Unopposed Bill Committee Minutes of Evidence

Sections 280-299

London Local Authorities Bill [HL]

Tuesday 18 February 2003

280. MR LEWIS: That is right. What happened, once they all moved to the Royal Parks the Government promoted their own legislation, and there was the Parks Police Act a couple of years ago which effectively copied the Westminster provision.

281. CHAIRMAN: They would extend this power from Westminster to all the other boroughs, including Lambeth, across the other side of Westminster Bridge where you see them to this day?

282. MR LEWIS: Yes. There is a particular problem around the London Eye, I believe. I am not sure, but I think there may be difficulties because I think it is unclear whether the London Local Authorities Act actually extends to that particular area. To do so you have to actually be on the highway within six metres ------

283. MR BLACKWELL: I think there are two problems in Lambeth. First, they already have the power to seize in Lambeth under the London Local Authority Act 1990. One problem (it needs to be in the street) is with the areas where they are not in the streets. Secondly, they have problems with regard to enforcement and do not have enough officers. Westminster have been working closely to try and assist with this eyesore from across the river. I do not think the legislation will solve the problem.

284. CHAIRMAN: What about the problem of other street vendors who sell watches and perfume in Oxford Street?

285. MR LEWIS: The same applies. The City of Westminster Act 1999 is successful. We enforce throughout the City, particularly in Oxford Street where it has had some success. These powers are available under the 1990 Act to other boroughs. What it is doing is giving further powers to assist those enforcement officers, but not to the extent that it will disappear overnight. It makes enforcement easier.

286. For example, in the 1999 Act we have the power to seize items which are not displayed. In Oxford Street what they often do is hide their stock underneath some A-boards, some advertisement boards, in the entrances to the tube station. We now have powers to seize those goods as well as those on display. These provisions which we are seeking to amend the street trading provisions outside Westminster will give the London boroughs that power as well.

287. CHAIRMAN: That seems a good clause.

288. MR LEWIS: I should also mention another amendment of this clause. If you look on page 15 of the Bill in subsection 2, you will see that we are also attempting to amend the City of Westminster Act 1999 itself. I can confirm that similar amendments are being carried forward to the other boroughs too. These amendments are intended to also regulate further ticket touts. Whilst it is currently an offence to sell items on the street without a street trading licence, it is not an offence to buy items on the street; and obviously ticket touts buy as well as sell their goods.

289. We have spotted quite late on, and discussed with Mr Saunders, a slight error in the Filled Bill. We prepared a further amendment which we will be asking you to make which just clarifies a particular nonsense which at the moment exists in the Filled Bill as it stands. In that we inadvertently struck out the words "for gain or reward" in subsection (2) of section 22. If that was the case your normal punter who is trying to buy a ticket from a ticket tout would actually be in the bizarre situation of having to require a street trading licence first before he did so. Councils do not want to find themselves receiving applications from people who want to see a concert simply because they do not happen to have a street trading licence to buy a ticket from a ticket tout. That is obviously not what was intended. So we will be asking for a minor amendment to be made.

290. LORD ELTON: If I have understood 2(a)(a) right, does that mean that if anybody from out of town comes into town and is offered a ticket and buys it he is committing an offence?

291. MR LEWIS: Yes, as it stands, but that is the problem. We do not want that to be the case. What we want the offence to be if the person is buying a ticket in the course of business or for gain or reward. You will often find coming out of a tube station near a concert that there are ticket touts who will buy or sell a ticket and obviously that is their business. They certainly sell but they also buy. It is only those who are buying a ticket in the course of their business who will be caught; and not people coming from out of town and buying a ticket.

292. CHAIRMAN: Or selling. The private individual who sells a ticket to a tout would also not be caught?

293. MR LEWIS: Correct, yes. Clause 23, licensing powers of entry. This clause amends two of the existing licensing regimes applicable in London, and provides uniformity across the board for the powers of entry which are exercisable by the Council's licensing officers. Subsection (1) deals with licensing and public entertainment. Once again, the Licensing Bill currently before your Lordship's House will, if enacted, repeal existing legislation (which is the London Government Act 1963, Schedule 12) and replace it with a new national licensing regime. However, once again, the Promoters would wish to keep these provisions in the Bill at present until the Licensing Bill has at least reached second reading in the other place.

Subsection (2) makes an alteration to the powers of entry in respect of special treatment premises. This includes tattoo parlours and the like. That is not being dealt with by the licensing law, one might add. As your Lordships can see, it simply provides an additional power for Council officers to inspect premises which are already licensed to ensure that the conditions of the licence are being complied with. Those are important in the case of tattoo parlours. Clause 24 ----

294. LORD ELTON: Could I ask a question to which I ought to know the answer. Where can I find the text which is altered by subsection (1) of Clause 23?

295. MR LEWIS: I can certainly provide your Lordship with a copy of ----

296. LORD ELTON: I was slightly relying on seeing that to understand what the effect of this was. I am not sure that I fully gathered that from what you said. Subsection (2) of Clause 23. What are the words that have gone, can you tell us?

297. MR LEWIS: I think I do have a copy of the 1963 Act here.

298. MR BLACKWELL: My Lord, this is the amendment that is aimed at allowing local authority enforcement officers to inspect premises at times when they are not providing entertainment. This is something which is thought to be useful to the management, not just the local authority, so that we do not go in while the premises are being used overtly, we can do it on a more friendly basis when the premises are closed. We are not just checking numbers, we are checking means of escape in case of fire, we are checking fire extinguishers and things of that sort. It is really just to allow officers to go in at any time to check that is convenient to the management as opposed to when there is entertainment.

299. MR LEWIS: My Lords, I have just handed up what might be slightly confusing because at the top it says "London Local Authorities Act 2000". What you are looking at is what is known as a Keeling Schedule at the back of the 2000 Act which sets out Schedule 12 to the 1963 Act as it was amended by the last London Local Authorities Act.

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