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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I apologise for pressing the Minister further. Is he saying, as I could readily understand, that the parliamentary order would apply only if something was an annual event such as New Year or May Day? Would it apply to all the cases of exceptional local significance? I think the sensible thing for me to do is to wait for an answer, and then respond.

Lord Davies of Oldham: No, what I am indicating is that we think that exceptional occasions across the country will be few and far between. The noble Lord will recognise that the instances that I gave are the only two that I could bring to my mind from last year. Orders appear before the House each year in relation to, I think, the extension of licences at the New Year's celebration. On all other occasions and in all other circumstances, the existing licensing laws apply. Although the Bill is of course deregulatory—it devolves a great deal to the local licensing authorities—we suggest that extensions should properly be reserved to the Secretary of State.

Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I think that we have teased out during the course of the short debate the fact that the Secretary of State will be extremely severe in terms of the number of exceptional local celebrations that he is prepared to allow.

I acknowledge that there is an argument in favour of the case that the Minister made. He would obviously wish to limit the number of cases with which his civil

20 Jan 2003 : Column 446

servants have to deal. Members of the Committee who can recall the St Trinian's films will remember the cameo performance by Richard Wattis as a civil servant in the then Ministry of Education, dealing with complaints about St Trinian's. If the provision were extended across the country, the life of a whole host of civil servants would be rendered disagreeable in the way that his character's patently was.

Although it is not for me to comment if the Government choose to be extremely tight and restrictive in terms of events of such local significance, we have had a decent opportunity to debate the issue back and forth. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendment No. 429:


    Page 93, line 42, after "licences" insert "and club premises certificates"

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 430 and 431.

Amendment No. 429 amends Clause 169 so that it applies, as of course it should, to club premises certificates as well as to premises licences. That would allow clubs as well as other licensed premises to take advantage of any relaxation of opening hours for special occasions. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Davies of Oldham moved Amendments Nos. 430 and 431:


    Page 94, line 7, leave out ", in relation to a premises licence, means" and insert "means—


(a) in relation to a premises licence," Page 94, line 9, at end insert ", and


(b) in relation to a club premises certificate, the times during which the premises may be used for qualifying club activities in accordance with the certificate"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 169, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 170 [Activities in certain locations not licensable]:

[Amendment No. 431A not moved.]

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 431B:


    Page 94, line 25, at end insert—


"( ) at premises in respect of which a licence under the Gaming Act 1968 (c. 65) is in force and the premises are being used wholly or mainly for the purposes of gaming to which Part 2 of that Act applies,"

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 448A.

The amendments relate to a concern—it is really a technicality—about casino and bingo clubs. We believe that the concern would be overcome by the amendments, which seek to avoid duplication and contradiction arising from the creation of a separate licensing system for casino and bingo clubs in the Licensing Bill and the proposed gambling Bill.

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Casinos and bingo clubs have always been subject to separate but complementary regulations from other places of entertainment. Gambling regulations are intended to prevail over other regulations where they apply to casinos and bingo clubs. It is for precisely that reason, for example, that the British Casino Association succeeded in obtaining an exemption for casino and bingo club staff from the Private Security Industry Act 2001, very late in the day. The exemption was not granted to leave staff outside the law; it was simply realised by the Government, after discussions with the gaming industry, that they were already covered by tighter legislation under existing gaming law.

The Government have signalled their intention to maintain that separate and distinct but complementary regime for casinos and bingo clubs by proposing a new gambling Bill, which we understand is scheduled to be introduced in the 2003-04 Session and which has been widely consulted on. Given that the gambling Bill will introduce a new licensing regime for casinos and bingo clubs, it appears appropriate at this stage to exempt casinos and bingo clubs from the proposals for liquor premises licences under the Licensing Bill to avoid the possibility that casinos and bingo clubs will have to reapply for licences under two different regimes, or that the Licensing Bill will have to be amended at a later stage to accommodate the demands of the gambling Bill.

Introducing some minor amendments to the Gaming Act 1968 would allow for the continued regulation of all activities in bingo clubs and casinos under existing gaming legislation, by virtue of the grant and annual renewal of gaming licences, until such time as the new gambling Bill comes into force.

The Government have already accepted that it is now proposed that existing liquor licences for all establishments selling alcohol will "roll over" to the new regime in April 2004, without the need for fresh applications. Thus, the Government clearly recognise the need to avoid duplication where possible. As the Licensing Bill is presently drafted, therefore, casinos and bingo clubs will, we believe, be the only organisations that will have to bear the cost of applying for duplicate liquor and gaming premises licences. One of the objectives of the Bill, as we know, is to reduce the financial burden on industry and streamline the licensing process, but in the case of the gambling industry it will achieve exactly the opposite. In so far as casinos and bingo clubs are concerned, that is a clear case of over-regulation where it is not necessary. Indeed, it is contradictory and will lead to confusion and conflict. The Government's thinking, so far as casinos and bingo clubs are concerned, is clear, as set out in the White Paper on gambling reform, A Safe Bet for Success. That report states:


    "The government does, however, accept that it would not be appropriate to give local authorities unfettered discretion to determine whether or not a premises licence should be issued or on the conditions attached to licences ... The government agrees ... there will be a need for clear statutory criteria against which all premises licensing decisions should be made".

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Clearly, therefore, the Government have anticipated that casinos and bingo clubs will be subject to specific statutory guidance under the gambling Bill when it comes to consideration of their licences. It would therefore be very odd for the Government to set down one set of guidelines for all licensed premises from the moment that the Licensing Bill passes, only to change it for casinos and bingo clubs once the gambling Bill passes.

In practical terms, that means that the gaming industry would face the following situation: first, existing liquor licences would be "rolled over", pending the gambling Bill; secondly, new licences for new premises or for redevelopment would be granted by local authorities under the licensing legislation; thirdly, identical casinos and bingo clubs will therefore operate under different licensing criteria depending on whether their licence was granted before the Licensing Bill or after it; and, fourthly, new premises applications would have to be re-submitted once statutory criteria are laid down in the gambling Bill, which means that the original application has in essence to be made for a second time.

In Scotland, we are already experiencing the effects of a "dual regime", where local authorities seek to attach conditions to liquor licences that conflict with gaming legislation and the statutory advice of the Gaming Board. We could therefore have a position in England and Wales where local authorities exercise discretion during the interregnum between the Licensing Bill, once it has been enacted, and the gambling Act, in direct contravention of existing gambling legislation.

A solution would be to make some simple amendments to the existing Gaming Act 1968, by way of the current Bill, to permit all activities conducted in casinos and bingo clubs to be controlled under the current gaming legislation, until such time as the gambling Bill is passed.

It is worth noting that an almost identical amendment was put through Parliament this year to allow casinos to offer live entertainment. The regulation of such entertainment is now therefore governed by the gaming licence for the premises under the Gaming Act 1968. An example of a similar practice exists in relation to the Casino Act of the Isle of Man, which, by Section 8, authorises the licensing authority—the Isle of Man Gaming Board of Control—to grant a liquor licence to the holder of a casino licence. By contrast, other licensed premises in the Isle of Man—or should that be "on the Isle of Man"?—are required to obtain their liquor licences from the licensing court chaired by the high bailiff. I beg to move.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Redesdale: We support the amendment.


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