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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, obviously we have different views on what should be included in an energy strategy. I am really surprised that the noble and learned Lord is taking the view, which seems to be shared on his Benches, that the way you should plan or form a strategy is to lay out in detail exactly what the energy sources and demands will be—and how they should be matched—more than 20 years ahead. Noble Lords opposite should talk to their former Secretary of State for Energy, the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, who will tell them what an absolute load of rubbish that approach would be. You cannot do that. We cannot tell within six months what energy prices will be; we cannot possibly tell what technological developments will be made in the area of renewable energy sources.

You cannot possibly commit to detailed future energy needs and sources, if that is what the noble and learned Lord is saying. I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord is saying that or something completely different, but you cannot lay out that kind of detail.

The Prime Minister did not do that in the foreword to the White Paper. He is well aware that you cannot do that. All you can do is to announce targets which you will try to achieve—and we have made very clear what are our targets in regard to the achievement of environmental objectives—and, within that, you can say that you will create a framework and incentives. But to say that you will give the detail of what will be the energy sources is an extraordinary view of the kind of strategy you can have. I am surprised that so many noble Lords on the other side of the House would remotely support such a view.

Lord Carter: My Lords, in replying to the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, the Minister referred to the reduction in excise duty on biofuels. I declare an

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interest as vice-chairman of the British Association for Biofuels and Oils. The excise duty is also referred to on page 69 of the White Paper.

The rate of duty reduction has been just enough to encourage the recycling of vegetable oils and the surplus cooking oils of fish and chip shops. This accounts for the 5 per cent referred to in the White Paper. But the reduction in duty is not enough to encourage the production of significant quantities of biodiesel and bioethanol—fuels which provide a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions—from agricultural crops. Will my noble friend use his considerable powers of persuasion to persuade his right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase the level of duty rebate on these two fuels?

If the UK was to have a soundly-based biodiesel and bioethanol industry, as there is in many countries around the world, there would be substantial environmental, economic and agricultural advantages. It would reduce CO2 emissions, boost the rural economy and provide an alternative use for agricultural crops.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, issues of tax are kept under constant review. This is the sort of issue to which, over time, we would expect changes to be made to reflect the circumstances of the day.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I welcome the references to energy efficiency and micro generation and also the oblique reference to a proper aviation taxation regime. However, the Minister will not be surprised to know that I am once again raising the subject of hydro generation. This is a proven technology; hydro has been with us for more than 50 years. It is acceptable in the landscape. Some 10 per cent of electricity generated in Scotland is from hydro generation.

I should like to know why hydro seems to have fallen off the edge of the Government's thinking. Has it been abandoned? Rain is more reliable than wind in volume and can also be stored and used when required. Will the Government give a lead back towards hydro generation as well as all the other methods?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as I understand the situation, the only reason that more attention is not given to hydro is that we are using all the capacity we have for hydro in Scotland. Therefore, there is not a great deal of further capacity to use. If I am wrong and there are huge opportunities for more hydro generation, I am sure the Government will look at the issue very seriously. But as I understand it, the amount of hydro that we have takes up pretty much all the capacity there is.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords—

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am sorry, but the 20 minutes are up and we must move on.

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Licensing Bill [HL]

6.22 p.m

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Schedule 1.

[Amendments Nos. 14 to 17 not moved.]

Schedule 2 [Provision of late night refreshment]:

Lord Luke moved Amendment No. 18:


    Page 113, line 16, at end insert—


"( ) the premises may be used for the exhibition of films by virtue of a premises licence."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 18 concerns premises being used for the exhibition of films by virtue of a premises licence. Currently, premises which hold a cinema licence are not required to register as night cafés in London or suppliers of late-night refreshments elsewhere, even where cinemas provide hot drinks or hot food, such as popcorn, after 11 p.m. Many cinemas are licensed to exhibit films after 11 p.m. They will be able, under the transitional provisions of Schedule 8, to apply in respect of their premises to be licensed for exhibition of a film based on their current licensable activities and conditions, which will then have to be replicated.

Cinemas do not currently require a night café licence. They will be required, at the same time as applying for a conversion of their current licence, to seek a variation to be licensed to serve late-night refreshments. They are currently legally carrying out this activity without a licence.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said on 26th November last that the Bill will sweep away unnecessary red tape, yet it seems that new impositions are being introduced unnecessarily. Later in the Bill's proceedings, the noble Baroness stated:


    "The point of licensing night cafés is to deal with premises where people behave in a drunk or disorderly fashion".—[Official Report, 12/12/02; col. 421.]

This does not happen in cinemas.

The draft guidance issued under Section 177 states at paragraph 6.11:


    "The purpose of the legislation is to cover primarily night cafés and take away food outlets where people may gather after 11.00 pm and until 5.00 am giving rise to the possibility of disorder and disturbance".

To continue in a similar way, additional costs will be imposed on cinema operators and local authorities because it will be necessary to seek a variation during the transitional period. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I do not have a great deal to add to what I said on this amendment in Committee. Schedule 2 defines the provision of late-night refreshment—that is, when the supply of hot food or drink between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. will be a licensable activity. All premises where licensable activities are carried on will be required to set out in their operating schedule the steps they propose to take to promote the licensing objectives.

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Amendment No. 18 would exempt the supply of hot food or hot drink from premises used for the exhibition of films under a premises licence from the definition of the provision of late-night refreshments. It is not clear why such premises should not have to set out what steps they propose to take to promote the licensing objectives in relation to the provision of late-night refreshment in exactly the same way as other premises providing late-night refreshment or as they have to in relation to showing films.

The provision of late-night refreshment from cinemas has the potential to give rise to issues of public nuisance and safety just as it has from other places. If premises already have to apply for a premises licence for the showing of films, why should they not, at the same time, apply for an authorisation to provide late-night refreshment? That is not a great burden for them. Under the Bill, unlike the existing legislation, a single licence can cover both activities. I therefore very much hope the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Luke: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that. In view of what she has said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 [Licensing authorities]:

[Amendment No. 19 not moved.]

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 20:


    Page 3, line 1, at end insert—


"( ) for purposes of personal licences, the Central Licensing Authority."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 20, 21, 192, 196, 197 and 207. The purpose of the amendments is to introduce a central licensing authority or register. We went through this proposal at some length in Committee, and I did not agree with the Government's answers. At a recent meeting, the Government helpfully suggested that what we were trying to do they would expect to be done through a central register anyway. However, the inclusion of the amendments would take some of the burden off the local authorities because although they will have to register personal licences, it would be helpful if a central licensing authority or register could be initiated. That might stop the duplication of work and take some of the expensive provision away from local authorities.

I do not think the local authorities would be giving up any powers they would want to keep because this would not prevent them from dealing with personal licences. It would also be helpful for those with personal licences who could then deal with a central authority, in the same way that DVLA deals with driving licences. Those with personal licences would not have to deal with the local authority where they originally applied.

This much more centralised and useful system would, I believe, be cheaper for local authorities to run and would be helpful for those dealing with the new

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personal licences. I believe that it would save a great deal of money not just in the short term but the long term. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I support the amendments, to which my noble friend Lord Luke and I have added our names. I rarely describe a provision in a Bill as absurd, but I have no doubt that it is the right word for Clause 119. The clause deals with the determination of an application for the renewal of a personal licence. By subsection (1), the applicant must apply to the licensing authority that granted his original licence. This could be 30 or more years since the original licence was granted. The applicant may have moved hundreds of miles away. Subsection (2) provides:


    "If it appears to the authority that the applicant has been convicted of any relevant offence . . . the licensing authority must give notice . . . to the chief officer of police for its area",

and not the area where the applicant may live or work.

Under subsection (3), the chief officer of police of the area where the personal licence was originally granted can give an objection notice, but only if he,


    "is satisfied that renewing the licence would undermine the crime prevention objective".

The chief officer of police of the area where the original personal licence was granted will have to form a view as to whether renewing the licence would undermine the crime prevention objective in an area that may be hundreds of miles away.

Furthermore, under subsection (6), if an objection notice has been given, the authority where the original licence was granted must hold a hearing to consider the objection notice. This hearing could be miles away from where the applicant lives and works and will be attended by people who may know nothing about the applicant, as that applicant may not have lived in the area for 30 or more years. That is surely absurd as well.

There is also a risk that a personal licence holder who has a criminal record that is known to the local licensing authority and the chief officer of police of the area where his licence is granted may decide to move hundreds of miles away and then apply for a new personal licence rather than renewing his original one. He could do so using an assumed name. He could do so confident that the local licensing authority and the chief officer of police of the area to which he has moved would have no idea that he had been convicted of a serious offence. In the absence of photographs and a central licensing authority, it would be difficult for the licensing authority or the chief officer of police to check that the applicant for a new licence was who he said he was. Cross-checking with every other licensing authority is not realistic.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, tabled the amendment with our support. His solution is that there should be some form of central licensing authority. That seems as good a solution as any and we wholeheartedly support the amendment. It has the attraction that there will be one file—and one file

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alone—in a central place for every applicant. That file would not move. Whoever is responsible for the central licensing authority could then make appropriate inquiries of the chief officer of police of the area where the applicant resides and works rather than where he resided when he originally applied for a licence. It would not matter where the applicant worked or resided if his application for a licence or the renewal of a licence was always made to a central point. Whoever is responsible for the central licensing authority could then make inquiries of the relevant chief officer of police. We believe that makes some sense. We therefore support the amendment.


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