Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Thirtieth Report



  23.  This proposal,[5] which was laid before Parliament on 13 July 1998, is to allow the holders of justices' off-licences to obtain occasional licences for the sale of wine at premises for consumption off those premises. It is unlikely that many licensees will take advantage of the benefits the proposed order offers but the proposal has the support of the owners of British vineyards and it can never be an objection to a proposal under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 that its benefits are severely limited.


  24.  The primary burden is the control of the sale of alcohol imposed by the licensing laws. Part of that control is the restriction on off-sales which makes it impossible to sell individual bottles of wine at a stall at a county agricultural show or country fair where the owner of a vineyard wishes to advertise his produce. There is provision for the grant to the holder of a justices' on-licence of an occasional licence to provide refreshments at such events but most vineyards will have only an off-licence. The proposal will remove a burden not only from vineyards but also from off-licences generally.

  25.  The Committee is satisfied that the proposal would remove a burden on a number of businesses.


  26.  The licensing laws provide protection against the abuse of alcohol. The greater the number of outlets the more difficult it is to ensure compliance with the prohibitions against, for example, the sale of alcohol to children and to those who are already drunk.

  27.  The consultation process revealed anxiety that off-sales under occasional licences would lead to cans and bottles of beer getting into the hands of children or that beer sold to adults would not be carried home but drunk in circumstances that would endanger public order. To meet these concerns the proposal has been limited to wine—which, as the explanatory memorandum notes, "is often sold in bottles with corks". The memorandum also notes "that least risk would arise with a more expensive specialised product such as UK wine."[6] The Committee considers that the limitation of the occasional licence to off-sales of wine ensures that no necessary protection is lost.

  28.  The Committee is satisfied that necessary protection would be maintained by the present proposal.


  29.  The gestation period of this small deregulation proposal has been long. A consultation paper setting out the Government's proposals was issued on 19 August 1996. Responses were requested by 18 October 1996. Those consulted are listed in Annex A to the Explanatory Memorandum. As well as trade interests the list of respondents includes a number of bodies which can be relied upon to consider the arguments against any widening of the arrangements for the sale of alcohol.

  30.  The Committee is satisfied that there was adequate consultation on the proposal.

  31.  Following publication of the Government's consultation paper in 1996 the Committee received three submissions. These are printed with this report.


  32.  The Committee regards this proposal as an example of how the deregulation procedure can be used to ease a burden which restricts the activities of a small number of small businesses—a useful, if minor, improvement to the law.

   33.  The Committee is satisfied that the proposal for the Draft Deregulation (Occasional Licences) Order 1998 meets the requirements of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and is appropriate to be made under it, without amendment.[7]

5   The proposal was laid before Parliament in the form of a draft of the Order and an Explanatory Memorandum from the Home Office. Back

6   Explanatory Memorandum, paragraph 18. Back

7   This Report is also published on the Internet at the House of Lords Select Committees Home Page (, where further information about the work of the Committee is also available. Back

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