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Licensing Bill: Regulated Entertainment

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Blackstone: Following further consideration and consultation with faith groups, the Government have tabled an amendment to the Licensing Bill that would exempt secular entertainment provided in places of public religious worship and the provision of entertainment facilities in such places from the need to obtain a licence under the Bill when it is enacted. Music for the purposes of or incidental to a religious service or meeting is already exempt.

The exemption reflects the current position outside Greater London. Within Greater London, the provision of secular entertainment at places of public worship has for many years been licensable. The amendment the Government have tabled will add further to the deregulatory measures already contained in the Bill.

The Government also wish to make plain their intention to exempt church halls, chapel halls or other similar buildings occupied in connection with a place of public religious worship, and village halls, parish or community halls or other similar buildings from the fees associated with the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities under the licensing regime. Use of such premises to put on entertainment will still require a licence as such provision can and does give rise to issues of nuisance, public safety and crime and disorder. However, the Bill provides for a streamlined and straightforward licensing scheme with minimum bureaucracy. In addition, the guidance to be issued by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under the Bill will make it clear that conditions attached to any licences for such premises be proportionate to the risks involved which are likely to be minimal in most cases.

Where a premises licence authorises the sale of alcohol in premises of this nature, however, the normal licence fee will be payable. This is entirely in line with existing arrangements. In addition, those wishing to use village, church and parish halls, and other community buildings will all be able to take advantage of the simple and easy notification procedure that the Bill provides for temporary events.

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The precise details of the fee structure will be the subject of consultation with interested parties.

The Government hope that religious institutions, music societies and other community groups will derive great benefit from the exemptions and that the initiative will further strengthen our drive to increase the diversity of cultural experience available to people and communities throughout England and Wales. Furthermore, the exemptions will bolster the measures already contained in the Bill that are designed to foster live music by opening up even further the opportunities for musicians to perform.


Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they think any of the British regulatory regimes may be regarded as "more burdensome than necessary" for the purpose of the General Agreement on Trade in Services.[HL1139]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): No. Member countries of the World Trade Organisation are discussing, under a mandate in the GATS, whether "any necessary disciplines" need to be developed to ensure that measures relating to qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade and are not more burdensome than necessary to ensure the quality of the service. Any such disciplines would not apply to national domestic regulatory regimes as a whole. No conclusions have yet been reached.

The Government's Principles of Good Regulation encourage UK regulators to ensure that regulations are targeted to focus on the problem concerned, with minimal side effects.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe that local government services which a local authority currently provides in partnership with a private or not-for-profit sector body would fall out with the General Agreement on Trade in Services regime; and[HL1140]

    Whether they believe that they have issued procurement best practice guidelines to local authorities that have clarified the implications of Article 1.3 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services; and, if so, what wording they used.[HL1141]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government do believe that such services would fall outside the scope of the GATS. The service would still be one supplied by the local authority. Any decision to contract out to the private sector would need to be consistent with European Union public procurement rules and those of the World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement. There are as yet no GATS rules on public procurement. The

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Government are in touch with the Local Government Association about the implications of the GATS for local government services.


Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the need for hydrogen as an energy source is likely to develop considerably over the next decade; and what action they are taking to ensure that adequate supplies are available.[HL1223]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The energy White Paper will be looking at the future pattern of energy demand and, among other things, the role that hydrogen could play in meeting future energy needs.

British Energy plc

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the statement on British Energy on 28 November 2002 (HC Deb, col. 488), what payments Mr Robin Jeffrey, the former chairman, has received as a director since 28 November 2002; and when they expect the terms of any compensation package to be settled and Mr Jeffrey to resign from British Energy.[HL1303]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: This is a matter for the company.

Wind and Nuclear Power

Lord Mackie of Benshie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the cost of a unit of electricity produced by wind power compares with a unit produced by a nuclear power station.[HL1373]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The costs of generating electricity are a commercial matter for generators. Costs can be estimated on a variety of bases and will vary from plant to plant. For example, figures can include all cost items, including depreciation and return on capital, or can refer only to the additional costs associated with continued operation.

Estimates of generation costs from different types of plant are contained in the PIU Energy Review and a report by an inter-departmental analysts group, both of which were published in February 2002.

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The PIU estimated the costs of new nuclear build and onshore and offshore wind generation as follows.

Estimated generation cost (p/kWh)
Onshore wind1.5-2.5
Offshore wind2-3

Note: Estimates for onshore and offshore wind are for developments in 2020 and exclude additional costs occurring as a result of their intermittent nature.

Employment Act 2002 Draft Regulations

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to provide the drafts of regulations to be proposed under Parts 2 and 3 of the Employment Act 2002.[HL1375]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: We expect to carry out parallel consultations on draft regulations under Parts 2 and 3 of this Act over the summer, with a view to placing them before Parliament in the autumn, to come into effect in April 2004.

National Union of Students: Role in White Paper on Future of Higher Education

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the arrangement with the National Union of Students described in paragraph 4.5 of their White Paper The Future of Higher Education was submitted to competitive tender; and whether the information used to compile the proposed guide will be made available to the new guide's commercial competitors Virgin and Push.[HL1239]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The department will consider with the National Union of Students the nature of the proposed guide and its role in its development. No decisions have been made with regard to contracting for the work.

Prisoners: Housing Benefit

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why housing benefit is not available to those serving prison sentences of more than 13 weeks; and whether they will make it available, at least where the offender has dependants aged under 18 or is of pensionable age; and[HL1201]

    Whether they will enable the spouse or partner of a convicted and imprisoned person to claim housing benefit from the date of the conviction.[HL1202]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): In general, housing benefit is only payable to people who are occupying the home for which housing costs are payable. However, benefit can continue to be paid during periods of temporary absence from home.

The existing housing benefit rules allow benefit to continue to be paid to convicted prisoners for up to 13 weeks if their absence from home, including time already spent on remand, is not expected to exceed 13 weeks. This recognises public concern that prisoners should not be treated more generously than other groups and the need to focus limited resources where they are most needed. People held in custody while on remand are entitled to receive housing benefit for up to 52 weeks.

Partners of prisoners serving a sentence longer than 13 weeks can already claim housing benefit in their own right, subject to the usual conditions of entitlement.

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