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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I did the opposite. I opposed an amendment that would have removed the limit of 500. I was defending a limit. I was defending the fact that temporary event notices should be available only five times in any one year in any one premises. I was defending the limit to three days. I was restricting temporary event notices to what I thought was reasonable against amendments that would have opened them up. It is only right now that I should defend temporary event notices from amendments that would make life enormously more difficult for school fetes, church events and all the other events so dear to the hearts of those who took part in the early stages of the Committee. Anybody who is concerned about the restriction to prevention of crime should bear in mind that that is a wide definition. If there were any suggestion that there was a threat to children from under-age drinking or grooming by paedophiles, that would be covered by prevention of crime. The police could intervene on those grounds. That is wide enough.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I am in no way seeking to provide myself with a defence against the Minister's initial charge, but I seconded the amendment spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Clarke, in the previous grouping and I have moved the lead amendment in this group. My position has been consistent throughout. I am not sure how comfortable I have been about being consistent, but I have been consistent.
To some extent we are back to the issue of one size fits all. I hope we do not have a tragedy in one of the larger events contained within these provisions as a result of not having had tighter regulation. I am aware of the remarkable British capacity for thinking of reasons for not doing things. On the whole it is a characteristic that does us a disservice as a nation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
It cannot be right that a person whose application for a full premises licence is refused after a hearing and for good reasons should nevertheless be permitted to operate on, say, Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week for five weeks while he waits for his appeal to be heard, or can open anyway even if no appeal is lodged. Amendments Nos. 362, 364, 365 and 367 are designed to prevent that potential abuse taking place.
Amendment No. 368 is different. Here I may be becoming inconsistent, which comes of having the responsibility of moving amendments on behalf of more than one organisation. I may be stigmatised by the noble Baroness as over-libertarian. She spoke earlier of one of my amendments being draconian. This amendment could not be accused of being Procrustean, but it has the admirable characteristicI seek to keep a straight face; I am conscious that there is a certain inconsistency in what I am sayingof making decisions about temporary events truly local. It also has the virtue of being a great deal less complicated than Clause 105.
Because we seek to make progress, I hope that the Minister will forgive me if I ask a question about subsection (2). It is unclear to me how the licensing authority will know whether a personal licence holder has exceeded his limit of 50 temporary events a year. Will he give the Government's thinking on how that limit will be monitored? I beg to move.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I said earlier that I had one group of amendments attacking me from the left flank and a second group of amendments attacking me from the right flank. Now in one group of amendments I have the same person attacking me from the left flank and the right flank simultaneously. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Brooke!
Clause 105 sets out the circumstances in which a local authority must issue a counter notice; that is, the number of notices given in respect of individuals and premises. An individual who does not hold a personal licence can give five notices a year and a personal licence holder can give 50, but no more than five can be given for any one premises within a year. The answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, is presumably that the licensing authority will have received and added up the number of previous notices. On whether there is a more complicated answer than that about more than one licensing authority, I shall see whether I receive an answer in time to give it to the noble Lord. If not, I shall write to him.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: One route that immediately occurs to me as a way around the issue is for the applicant to have to say how many times in the same calendar year he has done that; if there is any reason to doubt it, that would be the justification for the counter notice.
Amendment No. 368 would allow a licensing authority to permit temporary events as it sees fit, having regard to the licensing objectives and its statement of licensing policy. That is local flexibility carried to its extremeI believe that even the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, would agreeand would make the situation very difficult. Some local authorities might be more liberal than is provided for in the Bill and others might be less liberal. A charity might find itself about to do something in Nether Wallop and not in Middle Wallop if they were in different licensing authority areas. That does not appear to make good sense.
The limits set out in Clause 105 are there for a reason. There need to be safeguards to protect the system from being abused. Although it might be argued that a licensing authority has particular duties and will ensure that that does not happen, there are other more important reasons for leaving the limits in place. It is important that those who might benefit from the system know how many times they can give such notices in any one year, and can plan accordingly. They need to know how to plan their fund-raising activities, for example. They need to know whether they need to ensure that they have a personal licence holder if they wish to sell alcohol. They need to know whether they should apply or encourage others to apply for a premises licence for a place that is used perhaps four times a year. And we need a degree of consistency throughout England and Wales.
The other amendments would prevent temporary event notices being given in respect of a premises for which an application for a premises licence had been rejected within the year. I understand the logic behind that. If the premises was not deemed suitable for a premises licence, it must be unsuitable for a temporary event notice. However, that thinking does not take account of differences in activities or the duration of the carrying on of those activities. Applications for a premises licence could be rejected for a number of different reasons and are considered necessary to promote the licensing objectives.
Unless otherwise requested, a premises licence is not time limited and the considerations will be different from those at which a one-off event takes place. For example, a premises licence could have included the intention to stage live music seven nights a week in the middle of a dense residential area. That could be refused on the grounds of public nuisance after objection. But that should not prevent an individual from seeking to arrange for a concert, a ballet troupe or an exhibition over the course of a single weekend. In any case, a temporary event notice must be copied
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: I am sorry that Mafeking has not been relieved in terms of the answer to the 50 events. But I congratulate the Minister on producing out of his own head at least the capacity for a running total, which would obviously necessitate the honesty of the person who was keeping it.
With regard to his objections to the other amendments, after a Minister has spoken wisely and well, it is often said from these Benches that we shall take the matter away and read carefully what the Minister has said. I hope that, on this occasion, the Government might look at the hypothesis that I put. I can see nothing that would be more likely to bring the legislation into disrepute, particularly in rural areas, than if someone were refused and yet were able, within the law and in terms of how the regulations stand, to conduct such events in the interim until the next stage of the process was taken.
I do not in any way seek to press the matter on this occasionnot least because we are trying to make progress. But if the Minister were to nod his willingness to consider the matter again, I should much appreciate it.
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