The Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee
has agreed to the following Report:--
PROPOSAL FOR THE REGULATORY REFORM
(SPECIAL OCCASIONS LICENSING) ORDER 2001
1. On 28 June 2001 the Government laid before Parliament
the proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Special Occasions Licensing)
Order 2001 in the form of a draft of the Order and an Explanatory
Memorandum from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
2. The proposed Regulatory Reform Order would amend
the Licensing Act 1964 ("the
to allow onlicensed premises and registered clubs to sell
alcohol throughout the night on New Year's
Eve this year. This would amount to a 12 hour extension in permitted
hours allowing uninterrupted opening from the start of permitted
hours on New Year's
Eve (11a.m) to the end of permitted hours on New Year's
Day (11 p.m.).
3. The House has instructed us to examine the proposal
against the criteria specified in Standing Order No. 141(6) and
then, in the light of that examination, to report whether the
Government should proceed, whether amendments should be made,
or whether the Order should not be made.
4. We have concluded that the proposals should
be amended before a draft Order is laid before the House.
The amendments we propose relate chiefly not to the substance
of the current Order, but rather to its possible effect on the
ability to bring forward further Regulatory Reform Orders relating
to reform of licensing hours, which the Government has stated
is its eventual aim.
However, we also have serious concerns about the timing of this
proposal. Whilst we have concluded that those concerns are not
sufficient to justify the rejection of the Order, nevertheless
the mishandling of the procedure by the Department concerned meant
that what should have been a straightforward decision was, in
the event, extremely difficult, and has caused both this Committee
and, more importantly, licensees and those living near licensed
premises, much unnecessary inconvenience and uncertainty.
5. This is the first proposal to be brought forward
under the revised regulatory reform procedure. We have high hopes
for the procedure, through which we believe valuable reform of
legislation can be effected without taking up scarce time on the
floor of either House, whilst maintaining the necessary level
of Parliamentary scrutiny. However, with this proposed Order it
has got off to an inauspicious start. As the Home Office/DCMS
have now discovered, the regulatory reform procedure is no "easy
for ill-considered or badly handled proposals. Properly conducted,
however, it provides an excellent opportunity to effect reforms
which might not otherwise see the light of Parliamentary day.
We look forward to being able to consider future regulatory
reform proposals without the difficulties which have attended
this one; and we trust that Departments which bring such proposals
forward will enable that to happen.
6. Our detailed comments on matters arising from
our consideration of the proposal against the criteria specified
in the Standing Order are contained in the remainder of this Report.
Where such a criterion does not appear in this Report, we have
no concerns to raise under that heading.
4 Standing Order No. 141(2). Back
5 Appendix 2, paras 2, 3B4. Back