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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: That is what I am saying.

Baroness Buscombe: Without wishing to take up too much of the Committee's time, surely that means that a large organisation is worse off than an individually-run village pub where the premises licence holder is also the designated premises supervisor. He is on site, managing and controlling the situation on a day-to-day basis. But in the case of a large organisation there has to be someone who is effectively floating from one premises to another, in which case there is not the same hands-on management. There is effectively a separate layer in this designated supervisor overseeing a number of establishments.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: That is possible. The Bill does not rule it out. It is not what we would expect to be the normal situation. We would normally expect there to be a designated premises supervisor who looks after one premises. There is no additional layer of bureaucracy in that. But businesses can organise themselves as they think fit. For example, if there is a more senior manager, that senior manager may be given responsibility for more than one shop or more than one pub.

Lord Redesdale: I know one publican who has four pubs. But it may be a pub chain with 30 pubs. If the designated supervisor can oversee more than one pub, does it mean that that person's name will be above the door of all four pubs in just a small chain, or all 30 pubs in a larger chain?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Much to my regret there is no provision which says that the name should be above the door. I believe it to be a good thing that it should say "Andrew Robert McIntosh" or "Rupert Mitford licensed to sell beer, wine and spirits for consumption on or off the premises". But that is not what the Bill says. It is sad but we have to put up with that.

The principle is that the designated premises supervisor is normally the person responsible for day-to-day management of the premises. If the industry can persuade us that a single person can be responsible for the day-to-day management of more than one premises, then that person will be registered as the designated premises supervisor. There is no mystery. We are trying to be as flexible as possible to the industry.

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Although the industry does not like these provisions, the police and local authorities take a quite different view. The police and the licensing authorities who are responsible for enforcing the Bill consider these provisions essential for making enforcement effective. First, it is essential that the police or officers of the licensing authority can identify immediately the person at any premises selling alcohol in a position of authority. They can do so at the premises because a copy of the licence must be held there and a summary displayed. The Bill requires that the designated premises supervisor shall be named in the licence. That will ensure that problems are dealt with swiftly by engaging with that key individual. If the person was not named on the licence itself, as later amendments provide, passing officers or officials might have to check headquarters records. That would be neither helpful, nor practical nor efficient.

Secondly, it is essential that the police are able to object to the designation of a new premises supervisor where in exceptional circumstances they believe the appointment would undermine the crime prevention objective in the Bill. I shall come to the circumstances of objection in a moment. For very good reasons, therefore, we have given undertakings to the police that these arrangements should prevail. The provisions establish clear lines of responsibility. Where trouble flares up the police will be better able to take the necessary action quickly, with a minimum of confusion.

But we have not forgotten the desirability of light touch bureaucracy. We want business to thrive for the sake of investment, employment and local and national economies. But that has to be balanced against the need for effective enforcement in the interests of the wider community. All that we are asking business to do is to indicate the name of the premises supervisor on the premises licence while he or she is in post. There is nothing in the Bill that prevents an immediate change of that person if a business wants to do that.

Where a change of premises supervisor is to take place, the premises licence-holder—perhaps a supermarket chain or a pub-operating company—notifies the police and the licensing authority and shows that the individual concerned consents to taking on the role. That is a simple notification. It is far from being what my noble friend Lord Graham called a "paper chase". The whole licence does not have to be sent in for amendment. That would place a burden on the licensing authority itself. The Bill provides that a part of the licence may be submitted, ideally a schedule to the main licence, giving personal details of key individuals. That would be dispatched, amended and returned.

Fears have been expressed that the arrangements could hinder or slow down the movement of managers between premises. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, that that is what happens in large groups. But nothing could be further from the truth. I refer to Clause 37. The premises licence holder can give notice that the appointment is being given immediate effect so that nothing hinders the change of premises

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supervisor. If the police intervene and object and the licensing authority upholds the police objection, the individual would have to be removed straightaway. But the premises licence holder would be able to give notice of a different individual to be given immediate effect, pending notification to the police.

I can assure Members of the Committee that I understand the concerns about some parts of industry. But as a result of the efforts we have made to accommodate the industry, those concerns—I know they have been expressed in representations to Members of the Committee—are unfounded.

Lord Redesdale: I realise that the Minister is trying to give a comprehensive reply, but he said that the take-over could take place with immediate effect pending notification of the police. As I understand it—he may correct me—the Bill later states that the police may take up to 48 hours to make checks. Is the Minister saying that the person could take over pending the police checking up and reporting, or does he have to wait for the go-ahead from the police, which could take some time?

6 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, he could be in post. But designated premises supervisors have to hold personal licences, which the police can check quickly.

I saw a degree of bemusement on the face of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, when I talked about premises supervisors having responsibility for more than one premises. That is the case because the Bill does not forbid it. However, if one looks at the practicalities, if there were a chain of 30 pubs and the premises licence holder wanted to nominate the same person for all of them, the police would say, "No, that won't work, that would undermine the objective", and they would object accordingly.

I do not believe that that will happen. The Bill provides for one, two or three premises at most to be under the responsibility of a supervisor. We are trying to keep the provision simple and not to make it unnecessarily complicated.

The complexity of the existing alcohol licensing regime is not fully recognised. On every occasion where a new manager of a pub or supermarket takes over control of the premises there has to be a full application for the transfer of the licence, involving a full hearing before the licensing justices and court appearances by the police, whether or not they have any objections. We expect the majority of applications to be dealt with administratively with virtually no costly court hearings, which are a common part of the existing regime.

That is why I am justified in saying that this is a deregulatory Bill. We envisage a light touch bureaucracy but we have to balance it by giving the police a right to object and intervene, but only in exceptional circumstances. For example—this is relevant to what the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, was saying—a personal licence holder might have been allowed to retain his licence by the courts despite

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convictions for selling alcohol to minors, or he might have acquired convictions for the possession rather than the supply of controlled drugs. What if such an individual fetches up at a pub with a history of being used by under-age drinkers or an association with drug abuse? The police would surely intervene when such a personal licence holder and such a pub came together. That is why the provision is necessary.

Lord Williamson of Horton: Perhaps I may clarify my point. If the Minister reads Hansard he will find that I said that Clause 36 was a good clause. That is the clause about the application to vary a licence. I want to make sure that with the passage of the Bill we do not arrive at more difficult circumstances in relation to Clauses 36 and 38.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I am glad to hear that and I take it as support for the Bill's provisions.

We want a provision that allows for the industry's aims that the new regime should be simple and the regulatory burden should be as light as possible. The Bill replaces elements of more than 50 statutes currently impacting on licensing. Our estimate is that it will save the retail, hospitality and leisure industries almost 2 billion over 10 years. But there must be safeguards in place. I have set out the minimum safeguards involving the police. To remove designated premises supervisors would wreck the balance we have achieved between deregulation and protection.


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