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In effect, the majority of lap-dancing clubs-both those with existing licences and those that may be granted licences under the Licensing Act in the future-would continue to be regulated under the Licensing Act and would avoid the tighter controls provided by Clause 26. Such an amendment would render these reforms largely ineffectual and prevent local people having a greater say over the number and location of lap-dancing clubs in their area.

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As I stated in response to Amendment 82A, the Government are taking action on the issue of lap-dancing clubs because the controls provided by the Licensing Act have, in the experience of many local authorities, proved insufficient and have not allowed them to address the concerns that such venues pose for many local communities. Therefore, it is the Government's intention that all venues offering relevant entertainment are regulated under Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 to allow local communities to have a greater say about all such venues in their area.

Obviously, we are aware that existing lap-dancing clubs will need to be migrated to the new regime and will need time to apply for a new licence. The transitional arrangements dealing with these issues will be set out in secondary legislation. The Government will publish detailed proposals to that end, and will consult with the industry and other stakeholders on those proposals in due course. I have explained why the Government are not able to accept this amendment and, when we deal with subsequent amendments, I think that we can prove that the fear of bleeding businesses dry is unfounded.

Viscount Bridgeman: I am grateful to the Minister. This was a probing amendment, but can we expect to see before Report, which is quite some time hence, a draft of the proposed regulations in this respect?

Lord Brett: I do not have the absolute answer to that and I will seek it for the noble Viscount. I suspect that the answer is no because we are to start the consultation with the industry. Once the industry has given its views, it will be a question of taking that into account and producing the guidance. But if it is possible, clearly it would be advantageous so to do.

Baroness Hanham: I am concerned about retrospectivity, which is what this is likely to be in terms of the number of venues within an area. If the legislation comes in as it is and there is no long transitional period or carrying forward of the licences that are already granted under the licensing regime, businesses will be concerned that they will be put out of business. A local authority may suddenly decide that it will not continue to have the same number of lap-dancing premises. For example, there may be eight venues in a local authority which says that its number will be reduced to four. What will happen?

We have had lots of discussion about the retrospective nature of other legislation and its impact on businesses that are operating at the moment. The concern is what will happen to, in many cases, very expensive premises. We are talking as if all lap-dancing organisations are complete mavericks. As the Minister knows, some big organisations regulate this business very thoroughly and put a lot of money into it.

7 pm

Lord Brett: The noble Baroness makes a valid point. This is why we want to consult the industry to find out the circumstances and how it sees them before we draw up the regulations. She makes a point that will not be ignored. We are not seeking to ban lap dancing

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and certainly not to drive out of business respectable organisations that provide this service, meet the criteria and are licensed in accordance with Clause 26. I suspect the migration will have to take account of time and circumstance. If we can produce any further information before Report, then I undertake that we will do so.

Viscount Bridgeman: My noble friend Lady Hanham and I are grateful for these explanations. Obviously we want to be kept as closely in touch as is practicably possible with the Government's negotiations with the industry. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 88 withdrawn.

Amendment 89

Moved by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

89: Clause 26, page 22, line 43, leave out from beginning to end of line 14 on page 23

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: This probing amendment enables us to discuss whether there should be exemptions for clubs that provide lap dancing less than once a month. One could argue the case either way. I am interested to hear your Lordships' views.

Venues which irregularly hold lap-dancing events could be said to be those most likely to present problems. They will have much less adequate security, they might have invested much less in health and safety and they might present more problems in their neighbourhood. Then again, I would not want to think that a village hall which is laying on a fundraising event and might only do so once a year-or once-is going to be caught in any way by this legislation. This amendment is to examine the pros and cons of having the exemption as drafted by the Government. Did they weigh up the issues such as those I have mentioned about village halls against the fact that, if we are talking about occasional use, they fall outside of the regulation? I beg to move.

Viscount Bridgeman: The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, makes some good points in this amendment. We agree with many of her concerns about the operation of this exemption. Although I would not want to extend this extremely burdensome regulation unnecessarily, it appears the Government are imposing the strictest conditions on some clubs while allowing others to continue to operate completely free from restrictions.

The exemption as drafted is extremely detailed: no more than 11 occasions; none lasting more than 24 hours; and never more than once a month. The detail is understandable since the Government will obviously want to rule out the travelling circus-type show that was discussed in another place, but the prescription also means that the sort of event that this exemption was intended to apply to risks not being exempted at all.

I understand that the exemption was specifically designed to stop pubs falling into this category of venue-a point made by the noble Baroness-if, for

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example, a stag party hires a stripper, or a one-off show of the Chippendales comes to town. I would welcome the Minister's correction if I am wrong on this point. That being so, how is a landlord to prevent a stripper coming into the club more than once a month? He risks serious penalties for something he is likely not to know about at all. I look forward to the Minister's answers to these points and those made by the noble Baroness.

Lord Brett: The noble Viscount is correct in his analysis of why this exemption is in the Bill and why it has these particular ingredients of no more than 11 occasions. The purpose here is to recognise that not all premises that provide relevant entertainments should be classed as sexual encounter venues. He is absolutely right that we do not believe that such premises as, for instance, a pub which hosts a one-off birthday party at which a stripagram has been booked should be regulated in the same manner as lap-dancing clubs that offer entertainment on a nightly basis.

I am not sure I recognise the ability of someone to perform in that manner more than once a month without a landlord or the landlord's manager knowing about it. In that sense, the responsibility rests with the pub management or rugby club management-or the village hall committee. Most villages I know would be up in arms at the thought of village halls being used for those purposes. Maybe I live in a gentler part of the country in the north.

Premises that hold such infrequent events will continue to be regulated under the Licensing Act 2003 and will not require a sex establishment licence. This provision is important to ensure the reforms are dedicated to lap-dancing clubs for gain and venues providing similar entertainment on a regular basis. We were made aware during the debate in the other place that there was a fear that we could have "lap dancers on tour", who would move from venue to venue, keeping strictly within the 11 performances by moving around a large number of establishments, pubs and clubs in a short period. We doubt that is the case, but we would be worried if using temporary event notices to hold lap-dancing events in venues operated in such a manner. Therefore, we are making provision that that is not an unintended consequence. There is not sufficient evidence to suggest these concerns will materialise but we will have a limited order-making power to allow the Secretary of State to tighten the exemption or remove it altogether should it be clear that it has been exploited in that way. This has the right balance between stopping events, whether fundraising or other, of a nature that do not constitute regular performance of lap dancing and stopping events from those business organisations that do. I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank the Minister for his reply. As somebody who hardly ever goes north of the line across from the Wash, I could not possibly comment on what happens in the north-although I remember seeing the film "The Full Monty", which suggests that occasionally such things happen there. I am sure the Minister will tell me that "The Full Monty" would not be caught by this either-unless he

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tells me different. It is certainly stripping but would probably not fall within the Bill. He is nodding, so that will be a relief. He has provided an explanation of when this will take hold-or not. I am satisfied with that and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 89 withdrawn.

Amendment 90

Moved by Lord Brett

90: Clause 26, page 24, line 30, at end insert-

"( ) In paragraph 9(1) (duration of licence) after "paragraph 16" insert "or 27A below"."

Lord Brett: Amendment 90 and Amendment 102 in the name of my noble friend Lord West are minor, technical amendments seeking to ensure, once premises have been granted a sex establishment licence in order to operate as a sex encounter venue, that they will be deemed to be a sex encounter venue for the duration of their licence, irrespective of how frequently entertainment is provided.

The amendments are required to avoid premises obtaining a licence then claiming that they are not a sex entertainment venue, either because they desisted from the provision of such relevant entertainment or, at the time in question, they were operating within the conditions of the exemption of infrequent events provided by Clause 24(3)(b). This is necessary as, in order to use some of the powers available in Schedule 3 to the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, local authorities and the police must establish whether a premises was a sex establishment at the time in question. In the event of ceasing to provide relevant entertainment and no longer wishing to be subject to the conditions of a sex establishment licence, a licence-holder can write to the local authority and request that the licence be cancelled.

Amendments 161 and 162 to Schedule 7 are consequential amendments to clarify the relevant entertainment provided by venues that are deemed to be sex encounter venues. By virtue of these amendments -I am sorry, I will read that again. Amendments 161 and 162 to Schedule 7 are consequential amendments to clarify the relevant entertainment provided by venues that are deemed to be sex encounter venues by virtue of these amendments-I shall read it a third time and I might be able to make sense of it. Amendments 161 and 162 to Schedule 7 are consequential amendments to clarify that the relevant entertainment provided by venues that are deemed to be sex encounter venues by virtue of these amendments is not to be considered to be regulated entertainment for the purposes of the Licensing Act 2003. This means that such venues do not need a premises licence in order for lap dancers or stripagrams to perform their routines or for music to be played for them to dance or perform to. They will still need a premises licence for the sale of alcohol. I beg to move.

Viscount Bridgeman: These government amendments are welcome because they improve the clarity and drafting of the Bill and address many of the concerns expressed in the last debate. Although many venues are dedicated to adult entertainment, there are others

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where the distinction between a bar and a relevant venue is not nearly as clear. We still have concerns about the exemption provisions and the definition of "relevant entertainment", and we feel that these leave much to be desired. We shall pay attention to these before we come back at the Report stage.

Lord Brett: I thank the noble Viscount for his remarks.

Amendment 90 agreed.

Amendment 91

Moved by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

91: Clause 26, page 24, line 30, at end insert-

"( ) In paragraph 9(1) after "any licence" insert "apart from a licence in respect of a sex encounter venue,"."

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: These two probing amendments have been tabled with the intention of discovering how the Government came to decide that the annual renewal of licences is reasonable. It seems to be a fair burden on businesses to have to renew their licences each year, and it is also quite an administrative burden on a local authority with a lot of clubs. We do not want this to become in any way an exercise in rubber-stamping just to get through the volume of business. Amendment 91 would exclude licences granted in respect of sex encounter venues from the provisions that such licences should be renewed on an annual basis. As I say, the amendment is probing in nature to discover whether a biannual renewal period would be more reasonable. An annual renewal period seems a little more frequent than necessary, but I am sure the Minister has an explanation. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham: The noble Baroness has raised what is probably one of the most burdensome aspects of these regulations for the businesses concerned. They are to move from operating under perpetual licences that do not have to be renewed on a regular basis to being expected to apply annually for a licence. In some cases, a great deal of money is charged for these licences each time an application is made. There is also the possibility of an arbitrary refusal, and we have not yet come to the point of discussing what a refusal would be based on and why a local authority might not accept the renewal of a licence, which would take into account the number of clubs in a particular area. The possibility of an annual renewal period will be a great shock to many premises, and I know that the Lap Dancing Association is extremely concerned about this. I am sure that the Government have received many representations on it.

We understand that this system has been in operation for sex shops and cinemas, but does not the Minister agree that those venues can adapt their services far more cheaply and rapidly than, for example, lap-dancing venues that by nature rely on large and expensive premises with significant facilities? I understand that the DCMS Select Committee agreed with the lap-dancing industry that the licence period should be longer, suggesting five years. Can the Minister tell us why that recommendation was not accepted?

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7.15 pm

Lord Brett: As the noble Baroness indicated, the concerns of the lap-dancing industry have been made clear to the Government. It fears that the annual renewal process will be overly burdensome and, indeed, may in some instances be used by local authorities to remove licences without cause. The Government do not believe that this will be the case. The regime has been in force for over two decades for a number of venues such as sex shops and sex cinemas, and while it is true that the conversion costs may be less for those businesses, there do not seem to have been any problems. We see no reason to believe that local authorities will refuse to grant or renew a licence to a responsible operator that only a year previously had been issued a licence unless it has good reason for so doing.

It is therefore the Government's view that these amendments would significantly weaken the impact of the reforms being introduced in Clause 26, which will reclassify lap-dancing clubs as sex establishments, recognising that they offer entertainment which is fundamentally different from other entertainment venues such as nightclubs and pubs. Such venues often raise particular concerns for local communities. For this reason, we believe that the ongoing scrutiny created by the need for a lap-dancing club to renew its licence on at least an annual basis is justified. The renewal process will provide local people with the opportunity to make further objections, if such objections exist, thereby empowering people to ensure that local authorities can be responsive to their views. I hope that this explains clearly why the Government have proposed these provisions and do not feel able to accept the amendment, and I trust that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw it.

Baroness Hanham: When will we have sight of the reasons why a local authority can object to or refuse a licence? I am trying to balance in my mind whether we are dealing with a moral issue here or one of practical concern. By and large, as I understand it, all these clubs are pretty well regulated. There may be those that are not, but if that is the case, we ought to know what objections are being made. All the entertainment takes place inside the building and the codes of conduct certainly make it clear that nothing should happen outside. I am told that everyone agrees that very few complaints are lodged because such venues cause trouble externally. I am concerned that we have spent an awfully long time talking about these establishments today and are now considering an overly burdensome regulation, and I wonder if we are doing this because it is a moral issue rather than on the basis of resolving a practical difficulty.

I know people will say that they do not want a lap-dancing venue in their area, and that is fine, but for those that are already there, presumably someone is going to have to demonstrate that they have caused trouble. Will the Minister confirm that?

Lord Brett: The objections that have successfully been made but had to be denied in the light of the Licensing Act 2003 and its four distinct provisions include seeking to open a lap-dancing club in a wholly residential area, which was seen by many local people to be undesirable; the suggestion of opening lap-dancing

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clubs near schools, which may be a moral issue-I am not sure; and opening lap-dancing clubs near or adjacent to religious buildings.

The licence may not be renewed for a range of reasons set out in paragraph 12(3) of Schedule 3 to the 1982 Act and include, for example, that the applicant is considered unsuitable. I understand the concern of the Lap Dancing Association in relation to the members it represents, but there are upwards of 300 establishments and considerable concern has been expressed about the inability of local residents to have the local authority take notice of their objections. That is not say that the views of residents will override those of the local authority because it has wider responsibilities which, as the noble Baroness knows better than I, it takes very seriously. So I would not have thought that the proposal we are putting forward for an annual inspection need be too onerous, too expensive, or likely to bleed any business dry.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: The trouble is that the noble Baroness, Lady Hanham, is absolutely right that this onerous renewal-the Minister did not disabuse me of the idea that it is onerous-is more about a moral crusade than a practical approach to the problem. The first time the club applies for a licence, the issue of the locality, which we shall discuss shortly, and whether it was near a school, and so on, would be very important. As those issues would have been dealt with already, annual renewal sounds too often. The Minister is ignoring some of the evidence given to the DCMS Committee of the other place by Chief Inspector Studd of ACPO who was talking about the low risk of these venues from a public order perspective. He said:

"There is no evidence that they"-

lap-dancing clubs-

Of all the things that local authorities have to license, on that evidence given by a representative of ACPO, these sound to be pretty mild. It is quite surprising that the Government want to put that level of burden on local authorities and on the clubs themselves. I suspect that we shall come back to this on Report, but in the mean time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 91 withdrawn.

Amendment 92 not moved.

Amendment 93

Moved by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

93: Clause 26, page 24, line 36, at end insert-

"( ) In paragraph 12(5)(a) after "locality" insert "within the area defined by section 2"."

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