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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, most of the arguments are as they were on the previous group of amendments. This is a system with a light touch. It provides only that a person giving notice to the licensing authority must give a copy of it to the police, and that that must be done at least 10 working days before the day on which the event period starts. We provide that the chief officer has 48 hours to give an objection notice. The noble Lord's amendment would provide 96 hours—four days—in which to respond. I

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have no objection to the police having longer to respond, but that would leave less time for the local authority to hold a hearing, unless we extended the temporary notice period beyond 12 days. I have given my reasons for opposing that. It would be re-regulatory and contrary to the thrust of the temporary events notice procedures.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, when I have addressed noble Lords on the Bill I have been more preoccupied about inner cities than rural areas. But it would surprise me if the issue did not arise in another place, where there may be greater rural representation. For the time being, I am content to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 166 not moved.]

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville moved Amendment No. 167:

    After Clause 102, insert the following new clause—

(1) Where an interested party or responsible authority wish to object to a temporary event notice, they may give a notice ("an interested party notice") which must state the reasons why they object and be given to—
(a) the relevant licensing authority, and
(b) the premises user.
(2) The interested party notice must be given no later than 14 days after the temporary event notice was given."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak initially to Amendment No. 167 but also to Amendments Nos. 168, 169, 171, 172, 175, 177, 180, 181 and 183. I shall make an additional comment at the end on Amendments Nos. 246 and 247. I move these human rights amendments on Report because we did not deal with them at length in Committee.

On Amendment No. 167, the convention requires that those whose rights are affected by a decision of a licensing authority should be heard in connection with such a decision. Temporary events in the Bill are likely to engage rights of individuals and non-governmental organisations by virtue of Article 2, which relates to positive obligations on local authorities to take measures to protect safety; Article 8 on nuisance; Article 14 on non-discrimination, and Article 1 of Protocol 1. The amendment ensures that such affected parties have rights to make representations.

From the tenor of the Minister's response to the previous two groups of amendments, I am conscious that he would regard these as diminishing the climate with which the Government wish to surround such events. The other amendments in the group as far as Amendment No. 177 are consequential on the amendment introduced after Clause 102.

The amendment also brings the full scope of the convention into the decision by placing an obligation on the licensing authority to have regard to licensing objectives which, if the amendment to Clause 4 were accepted—it was not—will include the protection of human rights.

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Finally, the provisions in Amendments Nos. 246 and 247 allow interested parties to appeal against decisions to grant permissions for temporary events. I suspect that in Committee in another place Members will return to some of the implications of the proposal. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, nearly all the arguments which I need to deploy, I deployed in respect of the previous amendments. This is a light-touch regime and is designed to meet the legitimate concerns of those who thought that things which are not now regulated should not be brought into the premises licence and person licence regime. I think they are right.

The system of permitted temporary activities is designed to be easy and simple, reflecting the temporary nature of the event, the use of the premises for a temporary period and the range of organisations and individuals who might make use of them. These amendments would make that more difficult. It seems to us that provided that the police are satisfied with the proposals for the event, and it meets the appropriate conditions in terms of permitted limits, numbers of persons and events, there should be no reason to impose any additional bureaucracy.

As these are by definition temporary events, there is no need to provide for objections by interested parties. I used the example of the school playing field opposite my house in London. Not more than five times a year, the former pupils of the school have a very loud party on a Saturday night which goes on until 4 a.m. As it is a wooden building, the recorded noise is very loud and unpleasant. But I do not want to set up a regime under which I can object to an activity which is legitimate and enjoyable for them just because it is inconvenient for me a few times a year. If there were to be a major nuisance, it would come to the attention of the police and they would have an opportunity to object. But to extend the process of objections to interested parties, as the amendment would, is over the top.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, it is not my responsibility that the amendments were grouped in this way and that the Minister was obliged to give the same answer three times in response to three groups of amendments which the noble Lord, Lord Clarke, and I had cause to table.

However, perhaps because fatigue is setting in late in the day, and the Minister has had to give the answer three times, I thought I heard him say in the final part of his last answer that the police would object if they thought there was something to object to. He implied that that would be the level of nuisance and noise. I understand that the only ground on which the police can object is that of crime prevention. Anything else does not fall within their purview. The Minister is anxious to ensure that I have understood correctly, so I will give way.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am happy to confirm that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, is right

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and that that was what I meant. If there were any risk of crime—a matter to which I would want to object, too—the police would know about it.

I am now in the fortunate position of the bellman in The Hunting of the Snark. By dint of having three groups of amendments, what I tell you three times is true.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I am appreciative of the Minister having borrowed a phrase which I used the other day. Imitation is an extremely sincere form of flattery and I give the Minister a guarantee—as indeed I would have given to the bellman—that I was perfectly prepared to believe him the first time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7 p.m.

Clause 103 [Counter notice following police objection]:

[Amendments Nos. 168 to 178 not moved.]

Clause 104 [Modification of notice following police objection]:

[Amendments Nos. 179 to 186 not moved.]

Clause 105 [Counter notice where permitted limits exceeded]:

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 187:

    Page 59, line 33, at end insert ", and

(c) are not in respect of a village hall"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Clause 105 contains restrictions on the number of events that can be held by any one person or in respect of any one premises. If the person holding the event has a personal licence, he or she can hold 50 events in a year. If the person holding the event does not hold a personal licence, the number of events is restricted to five a year. In the case of a particular premises, there is a similar restriction to five events a year. The restriction on premises will create problems with village halls.

We can live with the first two restrictions. If anything, the first restriction is generous. It is difficult to envisage someone holding a personal licence and wanting to hold an event every week without having any premises on which to hold the event regularly. The second restriction is slightly more difficult. It restricts people without a personal licence to only five events. Institutions such as the Women's Institute can probably get around it by having different members hosting events throughout the year. The same cannot be said of the last restriction as regards village halls.

Village halls serve the community in various ways. In a typical small village in rural England, the Women's Institute, the Mothers' Union, the village horticultural society, the church, the scouts, the football and cricket teams and the village hall committee will hold many events in the course of a year in the village hall. Members of the public will often be invited to those events, and, often, alcohol will be sold. There will be no bar, and the alcohol will usually be a

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glass of red or white wine obtained with a ticket, with additional glasses thereafter being sold at a pound each. Outsiders may use the hall in a village. Again, alcohol may be served at such events, and the public might be invited.

In most villages, the village hall is the central point for the community. We have made that point all through the debate on the Bill. It is unacceptable for there to be a limit of only five events a year at which alcohol may be sold. When I raised the point in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, accepted that village halls were a different matter but said:

    "They already require both licences to sell alcohol and public entertainment allowances".—[Official Report, 16/1/03; col. 386.]

That may be correct for village halls in larger villages where there is a bar and regular entertainment of one sort or another. However, it is not the case in smaller villages where there is no bar and whoever puts on the event provides the wine or whatever is drunk that evening. The organiser will apply for a temporary licence, which is what happens in villages throughout the countryside.

If the Bill is enacted in its present form, no more than five events at which alcohol is sold will be allowed. By the end of February, there will be no more events in the village hall, which will lose a substantial part of its income for the rest of the year and become unviable. I spoke about that at Second Reading with regard to my village of Goring-on-Thames. There are events every night in our village hall. We have no bar, but we have a strong community that holds itself together well through local events put on by volunteers taking up their time to get involved.

It is no use the Government suggesting that the village hall committee should apply for a premises licence. Everyone serving on a village hall committee in a small village will be a volunteer. They will have neither the time nor, necessarily, the expertise to apply for a premises licence. Village hall funds are already modest. The cost of preparing the application for a premises licence and the fees would consume a significant part of their income. As the Bill is currently drafted, village halls will have to stick to five events a year and that would be an absolute disaster. I beg to move.

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