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The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 369, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 415 and 416. It will be nice to reach the 400s. Clause 109, as drafted, provides a definition of "personal licences". It includes only licences permitting an individual to sell alcohol by retail or to supply alcohol by, or on behalf of, a club. These are two of the activities defined as "licensable activities" under Clauses 1(1)(a) and 1(1)(b) of the Bill. However, paragraph (c) of Clause 1(1) also provides for,
The definition of "personal licences" under Clause 109 should be extended to include persons providing regulated entertainment. The provision of regulated entertainment is a licensable activity and therefore should be regulated under the provisions relating to personal licences.
The current definition of a "personal licence" would not provide for a licence to be required by a person providing discos for young teenagers where no alcohol is supplied. There would therefore be no effective regulation of the people supplying such services, although they could conceivably hold convictions for offences such as indecent assault.
The definition of "regulated entertainment" at paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 contains various examples of other activities which would not necessarily involve the sale of alcohol on the premises and which may be attended by children and young people who are possibly unaccompanied.
Requiring personal licences only for the sale of alcohol implies that the licensing objectives are less important when alcohol is not sold. Yet the risk of crime, disorder, safety and the protection of children is equally important in the provision of entertainment where no alcohol is sold. The amendments to Clause 133 are consequential on the amendment to Clause 109. I beg to move.
Lord Davies of Oldham: As the noble Baroness has indicated, the amendments seek to extend the personal licence provisions in the Bill. The Bill provides that individuals who supply alcohol or are responsible for the supply of alcohol must have a personal licence. The amendments take a step towards requiring individuals who provide public entertainment or late-night refreshment to have a personal licence.
In the Government's view such a step would involve creating a substantial new burden on business which is quite unnecessary. The personal licence arrangements set out in the Bill are based on the clear proposition that particular care is needed to ensure that individuals who supply alcohol are fit and proper to do so. The personal licence provides that assurance.
Experience has taught us that there are risks associated with the commercial supply of alcohol drunkenness, disorder, exploitation and excesswhich it is prudent to control by ensuring that those undertaking the supply are honest and competent. No human activity is free from risk, but in our view the risks associated with the provision of public entertainment or late-night refreshment without alcohol are not so great that a system of personal vetting is needed. The difference reflects the difference in the nature of what is provided. Entertainment or late-night refreshment can be associated with disorder, nuisance or other problems if not properly conducted or controlled, but the activities themselves are not problematic.
To give the local authority a discretion to waive such a requirement, as I recognise that Amendment No. 370 envisages, is no solution. There is no reasonable basis for exercising it and there would be groundless inconsistency across the nation if such an amendment were accepted. The effect would be a needless distortion of competition across the land. I recognise the intentions behind the amendment but I do not believe that people involved in those other activities that are licensable under the Bill are involved in the same kind of activities as those who sell or provide alcohol. That is why I ask the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Redesdale: Before the noble Lord sits down, I apologise for not being in my place at the beginning of the debate on this amendment. He has raised the point about a personal licence for a folk song recital and I have been waiting for a relevant amendment on which to raise an issue.
While we have been dealing with the rights of people to carry on entertainment, such as folk singers' performances and the like, there has been correspondence between the Minister in another place, Dr Kim Howells, and the Human Rights Joint Committee. Recently Dr Howells replied to the Joint Committee. In considering how to take forward future amendments to the Bill, it would help noble Lords greatly if a copy of that reply could be placed in the Library. I understand that the reply sent to the Joint Committee has not been made publicly available. If it were placed in the Library that would help considerably.
Lord Davies of Oldham: I was shuddering in my seat as the noble Lord rose to his feet. I thought he was bringing in a dimension for which I was singularly ill-briefed to cope as an addition to the amendment. But I understand that he has taken the opportunity of asking for additional and proper information. I shall take steps to see that that is done.
Baroness Buscombe: In response to the Minister, first, I support the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. In recent days, we have been lobbied at some length regarding that matter. It is clear that there is a serious issue regarding human rights that we shall all have to consider with care between now and on Report.
With regard to Amendments Nos. 369, 415 and 416, I am, as the Minister knows, concerned about the possibility of unaccompanied children being allowed to enter all kinds of premises without restriction. That is a possibility. I shall not say that it will happen because I am sure that in many circumstances the owners, managers or directors of various organisations in charge of these various licensed
I shall consider the issue with much care between now and Report. I hope that the Minister will as well. I do not understand why we must have the possibility of unrestricted and unaccompanied access by children of any age to all those licensed premises included in the Bill, whether lap-dancing clubs or a folksong recital. The Bill encompasses a huge breadth of different types of premises. The Government should consider with care the possibilities to which this could lead.
In dealing with a previous amendment, the Minister referred to the possibility of grooming by paedophiles. We appreciate that the Government have been considering that matter and the possibility of legislation in relation to paedophiles grooming children on the Internet. Incidentally, we asked for such legislation three years ago in relation to the Criminal Justice and Police Act. Why are the Government giving these opportunities to paedophiles and others in the Bill? I cannot understand that. It is an issue that adds a considerable burden to the entertainment industry, which it could well do without.
The noble Lord said: The purpose of the amendment is almost self-explanatory. It allows a personal licence holder to apply to the authority where he is resident. The issue refers to an earlier debate we had at some length about personal licence holders and which authority they should register with.
We have a problem with the fact that someone in Newcastle can apply for a personal licence, be granted it for his first pub, and then perhaps move to London, but he would still have to deal with the licensing authorities in Newcastle. We have discussed the idea of a central register that could deal with the entirety of the subject. The Government have shown that they are unwilling to accede to that, so we advance on the assumption that it would be good for personal licence holders to be able to deal with the local authority in which they are based. That would make the paper trail a good deal less burdensome, especially if licensees had been managers of several different venues since they first received the licence. That would make the system more streamlined and acceptable.
I was discussing the Bill with members of the industry, and they said if they found that one local authority was far more efficient at dealing with personal licences, managers might move people to an area for a couple of weeks so that they could say that that was their local area and receive their original personal licence there. A central office of a beer group could then deal with one office and with people whom it knew. We might realistically end up with one authority that had several pub company headquarters located in its area dealing with a disproportionate number of personal licence holders, just because it would be more convenient for the pub companies to deal with one authority.
It is a logical and simple step to provide that personal licence holders should be able to deal with their local authoritynot a local authority based up to 400 miles away. I hope that the Minister will accept the amendment. I beg to move.
Baroness Buscombe: In this group, I shall speak to the Question whether Clause 110 stand part of the Bill and Amendments Nos. 388, 396, 402, 403 and 405. On the second day of Committee, I broached the topic of personal licences when I discussed whether there should be some form of central authority to handle them. I do not intend to press that point again, but I shall briefly reiterate one issue that has prompted me to oppose the Question that Clause 110 stand part of the Bill and to table the amendments.
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