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The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale): My Lords, I have to announce that there was an inaccuracy in the figures given for the previous Division, although the result remains the same. There voted "Contents", 113*, "Not-Contents", 117, so the "Not-Contents" still have it. [*The Tellers for the Contents reported 113 votes. The Clerks recorded 112 names.]


6Clause 9, page 5, line 41, leave out paragraph (d)

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6. I must open debate on the amendment by indicating clearly that the Government do not intend to oppose the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that the House does not agree with the Commons in its Amendments Nos. 6, 15, 16, 20 and 21.

In Committee in another place, we overturned amendments made in this House adding references on registered interests, restoring the Bill to its original position. The amendments altered the balance of control over a premises licence too far away from the licence holder and too far towards the interests in question. Since then, however, we have had extensive consultation with the industry, and I believe that we have reached an accommodation. I undertake that the Government will give effect to that accommodation when the Bill returns to another place.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

6ALord Redesdale rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6, leave out "agree" and insert "disagree".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on that very generous assurance given by the Minister, I beg to move.

Moved, That,as an amendment to the Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6, leave out "agree" and insert "disagree".—(Lord Redesdale.)

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I thank the Minister for taking the time to discuss with the industry what we believe to be an entirely sensible position in relation to registered interests. I gave early warning to his officials that I would like to use the opportunity, with the leave of the House—I do so because we are talking about

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those involved perhaps as owners of premises and licensed premises—to ask him to confirm, with regard to provisional statements, that it will be open to any operator who is able to submit an operating schedule in accordance with the Bill to apply for a premises licence, even where a premises is under construction or yet to be built.

Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, the point made by the noble Baroness is important. There should be proper planning and use of resources in a way that is reasonable for the construction of new premises. I would like to have that assurance also.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: My Lords, I rise to support my noble friend. I declare an interest of which the Minister is aware; I am a director of a regional brewery that operates 1,500 public houses. It is to give some certainty. The phraseology used on Report in another place was not clear. I wrote to the Minister about the issue. I hope that he can reassure us on that point. It will also be important for his officials to review paragraphs 6.50 and 6.51 of the draft guidance issued on the 13th February, because it does not fit in with the agreement that he has reached with my noble friend. His officials might also review paragraph 82 of the Explanatory Notes to the Bill.

We would be comforted by that assurance and by the further assurance that the guidance notes and Explanatory Notes will be revised to reflect what I hope he will say.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am happy to give the assurance asked for. If a building is under construction or has not been started, provided that the plans are clear enough to justify an application for an operating licence, if a licensing authority is satisfied—as it would have been if the building had been completed—an operating licence can be granted. There is therefore no risk of double jeopardy.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that assurance.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Motion, as amended, agreed to.


7Clause 14, page 9, line 1, leave out paragraph (e)

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 7.

Under Part 3 of the Bill, interested parties—local residents and businesses and their representatives—may make representations about applications for premises licences and may also apply to the relevant licensing authority for reviews of premises licences. The amendments in another place removed the extension of the ability to make representations on their behalf, inserted in this House, to MPs, MEPs and local ward councillors in relation to any premises within their constituency or ward.

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The Government believe firmly that local residents and businesses should be given the opportunity to have their say about the licensing of premises in their vicinity. That is why these groups are included in the list of interested parties. Of course, any local business or local resident living in the vicinity of the premises may use any representative to put their case. This could be a solicitor, a friend, a relative, a Member of Parliament, a ward councillor, an MEP—although that is slightly unlikely—or a Member of the National Assembly for Wales, or a body representing the amenity interests in the area.

However, there is no reason why any of these individuals should have a say in their own right when local residents do not wish to put representations forward on the application. If no local residents or businesses in the vicinity wish to exercise their right to make representations or apply for a review, possibly because residents are pleased to see a new licensed premises opening nearby, whom would the ward councillor, for example, be representing?

The inclusion in the Bill of councillors, MPs and European representatives is not appropriate. These representatives are available if a local resident should wish to use their services, but views should not be expressed on a resident's behalf when she or he has not asked for them to be made. The rights we are giving to make representations are to protect those directly affected by activities to be carried on at the premises concerned. It is not for others to tell residents that they know better. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 7.—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


8Page 9, line 14, leave out "for the area in which the premises are situated" and insert "by which statutory functions are exercisable in any area in which the premises are situated in relation to minimising or preventing the risk of pollution of the environment or of harm to human health"

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 8. I shall speak also to Amendment No. 10.

Within the definitions of responsible authorities in the Bill, Amendments Nos. 8 and 10 restored the position prior to amendments accepted in this House. When the Bill left this House for consideration in another place, the responsible authorities it described were several. They included the police; the fire authority; the enforcing authority for health and safety law; the local authority for the area in which the premises are situated; any licensing authority in whose area part of the premises are situated, including the one considering the application; various bodies concerned with applications involving vessels; and other persons prescribed by the Secretary of State.

A responsible authority is essentially an expert body to be notified when an application is made, which can make representations about the licensing objectives.

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For example, the police will consider carefully the applicant's proposals for preventing crime and disorder on his premises. If they are adequate, the police will not need to intervene; if the police are dissatisfied with the proposals, they have the right to make representations to the licensing authority.

When this House amended the Bill, it removed the description in the original text of environmental health officers. It is vital that they be consulted, because they have technical expertise in areas such as noise nuisance. They need to scrutinise the steps an applicant intends to take to prevent nuisance.

Amendment No. 8 restored them to the list. The amendments in this House also replaced environmental health officers with a description of,

    "the local authority in which the premises are situated".

The local authority is the licensing authority. The effect was to allow the licensing authority to make representations to itself.

It may be helpful if I remind the House that amendments were moved in another place by the Official Opposition that would have removed the local authority as a responsible authority, but would not have restored the important status of the environmental health authority, which was the added effect of the government amendments. The government amendments were therefore preferred. In the House of Commons, both sides of the House were in relative harmony on this matter.

While the Bill was being considered here, a further amendment by this House also duplicated part of the changes by including in the list of responsible authorities all licensing authorities in whose area part of the premises are situated. The list originally included only those licensing authorities—other than the one in receipt of the application—in whose areas part of the premises are situated; namely, where premises straddle local authority boundaries. Amendment No. 10 restored this arrangement.

The amendments raise two important issues for the Bill. The first is fairness. The local authority is given the functions of a licensing authority. If it can make representations to itself and by that means generate a hearing to consider those representations, the licensing authority through its licensing committee would be prosecution, witness, jury, judge and executioner in the same court. That cannot be proper, and it would trigger a number of human rights issues. Let us not be technical about it; it simply would not be right or fair. I hope that the House will agree.

We are not hamstringing the licensing authority; where local authorities have particular statutory responsibility for expert matters that directly impact on the licensing objectives, they are responsible authorities. The environmental health authority is the local authority. The enforcing agency for health and safety is normally the local authority. The planning authority is the local authority. These are all responsible authorities for the purposes of the Bill. In

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these expert capacities, the local authority can already make representations, and can be heard fairly and properly by the licensing committee.

The second important issue is deregulation. One way in which we are deregulating in this case is by reducing significantly the number of routine hearings to which licensing currently gives rise. Almost everything in the six existing licensing regimes generates regular and routine hearings. The aim of the Bill is to ensure that only matters of proper and relevant dispute give rise to hearings.

Under the Bill, a hearing will be necessary only if one of the expert and professional bodies, or a local resident, residents' association or local business is dissatisfied with the proposals in the operating schedule. If everyone is content, the application will be granted and the operating schedule will come into force. But if a licensing authority can generate hearings whether or not the expert bodies and local residents are content, we have opened the door back to the old bureaucracy and red tape, which could in some areas—I do not say all areas—reduce the deregulation effects of the Bill. So, we are focusing here on problem premises. We are targeting resources there and on an effective operating schedule.

For those reasons—fairness and the desire to reduce red tape—I hope that the House will welcome the changes made to the Bill in another place.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 8.—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

12.30 p.m.


9Page 9, line 14, at end insert—
"( ) a body which—
(i) represents those who, in relation to any such area, are responsible for, or interested in, matters relating to the protection of children from harm, and
(ii) is recognised by the licensing authority for that area for the purposes of this section as being competent to advise it on such matters,"

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 9. I shall speak also to Commons Amendments Nos. 23, 50 and 52. Indeed, I shall speak in favour of Amendment No. 50A to my own Amendment No. 50.

The protection of children from harm is one of the four licensing objectives of the Bill. No one here would want to deny children access to the village shop, which also happens to be the off-licence. No one here would want to deny children access to a supermarket, Pizza Hut, the cinema or the theatre, even though all are licensed premises.

None of us would want to see children in lap dancing clubs, gaming clubs or seedy bars that are associated with drug dealing or under-age drinking. But between those two there are many shades of grey, where, in given circumstances, we would anticipate that children

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should be given access to licensed premises. We moved two amendments in another place to remove Clauses 143 and 151 on the grounds that they were undesirably restrictive. A number of children's representatives with whom the Secretary of State consulted agreed with that position.

Among other things, Clause 143 raised a raft of issues over the definition of licensed premises in subsection (2), and Clause 151 raises issues of practicality. It would effectively require under-14s to be accompanied in supermarkets and corner shops. I hope that the House can agree to the removal of these clauses on that basis.

Having said that, we have listened carefully to the many powerful arguments put to us over the past few months. In its place, I shall later move Amendment No. 50A, which proposes that the House agrees with the Commons in their amendments and agrees to a further amendment in lieu to the Bill to the effect that it will be an offence to admit children under 16 to certain categories of premises where they are not accompanied by an adult. Those premises are as follows: those exclusively or primarily used for the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises; and those open for the purposes of being used for the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises by virtue of Part 5—permitted temporary activities—which, at the time the temporary event notice has effect, are exclusively or primarily used for such supplies.

So, a garden fete, for example, which has a temporary event notice, is not being used exclusively for that supply, and, therefore, unaccompanied children can properly be allowed in. It will also be an offence to allow an unaccompanied child to be on relevant premises at a time between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. when the premises are open for the purposes of being used for the supply of alcohol for consumption there. The scheme is designed to put in place a statutory barrier to the unaccompanied access of children essentially to pubs and night-clubs, but to allow access to restaurants, cafes, cinemas and theatres.

The Secretary of State and I have been keen throughout the development of the Bill to take into account the views of organisations with an interest in the protection of children from harm and to consider how they can be reflected in legislation. We have consulted a range of bodies including the NSPCC, the Children's Society, the Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, Turning Point, Alcohol Concern, the Association of Directors of Social Services and the Association of Chief Police Officers. We have developed a balanced package, which will ensure access, where appropriate, to children in a family-friendly environment, while providing them with protection.

The protection of children from harm is a key licensing objective, and we need to ensure that licensing decisions have expert input on that objective. Amendments made in another place added the local

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area child protection committees, or their successor bodies, to the list of responsible authorities that can make representations on licensing applications, new or variations, and raise issues of concern relating to any of the licensing objectives through the review provisions.

I have already indicated what is on the face of the Bill. In statutory guidance we will cover factors which indicate a licensed premises' suitability for access by children, from those where it is felt that the risks to children, whether supervised or unsupervised, are too great; for example, premises where there is the possibility of children being exposed to drug taking or dealing, gambling, adult or sexual entertainment or illegal selling of alcohol to minors, through to premises to which unsupervised children under 16 should be permitted access. We will also emphasise that where any access for children is permitted, the licensee will still have to demonstrate clearly the steps that it is proposed to take to promote the protection of children from harm in the operating schedule. My officials will continue to work with the child protection organisations and take their views into account in preparing the final version of the guidance.

I believe that this balanced package offers the best way forward on this issue.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 9.—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

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