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Lord Avebury: My Lords, I am disappointed. To start at the end of the noble Lord's speech, I did refer, in allusion, to the responsible officers mentioned in Clause 106, together with the responsible persons, who are dealt with elsewhere in the Bill. I did so only to say that it was useful to have one power to appoint those persons for the different functions that they have to exercise in Clause 106, as for those covered earlier in the Bill. It seems to me normal that local authorities should have the power to appoint a person who does not have a function different from that of the officer who is to deal with the duties exercisable under Clause 106.
The noble Lord believes that the term "vicinity" is more flexible than the term "neighbourhood". He says that a person who is a few streets away may still be able to make his case and have it heard. But the point about that is that he will not be sure of it. The term "vicinity" introduces an uncertainty which I am afraid may lead us into trouble. Many people who are several streets away from a premises may wish to exercise their right to object, and they will not know whether they have the right to a hearing until someone interprets the term "vicinity". They will be in the position to which the noble Baroness referred earlier of people being aggrieved because they find that they do not come within the scope of the Bill when they feel that there is every reason for their representations to be heard.
Therefore, I shall certainly consider what the noble Lord said about the preference for the term "vicinity". However, as I see it, because the term "neighbourhood" has a statutory ancestry and can be easily interpreted by the courts, people would know more readily where they stood in terms of their right to make objections.
With regard to the noble Lord's first point concerning the separate treatment of clubs and licensed premises, nothing in my amendments would affect that. I have not sought to change any of the provisions in Part 4; I have sought only to ensure that the same powers of the local authority apply to clubs as to licensed premises and that the authorised persons are defined in the same way in relation to both sets of conditions.
I believe that my amendments would greatly simplify the scheme, and they would have the effect, which I have already mentioned, of ensuring that the licensing objectives are fully incorporated into the roles of the authorised persons. However, I am sure that I shall not convince the noble Lord at this stage. Therefore, I shall take away what he said and consider whether or not, in the light of the previous amendment agreed to by the House, it may be advantageous to bring back the matter at Third Reading. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 56, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 57, 58, 71, 73, 74, 79, 95, 104 to 113, 119, 121, 237, 241, 266, 269 and 274 to 279. I shall be brief.
First, I thank the Minister for kindly affording us a meeting in relation to this and other subjects with regard to the Bill. The issue of the designated premises supervisor is very important. We had a full discussion with the Minister and the Secretary of State. However, I am sorry to say that we were obviously still not satisfied and have therefore brought forward this large group of amendments.
In Committee, I pointed out that the designated premises supervisor had no functions or duties in the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, said that the designated premises supervisor would normally be the person responsible for day-to-day management of the premises. That may or may not happen in practice but there is nothing to stop a premises licence holder from appointing someone who has nothing to do with the premises as the designated premises supervisor, provided that that person has a personal licence. Indeed, it would be open to a chain of pubs to appoint a director of the main board as the designated premises supervisor of 200 pubs, and he could not possibly have time to take any part in the
However, under the procedure in the Bill, a vast bureaucracy is being created, built around the designated premises supervisor. A premises licence must always specify the designated premises supervisor and, if there is a change in the identity of the designated premises supervisor, an application must be made to the licensing authority for a variation of the premises licence to specify another individual as the designated premises supervisor.
That will involve expense not only by the holder of the premises licence, who must prepare the relevant application and pay the fee, but also by the licensing authority, which must consider the application and then give notice to the chief officer of police for the relevant area of the application in order to give that officer the opportunity to object to a variation of the premises licence so as to prevent the appointment of a new premises supervisor. The chief officer of police will incur some expense as well. This vast bureaucracy is being created solely for the purposes of generating hot air about someone who has no functions and no duties in the Bill.
We also question why the chief officer of police for the relevant area should have a specific right to object when there is a change of premises supervisor. What possible grounds could he rely on in support of his objection when the designated premises supervisor has no functions or duties? I appreciate that if a drug dealer is appointed as the designated premises supervisor of a pub well known for peddling drugs, the chief officer of police may well want to object, but he already has that power under Clause 50.
Under that clause a responsible authority, which includes the chief officer of police, can apply for a review of the premises licence. On such a review the licensing authority has power under Clause 51(4) to remove the designated premises supervisor. The chief officer of police already has power under this clause to object to the designated premises supervisor. I cannot see why he should have this further power and the right to be notified whenever there is a change in the identity of the designated premises supervisor.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, we debated this matter at length in Committee and we have talked about it sinceclearly to inadequate effect. There are different approaches that involve either the removal of the concept completely or the removal of the requirement to include and therefore to vary details in the licence itself, or which reduce the police powers to intervene. The different amendments in the group take
For example, it is proposed that the premises licence holder would be required to notify only the licensing authority of the change, but not the police. The licence, or a part of it, would not be sent for amendment. The police would have no entitlement to object to the new premises supervisor in any circumstances.
The Government have made their position clear on the issue. The approaches mentioned in this group of amendments weaken the provisions in the Bill which are intended to promote the prevention of crime and disorder. They are done so at the request of and on agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers. The designated premises supervisor is an important safeguard, and one that will be vital for the police and other enforcement agencies. It is not burdensome; it is not huge bureaucracy. The process involves a straightforward and transparent notification.
The alternative approach avoids the specification of the new premises supervisor in the premises licence itself. In doing so, the balance we seek between reduced bureaucracy and effective public protection slips towards the vested interests of the retail, hospitality and leisure businesses.
Under the Bill, the transfer into new premises of a new designated premises supervisor would be achieved by the simple notification to the police and application to the licensing authority when the individual arrives. It involves the submission of only part of the licencea schedule, which is probably only one sheet of paper. It is not burdensome; it is not bureaucratic.
The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, argued that the designated premises supervisor has no functions under the Bill, and that he could live at one end of the country while the pub was at the other. That is true in theory, but it would be an astonishing risk for any business to take. If there was no controlling manager acceptable to the police, can it be doubted that at the first sign of trouble the police would seek a review of the licence and that the licence itself would be in jeopardy? The enforcement agencies need to have confidence in the managers of premises where alcohol is to be retailed. They need to know where to go and where the buck stops.
Under these arrangements, the amendments would deny the police the right to intervene at all and the premises licence itself would not require any details of the designated premises supervisor upon it. Therefore, even in the exceptional circumstances for which the Bill allows, the police could not raise their concerns that a particular individual at a specific premises could undermine the crime prevention objective. For example, a certain holder of a personal licence may
We do not want routine interventions which would undermine the portability of the personal licence. We believe that the Bill prevents that by focusing only on exceptional circumstances. We are determined to ensure that representations are only made by the police in genuinely exceptional circumstances. The draft guidance states that if a licensing authority believes that the police are routinely making representations on un-exceptional grounds, it should raise the matter with the chief officer of police. However, we must not allow the vested interests of business to outweigh the real and proper concerns that ACPO and others in the police service have expressed.
We support the desire to minimise bureaucracy. We believe that the Bill goes as far as it possibly can in that respect. The amendments fail to recognise the key importance of the designated premises supervisor in respect of the premises licence and the efficiency and effectiveness of the proposed licensing regime. I understand the desire to avoid the need to vary the premises licence when a new individual is to be specified, but we have already made it plain that only the part of the licence which gives these personal details must be sent in.
The Bill deals with the change of the designated premises supervisor in a different way from other variations. These amendments still require the sending of a notification and I presume that some acknowledgement or receipt would have to be transmitted back. So I ask: what would be gained in terms of saving on bureaucracy, compared with the risks of crime and disorder that would flow from these amendments?
The provisions for the review of the premises licence are a powerful means of securing the promotion of the licensing objective. They are reactive provisions which are designed to deal with problems as and when they arise. We need to recognise that exceptional action should be taken when a particular personal licence holder marries up with a certain set of premises and produces a damaging mixture.
After a review, the licensing authority may take any necessary steps for the promotion of the licensing objectives. One of those steps could be the removal of the designated premises supervisor. Far from being disadvantageous to the industry, I suggest that these arrangements work in its favour. Often, problems that arise at licensed premises are likely to be associated not with the activities that take place there, but with the actions or omissions of the designated premises supervisor. We offer the option of removing the individual concerned, rather than applying potentially restrictive or burdensome conditions to the licence by
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