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The Earl of Lindsay: Once again, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Balfour for providing me with a useful opportunity to explain precisely the purpose and the benefits of Clause 1. However, I should like, first, to thank my noble friend for the careful and detailed explanation that he has given to the Committee of the aims and purpose of his amendments.

Amendment No. 6, to which my noble friend spoke when moving Amendment No. 2, is the substantive amendment in the group. As he stated, the other amendments relate to consequential drafting changes. My noble friend's amendments proceed from the basis that the licensing board would be granting or renewing a licence under the new provisions. That is not the case.

There is no provision in Clause 1 which gives licensing boards the power to grant licences, nor should there be. There are already adequate provisions in the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 for that purpose. The administrative requirements which boards should apply in these circumstances are also already set out in the 1976 Act. All this must have been gone through and the appropriate decision taken before the board turns its attention to the duty imposed on it by Clause 1 of the Bill. Therefore, there is no need to oblige the board to repeat these stages which would be part of the effect of my noble friend's Amendment No. 6.

Amendment No. 6 also sets out certain conditions which a licensing board should apply, presumably once it had satisfied itself that the licensed premises would be holding a relevant event. As my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate explained at Second Reading, all the types of health and safety issues set out in the conditions which my noble friend seeks to prescribe by his amendments are dealt with by the legislative requirements applying already to licensed premises. But, because a licensing board may want to go further in respect of an event covered by this Bill's provisions, it will now have the power to do so.

The purpose of Clause 1 is not to regulate the arrangements covering the granting of liquor licences or the activities of pubs generally which we know are already satisfactorily covered by the 1976 Act. The purpose of Clause 1 is to put beyond doubt that licensing boards have adequate powers to regulate specific events held on these premises. These are legal requirements on a licence holder which he must observe regardless of

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whether he is holding an event on his premises which would attract the provisions in the Bill, and that is as it should be.

However, under the new provisions in Clause 1 there will be additional safeguards imposed by licensing boards when they think it necessary. Again, this is as it should be. Boards now have the full range of appropriate powers at their disposal. My noble friend also mentioned the scope of Section 41 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. Section 41 of that Act deals with public entertainment licences. These licences may be granted where the sale of alcohol is not involved. This Bill deals with licensed premises only.

Section 41 of the 1982 Act already enables the licensing authority to deal adequately with events on non-licensed premises. In our eyes it is therefore not relevant as respects Clause 1 of the current Bill. I hope that the explanation I have given satisfies my noble friend that his concerns about the Bill are all either covered by existing legislation, or that boards will be able to tackle them under the new arrangements in Clause 1. I hope therefore that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his Amendment No.2 and the associated amendments in this group.

The Earl of Balfour: I am most grateful to my noble friend the Minister for his reply. I am satisfied that these safeguards are provided. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Lord Macaulay of Bragar moved Amendment No. 4:


Page 2, line 4, after ("it") insert ("reasonably").

The noble Lord said: I am sorry that I was not present at the Second Reading debate. The issue we are discussing arose out of the deaths of young people at Ecstasy raves and other such events. We have debated that matter at length in this Chamber on other occasions. It would obviously be inappropriate for me to express my views at this stage. This is an emotive issue. The amendment seeks to put an obligation on a licensing board to state its reasons for adopting a particular view. As at present drafted, Clause 1(3)(c) states,


    "at which it appears to the board that offences may be committed in relation to controlled drugs within the meaning of section 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971".
Any member of a licensing board may have public knowledge of a particular situation. A policeman may have had a word in the ear of a member of a licensing board. That is not unknown and we must be realistic about these things. My amendment seeks to insert the word "reasonably" in order to ensure that the reasons a board has for taking a particular step can be examined, perhaps by judicial review. As the clause presently stands, there is an absolute power with no provision for review. I appreciate that in the original Act the board has to state its reasons for doing what it does, but the measure we are discussing does not seem to follow the philosophy of that Act. By seeking to insert the word "reasonably" in the Bill, I seek to rectify that position.

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I think all of us in the Chamber appreciate that this is a non party issue. We are trying to save young people from themselves and to control what happens in various places. We wish to ensure that the licensing boards behave themselves and do not display a knee-jerk reaction when someone applies for a licence. We are trying to ensure that licensing boards will be required to state--subject to judicial review--why they have decided that a licence should or should not be granted. I beg to move.

Viscount Thurso: I support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay of Bragar. Before I do so, I should again declare my interest as the owner of a licensed premises in Scotland. During the Second Reading debate I spoke of the concern within the trade as regards the absolute power within the Bill as currently drafted. I am grateful for the letter which the Minister sent to me. I had asked for the words "reasonable suspicion" to be incorporated in the Bill. The Minister wrote to me and informed me that that had been objected to by CoSLA who felt that it was going too far, and that it would make it difficult for it to come to a decision. However, I believe this amendment, which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay of Bragar, represents a compromise position. It asks for reasonableness on the part of licensing boards without imposing too many of the conditions for which I had asked originally. I hope that the Minister will consider it carefully.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I, too, wish to support the amendment but from a slightly different point of view from that of my noble friend. I believe that anything which focuses attention on health and safety measures as regards young people's events is helpful. I hope that the Minister will regard that as a positive feature of the amendment.

The Earl of Lindsay: The amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, raises an interesting topic. I am grateful for the additional comments made by the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, and the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso. The question of how to define a relevant event and, in that connection, what test boards should apply when considering whether the characteristic in the present definition about contravention of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 applies, has been debated at length in another place. Indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, reminded us, the subject was also touched upon during the Bill's Second Reading in this Chamber.

Those earlier concerns, particularly about the test which boards should apply, were taken seriously. Indeed, that issue, as the noble Viscount reminded us, was subject to consultation with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities during the passage of the Bill in another place. We were anxious to have its views on the issue. CoSLA was firmly opposed to any change which could prevent licensing boards from discharging their functions properly. We have concluded therefore that what is in the Bill at present will not hamper the boards in fulfilling their statutory duties.

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This present amendment is in fact unnecessary. It seeks to insert a requirement that boards must act reasonably when reaching a decision as to whether or not there is likely to be a contravention of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Of course boards must act reasonably here and on every occasion where they are called upon to take a decision. If they do not, they lay themselves wide open to a challenge in the courts. Consequently, there is no need to make express provision as the charge to act reasonably is naturally implicit.

I remind the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, that in subsection (6), at line 25 of page 2 of the Bill, there is reference to a route of appeal. I have also reminded the noble Lord that the requirements in the 1976 Act to act reasonably apply equally to the provisions of this Bill. The grounds of appeal are clearly laid out in Section 39 of the 1976 Act. There are four specific criteria on which an appeal can be lodged by an applicant who is unhappy with the decision made by a board.

In the 1976 Act, and in this Bill, there are well recognised routes of remedy. I hope therefore that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw the amendment.


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