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The Earl of Erroll: My Lords, the noble Baroness's description of her village hall sounds as though it could apply to our village. Her amendment is eminently sensible.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have already been cited as the bellman and now I am in the role of Dr Doolittle with a pushmi-pullyu. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, and my noble friend Lord Clarke want to make the rules for temporary events tougher, while the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, wants them to be relaxed.

I love the idyllic picture both the noble Baroness and the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, have painted of village halls. However, I noted with interest that the noble

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Baroness's earlier amendment on village halls included in the list of venues community halls. Those are much more my experience. I represented Tottenham on the Greater London Council. That constituency contained a notorious council estate which was at the centre of serious riots during the 1980s. The estate had a community centre. Ultimately that centre was run by a relatively small clique of people who excluded many of those who wanted to come in. The hall had a premises licence and a bar, which to an extent was the basis of the hall. That centre was as far removed from the idyllic picture of the village hall painted this evening and throughout the passage of the Bill as anything that you could imagine. Today the centre is totally different. Everything has been cleaned up and the entire estate is a model of community action.

However, how can we distinguish in legislation between these types of premises? I suggest that it would be extremely difficult to do so and that the exemption now being sought would in fact make it difficult to put in place adequate control over the kind of community hall that I have just described. The amendment would allow an unlimited number of temporary events involving licensable activities to take place in village halls. In effect that would allow widespread circumvention of the licensing laws. Furthermore, it would undermine the balance we have sought to achieve between a light-touch regime and the protection of local residents.

I had thought that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, would oppose the amendment. It would have been logical and consistent for him to do so. We could be in danger of ending up with a system where alcohol could be sold from, or entertainment put on in, village halls all year round without the need of a licence and thus with no opportunity for local residents to object.

I understand the anxieties on both sides of the argument, but surely we ought not to be moving in this direction.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I am deeply disappointed with the Minister's response. Already I am drafting an amendment to table at Third Reading. Perhaps I should extend it to apply to community halls that have no bar.

Quite on purpose we limited the amendment to cover only village halls because we are talking about what are essentially small village halls where there is no bar and people bring in any alcohol that is to be drunk that evening. It does sound idyllic, but I am proud to say that it is also real. That kind of activity and way of life, in spite of all the bullying and bureaucracy from central government, continues unabated at the local level. We should celebrate and encourage it for the years to come by ensuring that, in a Bill of this kind, we do not make life more difficult for local people working voluntarily and trying to do whatever they can to keep local communities together.

I hear what the Minister says. I do not accept it. I shall seriously consider bringing forward an amendment at Third Reading which includes

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community halls, if that is realistic. But, for the moment, with some sadness, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 106 [Right of entry where temporary event notice given]:

[Amendments Nos. 188 to 191 not moved.]

Clause 110 [The relevant licensing authority]:

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 192:

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    Page 62, line 21, leave out from first "the" to end and insert "Central Licensing Authority"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at eleven minutes past seven o'clock.

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