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Sales To Or By Persons Under 18 Of Intoxicating Liquor On Wholesale Premises

Volume 126: debated on Monday 1 February 1988

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'The following section shall be inserted after section 181 of the principal Act—

"Sales to or by persons under 18 of intoxicating liquor on wholesale premises.
181A.—(1) In any premises from which he deals wholesale the wholesaler or his servant shall not sell intoxicating liquor to a person under eighteen.
(2) In any premises from which he deals wholesale the wholesaler shall not allow a person under eighteen to make any sale of intoxicating liquor unless the sale has been specifically approved by the wholesaler or by a person of or over the age of eighteen acting on his behalf.
(3) A person under eighteen shall not in premises from which intoxicating liquor is dealt in wholesale buy or attempt to buy such liquor.
(4) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) of this section.
  • (a) where the person charged is charged by reason of his own act, it shall be a defence for him to prove—
  • (i) that he exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of an offence under that subsection; or
  • (ii) that he had no reason to suspect that the other person was under eighteen; and
  • (b) where the person charged is charged by reason of the act of some other person, it shall be a defence for him to prove that he exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of an offence under that subsection.
  • (5) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) or (3) of this section shall be liable to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
    (6) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (2) of this section shall be liable to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.
    (7) In this section "wholesaler" and "wholesale" have the same meaning as in section 4 of the Alcoholic' Liquor Duties Act 1979.".'.—[Mr. Douglas Hogg.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: amendment (a) to the proposed new clause, in line 10, leave out from 'liquor' to end of line 12.

    Amendment (b) to the proposed new clause, leave out lines 22 and 23 and insert—
    '(ii) that he had good reason to believe that the other person was over eighteen; and'.

    This is yet a further example of the Government's intention to meet the problem of under-age drinking. We seek to introduce further restrictions on the sale of alcohol to and by young persons. We are applying to wholesalers the same restrictions on the sale of alcohol to and by 18-year-olds as are currently applied to on and off-licence premises. I commend the new clause to the House.

    We support the new clause and its addition to the Bill. However, I suspect that few people will be affected by it. It is unlikely that the majority of people under 18 purchase liquor in bulk from wholesale premises. Nevertheless, we welcome it, and the proposal was recommended by the Masham Committee.

    I shall ask the Minister one or two minor questions about the new clause, because we intended to move an amendment that would omit the necessity for the sale to be specifically approved by a wholesaler, which would be an absolute barrier to any sales in any circumstances by people under the age of 18.

    We believe that there should be no difficulty in finding someone over the age of 18 in wholesale premises to make those sales. I ask the Minister to consider that point and possibly to amend the Bill in another place.

    My other point concerns a recommendation in the Masham report that is connected with the point about wholesale premises. The Masham committee recommended that this provision should be extended to registered clubs. It was thought that it might be necessary to give the police the right to enter such premises, and I can foresee difficulties in that regard. That may be why the Minister left that section out of the amendment, but I should be grateful if he would give his feelings and ideas, because it also may need to be the subject of an amendment at a later stage.

    Two points have been raised by the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor); the first relates to clubs. I prefer to be candid with the House, and I usually am—that implies that on occasions I am not. I shrink from the concept of applying the licensing law to clubs. If we were to start applying it to clubs, we should open a Pandora's box which would probably prevent the passage of the Bill. We should not change the law relating to clubs by a side wind. If we want to do so, we must do it in a Bill primarily designed for clubs.

    With regard to the hon. Lady's other point, I have no doubt that it will be possible to find many people over the age of 18 who are willing to sell in wholesale premises. If we were to adopt the hon. Lady's suggestion, we would necessarily exclude those under the age of 18. I do not wish to do so, because of its impact on their employability.

    Question put and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.