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Baroness Hamwee: And all who sail in her, my Lords. I apologise for suggesting that the noble Lord has not written the promised letter. I am not aware that I have received it. I certainly would not have suggested that he had not written the letter had I received it. Clearly, that is another answer that will repay re-reading. I would not fancy trying to explain to colleagues why I was calling a Division if I did so—it would take more than eight minutes.

Although I understand the Minister's point about the Secretary of State's discretion, I note that the department is still considering how long it should last and for how long decisions and actions taken under it should be valid if an authority drops a category. In practical terms, that is a very important issue. I am grateful to the Minister for that detail and to his officials for spelling it out so carefully. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 6 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Baroness O'Cathain moved Amendment No. 81:

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

(1) In Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 (control of sex establishments), in paragraph 2 after "sex cinema" there is inserted ", adult cabaret club".
(2) In Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, "adult cabaret club" means any premises, vehicle or stall used to a significant degree for—
(a) any exhibition, performance or dance of any type where such exhibition, performance, or dance involves a person who is unclothed or in such costume, attire, or clothing as to expose any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola or any portion of the pubic region, anus, buttocks, vulva or genitals, or wearing any device or covering exposed to view which simulates the appearance of any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola or any portion of the pubic region, anus, buttocks, vulva or genitals, or human male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, even if completely and opaquely covered; or
(b) any exhibition, performance or dance of any type where such exhibition, performance or dance is distinguished or characterized by a predominant emphasis on the depiction, description or simulation of—
(i) human genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal;
(ii) acts of human masturbation, sexual intercourse or sodomy;
(iii) fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals, pubic region, buttocks or female breast; or

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(c) any exhibition, performance or dance which is intended to sexually stimulate any member of the public and which is conducted on a regular basis or as a substantial part of the adult cabaret club's activity and includes, but is not limited to, any such exhibition, performance or dance performed for, arranged with or engaged in with fewer than all members of the public on the premises at that time, with separate consideration paid, either directly or indirectly, for such performance, exhibition or dance and which is commonly referred to as table dancing, couch dancing, taxi dancing, lap dancing, private dancing or straddle dancing."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment would amend the meaning of "sex establishment" as contained in paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. In Grand Committee, my noble friend Lady Blatch moved a similar amendment to this on my behalf. It was one of those occasions where I had amendments on the Floor of the House on one Bill and in Grand Committee on the other. It was not an easy task to juggle, but it kept one fit running between the two places. On that occasion, the amendment had very different wording; it referred to "lap-dancing clubs" rather than "adult cabaret clubs". The amendment was rejected by the Government on the basis that the definition was not clear.

Whatever else is said about this successor amendment that charge cannot be levelled at it now. I must admit that I got huge help in drafting the amendment in pursuit of the aim of total clarity. At present, a sex establishment, within the 1982 Act, includes a sex cinema or a sex shop. The amendment would add adult cabaret clubs to that definition and therefore bring the licensing of such establishments within the provisions of Schedule 3 to that Act.

The reasoning behind the amendment is straightforward. At present, the licensing of adult cabaret clubs, popularly known as lap-dancing clubs, is dealt with by way of application for an entertainment licence under the provisions of the 1982 Act. Part I of and Schedule 1 to that Act relate to the licensing of public entertainment, and Part II and Schedule 3 relate to sex establishments.

The introduction of the 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. I must confess that I have never been in a lap-dancing club, and, when I first heard of the term, I thought that it related in some way to lap-tops. However, my innocence was soon shattered when I discussed the Bill with friends, particularly as it is related to the licensing of sex shops—an amendment that I moved in Grand Committee, when the Government kindly indicated that they had sympathy with the amendment and would look further at it.

These clubs are a menace, at best, and, at worst, an encouragement of depravity. That is not hyperbole, but rather the sentiments of an acquaintance involved in entertaining corporate clients. In his experience, one

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visit to such an establishment was not only demeaning, leaving him feeling pretty well besmirched, but also lightened his wallet to the tune of 600 within one hour.

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 that provision is becoming increasingly rare. I understand that there are also conditions that are sometimes applied relating to the distance to be kept between dancers and clients, and to restrict the touching of any of the dancers by the clients.

I am convinced that, when the 1982 Act was passed, Members of this House did not envisage that entertainment licences would be granted for such explicitly sexual entertainment. In addition, there have been recent media reports to the effect that the local vice squad had investigated a particular lap-dancing club on Tottenham Court Road as there was a suspicion that it was being used as a front for prostitution activity.

In addition, 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 by the usual "planning criteria" that are applied to other applications. They relate to whether or not there will be a noise disturbance to residents from the premises, parking difficulties or an increased risk of litter or public order offences. Clearly, the issues that lead local residents to object to a lap-dancing club 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 to say, the character of the relevant locality and the use to which other premises in the vicinity are put.

Just last week, on Friday 11th July, an item in The Times read:

    "Southwark Cathedral, a relative shrine of sexual liberalism compared with bishoprics, is embroiled in a row with its neighbour, the aptly named Club Wicked. The cathedral . . . is mortified at the prospect of live sex shows taking place next door. Cathedral officials have complained to the local council that the club is 'into bondage and sado-masochism' that 'cause outrage to clergy and cathedral by reason of our Christian faith'. A council spokesman said: 'We are treading on unusual ground for a local authority. There have been many complaints about this application for live sex shows'".

It would therefore seem eminently sensible to bring the licensing of adult cabaret clubs within the remit of Part II of Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. This simple amendment would achieve that legitimate aim. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I support my noble friend. I was very pleased to substitute—rather inadequately—for my noble friend in Committee. I was disappointed by the answer given by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, but I promised to reflect on it. As my noble friend pointed out, there was a query about

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definition, but it was more a case of government opposition to the substance of what my noble friend was projecting. My noble friend has worked very hard and sought help to address the points about which the Government were concerned. I believe that this time she has got it right.

The measure is already enjoyed by a local authority. It seems entirely harmless to give all other local authorities the opportunity to have some control over a form of entertainment that now appears to be getting out of control in some areas. It would protect the community. The particular example given by my noble friend Lady O'Cathain was Southwark. The amendment would give the local authorities the opportunity to respond to concerns in their own communities and to do something to about cleaning up the neighbourhood if what is going on in these places is offensive. It is widely known that the parameters of what is going on in these clubs are becoming wider and wider, and there appears to be no effective control in law. This is a modest, enabling amendment, which, for the sake of decency in our communities, should be supported.

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