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Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 417:

The noble Lord said: I am sure the Government will reject the amendment. It has not been their wont to accept many amendments. In an earlier amendment I asked the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, to be robust. On this amendment, I ask him to be amicable.

The purpose of the amendment is to protect performers who are brought before the justices for contravening the legislation. The Bill sets out severe penalties for performing without an entertainment licence outside a pub. It is a probing amendment to ascertain the Government's view on how strictly the provisions should be adhered to.

I was going to raise the human rights issue but I shall await the letter from the Minister which will be placed very soon in the Library. I shall not press the amendment. However, under human rights legislation the freedom of individuals to express themselves is extremely important. We do not believe that

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individuals who have performed musically should face the consequence of the law to the extent that may be provided.

The Minister will probably say that it is very unlikely that the provisions will ever be enacted. However, under the old system of public entertainment licences unfortunate cases have been reported in the press. Landlord licensees have faced prosecution and fines due to the fact that people in their pubs danced or were singing along to entertainers. I beg to move.

Baroness Buscombe: I support Amendments Nos. 417 and 418, to which I and my noble friend Lord Luke have added our names.

7.45 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I hope that I can persuade the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that Amendment No. 417 is unnecessary.

There are two particular problems with these amendments. First, an element of variation is introduced into the "due diligence" test. Clause 137 states that it is a reasonable defence that a person charged with an offence,

    "took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing the offence".

Amendment No. 418 proposes that, instead of exercising all "due diligence" to avoid committing the offence, the person "acted reasonably". I do not think that the amendment is an improvement. The definition of "due diligence" protects those involved. There are plenty of precedents for it. "Acting reasonably" is more vague, adds nothing and may actually take something away.

Secondly, Amendment No. 418 singles out a particular group of people; namely, performers. As the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, made clear, the offence with which we are concerned, is,

    "carrying on unauthorised licensable activity".

In this case, I presume that the noble Lord is referring to presenting a performance that should be licensed but has not been. Clause 137 also covers,

    "exposing alcohol for unauthorised sale"


    "keeping alcohol on the premises".

I do not believe that we are concerned with that.

Performers are protected by the "due diligence" provisions in Clause 137. I sympathise with and love performers, but I do not believe that they should be treated differently from anyone else. There must be a proper defence against an inadvertent breach of licence conditions—that applies to everyone, including performers. I suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, that the clause as drafted covers those points.

Lord Avebury: Is a performer who is not inside the premises liable to commit an offence if he has not exercised "due diligence"? I am thinking of plays performed in pub gardens adjacent to a pub where the

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performer may be unaware that the garden is subject to licensing restrictions. I should not have the faintest idea, if someone invited me to act in a pub garden, whether I should make stringent inquiries of the landlord as to whether that activity was permissible.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not understand how a performer could not know. A pub garden is clearly part of a licensed premises, just as a pub room is. That argument could apply to almost any offence.

Lord Redesdale: This has been a probing amendment. One of the issues we wanted to raise was the severity of fines that could be imposed on performers for transgressing the rules of the licence. We believe that they are excessive. Obviously the issue of music and entertainment is one where we have a divergence of view from that of the Government.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I do not want to prolong matters, but I failed to answer the point regarding penalties. Normally, a penalty will be trivial: there will be no significant penalty, or no penalty at all. Performing in a pub garden will not attract a huge penalty. But let us take the example of what happened on Brighton beach last year, when a performance attracted incredible numbers of people, many of whom were injured. There must be a maximum penalty which is adequate for that kind of case.

Lord Redesdale: I am glad that the Minister has put that point across. Although the penalty should be proportionate to the offence, the very fact that the maximum penalty is so great is causing a great deal of concern to many performers.

Our views diverge on the provision of entertainment. It is an area on which we shall focus at the next stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 418 not moved.]

Clause 137 agreed to.

Clauses 138 to 142 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 419 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

The Earl of Listowel moved Amendment No. 419A:

    Before Clause 143, insert the following new clause—

In pursuit of the licensing objective in section 4(2)(d), children under the age of 14 should only be allowed into licensed premises when accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 unless the licensee can show in his (or her) operating plan how the premises will be made suitable for this age group."

The noble Earl said: I shall be as brief as I can. The Bill introduces significant changes for the access of children to licensed premises. Currently, a child under the age of 14 can enter a licensed premises only with a children's certificate, and then only if accompanied by a person over 18 years of age. The Bill does away with such constraints. My amendment would prevent an unaccompanied child under the age of 14 from

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entering licensed premises unless the licensee can demonstrate how he is making his establishment suitable for young children.

My intention is to ensure that licensees are ready to meet the particular needs of those under the age of 14. One recognises that bowling parlours and pizzerias now need licences, and that more and more family-friendly premises are coming into being which families enjoy and which are very valuable. At the same time, licensees should not only protect children from direct harm—for example, by providing non-smoking areas—but also ensure that children are not exposed to examples of poor behaviour or to the wrong messages about alcohol. So, for example, such licensees should make it clear in their operating plan that they will not be offering "happy hours" and similar promotional activities likely to lead to binge drinking in adults.

Members of the Committee will be well aware, from earlier debates, of the problems caused by binge drinking. I simply remind the Committee that the 1999 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs found that 56 per cent of 15 to 16 year-olds had taken more than five drinks on a single occasion in the previous 30 days. I understand that 30 per cent of this age group reported this behaviour as occurring three or more times in the previous 30 days.

My amendment may be imperfect in form, but I should like an assurance from the Minister that there will be a means to ensure that children in licensed premises will have access to non-smoking areas, and that children will be protected from witnessing irresponsible drinking. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale: I am grateful to the noble Earl for introducing the amendment, which we support. As our debates have continued, our position has slightly hardened in terms of the safeguards that will be needed for the access of unaccompanied children. When the Bill began its passage, I believed that such provisions would be included. However, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, made it clear at an earlier stage that it would be up to the landlord—as under the present system—whether unaccompanied children should be allowed in such premises. It could be a point of contention, and I am not sure that the Government have made their case that unaccompanied children over the age of 14 should be allowed in, given all the present difficulties—especially those associated with the landlord facing penalties for serving those who are under age. Adhering to the age of 18 provides a much easier cut-off point.

Baroness Buscombe: I support the amendment. It is very similar to an amendment brought forward earlier by this side of the Committee. I am not sure of the extent to which the noble Earl has been in his place during our debates on the Bill, but if he had been in his place he would know that this is a subject to which I have returned repeatedly—beginning with Second Reading—because I feel very strongly that the Bill is not a proper vehicle for liberalising unrestricted access. Perhaps that is not the correct way of putting it, but

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liberalising our alcohol and entertainment laws should not be conducive to allowing unaccompanied young people and children unrestricted access to licensed premises.

The Government have said that they will consider the issue between now and Report stage. We appreciate that. Many people have contacted me over the past weeks and expressed their deep concerns about the issue of allowing children into licensed premises. I hope very much that the Government will take those concerns on board.

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