Select Committee on Deregulation First and Second Reports


The Deregulation Committee has made further progress in the matter referred to it and has agreed to the following Report:—


1. On 8 December the Government laid before Parliament the draft Deregulation (Sunday Licensing) Order 2000, together with a Statement and a Guidance Note on Extended Liquor Licensing Hours on Sunday[14]. We have twice reported on similar proposals. On 14 March 2000 we reported on the Government's original proposal, the Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing) Order 2000.[15] We have reported separately, today, on the Deregulation (Sunday Dancing) Order 2000,[16] which seeks to implement only those provisions of the original proposed Order which relate to Sunday Dancing.

2. The existing legislation, the Licensing Act 1964 (the '1964 Act'), permits late night drinking (and dancing) on six days a week, from Monday to Saturday night up to Sunday morning. The 1964 Act allows certain premises, including on-licensed premises that are also licensed for music and dancing and which provide substantial refreshment, registered members clubs with music and dancing facilities, and casinos, to be granted extended licensing hours under a special hours certificate. This permits alcohol to be sold as an ancillary to the music and dancing up to 2am, or 3am in parts of central London. However special hours certificates cannot be granted for Sundays. The proposal would permit special hours certificates to be granted on Sundays for these premises.

3. The 1964 Act also provides for another form of extended hours in respect of restaurants where musical or other entertainment as well as substantial refreshment is provided. Extended hours orders permit alcohol to be sold as an ancillary to the entertainment and refreshment up to 1am. Extended hours orders are also currently unavailable on Sundays. The proposal would allow extended hours orders for Sundays for such premises.

4. During our consideration of the original proposal, the Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing) Order 200015, we concluded that the proposal should be amended either to allow residents and residents' associations to apply for revocation of a special hours certificate relating to Sunday, or as an alternative, to provide that the validity of such certificates be limited to one year only, and that residents should be entitled to object to their renewal.

5. We also concluded that, at the time the amended draft Order is laid, the Home Office should issue guidance on the interpretation to be given by licensing authorities to "the special nature of Sunday."

6. Our conclusion in respect of this part of the original proposal was that, with the exception of the criterion relating to the continuation of any necessary protection, the proposal satisfied the tests set out in Standing Order 141(5) (A). Since this amended proposal covers the same ground as the original proposal, except for the removal of those sections relating to the Sunday Observance Act (covered by the draft Sunday Dancing Order), we are content to limit our examination of the current proposal to whether it fulfils, or not, the criterion of continuing any necessary protection.

7. The amended draft Order introduces into the Licensing Act 1964 new sections which allow persons living or working in the neighbourhood, as well as the police and the relevant local authority, to apply to the licensing justices or the magistrates' court for the exclusion of Sunday from a special hours certificate on the grounds of avoiding or reducing (a) any disturbance or annoyance to persons living or working in the neighbourhood, or customers or clients of any business in the neighbourhood; or (b) the occurrence in the vicinity of the premises of disorderly conduct by persons frequenting the premises or part of the premises.

8. Moreover the amended draft Order states that where the licensing justices or magistrates' court grant a special hours certificate relating to Sunday, in spite of a local authority's objections based on the residential character of the area in which the premises are situated, reasons for such a decision must be given.

9. The amended draft Order also takes account of the Committee's recommendation for guidance to be published on the "special nature of Sunday". The amended draft Order states that in considering variations or limitations to special hours certificates, licensing authorities should not only take account of (a) the special nature of Sunday (which was required under the terms of the original proposed Order), but also (b) any guidance on that special nature issued by the Secretary of State.

10. A Guidance Note on Extended Liquor Licensing Hours on Sundays accompanies the amended draft Order. Although this goes some way towards acknowledging the special nature of Sundays, it does so in somewhat grudging terms which might not appeal to those who are less sanguine about the changing nature of Sunday than the Home Office appear to be. Accordingly we append to this Report a revised draft of the Home Office Guidance Note, which deals with this issue in more balanced terms which may commend themselves to the Secretary of State. In other respects we welcome the advice in the Guidance Note to the licensing justices that they should bear in mind the impact of any applications on the local environment and its residents.

11. Despite the reservations noted above, we conclude that the amended draft Order meets the criteria against which we are required to judge it.

12. In our Report on the draft Deregulation (Sunday Dancing) Order we accepted the separation of the original draft Order into two parts, but noted that "our approval of [this] draft Order should not be regarded as a precedent for future orders which the Department concerned may wish to divide or substantially amend".

13. In practice, the two separate draft Orders which have emerged from this process have been laid before Parliament within ten days of each other, perhaps to allay some public criticism of the Home Office for failing to provide appropriately for this New Year's Eve, which happens to fall on a Sunday. We in our turn have responded to both Orders, as required by Standing Order No. 141(14), as speedily as possible, particularly in the case of the draft Licensing Order. However, we draw the attention of the House to the fact that this late presentation will mean that the two draft Orders will now come into force too late for applications for special hours certificates and extended hours orders to be considered in time for this New Year's Eve. We therefore must question what has in practice been achieved by the haste with which the latter part of the exercise has been conducted.

14. We nonetheless recommend unanimously that the draft Order should be approved.

14  Copies of these are available to Members from the Vote Office and to members of the public from the Home Office. Back
15  First Report, Proposal for the Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing) Order 2000, HC 334 of Session 1999-2000. Back
16   See pp vii - viii of this Volume. Back

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Prepared 14 December 2000