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Whether they will give local authorities increased powers to regulate lap-dancing clubs in their areas by (a) extending the use of the sex encounter establishment licensing category countrywide; and (b) removing the exemption for establishments that possess a premises licence. [HL3806]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Licensing Act 2003 is able to regulate these premises in relation to any concerns about the four licensing objectivesthe prevention of crime and disorder, the prevention of public nuisance, public safety and the protection of children. However, we are aware that some licensing authorities have concerns about the powers available and feel that they are not adequately able to control these establishments.
We are in the process of providing additional guidance for local authorities on the Licensing Act and how it can be used to deal with lap-dancing clubs. As part of this process, we will be asking licensing authorities for feedback if they still have concerns. This will tell us if the controls under the Licensing Act are sufficient or whether we need to do more to protect local communities.
If we find that there is a need to provide licensing authorities with additional powers to deal with any nuisance or criminal activity associated with lap-dancing establishments, we will consider the full range of options. This could include changes to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, which regulates sex encounter establishments (such as sex shops and sex cinemas).
In view of their concerns about potential noise nuisance at live music events, what legislation other than entertainment licensing is available to the police or local authorities to pre-empt potential sources of sound nuisance and to regulate it when members of the public complain. [HL3716]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Government take the issue of noise seriously, and have given new powers to local authorities to deal with noise with the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.
Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended) lists what is capable of being a statutory nuisance. At Section 79(1)(g) is noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance.
Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 places a statutory duty on local authorities to inspect their areas periodically for existing and potential statutory nuisances, and to take reasonably practicable steps to investigate complaints of nuisance. Once satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists or may occur or recur, the local authority must serve an abatement notice under Section 80 of the Act on the person responsible for the nuisance (or the owner or occupier if the person responsible cannot be found or the nuisance has not yet occurred).
For noise, the local authority can (under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005) choose to defer serving an abatement notice for up to seven days in order to pursue specific alternative steps to resolve the problem. If the noise nuisance is not abated within seven days, the abatement notice must then be served, and it can served at any point within that time.
A complainant can also take private action through the courts under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The complainant must give a minimum of three days' notice in writing of the intention to take private action to the person who is the subject of the complaint, and must specify the subject of the complaint. If the court agrees that a statutory nuisance exists, or may occur or recur, it will issue an abatement notice. There is a defence for industrial, trade and business premises of best practicable means. There is a defence of reasonable excuse for causing a statutory nuisance or breaching an abatement notice.
Section 84 of and Schedule 1 to the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 amend the Noise Act 1996 so that it applies to licensed premises. The fine upon summary conviction for exceeding the permitted level, as measured from within the dwelling of a complainant, will be up to £5,000. The local authority will be able to offer the option to discharge liability to conviction with the payment within 14 days of a fixed penalty notice of £500.
The permitted level is 34dB(A) where the underlying level does not exceed 24dB(A), or 10dB(A) above the underlying level where this exceeds 24dB(A). This permitted level applies to both domestic and licensed premises.
Section 84 of and Schedule 1 to the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 came into force in relation to England on 1 October 2006. We have revised the permitted noise levels and an approval for devices measuring noise levels.
The Noise Council's Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at Concerts was published in 1995 and is designed to help organisers, promoters and regulators to plan and manage the noise issues associated with such events. It was prepared by a working party of professionals experienced in this field and was published following a public consultation. Since then, it has become widely used in the UK and can provide a means of enabling successful concerts to be held while minimising the disturbance caused by noise.
Compliance with the various provisions of the code of practice does not confer immunity from any legal obligations, such as the statutory nuisance regime contained within Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
It is understood that there is dialogue between the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Institute of Acoustics (both of which were members of the Noise Council) exploring the possibility of reforming a working party and the extent to which the code should be reviewed or revised.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment's (CABE) remit from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is to manage the national design review service and support the regional design review panels. The CABE also provides support for all design review panels through its publications and DVDs. We are pleased to see the recent growth in local panels, which demonstrates an increasing willingness to ensure local quality of design. The CABE is working to identify whether its existing business plan contains the necessary resources to monitor local design review panels.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government are committed to consulting on their proposals for a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and expect the consultation to include questions about the territorial extent of any future Bill.
What discussions they have had with the Welsh Assembly Government on the role of Wales in the 2012 Olympics, particularly regarding the involvement of Welsh businesses and the use of facilities in Wales for training camps and for staging events.[HL3830]
Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) are working hard to ensure the benefits of 2012 reach across the UK and have established a Nations and Regions Group
4 Jun 2008 : Column WA63
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and LOCOG expect directly to procure £6 billion-worth of contracts. In January, the Olympic Family launched the London 2012 Business Network, helping businesses across the UK to access these contracts. CompeteFor is a key component of the Business Network, as it enables businesses, particularly small/medium enterprises (SMEs), across the UK to access contracts from the ODA and LOCOG supply chains. To date, 200 businesses in Wales have registered on CompeteFor, and businesses in every constituency should be encouraged to sign up and get support to compete for and win contracts. The official launch in Wales of the London 2012 Business Network was held on 22 May in Cardiff, at the Constructing Excellence Conference, which was addressed by the First Minister, the right honourable Rhodri Morgan AM.
Additionally, 31 facilities from Wales offering 27 sports/disciplines are to be included in the official London 2012 pre-games training camp guide. On 28 May, LOCOG also announced facilities that have met the criteria for inclusion in the guide as paralympic pre-games training camps. This includes 16 facilities from Wales offering 20 paralympic sports.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) will be introducing passports incorporating fingerprint biometrics as part of the ongoing security enhancements to passports. There are currently no plans to enrol iris biometrics.
The exact method by which fingerprints are enrolled during passport applications has yet to be finalised. However, the needs of those living in remote communities is being taken into consideration. First time passport applicants are already required to attend an interview as part of the application process. The IPS has explored ways to make this more accessible to those in remote communities with video-linked offices currently being delivered as a solution.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government have funded the Poppy project since 2003 to provide comprehensive services to non-UK victims who have been trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation. We have given our commitment to ratify the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings by the end of 2008 which will formalise our existing arrangements and enhance our measures to protect and support these vulnerable victims.
In addition, under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996), local authorities in England must secure suitable accommodation for applicants in certain priority needs groups. These priority need groups include vulnerable people, including those who are vulnerable as a result of having fled their home because of a risk of violence or threat of violence likely to be carried out.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: As part of our implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking, we have been piloting a victim identification process to improve our understanding of how to identify victims and what support needs they have. We have also held a number of consultation workshops with partners from within and outside the Government, including non-governmental organisations which have a particular focus on safeguarding the rights of women.
The Government will introduce firm proposals before the end of the year, informed by the pilots and consultations. An individual who is officially identified as a victim of trafficking, in need of care and support, is unlikely to meet the criteria for immigration detention.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The UK Government have always supported the UN Global Initiative which was originally launched in London on 26 March 2007. The initiative culminated in an international conference held in Vienna on 12 to 15 February 2008 at which the UK was represented by a high-level UK delegation.
The non-governmental organisation Stop the Traffik presented their 1 million signatures petition to the UN at the Vienna Forum. The UK continues to support the themes of the petition which include work on prevention, prosecution and protection through the auspices of the UK action plan on tackling human trafficking.
Whether persons serving custodial sentences who have absconded or escaped from prison are put on the United Kingdom Border Agency watch list; and how many such persons are currently on the list. [HL3605]
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The UK Border Agency maintains a watch list of adverse information and intelligence which is used to inform decisions. It is longstanding policy not to discuss either the specific data held on this watch list or the source of the data on it.
The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Cabinet Office guidance for civil servants on drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions was published in February 2005. A copy of the guidance is in the Library of the House. It can also be found on the Cabinet Office website at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/propriety_and_ethics/civil_service/pq_guidance.aspx.
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