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Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the last thing that I wish to do is to put words into the noble Lord's mouth. Of course, if the scheme is working well in Australia, that is something to be considered in this country. Even if it is not working well in Australia, we shall still consider it.
Perhaps I may say this to the noble Lord, Lord Dubs. We have had an interesting debate in which, regrettably, I misappropriated the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, for which again I apologise. It indicates that there are problems. The difficulty is how best to resolve them without creating another bureaucratic and complicated set-up.
My noble friend Lord Finsberg is right that it would not be appropriate to legislate on the matter in this Bill. If your Lordships are content, I shall consider all that has been said and look at the scheme which works in New South Wales. I hope your Lordships will understand that it is unlikely that we would be able to reach a conclusion on a matter of this nature and complexity by Third Reading, but we will consider it.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the noble Baroness is correct that it is not a reason for discarding the scheme, but it is a factor which must be taken into account. If the Bill works well and in the way that everyone expects, there will be a certain amount of money in limbo which earns interest. If it does not do so, it has not been looked after properly. What happens to the interest is a matter of concern. As I understand it, in New South Wales most of the interest has gone into running the scheme. One might ask whether that is a good idea. There are complicated problems here which need to be resolved.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I fully accept that the whole subject is complicated. That is why the amendment did not stipulate a scheme. It simply suggested that there was a way forward through giving the Secretary of State the power, if he chose to use it, to develop a scheme based on consultation, examining the New South Wales experience. I thought that the amendment went quite a long way towards meeting the Minister's objections. However, he said that he would consider it further. He could have done so while accepting the amendment, because it has not been couched in terms which oblige the Secretary of State to act unless he wishes. The amendment could have been on the statute book without compelling any further action, while giving the Minister time to look into it. However, he has said he would look into the scheme, and on that basis I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
This Bill has continually enjoyed all-party support at every stage of its parliamentary passage. It has also, I believe, benefited from being dealt with under the Scotland and the Union procedures which gave us several opportunities to consider and debate this Scottish Bill in Scotland.
This process began, following introduction in another place, with Second Reading before a meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee in Glasgow. A Special Standing Committee was then set up and heard evidence in relation to the proposals in Clause 1 of the Bill at special hearings held in Stirling, Ayr and Inverness.
These sessions enabled the committee to consider the views of a wide variety of bodies and individuals with an interest in our proposals and enabled us subsequently to bring forward amendments in another place which we believe significantly improve the way our policy will be delivered.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his kindness and help during the passage of the Bill. I apologise for the fact that my noble friend Lord Macaulay is not able to be here today. He put two questions at an earlier stage of the Bill which the Minister promised to consider. He had the courtesy to write both to my noble friend and to myself. The issues with which we were concerned had been raised by local authorities. They related partly to interpretation but they also had substance.
There was the question, first, of licensing boards acting reasonably when implementing certain requirements in Clause 1 and, secondly, whether there should be an express provision in the Bill for a licence holder's representative to attend in his place at a board meeting called to consider whether the relevant liquor licence should be varied. In his letter to my noble friend of 4th July the Minister said that he noted from the Official Report that my noble friend suggested that:
The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I too am pleased that we have before us what I believe will be realistic legislation to deal with the problems caused by some recreational drugs and that we have a framework here for health and safety measures to deal with those problems.
At an earlier stage I mentioned the situation of the local authorities. There are 32 licensing authorities in Scotland and I believe that they will require considerable ingenuity in working out what the health and safety measures will be. The ingenuity will be required on the part of the applicants and the board members and their advisers.
The licensing activity was the responsibility of the district councils in the past and therefore the new authorities which were based on district councils will perhaps find the task even easier. I mentioned earlier the situation in Clackmannanshire. I am happy to tell the noble Earl that since the Clackmannanshire council used to be a district council, it will have adequate experience, even if it lacks members to deal with the problem of licensing.
In passing, I wonder when there will be a review of how all 32 licensing authorities are getting on. There is the suggestion that the Secretary of State will come forward with prescribed conditions, and perhaps a time will be set for that review.
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