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Licensing Act 2003 (Diamond Jubilee Licensing Hours) Order 2012

Volume 735: debated on Tuesday 14 February 2012

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved By

That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Licensing Act 2003 (Diamond Jubilee Licensing Hours) Order 2012.

Relevant documents: 38th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

My Lords, the order proposes the relaxation of licensing hours to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. If made, it will allow licensed premises to stay open from 11 pm on Friday 1 June to 1 am on Saturday 2 June and from 11 pm on Saturday 2 June to 1 am on Sunday 3 June to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, to put on regulated entertainment and to sell hot food and drink in venues where alcohol is also sold for consumption on the premises. The Government do not believe that the order should apply to takeaway establishments which in most cases already have authorisation to stay open late.

Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003 gives the Secretary of State the power to make an order relaxing opening hours for licensed premises to mark occasions of,

“exceptional international, national or local significance’.

The licensing hours order would override existing opening hours in licensed premises and can be used for a period of up to four days. The order would apply to all licensed premises in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are covered by different legislation.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations will be centred around the national events taking place over the extended weekend in June and, as such, the Government believe that a small relaxation of licensing hours in England and Wales is appropriate. It is likely that many premises will wish to open later over the Diamond Jubilee weekend to take advantage of the celebrations and the long weekend.

A survey commissioned as part of the 2008 Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into the Licensing Act 2003 showed that 56 per cent of all premises in the survey still closed at 11 pm. Licensed premises may currently use a temporary event notice to extend their opening hours for a limited period at a cost of £21. However, temporary event notices are subject to certain annual limits. At present, only 12 may be given for a single premises in any calendar year, and they may be refused by the licensing authority if the police object on crime and disorder grounds. A small relaxation of licensing hours will benefit premises that would otherwise have used a temporary event notice to open late and will allow people to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in pubs, clubs and other licensed venues, such as community halls and restaurants.

The Government’s consultation on the relaxation of licensing hours for the Diamond Jubilee ran for seven weeks from 12 October to 1 December. There were 211 responses from a variety of interest groups and trade associations. A summary of the consultation can be found on the Home Office website. Around 85 per cent were in favour of the order being applied in England and Wales. The majority—some 80 per cent—also said that there were no effects in the usual level of crime and anti-social behaviour in their local area over the weekend of the royal wedding as a result of a similar licensing order. The off trade was excluded from the proposal on the basis that anyone wishing to celebrate at home could buy alcohol in advance or at any time during normal opening hours.

It was estimated that this small extension of licensing hours will save businesses in England and Wales between £280,000 and £480,000. The order will have no permanent effect on licensing hours and will mean venues opening for just one or two hours later on either or both of the specified days. We anticipate that any additional policing costs will be very limited because the majority of licensed premises that will take advantage of the order would have opened late anyway using a temporary event notice. We would expect any small extra costs to be met from existing police budgets.

I hope that the Committee will agree with the Government that this minor extension of the licensing hours to celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee is an appropriate use of the powers conferred on the Home Secretary by Section 172 of the Licensing Act. I beg to move.

My Lords, I support the order. To do otherwise would amount to something like bah humbug. However, I have a couple of questions for the Minister.

First, why did the consultation ask for comments on the basis that the relaxation would cover only two nights? As the Minister explained, the relaxation period could be up to four days. It struck me as a little nannyish not to include Sunday and Monday, as if the state were telling people that they had better be fit for work on Tuesday.

I also wondered whether there was any indication of costs to local authorities that might be anticipated. The Minister has told the Committee of the police's response, but local authorities may have concerns about policing in the widest sense.

Thirdly, I do not know whether it is proper to ask for news about Royal Assent for a Bill. Certainly, I would like to know about the commencement following Royal Assent to the Live Music Bill. I suppose it is still a Bill until it receives Royal Assent. It would allow for live music in the circumstances set out in the Bill. I am sure that we would not want to stop patriotic songs being sung during these hours. Can the Minister give me any news on that? I know that my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones who piloted the Bill in this House and my right honourable friend Don Foster would be just two of those who would be glad to hear news of its impending effect.

My Lords, I am most grateful to the Committee for adjourning for a few minutes to allow me to speak on behalf of the Opposition on this order. The Opposition wholly support the order. I have no questions for the Minister and I very much commend the order to the Committee.

My Lords, I am very grateful indeed for the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and particularly for his brevity. I will deal very quickly with what turned out to be three questions from my noble friend Lady Hamwee: she described them as two questions.

First, she asked why there were only two nights and whether we were being over-nannyish in not going for four nights or at least consulting on four nights. We thought that two nights would be more or less right. We thought that Friday and Saturday would be when people would be most likely to want to go out and socialise. We also thought that that would limit the burdens on the police. That is an important matter to take into account. That is why we consulted on just those two days.

My noble friend asked about the costs to local authorities. I am not aware that there will be any greater costs as a result of the order, although there might be as a result of Diamond Jubilee celebrations as a whole, but that is not a matter that we are discussing at the moment. Certainly, I am not aware of any objections from local authorities or the LGA as a result. If there are any, I will certainly write to my noble friend.

Thirdly, my noble friend asked about the Private Member’s Bill introduced in this House by my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones, the Live Music Bill. I think that it has gone through this House and the other place and is waiting for Royal Assent. It would be wrong for me to make any comment on when Royal Assent might come to that Bill, but I know my noble friend is aware of the constitutional proprieties in these matters and knows that normally when Bills have gone from both Houses they receive Royal Assent in due course. But that is a matter way beyond my pay grade.

I hope that I have answered all the questions. I am very grateful for the support of my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and I look forward to all of us being able to celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, something that has happened only on the rarest occasions, in the appropriate manner in due course.

Motion agreed.

Committee adjourned at 4.55 pm.