Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I believe that I said that once you have accepted the 10-day period as being more reasonable than the 28 days which have been proposed, the other time periods for notices to and from the police, and from the local authority as a counter notice, fit in with that.

Lord Crickhowell: I agree with that last point. It is unreasonable to have a short notice period for a major event to which people may come from all over the country. That matter needs to be pursued. I accept some of the arguments about raves from which I have suffered in the valley in which I live. I do not feel strongly as regards the exact number of people one stipulates. I refer to the figure of 500. But the point that seems to me does need to be pursued is that of the 72-hour period. Many festivals that take place up and down the country last a week. Of course, a festival can take place over a long weekend or a bank holiday weekend, but it seems to me wholly unreasonable that the kind of important music festivals which now occur in large numbers and are of great importance to the people who attend them and the musicians who take part in them should be restricted in the way that is proposed. I hope that the Government will think hard about the amendment, which ought to be supported, that seeks to extend the period from 72 hours so that at least events can take place that cover a whole week.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not want to prolong the discussion and I do not know whether I should make helpful suggestions of this kind, but one is not going to have a week-long festival five times a year in the same premises. One could use up three of one's five licences by making the period nine days.

Baroness Buscombe: Before the Minister sits down, I ask a question following on from the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Monson. I am not convinced that the Minister gave a full reply to Amendment No. 366. The Bill states that a counter notice may be issued prohibiting an event from taking place up to 24 hours before it is due to begin. Event organisers would have to respond to a counter notice within that very short time frame. They would have to warn people coming to the event and cancel all the entertainers and performers taking part. The necessary expense would probably already have been incurred in terms of setting up the event. We are asking for an extension of

16 Jan 2003 : Column 388

that time under Amendment No. 366 from 24 hours to 72 hours. Does not the Minister agree that that is entirely reasonable?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: What happens when, two days before, the mobile homes and the motor caravans start rolling into the field?

Baroness Buscombe: We understand that the Bill seeks to liberalise laws with regard to entertainment and alcohol. The Minister expects the worse scenario. I consider that a period of 72 hours is more reasonable. I am grateful to noble Lords, in particular to my noble friend Lord Crickhowell, to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, to my noble friend Lord Colwyn and others who have contributed to the debate. This is an important aspect of the Bill. It is an area which has caused considerable concern. We have been absolutely inundated by lobbying from all kinds of organisations, associations, those who organise festivals and by people who are deeply concerned that events will be constrained in a way that they consider unreasonable. We on these Benches will consider what the Minister said in relation to our request for 30 events a year. We may reconsider that number and come back on Report with a reduced number. However, I feel strongly that five events a year is mean.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: When the noble Baroness talks to the people who have expressed their concerns to her, will she remind them that an occasional permission to sell alcohol is limited to 24 hours maximum under the present law? Will she remind them that there is no such thing as a temporary public entertainment licence under the present law? One has to apply for a full licence with all that that entails. Is not that a lot more onerous than what is proposed in the Bill? Before I sit down, I should say that I have been too helpful. One cannot run three licences back to back. There must be 24 hours between them.

Lord Crickhowell: I have to say so, having reread the clause.

Baroness Buscombe: I shall take note of what the noble Lord said in relation to current law. But here we are repealing current laws and looking at new legislation. Areas in the new legislation are causing concern. We are all doing our job of scrutinising the Bill carefully and closely to ensure that as many of those beyond the Chamber as possible are assured that the Bill will prove reasonable and will not impose too much expense and prescription on their future events. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 338 and 339 not moved.]

Clause 98 agreed to.

Clauses 99 to 101 agreed to.

16 Jan 2003 : Column 389

Clause 102 [Objection to notice by the police]:

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville moved Amendment No. 340:


    Page 57, line 20, leave out "crime prevention objective" and insert "licensing objectives"

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 340 is consequential on Amendment No. 190, which I would have moved on Monday if I had been here and which was not moved in my absence. I recall an earlier debate to which the noble Lord, Lord Davies, replied, which embraced this concept and subject, so the principle has already been discussed.

The amendment asked for wider consideration beyond merely crime prevention, considering that wider licensing objectives had been set out in Clause 4. I appreciate that the police may not be qualified to make the wider judgment, but that could be resolved by the police taking advice from the local authorities as well. The logic is contained in Amendment No. 343 likewise, which is the only one to which I shall speak. My other amendments in the group are all consequential.

Amendment No. 343 and its consequential amendments would introduce the right for an interested party or responsible authority to object to a temporary event notice. The temporary event might involve large numbers of people engaging in licensable activities in the open air, or otherwise, over what could be a three-day period. Such an event is as likely, in principle, to give rise to crime and disorder, threats to public safety, disturbance, public nuisance and potential harm to children, as a permanent licensed event. In principle, therefore, there should be the same right for interested parties to object. I beg to move.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead: I speak to Amendment No. 342 and my other amendments in the group, which are consequential.

The amendment would widen the scope of this clause from the police authorities to the relevant authorities. The title of the clause would be,


    "Objection to notice by the relevant authorities".

The intention is to widen the consideration. After all, we are passing on the responsibility for granting licences to local authorities. The right to object should be widened to include such people as the fire officer, the licensing authority and the other relevant authorities that we have discussed recently.

The consequential amendments are all in the same vein. They would widen the rights of objection, without debarring objections. Every amendment includes the reference to the police as part of the consideration.

Baroness Buscombe: The noble Lord, Lord Clarke, referred to matters that we have debated previously and which we all agree are important objectives. When a premises user wants to hold a temporary event, he has to serve a copy of the notice only on the relevant chief officer of police, who can then give an objection notice if he believes that allowing the premises to be

16 Jan 2003 : Column 390

used for the temporary event would undermine the crime prevention objective. That notice is then considered by the relevant licensing authority, which can serve a counter-notice.

The procedure ignores the other licensing objectives. It seems as if public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm is irrelevant as regards temporary events. The amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Clarke, would correct what appears to be a clear error, and we very much support them.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I knew that, having defended my left flank on the last group of amendments, I would have to defend my right flank on this group, but I am a little taken aback to find myself being attacked by the same people on both the left and the right flank. The last group of amendments was intended to extend the scope of temporary notices. I hope that I gave a reasonable series of reasons why it would not be wise to do so. This group of amendments would in large part nullify the temporary notice procedure. If all these other people were required to be notified and had the power to intervene, we would not have the light touch procedure for temporary notices which everybody has talked about. On Second Reading the Liberals were full of it, talking about the protection of the arts and music in this country and the arguments for not imposing a stifling bureaucracy on all these worthwhile local activities. Yet here we have the noble Lords, Lord Brooke and Lord Clarke, trying to make it much more difficult for those things to happen.

The Bill's proposal is designed to be a light touch reflecting the temporary nature of the events and the use of the premises for a temporary period. The amendments would make life difficult for a large number of people who might be running ad hoc events for charities, schools or churches. We expect them to take advantage of the simple temporary event notice system that we have designed.

Where is the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury? Why is he not here answering on my behalf? The amendments would provide for the police to consider all the licensing objectives. They would allow the fire authority to issue objection notices and would allow a licensing authority to issue counter-notices following consideration of all the licence's objectives, not just the crime prevention objectives. Is that what we want for school fetes, weddings, church fundraisers and discos in the village hall? Why should people be asked to jump through these additional hoops? There is no need to expand the number of bodies needed to scrutinise temporary event notices. There is no reason to widen the grounds. As long as the police are satisfied with the proposals and they meet the appropriate conditions on permitted limits, there should be no additional bureaucracy. I thought that that was the thrust of a large part of the argument in the early stages of our consideration in Committee.

16 Jan 2003 : Column 391

5.45 p.m.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead: My noble friend mentioned objections within the limits. The Committee has already rejected any limits on people attending such events. Is he really saying that the fire authority and the authority charged under the Bill to grant the licences are all and sundry? The licensing authority and the fire authority are essential if the comments made earlier in our Committee proceedings about public safety are to be taken seriously.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page