Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform First Report

Licensing Bill [HL]


1.  This Bill contains new provision for licensing public entertainment, late night refreshment and the sale, etc. of alcohol. It replaces, for England and Wales, a number of different systems with a unified system operated by local authorities through licensing committees.

2.  The Bill contains a number of delegated powers, which (apart from clauses 111(2), 170(5) and 193(2)) are addressed in the Memorandum from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.


3.  There are Henry VIII powers at clauses 111(2), 170(5), 173(3), 193(2) and paragraph 4 of Schedule 1. There is also a very limited power in clause 182(7) to apply clause 182 to foreign companies.

4.  Clause 111 provides for a list of "relevant offences". These are offences which, if committed by an applicant for a personal licence, lead to the licensing authority notifying the chief officer of police. The list of offences is set out in Schedule 4. Clause 111(2) enables the Secretary of State to amend the list. The Committee is satisfied that both the delegation and the negative procedure provided are appropriate.

5.  Clause 170(5) is a limited power to disapply clause 170(4), under which certain ports, airports or hoverports designated under existing legislation are treated as designated under the Bill. The effect of a place being designated is that activities carried on there are not licensable. The Committee considers the delegation and the negative procedure provided appropriate.

6.  Clause 173(3) contains power to amend the definition of "excluded premises", i.e. premises from which alcohol may not be sold by retail or supplied. This is addressed at paragraphs 118 to 120 of the Department's memorandum. The Committee finds the Department's reasons for this provision convincing, and considers that the affirmative procedure provided for is appropriate.

7.  Clause 193(2) is a Henry VIII power given to the Secretary of State to make, in consequence of any provision of the bill or of any instrument made under it, such amendments to Acts as appear to him to be appropriate. It is limited to amending Acts passed before the relevant provision of the bill is in force, but, as presently worded, it might be taken to impose a limit on when an order might be made and the Committee feels some clarification would be necessary if this were the intention.

8.  Schedule 1 sets out what is meant by the "provision of regulated entertainment" and therefore what is one form of licensable activity. Paragraph 4 contains a power to modify specific elements of this Schedule, explained at paragraphs 131 to 134 of the Department's memorandum. Both the delegation and the level of scrutiny (affirmative) are appropriate.


9.  Clause 9 enables regulations (subject to negative procedure) to make provision about proceedings of licensing committees and their sub-committees. Matters such as public access and publicity for local authority committees are already provided for in primary legislation (e.g. Part VA of the Local Government Act 1972). The House may wish to enquire what use might be made of this power as the regulations could not override primary legislation.

10.  Clause 17(5) enables regulations (subject to negative procedure) to require an application for a premises licence to be advertised and to provide for representations. Procedural matters of this kind are appropriate for subordinate legislation, but in view of the potential importance to residents and others of the grant of an application, the Committee considers that there should be an express duty on the Secretary of State to provide for an advertising and representations procedure. A similar point arises with clauses 29(2), 33(5), 50(3), 70(6), 82(4) and 85(3).

11.  Clause 169 enables the Secretary of State to relax opening hours over periods of celebration, such as a jubilee. Paragraphs 111 to 114 of the Department's memorandum make the case for this provision; and the affirmative procedure is appropriate. Clause 192(5) disapplies the hybrid instrument procedure which would otherwise apply to a local order under clause 169. The Committee has in the past approved the disapplication of that procedure. But the Committee considers that its disapplication here is appropriate only if accompanied by a specific requirement on the Secretary of State to consult groups representing those likely to be affected by the order in the area to which it is to apply.

12.  Clause 177 provides for the issue and revision of guidance by the Secretary of State to licensing authorities. Authorities are required to have regard to this guidance in carrying out their licensing functions (clause 4(3)); so the guidance is important to the operation of the bill. We considered that there should be an opportunity to debate the guidance, and the House may wish to consider whether the guidance might be brought into operation only by order made by the Secretary of State and subject to a Parliamentary procedure.


13.  The Committee recommends that:

  • the bill provide expressly that regulations under clause 17(5) and similar provisions must secure that there is an advertising and representations procedure (see paragraph 10 above);
  • that there be an express requirement in relation to orders under clause 169 where the hybrid instrument procedure would otherwise have attracted (paragraph 11 above);
  • that the House should have a mechanism to debate the guidance (see paragraph 12 above).

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