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Liquor Licences

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what financial savings the Lord Chancellor's Department will make when the responsibility for issuing liquor licences is removed from magistrates. [116742]

My Department has not yet undertaken a full costing but it is unlikely there will be significant savings for the Department. The licensing judges and magistrates courts currently recover part of their costs through fees, so only limited savings will be made when responsibility for issuing liquor licenses is removed from magistrates. The magistrates' and clerks' manpower on licensing will be re-deployed so as to reduce unnecessary delay in criminal proceedings.Some savings are expected from changes to the appeal system. Appeals against decisions made by local authorities will be heard by magistrates courts, rather than the Crown Court where the cost of an appeal sitting is greater. The view of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is that the number of appeals to the magistrates court will not exceed the number of appeals currently handled by the Crown Court.During the transitional period the Department is likely to have increased costs as the courts will still be incurring the costs of enforcement without the income from renewed licenses.