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Policing and Crime Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 7th December 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat 6:00 pm, 7th December 2016

We support the amendment from these Benches. I congratulate those who tabled it on their persistence and on taking forward the work of a Select Committee to seek to translate it into legislation. That is an example of how this House can work so effectively.

As others have said on many occasions, we should not have to legislate, but it seems that we do in order to change attitudes. Sometimes we have to make something enforceable before people come to understand that the subject is actually a right. The amendment has been described as anticipatory. Unfortunately one often sees that it is too easy for someone who infringes a rule not to take the sanction seriously. It can be regarded as an operating cost. If you are caught out and have to pay a penalty it is tough, but it is part of the costs of the business.

The value of the amendment is that bringing the issue into the licensing process will concentrate minds at the right point. I slightly take issue with my noble friend Lady Thomas, who talked about teeth. I say that it is about a mindset—so minds rather than teeth —but I think that is the only difference between us.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Deech, said, it is about mainstreaming the issue, making sure that everyone approaches it with the right objectives in mind. It is very harsh—almost offensive—to expect the objectives of the amendment to be met by individuals who find themselves unable to get into a set of premises, to use that as the example, not having known beforehand that there would be a problem, and to put the burden on them, in retrospect, to take it up—and we know that these rights are difficult to enforce, because individual rights are not easily enforced.

The Minister said in Committee that it would be inappropriate for licensing conditions to refer to specific legislation, because there is already an obligation to comply with that legislation. The new formulation is very neat. The current objective is shorthand, in just the same way as the other four licensing objectives are shorthand—one of them is for protection of children, safety is another. Indeed, the Minister gave examples of that in Committee. There would not be a call for the amendment if guidance worked and if good practice, which is no doubt observed by the good practitioners, was observed by those who have made the amendment necessary. We are very enthusiastic in support of the amendment, although it is sad to have to be enthusiastic for it.