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Lord Avebury: I agree with the noble Lord. There should be some provision of this kind. But he is talking about one aspect of additional costs imposed by the late-night economy. It could be extended to other areas such as the effect on health, street cleaning, graffiti and all the things associated with the presence of large numbers of young people in an area where they are not particularly well supervised.
With regard to policing in central London, when I recently had the privilege of visiting West End Central and Charing Cross police districts with the chief inspector, I was told how resources were provided. In the case of Charing Cross, officers were asked to volunteer for permanent night duty instead of the several nights on, several nights off, they had been working previously. It was found that that system was much more acceptable to the officers concerned and that, by having 13 officers on duty all night, they were able to provide a far more effective service. Absence due to sickness among the officers concerned went right down, as the Committee may imagine. When they did not suffer jet lag twice a week they were much more likely to remain on the job.
I congratulate the police on the way they have coped with some of the problems in central Londonbut at severe cost, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, mentioned. That will be the case in every area where we have the late-night economy. Inevitably, the more premises are open throughout the night, the more police officers will be required and the higher will be the cost imposed.
When I asked the Minister about the levels of crime in the Charing Cross and West End Central police districts on December 19th, she said, at cols. 784-5, that she would be cautious as a social scientist about connecting any differentials shown by the analysis for which I asked with late-night drinking because many other factors entered the causation of violent crime.
The Minister went on to discuss drunkenness in particular. That is an extremely bad guide to the level of offences associated with the late-night economy because it is so closely connected with the propensity of the police to arrest people for that offence. The figures in Scotland show that clearly. In 1979, there were 13,626 drunkenness offenders; in 1999, there were 478. As a matter of common observation, drunkenness has not been virtually eliminated in Scotland during that period. There is clearly more of it than there was.
So either the offenders are not being charged at all or, when they commit offences, they are charged not with drunkenness but with some other crime. However, the Scottish figures have been used to "prove" the success of extended opening. The English and Welsh figures show a similar pattern, although not quite so dramatic. It is manifestly absurd to claim that there is less drunkenness in 2000 than there was in 1997, as I am sure the Minister would be the first to acknowledge.
Wherever we have the late-night economy, large increases in police costs will be associated with it. I do not understand why the entertainment industry, which will make vast profits from the extension of drinking hours, should not cough up a little of that money to help the police. I would go much further than the noble Lord, Lord Harris. I would have a levy on the industry to make it pay for all the costs that it imposes on the communitysuch as street cleaning and the large increase in the number of casualties in the accident and emergency departments of our hospitals. I am happy to support the noble Lord's limited demand in the hope that it will open up the discussion of all those other areas.
Baroness Blackstone: My starting point is that the Government want to see the police properly resourced. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary confirmed as recently as 5th December a significant investment in the police. Policing will receive a 6.2 per cent increase in funding for the year 20032004 and at least a 4 per cent increase in the two years after that. That will allow an increase in police officer strength to 132,500 officers.
Against that background, we have a number of concerns about what these amendments would mean. First, it is not confined to premises selling only alcohol. It covers every form of premises to which a premises licence might apply. For example, it covers concert halls, theatres and cinemas, as well as pubs and night-clubs. It is very sweeping in its potential impact.
Noble Lords may recall that prior to the introduction of the Police Reform Bill in the last Session of Parliament, the Home Office published a White Paper for public consultation on the issue of police reform. It included the idea of schemes by which certain entertainment outlets might agree to make voluntary payments to the police for the disproportionate costs of policing associated with their premises. We fully support such schemes.
But there is a great deal of difference between voluntary and compulsory schemes. Compulsory schemes could drive a major wedge between the police and the industry at a time when we need them to work together and with others in partnership to defeat crime and anti-social behaviour. Certainly, there would need to be very widespread public consultation on this issue before we could agree to take it forward.
The financial impact on the industry would also have to be carefully analysed. The hospitality and leisure industry is a major part of the wider tourism industry. The well-being of this industry is important to our economy. Since 1997, it has provided one in four of all new jobs created in the UK and one in five that have been created in pubs and bars.
We should also recognise that this would be an additional tax on industry by another name. Under the terms of the amendments, it would be a tax for the benefit of police authorities imposed by the licensing authority and not by the Government with the consent of Parliament. The phrase "no taxation without representation" could come back to haunt us.
Sales of alcohol in this country exceed £25 billion each year. More than £12 billion in alcohol duty and VAT is therefore generated annually. It is paid by the customers of entertainment outlets who cause the alleged policing problems. Those customers are also paying income and local tax, which can be added to the duty and VAT that I have already mentioned. The more people attending licensed premises, the more alcohol being consumed, the more tax that will be paid.
This is a very complex matter and I would be instinctively against allowing the potential for such blanket charges. However, there may be a caseI put it no higher than thatfor a court power to make an order requiring payment to the police where convictions have been obtained for permitting disorder on licensed premises. That would not be a tax but a penalty incurred and applied in appropriate circumstances by a court. Again, I do not think that we should venture down that road without consultation on the issue. In these circumstances, I hope that my noble friend will withdraw his amendment.
Lord Harris of Haringey: I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for his comments. I am well aware that other services are also affected by this. Indeed, Deputy Commissioner Trotter, in his remarks,
I am somewhat perplexed by the responses that I have received from the Minister. Yes, of course there will be, and there is, a growth in police numbers. Yes, of course the amendment applies to every type of premises; it was intended to do so. There are extra burdens on the police in terms of very large venuessuch as concert halls, from rock concerts, film premieres, and so forth. There are costs in regard to policing outside football clubs which would also be picked up as part of this.
The point is that such a provision would provide an opportunity for the exceptional cases or the areas where there are real problems to be picked up on the basis of representations by the police and then to be determined by a licensing authoritywhich under Bill's proposals will be democratically elected; so the argument that there is no taxation without representation is clearly spurious.
My noble friend made the point that it would be much better to have a voluntary arrangement rather than a compulsory one. Of course it is much better if those who cause the most problems are happy to volunteer to make a contribution. But I suspect that if one asks the communities around the various types of establishments that we have been talking about, one will find that it is those who are least responsible who cause the most problems and who are the least likely to enter into voluntary agreements. For those reasons, I believe that it is necessary to include a provision which can, under certain circumstances, require such licence holders to make some kind of contribution.
Similarly, I am not convinced about the argument that the amendment could create a wedge between the police and the industry. A wedge is created at present by irresponsible licence holders who do not enter into discussions.
The fundamental problem that I have is this: yes, of course this proposal could be interpreted as a tax; but it is proposed that the circumstances should be exceptional; and that the discretion would be exercised by an elected authority. That point deals with the argument that there is no taxation without representation. In any event, taxation agreed by Parliament would necessarily apply across the country.
An issue that arises in regard to many of these establishments is that they are very localised. Havering is a low crime borough, but the problems of Romford town centre and of the clubs in Romford are extreme, and other suburbs have to deal with similar issues. The problems of Westminster are the result of a concentration of licensed premises in the centre of London.
I was interested in my noble friend's comments about the possibility of imposing a court penalty. If she is saying that the matter could be returned to at a later stage, I am happy on this occasion to seek to withdraw the amendment. But I believe that we should not lose
Subject to those remarks, and in the hope that my noble friend will consider these matters further, and perhaps also consider further the remarks that she has made about court penalties, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.