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Delegated Power Of Licensing Justices

Volume 126: debated on Monday 1 February 1988

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

'In section 6 of the principal Act (provisional grant of new licence or removal), in subsection (4), after the word "justices" there shall be inserted the words
"or a single licensing justice with delegated powers authorised under Schedule 1 Part I Paragraph 7 to this Act.".'.—[Mr. Waller.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to take new clause 11—Adjudication of application by single licensing justice

'The following paragraph shall be inserted after paragraph 6 of Schedule I Part I to the principal Act—
"7. In the case of an application under section 6(4) above licensing justices may adjourn the hearing of such an application and delegate its adjudication to a single member of the licensing committee.".'

Like the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe), who came to the Chamber, made his diatribe against Conservative Members and departed, I speak for my constituents and I am concerned on their behalf alone.

The existing law on the issue of licences is inconvenient not only for many new supermarkets and premises but for the public. Retailers who are opening new stores face a particular problem with section 6(4) of the principal Act, in that licencing justices can have a provisional grant of a justices' off-licence declared final at a transfer session only when such premises are completed in accordance with plans deposited. That leads to difficulties, as such sessions may often be held only five times a year. The likelihood of a new store being completed in accordance with the deposited plans on one such day during the year is rather remote.

Consequently, a company opening premises on the day after a transfer session may face the prospect of not being able to sell liquor for a considerable period—perhaps as long as 10 weeks. It is difficult to see that any public good is achieved thereby. For example, when the Gateway store in Lavender Hill opened, it faced a delay of three weeks before it could sell liquor. In other cases, the opening of a store has been delayed because it did not coincide with the transfer sessions. Although the Bill contains a provision to change the number of licensing sessions to be held, the minimum number of such sessions will remain unchanged. The Bill does little, therefore, to improve the situation.

New clauses 10 and 11 seek to enable the applicant who applies for a final order under section 6(4) of the 1964 Act to apply for the matter to be heard upon the date on which the premises are declared to be completed. A store would already have been granted a fire certificate by the local authority. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to say that he sympathises with and will consider ways of taking on board this point.

The proposal would delegate power to one licensing justice to hear the application, rather than inconvenience, the bench and require the minimum of three justices, as are required to attend a licence transfer session. I do not foresee that any disadvantages will flow from this proposal and I hope that the Minister will accept it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller) has asked me to say two things: first, that I sympathise with the point; and, secondly, that I shall consider ways of taking it on board. I shall do both of those things.

In view of that response, which, albeit brief, I take to be sympathetic, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.