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As to Amendments Nos. 150 and 297, at present when a local authority considers an application for a new public entertainment licence or a variation to a licence, it will have before it a report in which local authority officers will set out any grounds for objection or representations. These may come from the district surveyor, environmental health, or from the licensing officers themselves. As the Bill is drafted, relevant representations, which we have already mentioned, would be able to be made only by interested parties and responsible authorities.
Clause 13(4)(d) provides that a local authority can be a responsible authority, but only in respect of certain narrowly defined functions, including environmental health. What is not included are the important functions which the local authorities now carry out under the Crime and Disorder Act in combination with the police. It is only right that given the links between alcohol and crime, the local authority should be able to make relevant representations in respect of its duties under the Crime and Disorder Act.
I turn to Amendment No. 151 and its consequential Amendment No. 298. The local weights and measures authority carries out important consumer related functions in relation to licensed premises and as such it should not be precluded from being able to make relevant representations in respect of licensing applications. If, for example, it has been found that an unscrupulous owner of licensed premises has been selling short measures, it is surely only right that the local weights and measures authority should be able to make representations if that person applies for a new licence elsewhere, and, more importantly, it should be able to apply for a review of an existing licence under Clause 50.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I hope to persuade the Committee that all of the objectives of these amendments are already covered by the Bill, but in order to do so I shall refer briefly to the definitions mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, when speaking to a previous group of amendments.
An authorised person is a person who is given powers of entry, inspection and, in the case of an officer of a licensing authority, enforcement. An authorised person is also charged with monitoring compliance with any conditions or restrictions attached to licences or certificates. An interested party is a local resident or residents' association or local business or trade group that wants to make representations about applications or apply for a review. Responsible authorities are expert bodies which will be able to make representations often amounting to a recommendation or objection to applications or to seek a review. The complaints or objections of the interested parties and responsible authorities must be relevant to the licensing objective.
When we add to the list of authorised persons, as some of these amendments seek to do, we must remember that we are adding to the people who have access to premises for inspection and to investigate breaches. We suggest that we ought to be cautious about doing that. Licence holders and qualifying clubs are engaged in legitimate business. We should not lightly add to their burdens by letting any group have this kind of access. When we add to the interested parties and responsible authorities, we add to the bureaucracy of the system. I know that the Committee is anxious to avoid that. The more responsible authorities that become engaged, the more paperwork there is. The burden falls on industry and on any authority that we involve. The costs have to be recovered through licence fees. We must be absolutely certain that involvement is absolutely necessary.
Among authorised persons we do not include the police because they already have the many necessary powers of entry. Where there is any doubt the Bill refers to them by using the term "constable" rather than "authorised person". We include any local authority or officer authorised by the licensing authority for the purposes of the Act. We include the fire authority and those entitled to inspect on issues
Among responsible authorities we include the police, the fire authority, those responsible for health and safety, environmental health officers, licensing authorities in whose area the premises also lie if they are in more than one area, navigation authorities in the case of boats and other more specialist authorities. This is a comprehensive list. We do not include the licensing authorities themselves as they will receive the objections and decide on their merits. We would not wish them to be judge and jury. Therefore, the responsible authorities are intended to include technical and professional experts. That includes the local authority acting as the environmental health authority. The Secretary of State can add to the list by regulation.
Amendments Nos. 151 and 298 in Clauses 13 and 68 seek to add trading standards officers to the list of responsible authorities. When considering the licensing objectives in connection with an application to grant or vary a licence, the issues of crime and disorder are primarily for the police. Those concerning health and safety are for local authorities and, in special circumstances, for maritime agencies and the Health and Safety Executive. Those concerning nuisance are for the police, the local authorities and local people. Those concerning children would engage them all.
So there really is comprehensive coverage of those whom it is necessary to include in the definitions of "authorised person", "responsible authorities" and "interested parties". Trading standards officers are mentioned in the Bill in connection with test purchasing, for example, when they send minors into licensed premises with the intent to purchase alcohol. Then they can pursue prosecutions. That is done in collaboration with the police. If trading standards officers want to initiate a review they have only to pick up the phone and speak to their colleagues in the police. On the issue of crime, it is sensible that they should speak with one voice. Therefore, we do not need to include trading standards officers.
Amendments to the definition of "authorised person", local authority officers responsible for statutory functions relating to crime and disorder, public safety and protecting children from harm are covered in Amendments Nos. 136 and 283. Amendments Nos. 150 and 197 add those with statutory functions relating to crime and disorder. We are now talking about the officials who along with the police will be given powers of entry, inspection and enforcement for licensing purposes. We are not talking about statutory consultation. "Authorised person" includes an officer of a licensing authority, which means the local authority that is authorised by the authority for the purposes of the Bill. In terms of entry, inspection and enforcement, the licensing authority can authorise any local authority officer to act for it for the purposes of the Bill. These amendments are therefore unnecessary.
I hope that I have covered all the ground in this set of amendments. I hope that I have given adequate assurance that we have the powers that are necessary to cover all of the legitimate points raised by the amendments, but no more.
The noble Viscount said: In moving Amendment No. 138, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 139, 142, 144, 145, 146, 148, 285, 286, 289, 291, 292, 293, 294, 140, 143, 287 and 290. That large group of amendments are all related.
I shall speak to Amendment No. 139 first. Clause 13(3) introduces unnecessary restrictions on which members of the public can object to the grant of a premises licence. At present it is not necessary for a person to live
Any person who may be affected by the use of the premises for licensable activities should obviously have the right to be heard. That is an elementary requirement of natural justice as well as being an entitlement under Article 6 of the Convention on Human Rights. The amendment is designed to remove that restriction.
The removal of the restriction is particularly important when considering the requirement that the Bill imposes on licensing authorities to grant applications in the absence of "relevant representations"whether or not the grant of the application would promote the licensing objectives, or be in accordance with the authority's licensing policy or be consistent with the Secretary of State's guidance, which is the definition of "relevant representations" in the Bill. The right of an "ordinary person" to object to the grant of a premises licence will be particularly important, given that he or she has no such right to object to the grant of personal licences or to the holding of temporary events.
The Committee stage of the Bill is taking some time and is generating some interest among the public at large. The lack of ordinary persons' rights as we perceive them in the Bill is getting a lot of attention and is creating a great deal of concern. So I shall be particularly interested in the Minister's answer to that point.
Amendment No. 140 is intended to remove a further unnecessary restriction. There is no provision for an objector to be represented by another individual. The individuals of course could be local councillors or a Member of Parliament. The use of the phrase "a body representing" persons who live in the vicinity may exclude, for example, amenity societies, hospitals and all kinds of fairly obvious bodies and societies constituted as charities and which do not therefore represent particular residents.
Amendment No. 143 is designed to ensure, for the avoidance of doubt, that amenity societies and similar organisations will retain the right, which is not clear in the Bill, to object to licences which they possess at present.
I turn to Amendments No. 144 and 146. The drafting of the provision seems designed to prevent organisations which are not businesses, which may be affected by the grant of a premises licence, from being heard. Those could be schools, hospitals or indeed any other non-profit making activity.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 139, 144 to 146, 148, 286, 291 and 293. I shall not follow the noble Lord on Amendments Nos. 140, 143, 287 and 290, partly because of the topography of the groupings page and also the fact that Amendment No. 140 is unlikely to come after Amendment No. 293 in the same group. However, I respond very warmly to the spirit with which he spoke to the earlier amendments.
I wish to add two random examples. As to Amendment No. 139, those living locally seem to me to have every right to take an interest in the fact that there is a bus stop close to the licensed premises as there is likely to be noise going on into the night as a result of its location.
As to Amendment No. 145I declare an interest as the recently appointed Pro-Chancellor of the University of Londonother bodies such as universities or, indeed looking across the Chamber, trades unions, equally have a right to express an interest in these matters. They are as likely to be affected as are residents in the areas concerned.
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