Late Licences and Amusement Arcades

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th July 1987.

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Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax 12:00 am, 16th July 1987

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with chief constables about the effect on the maintenance of law and order of (a) the number of late licenses granted and (b) the number of amusement arcades operating.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Discussions about amusement arcades were held with officers of the Metropolitan police in November of last year. We have recently asked the Association of Chief Police Officers for information on its experience of amusement arcades as part of our review of the adequacy of the law. The Department is working with the police and others on a number of initiatives to reduce problems associated with licensed premises generally.

Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax

Does the Minister agree that there appears to be a correlation between the increased granting of late-night licences and violence on the street? Does he further agree that amusement arcades are good only for profiteers? They reflect the values of our society and lead to truancy and increased child gambling, which is a phenomenon that is to be abhorred. Will the Minister give local authorities more control over the granting of licences for amusement arcades?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

As to amusement arcades, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has anticipated the concern of the hon. Lady. She will recall that on 6 May my right hon. Friend announced a research programme designed to determine the extent of the use of arcades by young persons and whether that use is addictive and results in criminal or anti-social activity. When we have received the results of that research we will be in a better position to judge whether it is necessary or desirable to legislate.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Leeds North West

Does my hon. Friend agree that a related temptation for the younger age group is the increasing availability of lethal weapons? I have a constituent whose 13-year-old son had posted to his school a horrendous knife with a 10-in blade. The young people who are faced with these temptations are buying these weapons at low prices. This must be a contributory factor to the increasing violence and damage that is being carried out by this age group.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend has raised a serious point, about which Ministers are extremely concerned. We should like to come to the House with proposals as soon as we reasonably can.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that one or two organisations, particularly the Spectrum Children's Trust, have already done some work on what is happening in amusement arcades. That shows that a growing number of children are playing truant from school in order to participate in these activities. Gambling is addictive among young people and many are in moral danger as the hours of opening increase. When the hon. Gentleman receives the results of the research, I hope that he will report quickly and look at those two aspects of the problem.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am aware that that view is held by many reasonably-minded people. That is exactly why the programme of research has been commissioned. When we have received the report we will be in a better position to judge whether we should legislate. I am against the concept of a nanny state, and I do not contemplate legislation being introduced unless I consider it to be desirable.