or not such a person is identified by the police, be prevented from operating or managing a particular pub, club or supermarket since by definition there is no hard evidence on what basis such a decision could be made?
I apologise for the length of the explanation of these amendments, but this is a complicated area. I hope that the Government can give some indication of why they find the amendment unacceptable. We are not trying to remove the designated premises supervisor. I look forward to the Government's reply. I beg to move.
Lord Avebury: In an earlier amendment the noble Lord said that powers were necessary because a designated premises licence holder in one place might not be suitable for another. He quoted as an instance the fact that a person had a conviction for selling alcohol to under-aged minors or that he had a conviction relating to drugs; and that the premises to which he was being assigned, presumably by the employer, had a history of one or other of such activities taking place.
If the only reason for the system is to allow the police to confirm the transfer of a person from one licensed premises to another, why not say so on the face of the Bill? Cannot employers be given total discretion to move personnel from one supermarket or pub to another as they see fit in exercising their management powersso long as the employee does not have any criminal convictions? If the only reason for placing restrictions on the appointment of a person to a particular premises is that a conviction awarded by a court bears some relationship to the previous history of the premises concerned, that should be dealt with as a special case.
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