Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform First Report


Annex 1

Licensing Bill [HL]

Memorandum by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport

INTRODUCTION

1.  This Memorandum identifies the provision for delegated legislation in the Licensing Bill, explains its purpose and method of operation, and explains why the particular form of Parliamentary control of delegated legislation has been selected.

SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND

2.  This Bill aims to provide a single integrated licensing scheme for premises that sell alcohol, provide regulated entertainment or provide late night refreshment. These proposals were outlined in the Government White Paper 'Time for Reform: Proposals for the Modernisation of our Licensing Laws', in April 2000. The system it is replacing is complex, and many pieces of existing legislation will be amended or, as in the case of the Licensing Act 1964, repealed. The Bill will introduce more flexible opening hours to reduce public disorder currently resulting from fixed opening times.

3.  The Bill will transfer licensing powers, in respect of alcohol, from licensing justices to licensing authorities, generally local authorities, establishing a more democratically accountable system. Local residents will have a say in licensing decisions and the licensing authority will be accountable to the local electorate for its decisions. Integrating alcohol and entertainment licensing and placing the responsibility for both with local authorities is expected to deliver savings to the industry of £1.97 billion over the first ten years, resulting primarily from the reduction of legal costs involved in managing the current system. The Bill extends to England and Wales.

MAIN PROVISIONS OF THE BILL

4.  The Bill contains nine Parts. These cover:

  • Licensable activities
  • Licensing authorities
  • Premises licences
  • Clubs
  • Permitted temporary activities
  • Personal licences
  • Offences
  • Closure of premises
  • Miscellaneous and supplementary

PART 1: LICENSABLE ACTIVITIES

5.  This Part describes those activities that are covered by the Bill and consequently sets out the scope of its application.

PART 2: LICENSING AUTHORITIES

6.  Part 2 lists the bodies which are to be licensing authorities under the Bill and are to carry out the licensing functions provided in the Bill, describes the licensing objectives which the licensing authority must aim to promote, and places an obligation on licensing authorities to determine and publish a statement of licensing policy.

7.  It also sets out the requirement for licensing authorities to establish a licensing committee, refers the discharge of licensing functions to that committee and covers the delegation of those functions to sub-committees or, for limited purposes, to officers of the licensing authority. This Part also requires authorities to maintain a licensing register.

PART 3: PREMISES LICENCES

8.  This Part of the Bill provides for an integrated licensing system for any premises used for licensable activities. The 'relevant licensing authority' is to consider applications for premises licences and variations, and transfers and reviews of those licences.

PART 4: CLUBS

9.  This Part provides for arrangements relating to qualifying clubs, such as the British Legion, political, working men's, cricket and rugby clubs meeting prescribed criteria. It introduces a system of club premises certificates, authorising qualifying club activities (a subset of licensable activities), issued by the relevant licensing authority. Qualifying clubs will retain a special status under licensing law: clubs holding certificates will be exempted from the requirement for any member or employee to hold a personal licence to supply alcohol to its members or sell alcohol to their guests. The general offence of supplying alcohol to people under 18 will apply in clubs as it does elsewhere.

PART 5: PERMITTED TEMPORARY ACTIVITIES

10.  Part 5 makes provision for a light touch system that would allow individuals - "premises users" - to carry out licensable activities on an occasional temporary basis (not exceeding 72 hours) at events where the persons attending will not exceed 500, subject to various limits. Different limits apply depending on the use of the premises and on whether or not the person carrying out licensable activities holds a personal licence. The effect of this Part is to minimise the regulatory burden on occasional, small, events unlikely to give rise to problems.

PART 6: PERSONAL LICENCES

11.  Part 6 provides for the granting of a personal licence to individuals authorising the sale of alcohol from licensed premises. The licensing of individuals separately from the licensing of premises enables the movement of personal licence holders from one set of premises to another.

12.  The personal licence relates only to the sale or supply of alcohol and not to regulated entertainment or the provision of late night refreshment, for which activities no personal licence will be required. A personal licence holder may sell alcohol from premises which have a premises licence or in circumstances where a temporary event notice has been given.

PART 7: OFFENCES

13.  This Part sets out the offences created by the new regime.

PART 8: CLOSURE OF PREMISES

14.  This Part of the Bill provides for a police officer of superintendent rank or above to apply for an order from a magistrates' court requiring the temporary closure of any licensed premises within a certain geographical area for public order reasons. It also provides a power for a police officer of inspector rank or above to close instantly individual premises that are disorderly, on the grounds of public safety, or are causing a public nuisance, for a period up to 24 hours.

PART 9: MISCELLANEOUS AND SUPPLEMENTARY

15.  This Part of the Bill deals with miscellaneous matters including the relaxation of opening hours on special occasions, exemptions, appeals, guidance, consequential amendments, repeals and commencement.

THE RATIONALE FOR DELEGATED POWERS IN THE BILL

16.  In considering whether matters should be specified on the face of the Bill or be prescribed in delegated legislation, the Department has balanced the importance of the matter against the need to:

  • avoid too much technical, procedural and administrative detail in the Bill;
  • ensure sufficient flexibility to respond to changes, and act quickly in the light of experience if necessary;
  • allow detailed administrative arrangements to be set up and kept up to date within the basic framework of the primary legislation;
  • allow sufficient time to consult and amend legislation should circumstances change.

OVERVIEW OF DELEGATED POWERS

17.  The Bill contains a number of powers to make delegated legislation in relation to licensing.

18.  In formulating the provisions of the Bill, and deciding which of those will be enacted through secondary legislation, the overall approach has been to set out in the primary legislation the parameters for alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshment licensing law, transitional arrangements from the old licensing regime to the new regime, procedures for the granting or amendment of licences, the rights and obligations of licence holders, and to provide offences under the new regime. Powers to prescribe matters in secondary legislation are taken where necessary to give the Secretary of State flexibility to provide for adjustments to the above from time to time and to set out technical, procedural and administrative requirements underpinning those parameters.

19.  This approach provides flexibility for Ministers to amend detailed rules in the light of operational experience or other developments with Parliamentary scrutiny but without having to take up a substantial amount of Parliamentary time to amend primary legislation.

20.  There are a small number of measures in the Bill which will be subject to affirmative resolution by both Houses of Parliament. These are described in clause 191 of the Bill and have been highlighted throughout the Memorandum.


 
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