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Lord Thomas of Gresford: The Minister has just pointed out that in previous legislation the phrase "crime and disorder" has been used, and not "crime or disorder", so one seeks to find out why the disjunctive word is used here. None of the examples that the Minister has given really amounts to a justification for banning people from public houses and placing on them any prohibition the court may think fit. If the purpose is to impose a drinking banning order on someone whose conduct is caught on CCTV but does not affect another member of the public, that is even worse.
I intend by these amendments to restrict the scope of the drinking banning order. I think it important that we do that. The answer that the Minister gave on two occasions was, "We do not want to restrict in any way the scope of the order". Any sort of conduct that could
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be described as someone causing a noise or making a nuisance of themselves could lay that person open to the drinking banning order. The reason why the Government do not wish to confine the matter to criminal conduct is that, if it were criminal conduct and a criminal offence had been committed, that would have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt on proper evidence. Only by that route could it lead to a person being in prison. That is the sanction at the end of it all; if the drinking banning order is breached, a person goes to prison.
To take the Minister's examples, he suggests that shouting or kicking a dustbin could give rise to a drinking banning order. If an order is made with a prohibition against kicking dustbins, and the person does it again, he can be fined under this Bill. If he fails to pay the fine, he can go to prison. What is he going to prison for? For kicking a dustbin.
A lot has been said recently. The Home Secretary, whose future is so much under discussion at the moment, made it clear that he was dissatisfied with descriptions that have been given in this House and elsewhere of the conduct of this Government as authoritarian. But when they introduce a law that threatens a person with imprisonment in the long run for kicking a dustbin, how dare they deny that this is an authoritarian society? Having made that point for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"( ) from having access to or contact with members of his family (whether under the terms of a court order or under the terms of an agreement with his partner); or
( ) from taking his child or children to a place where they may receive medical treatment."
These amendments add to the list of restrictions on what can be prohibited under a drinking banning order under Clause 1(4). That subsection safeguards the individual's access to his residence, place of employment and education or medical services. Paragraph (d) also allows the individual to attend a location that he has been ordered to attend by statute or court order. The purpose of these amendments is to test whether these restrictions on the scope of a drinking banning order are sufficient. Can the Minister explain on what criteria these limitations have been selected? If he thinks that it is safe to leave the question of the fairness of particular prohibitions to the discretion of the courts, it begs the question why any limitations have been included at all. Is the Minister entirely satisfied that Clause 1(4) provides sufficient protection to the rights of the individual?
The amendments would impose a further limitation to a DBO by ensuring that a subject can always have access to his family. Surely that is a right that also
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needs to be safeguarded. Contact with a member of one's family would not fall under the mandatory obligations contained in court orders safeguarded in paragraph (d). How can it be guaranteed that any prohibition made as part of a drinking banning order will be compatible with access to one's family? The example of accommodation tied to a licensed premises poses a particular problem, but there must be other situations in which the issuing of a DBO might conflict with family interests and access to children. I beg to move.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: As I explained earlier, Clause 1 introduces a new civil order, a drinking banning order, which is available to protect persons and their property from criminal or disorderly conduct by an individual while he or she is under the influence of alcohol. A drinking banning order could impose any prohibition on an individual that a court considers necessary to protect others against such conduct. That includes prohibitions with regard to an individual entering premises that sell alcohol and club premises that can supply alcohol to members and guests.
Amendment No. 6 seeks to stipulate two situations in which a drinking banning order could not impose prohibitions on an individual. As the noble Lord explained, the first is that no prohibition should prevent a subject having access to or contact with members of their family, whether under the terms of a court order or under the terms of an agreement with his partner. The second is that an individual should not be prevented from taking his child or children to a place where they may receive medical treatment. The Bill already sets out certain effects that a prohibition cannot have, such as preventing an individual attending his place of work. These provisions ensure that we do not end up with perverse prohibitions that would inappropriately impact upon the subject of a drinking banning order.
I understand the basis of the noble Viscount's amendments. However, there may be instances where the court may wish to impose a prohibition to protect family members from an individual's behaviour while under the influence of alcohol. So I am not persuaded that this amendment is necessary. However, I recognise that we would not want courts to impose prohibitions in drinking banning orders that would prevent an individual taking his child or children to a place where they may receive medical treatment. I expect that noble Lords could quote a never-ending list of similar situations where prohibitions would be inappropriate and should not be imposed. However, I believe that such matters are best left to the discretion of the court to consider on a case-by-case basis. However, I am happy to ensure that the kind of example that the noble Viscount drew to our attention is included in drinking banning order guidance, as it fits exactly the requirements that we will have to set out so that it can be best understood by those who would give effect to the orders.
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Amendment No. 114 is the same as that which has been proposed for drinking banning orders, but for directions to leave. I believe that it is therefore appropriate to discuss it at the same time, and the noble Viscount has grouped it with Amendment No. 6. Clause 22 allows a constable to direct a person to leave a locality. Subsection (4) provides that no prohibition can be given by a constable if it prevents the individual to whom it is given having access to his home, to his place of work, to a place that he needs to attend to receive education, training or medical treatment, or to a place that he has been ordered to attend. The amendment would, again, add the same two situations as those proposed in the amendment on drinking banning orders.
For directions to leave, the provisions already in the Bill seek to set out the situations in which lack of access would be highly counter-productive for the individual, such as being unable to attend his place of employment. They are the basics required to ensure that we do not end up with nonsensical unintended consequences. Again, I am not persuaded that it would be right to include anything in the Bill on the need to ensure that the direction does not prevent someone having access to, or contact with, members of his family. It is already the case that a direction to leave cannot prevent someone having access to his homethat is where a person's family is most likely to live. A direction lasts only for a maximum of 48 hours, so it is a very short-term arrangement.
I recognise that we would not want a direction to be given that prevented an individual taking his child or children to a place where they might receive medical treatment. I am not sure under what circumstances that might arise, as the basis for a direction to leave is that it should be given only if it is necessary to prevent alcohol-related crime or disorder and it can last only for a maximum of 48 hours. It is most likely that directions will be given from a town or city centre and the area that has a concentration of pubs and clubs. However, as in the case for drinking banning orders, I am happy to ensure that this is covered specifically in guidance on directions to leave. I hope that, with those assurances, the noble Viscount will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
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