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Baroness Blatch: Before the Minister sits down, could be explain what there is in the amendment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brightman, that would undermine the local authority's ability to provide services to people in its community, which he has just explained?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This is not a brilliantly close textual analysis. The first of the two subsections states that,

I would have thought that that would be open to various and wide interpretation by the courts. I do not know. Brighton and Hove City Council, for example, offers its support to a local Gay Pride venture that happens annually. That support takes various and different forms. I should have thought that that clause could quite possibly be used to challenge that support. I do not know. I would not want to form a judgment on it. I am not a lawyer. But I could see that that could happen. I do not think that there are many who would argue that the local authority should not have a role in enabling Gay Pride events to take place on its streets. If the amendment is put in place, I can see a potential

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problem for local authorities, such as my own, which plays host to a Gay Pride event. That is my judgment; that is my view.

Lord Brightman: I am grateful to Members of the Committee who have spoken in this short debate. Perhaps I may emphasise that my only purpose is by amending the Bill to prevent, in the course of a heavy legislative programme with not much time left, any further argument about Section 28. That is what I am striving to do. The amendment may not fit awfully well with our legislation, but it cannot possibly do any harm. It does not alter a single word of the Bill. The reference to "the institution of marriage" is taken straight from existing legislation and therefore cannot possibly be objected to. I mentioned that the Family Law Act 1996 refers to,

    "regard to the following general principles".

The first is,

    "that the institution of marriage is to be supported".

To repeat those words is therefore totally unnecessary; but it does no harm and may satisfy some doubters. Again, as I say, all I am trying to do is to prevent another clash in the House and endless waste of time.

The noble Earl, Lord Russell, put two questions to me. I am sure there is nothing between us on the first one. On the second one, I hope that he will accept that the amendment only repeats what is already on the statute book. I do not think I can say more except to hope that possibly I might—I do not know—be able to agree with the Government some form of wording that I could introduce that could conceivably prevent any further discussion about Section 28. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 222A not moved.]

Clause 122 [Orders and regulations]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 223:

    Page 74, line 18, at end insert—

"( ) No—
(a) order under this Act which, in exercise of the power under subsection (1)(b) to make incidental or supplementary provision, amends or repeals any enactment contained in an Act, or
(b) regulations under this Act which, in exercise of that power to make incidental or supplementary provision, amend or repeal any such enactment,
shall be made by the Secretary of State unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing the order or regulations (whether containing the order, or regulations, alone or with other provisions) has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament."

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 223 and 224 have been tabled to reflect the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. They make certain that orders and regulation-making powers in the Bill are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. They are entirely in line with what that committee recommended.

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We have had a number of debates on the issue. I acknowledge that there is a further amendment in the group—Amendment No. 226. My only comment and observation on that is that it goes further than the recommendations of the DPRR Committee. I would hope that the noble Baroness, as I am sure she will, will not move her amendment and will acknowledge that fact. We are happy to oblige the DPRR Committee because we think it is right. We hope that the amendments will find support with the Committee.

Baroness Hanham: My amendment, Amendment No. 226, is in this group. It is intended to draw attention to the considerable power under Clause 122(1)(b) and to ensure that anything done under that power would be done under the affirmative procedure. For tonight's purposes, I do not propose to move it any further.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I beg to move the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 224:

    Page 74, line 21, leave out from "instrument" to "shall" in line 22 and insert "that—

(a) contains an order or regulations under this Act, and
(b) is not subject to any requirement that a draft of the instrument be laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament,"

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld): If Amendment No. 224 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 225 due to pre-emption.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 225 and 226 not moved.]

Clause 122, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 123 to 126 agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 226A:

    Page 101, line 41, at end insert—

"Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (c. 30)

In Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (control of sex establishments), in paragraph 2 after "sex cinema" there is inserted ", a lap dancing club"."

The noble Baroness said: This is the last amendment of this stage of the Bill and I shall be very brief. One of the problems of the Grand Committee procedure is that it is not possible to be in two places at the same time. This is an amendment that my noble friend Lady O'Cathain would have spoken to but she has to be active on the Water Bill. I seek to move Amendment No 226A on behalf of my noble friend. The amendment seeks to amend the meaning of "sex establishment" as contained in paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982.

At present, a sex establishment includes a sex cinema or a sex shop. This amendment seeks to add the group of so-called lap dancing clubs to the definition,

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therefore bringing the licensing of such establishments within the provisions of Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

The reasoning behind this amendment is straightforward. At present, the licensing of so-called lap dancing clubs is dealt with by way of application for an entertainment licence under the provisions of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. Part I and Schedule 1 to that Act relate to the licensing of public entertainment and Part II of the Act and Schedule 3 to the Act relate to sex establishments.

The introduction of this amendment has been prompted by the recent rapid growth in so-called lap dancing clubs which are now presented as executive entertainment but are in fact no more than high-class "strip joints". The entertainment at these clubs is provided by women, who dance on stage or individually for a particular client and progressively remove their clothing. Some licensing authorities have applied special conditions to entertainment licences to the effect that only partial nudity is allowed but this particular provision is becoming increasingly rare. I understand that there are also conditions that are sometimes applied that relate to the distance to be kept between dancers and clients and also to restrict the touching of any of the dancers by the clients.

My noble friend is convinced that when the 1982 Act was passed it was not envisaged by Members of the Committee that entertainment licences would be granted for such explicitly sexual entertainment. Additionally, there have been recent media reports to the effect that a particular lap dancing club in Tottenham Court Road has been investigated by the local vice squad as there was a suspicion that it was being used as a "front" for prostitution activity.

Additionally, I understand that when members of the public wish to object to the granting of a licence for a lap dancing club they find themselves restricted to the usual planning criteria that are applied to other applications. These relate to whether or not there will be a noise disturbance to residents from the premises or an increased risk of litter or public order offences. Clearly, the issues that lead local residents to object to a lap dancing club will very seldom relate to these specific grounds. They are much more likely to centre around the considerations that can be given by a local authority when an application is made for a sex shop licence; that is, the character of the relevant locality and the use to which other premises in the vicinity are put.

Therefore, it would seem eminently sensible to bring the licensing of lap dancing clubs within the remit of Part II and Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. This simple amendment would achieve that legitimate aim. I beg to move.

7 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I find myself saying for the second time today, I think, that I simply cannot accept the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness. I think we have reached a stage with the Bill at which we

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cannot give the full and proper consideration that the proposed new clause demands. I think it probably requires further preparation.

The amendment itself is flawed because it does not contain a definition of lap dancing. Without such a definition, the amendment could lead to considerable confusion. Putting that aside, I think that it would also take some time to establish whether local government and other interested parties would welcome such a proposal. Perhaps the noble Baroness has done work on that. Perhaps she has sought the views of the Local Government Association. Perhaps the officials in that organisation have a view on whether the proposals would be helpful in the regulatory regime which local government operates in this sphere. There are also the two issues which go together of cost and regulatory impact.

For those reasons, the Government do not support the amendment. I am also afraid that we cannot agree to introduce our own amendment within the confines of the Bill. However, I accept the sincerity with which the issue has been raised. The Government's view is that more work is required on the proposal before it is in anywhere near a perfect state. There would have to be much more detailed consultation with those in the local government domain who operate in this field.

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