London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Tuesday 18 February 2003
300. LORD ELTON: The Keeling Schedule as drafted
means that you can only inspect when a performance is in progress
and removing those words means you can, as you say, in a friendly
sense inspect them when there is no performance.
301. MR LEWIS: Correct.
302. LORD ELTON: But it does not remove the right
to inspect when a performance is in progress if you so wish.
303. MR LEWIS: Yes.
304. LORD ELTON: Thank you very much.
305. MR LEWIS: Clause 24, my Lords, is being dropped.
306. Clause 25, soliciting for custom. This clause
creates a new specific offence of soliciting for custom, but only
in respect of specific types of premises. The clause is intended
to address a problem which is widespread particularly in the West
End of London, and even more particularly in Soho. Unfortunately,
despite the best efforts of the council and the police, there
are still a number of illegal drinking clubs, premises used for
public entertainment without a licence and also unlicensed near-beer
premises. The latter may be better known to your Lordships as
307. Whilst the councils have the power to deal with
unlicensed premises by way of prosecution, there is little they
can do to prevent people from enticing customers to those premises.
308. Then we move to the next opposed provision.
309. LORD ELTON: Why is the exemption in the Addition
Apart put forward?
310. MR LEWIS: The operation of land of railway undertakers
again. The railway undertakers, first of all we believe have their
own bylaws to deal with this particular problem and, secondly,
I think it is probably true to say that it really is not a problem
in the West End of London.
311. MR BLACKWELL: Not in relation to those areas.
They tend to be the streets in and around Soho. This was something
that was added as a result of negotiations with other parties.
312. CHAIRMAN: And near-beer is a defined term, is
313. MR LEWIS: Yes, it is a defined term. The definition
has had to be altered once already. The operators of these premises
are very clever at finding ways around the legislation and continue
to do so. The reason the words "near-beer" were used
was because as part of the original definition of "near-beer
premises" they had to be offering for sale liquid refreshment
which gave the impression that it contained alcohol. It was not
quite beer, it was nearly beer. If they sell beer then obviously
they fall within the licensing laws.
314. CHAIRMAN: It is non-alcoholic?
315. MR LEWIS: Yes, it is non-alcoholic but with
exotic names which imply that it is either a cocktail or a German
316. MR BLACKWELL: Shloss Ousenberg and the like.
It is not just provision of de-alcoholised liquid, it is also
the provision of that and the companionship of a hostess or provision
of public entertainment, so therefore a strip show. What tends
to happen is that people go in expecting to get the strip show
and/or the company of a hostess, they are there for two minutes
and given their bill for a drink that they probably did not order
in the first place and the bill tends to be for about £400
and they are fleeced.
317. CHAIRMAN: Your Lordship's Committee is entirely
unfamiliar with any of this kind of thing. I think that is Clause
25, thank you very much.
318. MR LEWIS: Clauses 26 to 29 deal with fixed penalties
and they can be taken together. My Lords, there are two departmental
reports against these provisions and I will deal with those shortly.
Again, this might be an opportune moment if the representatives
from the two Government Departments identify themselves.
MR DANIEL JONES, MR ANDREW KERRIGAN and
MRS WENDY McGREGOR, Sworn
Examined by THE COMMITTEE
319. MR JONES: I am Daniel Jones from the Department
of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.