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Lap-Dancing Clubs (Licensing)

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 19 June 2008

10. What recent representations she has received on the application of the gender equality duty to the licensing of lap-dancing clubs by local authorities.

The Minister for Women and Equality (Ms Harriet Harman): Representations on lap-dancing clubs have been made, among other ways, through my hon. Friend’s early-day motion and again yesterday through the private Member’s Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Dr. Blackman-Woods). (212136)

I know that my right hon. and learned Friend is aware of the concern about this issue up and down the country, demonstrated not least by yesterday’s support for the private Member’s Bill. Does she not agree that it is absolutely ridiculous in this day and age that one can object to a neighbour building a porch, but cannot object to a lap-dancing club opening up 200yd up the road? Will she further commit to steering this issue through to a successful conclusion so that we are not subjected to an endless game of ping-pong between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office, which I greatly fear?

I make that commitment to my hon. Friend, many other hon. Friends and all Members who have raised this issue. The important point is that local communities and local authorities need to know that the law is there to back them up. If the local community and the local authority think that it is inappropriate for a lap-dancing club to be opened in a particular area, the law should be there to back them up, but it is evident that that is not the position currently. My hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham said that it was important to make commitments not just to consult, but to act. I can give the House that commitment today.