Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill: Consideration Stage

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 6:45 pm on 8th June 2021.

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Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin 6:45 pm, 8th June 2021

Tonight's debate on the Bill has all the hallmarks of taking us well into the early hours of the morning. Maybe some of you will be driven to drink afterwards. I urge Members to try to stick to the core topic. That includes Ms Sugden; you are laughing. I want Members to try to stick to the agenda, because the debate will run for quite a significant period of time, which is appropriate for the business we are dealing with. I ask Members to remind themselves of the timescale.

I call the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, to move the Consideration Stage of the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill.

Moved. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Members will have a copy of the Marshalled List of amendments detailing the order for consideration. The amendments have been grouped for debate in the provisional grouping of amendments selected list.

There are four groups of amendments, and we will debate the amendments in each group in turn. The first debate will be on amendment Nos 1 to 6, Nos 47 to 50 and No 63, which deal with the extension of permitted hours and the size of licensed premises, including clubs, and opposition to clauses 2 and 4 stand part. The second debate will be on amendment Nos 7 to 34 and No 61, which deal with additional numbers of licensed premises, including local producers and cinemas. The third debate will be on amendment Nos 35 to 44, Nos 51 to 57 and No 62, which deal with minimising alcohol-related harm in society. The fourth debate will be on amendment Nos 45 and 46 and Nos 58 to 60, which deal with the implementation and review of the Bill and the licensing system.

I remind Members who intend to speak that, during the debates on the four groups of amendments, they should address all the amendments in each group on which they wish to comment. Once the debate on each group is completed, any further amendments in the group will be moved formally as we go through the Bill and the Question on each will be put without further debate. The Questions on stand part will be taken at the appropriate points in the Bill. If that is clear, we shall proceed.

Clause 1 (Removal of additional restrictions at Easter)

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

The Question is that clause 1 stand part of the Bill. All those in favour say Aye.

Some Members:

Aye.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Does the Member wish for there to be a Division?

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

That is not necessary; I just wanted it to be recorded.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

That is fine.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

We now come to the first group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 1, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 2 to 6, Nos 47 to 50, No 63 and opposition to clauses 2 and 4 stand part.

Within this group, amendment No 5 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 4, and amendment No 50 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 49.

I call the Minister for Communities to move amendment No 1 and to address the other amendments in the group.

New Clause

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

I beg to move amendment No 1:

After clause 1 insert -

<BR/>

Removal of restrictions on late opening for on-sales on Sunday


 


1A.—(1) In Article 30 of the Licensing Order (occasional licences), in paragraph (1)(c), for paragraphs (ii) and (iii) substitute—


 


‘(ii) on Sundays, between half past 12 in the afternoon and 1 in the morning of the day next following,’.


 


(2) In Article 42 of the Licensing Order (general permitted hours)—


 


(a) in paragraph (1), after sub-paragraph (a) and the following ‘and’ insert—


 


‘(aa) on Sundays, other than Christmas Day, from half past 12 in the afternoon to 11 in the evening; and’,


 


(b) in paragraph (1)(c), for the words from ‘except’ to ‘Christmas Day’ substitute ‘on Christmas Day,’, and


 


(c) in paragraph (3), for ‘paragraph (1)(c)’ substitute ‘paragraph (1)(aa) and (c)’.


 


(3) In Article 42 of the Licensing Order, after paragraph (1) insert—


 


‘(1A) Neither paragraph (1)(aa) nor, in a year when Christmas Day is on a Sunday, paragraph (1)(c) applies in the case of premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(a) with respect to which a direction under Article 7(10) or 15(5)(a) is in force.’.


 


(4) In Article 44 of the Licensing Order (orders for additional permitted hours), in paragraph (2), for the words from ‘the hours—‘ to ‘shall’ substitute ‘the hours on any day from 11 in the evening to 1 in the morning of the day next following shall’.


 


(5) In Article 45 of that Order (authorisations for additional permitted hours), in paragraph (1), for the words from ‘the hours—‘ to ‘in addition to’ substitute ‘the hours on any day from 11 in the evening to 1 in the morning of the day next following in addition to’.


 


(6) In Article 47 of that Order (extension licences), in paragraph (1)(b), for paragraphs (ii) and (iii) substitute—


‘(ii) on Sundays, between half past 12 in the afternoon and 1 in the morning of the day next following,’.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 2: In clause 2, page 3, line 22, leave out “104” and insert “208”. — [Ms Armstrong.]

No 3: In clause 2, page 4, line 13, at end insert -



“(1A) In Schedule 9 to the Licensing Order (procedure for certain applications), after paragraph 2 insert—


 


‘2A. A person who intends to make an application under Article 44 or 44A must (in addition to complying with the duty under paragraph 2)—


 


(a) not more than 6 weeks nor less than 2 weeks before the time of the court sitting at which the application is to be made, cause notice of the application to be published at least once in 2 newspapers circulating in the vicinity of the premises to which the application relates;


 


(b) during the 3 weeks before that time, cause notice of the application to be displayed on or near the premises to which the application relates.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 4: In clause 4, page 5, line 26, leave out “85” and insert “104”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 5: In clause 4, page 5, line 26, leave out “85” and insert “208”. — [Ms Armstrong.]

No 6: In clause 4, page 5, line 34, at end insert -



“(4) After paragraph (3) of that Article insert—


 


‘(4) A person who intends to make an application under this Article shall—


 


(a) during the 3 weeks before the first occasion to which the application relates, cause notice of the application to be displayed on or near the premises for which the authorisation is to be sought;


 


(b) not less than 3 weeks before that time, serve a copy of the notice of the application on the district council for the district in which the premises are situated.


 


(5) The notice under paragraph (4) must specify the kind of premises to which the application relates and must contain such information as may be prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.


 


(6) The following provisions of this Article apply where a complaint is made to a court of summary jurisdiction under Part 8 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 on the grounds—


 


(a) that the business carried on in premises to which an authorisation under this Article applies is being conducted during the hours mentioned in paragraph (1) or any period immediately following their termination in such a manner as to cause undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises; or


 


(b) that such hours are causing undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises.


 


(7) Where the court is satisfied that the grounds of the complaint are made out, it may—


 


(a) revoke the authorisation; or


 


(b) modify the authorisation or, in relation to the authorisation, the hours mentioned in paragraph (1); or


 


(c) make the continuance of the authorisation subject to such terms and conditions as the court thinks fit.


 


(8) The terms and conditions which may be imposed under paragraph (7)(c) include those requested by the district commander of the police district in which the premises are situated.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 47: After clause 22 insert -



Alterations to premises


Consent required for alterations to premises


 


22A.—(1) After Article 12 of the Registration of Clubs Order insert—


 


‘Alterations to club premises


 


Consent required for certain alterations to premises


 


12A.—(1) An alteration shall not, subject to paragraph (2), be made to the premises of a registered club if the alteration—


(a) gives increased facilities for drinking in any part of the premises which contains a bar; or


(b) adds to any part of the premises which contains a bar or substitutes one such part of the premises for another; or


(c) conceals from observation a part of the premises in which intoxicating liquor is supplied; or


(d) affects the means of passage between a part of the premises which contains a bar and the remainder of the premises or any road or other public place.


(2) An alteration such as is mentioned in paragraph (1) may be made if—


(a) an application under this Article has been made by the secretary of the club to a county court and the court has made an order consenting to the alteration; or


(b) the alteration is required by order of some lawful authority and, before the alteration is made, notice of the requirement is served by the secretary of the club on the clerk of petty sessions.


(3) The procedure for applications under paragraph (2)(a) is set out in Part 1 of Schedule 4A, and Part 2 of that Schedule has effect in relation to notices under paragraph (2)(b).


(4) If an alteration such as is mentioned in paragraph (1) is made to premises otherwise than in accordance with an order of the county court or an order of some lawful authority, a court of summary jurisdiction may order the registered club to restore, as far as is practicable, the premises to their original condition within a period fixed by the order.


(5) The period fixed by an order under paragraph (4) may be extended by order of a court of summary jurisdiction on the application of the secretary of the club.


(6) If paragraph (2)(b) is not complied with, the registered club and every official of the club is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.


(7) If the registered club makes default in complying with an order under paragraph (4), the club and every official of the club is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.


(8) This Article does not apply to an extension such as requires authorisation under Article 15A.’.


 


(2) After Schedule 4 to the Registration of Clubs Order insert—


‘SCHEDULE 4A


APPLICATIONS AND NOTICES UNDER ARTICLE 12A


PART 1


APPLICATIONS FOR CONSENT TO ALTERATIONS


1. In this Part ‘application’ means an application under Article 12A(2)(a).


2. The secretary of a club which intends to make an application must, not less than 3 weeks before the time of the opening of the court sitting at which the application is to be made, serve notice of the application upon the chief clerk and at the same time serve a copy of the notice upon—


(a) the district commander for the police district in which the premises of the club are situated; and


(b) the person whose name is recorded in the register of clubs as the owner of the premises of the club.


3. The notice mentioned in paragraph 2 must be in such form and, without prejudice to paragraph 4, must contain such other information as may be prescribed by county court rules.


4. The applicant must attach a plan of the premises showing the alteration to—


(a) the notice mentioned in paragraph 2, and


(b) the copy of that notice which is served upon the district commander.


5. The district commander upon whom notice is required by paragraph 2 to be served or the person whose name is recorded in the register of clubs as the owner of the premises of the club may appear at the hearing of the application and object to the court consenting to the alteration to which the application relates.


6. A person intending to object under paragraph 5 must, not less than 1 week before the time of the opening of the court sitting at which the application is to be made—


(a) serve upon the applicant notice of the intention to object, briefly stating the grounds for so doing;


(b) serve a copy of the notice upon the chief clerk.


PART 2


NOTICES OF ALTERATIONS REQUIRED BY AUTHORITIES


7. The notice must be in such form and, without prejudice to paragraph 8, must contain such other information as may be prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.


8.—(1) The secretary of the club must attach to the notice a plan of the premises showing the proposed alterations.


(2) The alterations shown in the plan mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) must be authenticated by or on behalf of the authority in question in the manner prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.’.


(3) In Article 16 of the Registration of Clubs Order (register of clubs), in paragraph (2), after paragraph (d) insert—


‘(da) particulars of any order made under Article 12A(2)(a), (4) or (5) in respect of the premises of the club and of any requirement in respect of those premises notice of which is served under Article 12A(2)(b);’.


(4) In Part 3 of Schedule 6 to that Order (penalty points punishable with level 5 fine) at the appropriate place insert—


 









‘12A(7)



Failure to comply with court order to make alterations etc.



5-6’


 



”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 48: After clause 23 insert -



Removal of restrictions on late opening on Sunday


23A.—(1) In Article 24 of the Registration of Clubs Order (general permitted hours), in paragraph (1)—


(a) after sub-paragraph (a) and the following ‘and’ insert—


‘(aa) on Sundays other than Christmas Day, from half past 12 in the afternoon to 11 in the evening; and’, and


(b) in sub-paragraph (c), omit ‘Sunday or’.


(2) In Article 26 of the Registration of Clubs Order (authorisations for special occasions), in paragraph (1)(a), for paragraphs (ii) and (iii) (but not the ‘or’ following paragraph (iii)) substitute—


“(ii) on Sundays, from 11 in the evening to 1 in the morning of the day next following,’.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 49: After clause 24 insert -



Increase in number of authorisations for special occasions


24A.—(1) In Article 26 of the Registration of Clubs Order (authorisation for special occasions), in paragraph (2), for ‘85’ substitute ‘104’.


(2) After paragraph (4) of that Article insert—


“(5) A person who intends to make an application under this Article shall—


(a) during the 3 weeks before the first occasion to which the application relates, cause notice of the application to be displayed on or near the premises of the club;


(b) not less than 3 weeks before that time, serve a copy of the notice of the application on the district council for the district in which the premises of the club are situated.


(6) The notice under paragraph (5) must contain such information as may be prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.


(7) The following provisions of this Article apply where a complaint is made to a court of summary jurisdiction under Part 8 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 on the grounds—


(a) that the business carried on in the premises of the club is being conducted during the hours mentioned in paragraph (1) or any period immediately following their termination in such a manner as to cause undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises; or


(b) that such hours are causing undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises.


(8) Where the court is satisfied that the grounds of the complaint are made out, it may—


(a) revoke the authorisation; or


(b) modify the authorisation or, in relation to the authorisation, the hours mentioned in paragraph (1); or


(c) make the continuance of the authorisation subject to such terms and conditions as the court thinks fit.


(9) The terms and conditions which may be imposed under paragraph (8)(c) include those requested by the district commander of the police district in which the premises of the club are situated.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 50: After clause 24 insert -



Increase the number of authorisations for special occasions


24A. In Article 26 of the Registration of Clubs Order (authorisation for special occasions), in paragraph (2), leave out ‘85’ and insert ‘208’.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 63: In schedule 2, page 37, line 5, at end, insert in column 2 -









 



In Article 24(1)(c), ‘Sunday or’.



 


”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

I record my thanks to the Committee for Communities and to the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson for their assistance in progressing the Bill to Consideration Stage. Their scrutiny has been robust and diligent, and the amendments that we have agreed will, I believe, result in a better Bill.

On amendment No 1, following the evidence presented to the Committee by leading hospitality representatives, the Committee asked that I accept an amendment to bring the additional opening hours for pubs and hotels on a Sunday, which are currently restricted to 12 midnight, into line with those permitted on weekdays. I acknowledge that Sunday is a day of religious significance, but the amendment does not extend to the permitted opening time for premises on a Sunday. It simply extends the already permitted hours in the evening by one hour into Monday.

Sundays can be busy times for some premises, with family and sporting events taking place. There are professions that require people to work on a Sunday, and for them Monday is a day off. Sunday nights for those people are the equivalent of Saturday nights for most. In terms of tourism, it is understood that visitors here for long weekends find it frustrating that one of their nights is cut short. That is particularly the case for visitors whose culture involves eating later in the evening, before moving on for entertainment and drinks.

A number of other articles in the Licensing Order 1996 restrict Sunday permitted hours. I see no policy reason why additional hours in those circumstances should not be brought into line with the hours on other nights or why they should not be extended to all licensed premises where alcohol can be consumed. I also believe that a small increase in permitted hours across all licensed premises, where consumption is permitted on the premises, will result in a cumulative increase in revenue that will be welcomed by the industry, which has suffered so badly over the past year.

I therefore propose amendment No 1, which will introduce a new clause, 1A, to remove the restrictions on late-night permitted hours on a Sunday for premises licensed for consumption on the premises.

Clause 2 introduces provisions for public houses and hotels to apply to the courts for an order for further additional permitted hours, to 2 am, up to 104 nights per year. Amendment No 2, tabled by Kellie Armstrong, proposes that the number of days in any year that can be specified in an order for further additional permitted hours for public houses and hotels be increased from 104 to 208. That is a significant increase — double the number of nights in any year — and I have not heard a compelling reason to justify it. The Committee in its deliberations was content with the maximum limit of 104 nights. The police raised concerns about the impact on resources if 2 am opening were granted for weeknights. With 104 late nights, the reasonable expectation is that those nights will be used at the busiest times and usually at the weekends. The police confirmed that that was the case and that there would be no significant impact on its resources. With 208 occasions, however, it would result in late nights being granted on weeknights, with a resulting impact on resources and other agencies and organisations involved in the night-time economy. I do not, therefore, support the amendment.

In the course of progressing the Bill, my officials identified what appears to be an anomaly in the Licensing Order, in respect of the application process for article 44 additional permitted hours orders when they are made to the Magistrates' Court. In that process, although the opportunity exists for any person residing in the vicinity of the premises to object to the late opening order, there is no requirement for the applicant to notify those people, and it is therefore unlikely that they will be aware of an application. I believe that it is vital that the impact on local residents is taken into consideration and that the Bill is an opportunity to ensure that. I am, therefore, proposing amendment No 3 to clarify the position in relation to applications for late-night opening until 1 am or 2 am.

Clause 4, as introduced, was to increase the number of occasions on which pubs that are not structurally adapted to provide food or entertainment can apply to the police for late opening from 20 to 85.

On the basis of the evidence presented by representatives of private members' clubs, the Committee determined that the number of times that registered clubs can apply to the police for a late-night authorisation for special occasions should increase from 85 to 104. Smaller pubs, alongside registered clubs, have been severely affected by the COVID restrictions. They have had to remain closed, even during some of the periods of relaxed restrictions when larger pubs were able to use outdoor space.

I accept the Committee's position that it is logical and equitable for the maximum number of authorisations for small pubs to be the same as that for registered clubs. Therefore, I propose amendment No. 4, which will increase the number of times that small pubs can apply for late-night opening from 85 to 104. That is two a week, with the expectation that the authorisations will be used at the weekend. The Bill already contains a power allowing the number of occasions to be amended by regulation. Therefore, any issues arising from the increase could be addressed fairly quickly.

Amendment No. 5, tabled by Kellie Armstrong, seeks to increase the number of authorisations provided for in the Bill from 85 to 208. That significant increase would double the number of nights that I propose in amendment No. 4. I have not heard any compelling reason to justify such an increase. The Committee, after deliberations, was content with the maximum limit of 104. If later nights were granted throughout the week, the impact on communities, police resources and other organisations and agencies involved in the night-time economy could be significant. Therefore, I do not support that amendment.

Given the significant increase from 20 to 104, which is two nights a week, I believe that residents should be made aware of an intention to apply for a late-night authorisation. That is the case for late-night opening for larger pubs that have regular late nights, but not for smaller pubs. There is also no opportunity for the police to revoke or amend authorisation once it has been granted, and there is every possibility that a licence holder could apply for most or all of the 104 nights in one application. The only option open to the police is to wait until the next application, which could be up to a year away, and reject it. Therefore, I propose amendment No. 6 to allow complaints to be made to the courts under part VIII of the Magistrates' Courts (NI) Order 1981 where undue inconvenience is caused to residents as the result of a late-night authorisation. The amendment provides the Magistrates' Court with the power to revoke an authorisation, modify the hours of an authorisation or make an authorisation subject to terms and conditions as it thinks fit.

I move on to amendments relating to registered clubs. Evidence presented to the Committee highlighted the disparity between the process for licensed premises and the process for registered clubs in dealing with proposed alterations to premises. A licensed premises is required to obtain approval from the court in advance of any alteration to its premises; a registered club is not. A court is notified of an alteration to a club only at the renewal of registration stage, and, if the court considers the premises are no longer suitable or proper, there is the potential for the club to have its application for renewal refused. Therefore, I propose an amendment, amendment No. 47, to address the disparity identified between registered clubs and other licensed premises. The amendment will insert new clause 22A in the Bill, and that will introduce a new article 12(A) in the Registration of Clubs (NI) Order 1996. The new article will require registered clubs to apply to the courts for approval to make alterations to club premises. The procedure for such applications is set out in new schedule 4A. Further to amendment No. 1, the removal of restrictions for late-night opening on Sundays in licensed premises, I propose amendment No. 48, which will apply to registered clubs. The amendment introduces new clause 23A, which will remove the restrictions on Sunday late-night authorisations for registered clubs.

Registered clubs are currently allowed to apply to the police for an authorisation for additional hours until 1.00 am for special occasions on up to 85 nights a year. As I mentioned earlier, evidence received by the Committee resulted in a request to increase that number to 104. Given that registered clubs with bars and restaurants have been subject to the same COVID restrictions in their licensed premises, I agree with that level of increase.

I therefore tabled an amendment— amendment No 49 — that will introduce a new clause 24A to the Bill to increase the maximum number of late-night authorisations that the police may grant to registered clubs from 85 to 104.

As with amendment No 3 for licensed premises, the provision of 104 late-night authorisations effectively means two a week, which could have an adverse impact on residents. Proposed new clause 24A, introduced by amendment No 49, includes provisions to allow complaints to be made to the courts where undue inconvenience is caused to local residents as a result of a late-night authorisation. Again, a court will be provided with the power to revoke, modify or place terms and conditions on an authorisation as it sees fit.

Amendment No 50, which Kellie Armstrong tabled, would also introduce a new clause 24A to the Bill to increase the number of authorisations that the police can grant from 85 to 208. I, along with the Committee, am content with the limit of 104 set in my amendment No 49. I therefore do not support amendment No 50. The Member's amendment does not take into account the impact on local residents, with there being no requirement to notify local residents and no opportunity for the courts to place conditions on the authorisation following a complaint.

Finally in this group, I tabled amendment No 63, which adds a reference to Sundays in the replies listed in schedule 2 to the Bill. The amendment is consequential to amendment No 48, which removes restrictions on permitted hours on a Sunday in registered clubs. Those are the amendments in group 1.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP 7:00 pm, 8th June 2021

With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I would like to say a few words about the Committee's scrutiny of the Bill before I touch on each amendment in the group.

The Committee requested evidence from interested organisations, and 58 written submissions were received from a diverse range of organisations, businesses, government bodies, researchers and individuals, including those representing or with an interest in the health impacts of alcohol and addiction; public health; the wider justice system, including the PSNI; those concerned about safeguarding young people; sporting and other clubs; the hospitality sector; local alcohol producers; lobby groups representing wider interests; the retail sector; and the tourism sector. In total, the Committee held 35 oral evidence sessions with interested organisations and explored the wide range of issues raised in the written and oral evidence with Department for Communities officials through oral briefings and written responses.

The Committee then considered and deliberated on the provisions of the Bill and proposed amendments at seven meetings, concluding with its formal clause-by-clause consideration on 6 May. The Committee specifically devoted a substantial amount of time to deliberations on clause 8 and on the issue of taprooms, which was not covered in the Bill. Over a total of eight meetings, the Committee devoted at least 10 hours of discussion exclusively to those issues. We will come to those amendments in the later groupings, when I sincerely hope that we do not have to debate them for yet another 10 hours.

Based on the evidence that it took in its deliberations, the Committee wrote to the Minister requesting, and getting, agreement that a range of amendments be brought forward by the Department via amending existing clauses or through a number of new clauses or other ministerial assurances, and we also tabled a number of Committee amendments. At our meeting on 3 June, Committee members were content then to agree the Minister's amendments to our Committee amendments. We were assured that that would tidy things up, and it was done at that stage to try to ensure the Bill's swift passage.

I take this opportunity to thank the departmental officials — Liam Quinn, Carol Reid and Suzanne Breen — for all their help throughout Committee Stage and to highlight the good working relationships established between the Committee secretariat and the officials.

I turn now to amendment No 1. The Committee considered proposed new clause 1A at its meeting on 6 May, and members supported the amendment. It was taken forward by the Minister at our request, based on evidence that we considered from Hospitality Ulster. It brings the additional opening hours on any Sunday into line with those currently permitted on weekdays for both licensed premises and registered clubs.

During our deliberations, the Committee wrote to the Department to ask if the issue was covered in the proposed Bill. The Committee was advised that it was not and that the Minister would put forward an amendment at the Committee's request. The amendment deals with the request to bring the legislation relating to an article 44 permitted hours late licence on Sundays into line with the permitted hours for the other late nights granted for premises. Rather than return to the same issue later, I will, at this point, highlight the Committee's support for amendment No 48 and new clause 23A, which deals with the same issue for registered clubs, regarding additional opening hours on a Sunday.

On the basis of its evidence, the Committee remains supportive of the 104 nights provided for in clause 2. Amendment No 2 calls for that to be doubled to 208 nights. That was not called for by the Committee. Therefore, I cannot support the amendment on behalf of the Committee. The Committee called for a matching number of 104 nights for small pubs and clubs, and that has been taken forward in amendments that we will come to later.

The Committee supports the Minister's amendment No 3. It enhances clause 2 by increasing the requirement on a licensed premises to give notice in its vicinity of its intention to apply for further additional hours under clause 2. The Committee cannot support the opposition to clause 2 as it was supportive of the clause's inclusion in the Bill. The overall economy and the hospitality and tourism industry have been hit hard by the impact of COVID and will need all the help that they can get in going forward. Clause 2 offers the industry the opportunity of further additional hours. Not every establishment has to take advantage of it, but it is good that the option is there. It is for that reason that the Committee cannot support the opposition to the clause.

Amendment No 4 relates to clause 4. Members queried where the increase from the current 20 nights of police authorisations for additional hours to the 85 in the Bill originated. Departmental officials stated that that was to bring small pubs in line with the proposals for clubs in the Bill. Members suggested that, given the 104 late nights in clause 2, there was a logic to increasing that proposal to 104 nights for clubs and small pubs. Subsequently, the Committee asked officials to bring forward an amendment that would increase the number of occasions on which small pubs and clubs can apply for late opening from 85 to 104 to allow them a more level playing field alongside larger establishments and to assist with the economic recovery of those premises once the hospitality sector reopened. The Minister accepted the Committee's request and agreed to take it forward as a departmental amendment. I welcome amendment No 4.

As I just stated, the Committee requested an increase in further additional hours to 104 nights from 85 for smaller pubs. Amendment No 5 calls for that to be doubled. That was not called for in evidence to the Committee. Therefore, I cannot support the amendment on behalf of the Committee.

I move to amendment No 6. The Committee was informed by the Department that, given the significant increase from 20 late nights a year to 104, as covered by amendment No 4, which I have just discussed, the Minister believes that local residents should be made aware of any intention to apply for a late night authorisation. The Committee is in agreement and supports amendment No 6.

In relation to the opposition to clause 4, I go back to what I said on the opposition to clause 2. The Committee cannot support the opposition to clause 4 as it was supportive of the clause's inclusion in the Bill. The overall economy and the hospitality and tourism industry have been hit hard by the impact of COVID and, as I said, will need all the help that they can get in moving forward. Clause 4 offers the industry the opportunity of further additional hours. Not every establishment has to take advantage of it, but it is good that the option is there. It is for that reason that the Committee cannot support the opposition to clause 4.

Amendment No 47 provides for new clause 22A. The Committee discussed evidence that it had received from the PSNI regarding the issue of clubs wishing to alter their premises, potentially to avail themselves of an extension authorisation. The Committee queried whether clubs should have to apply to the court before any work is carried out, rather than just advising the court when their registration is due for renewal. Departmental officials told us that there was an anomaly here between clubs and other licensed premises and that the Minister would bring forward an amendment. In addition, the Committee highlighted concerns over the use of one-day club memberships, which have been used by some clubs to allow access to their bar facilities and not to their sporting facilities, which is the intention of such one-day memberships. We were advised that the Minister would also propose a clarifying amendment on the matter. The Committee requested that those amendments be made. The Minister accepted both requests and has tabled them as departmental amendments. I thank the Minister for tabling the amendments. The Committee supports amendment No 47. We will come to the other one in group 3.

The Committee also welcomes amendment No 49, which will increase the number of times that registered clubs can apply to the police for late-night openings for special occasions, as provided for in the Registration of Clubs (Northern Ireland) Order 1996, from 85 to 104. It is another amendment requested by the Committee that the Minister agreed to take forward, because the Committee felt that it was appropriate to bring clubs in line with the 104 nights on offer to other licensed premises.

I run the risk of repeating myself, but the Committee cannot support the further increase from 104 to 208 that is proposed in amendment No 50. The Committee requested an increase in further additional hours to 104 nights from 85 for clubs, which, I believe, is fair and reasonable. Amendment No 50 calls for that to be doubled, which was not something that was called for in evidence to the Committee. On behalf of the Committee, therefore, I cannot support that amendment.

Finally, for this group of amendments, on behalf of the Committee I welcome amendment No 63, which adds a reference to Sunday to the repeals listed in schedule 2. The Committee was advised that the amendment is consequential to the amendment that removes restrictions on permitted hours on a Sunday in registered clubs, and Committee members supported it.

I will make a few comments as my party's spokesperson for communities. While, as a party, we support most of the amendments in group 1, I draw your attention to amendment Nos 1 and 48. Following conversations with my Assembly group, we have agreed not to support amendment Nos 1 and 48. We are supportive of our hospitality sector and fully understand the impacts of the past year. We also know that the hospitality sector is key to our economy's recovery and hope that it will be assured of our genuine support as we move through each group of amendments. Our party will also not support amendment Nos 2, 5 and 50 in the name of Kellie Armstrong.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Can we please bring the Member Fra McCann on screen?

Photo of Fra McCann Fra McCann Sinn Féin

Can you hear me?

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Yes. I invite Mr McCann to make his contribution.

[Pause.]

Can you hear?

Photo of Fra McCann Fra McCann Sinn Féin

Can you hear me, a Cheann Comhairle?

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Yes, Mr McCann, we can hear you. There appears to be a technical problem.

[Long Pause.]

Photo of Fra McCann Fra McCann Sinn Féin

A Cheann Comhairle?

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

We can hear you, Mr McCann, but you obviously cannot hear us. We will switch off and try to enable you to sort out the technical problem.

Photo of Fra McCann Fra McCann Sinn Féin

A Cheann Comhairle?

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

We can hear you now.

Photo of Fra McCann Fra McCann Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle. That was just a wee technical mishap. It was definitely not at my end.

On group 1, I will speak in support of amendment Nos 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 47, 48, 49 and 63 and in opposition to amendment Nos 2, 5 and 50.

I will begin by saying, "Thank you" for the opportunity to speak in the debate today. It has been a long road for the Committee to this point, taking evidence and debating the elements of the legislation. I also thank the representatives of the Department and the Committee Clerks for their perseverance in taking us through the Bill line by line and clause by clause. I am a bit disappointed that the DUP has chosen to vote against two important amendments.

We have been at this point of trying to bring much-needed change to the licensing legislation before. We did not quite get there the previous time. To be honest, there was more enthusiasm and more of a mood for change in the Chamber this time. I believe that there was a positive attitude about the importance of getting the legislation through as soon as possible.

I believe that it could be a positive driver in our post-COVID economic recovery.

Being from the inner city, I would have been in Belfast city centre quite a lot, either socialising or out for a walk. The number of people from other countries who were here on short breaks and who were walking about looking for somewhere to go always amazed me. I would often stop to speak to people who loved the generosity and kindness of the people here, but their big complaint was that they had nowhere to go on a Sunday or over Easter.

Tourism is a big economic generator and an employer for the future. Years ago, after a holiday in Majorca, I read about and saw the investment that it had made in the cruise industry, which brought hundreds of ships and hundreds of thousands of people and passengers to the island, generating hundreds of millions of euros. Majorca worked at ensuring that its visitors' stays were memorable, and the logistics of making it happen were first class. I argued for and had that vision for Belfast, which would have a knock-on effect across the North.

Over the past number of weeks, I have been out walking along the river and through the city, and Belfast was buzzing in these difficult times. However, on Sundays, people were walking about with nothing to do. We have the opportunity in the Bill to begin to bring change. The extension of opening hours and the removal of the restrictions on Easter opening are just some of the provisions in the Bill that will be of huge importance in attracting tourists here.

Spending time speaking to visitors over the years certainly gave me a better understanding of what brought people to the North. We had to learn how to keep them here and ensure that they would come back again. Passing the Bill will allow us to do that. If we get it right, we will see an increase in tourists staying, which can only be a positive for our tourism and hospitality sector.

Many clubs, pubs and licensed premises have been closed for the large part of a year. They have lost out on revenue through food, alcohol and entertainment. The Bill has the potential to allow many of those places to get off their knees and start to flourish again. The Bill will also allow us to showcase the North to the rest of the world by attracting major events and more tourists and visitors. It could also ensure that locals stay local.

We support the Minister's amendment No 1 to bring in additional opening hours for pubs and hotels on Sundays. Those are currently restricted to midnight, and the amendment would bring them into line with the opening hours that are permitted on weekdays. That would be a positive outcome for our tourism industry. If that amendment passes, it will add to the attraction of visiting here for breaks or long weekends.

Amendment No 2, tabled by Kellie Armstrong, seeks to increase the number of days for permitted hours for public houses and hotels from 104 to 208. That is a significant increase and was rarely mentioned when the Committee considered the Bill. It is strange that Kellie decided to table an amendment that would alter so much. Maybe she can explain why that is the case.

We have an opportunity to send a clear message to the hard-pressed tourism and hospitality sector and those who are thinking of booking a bed and breakfast or a hotel that Belfast is open for business.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party 7:15 pm, 8th June 2021

I also declare an interest in the Bill. It is long-awaited legislation, and our archaic licensing laws are very much in need of an update.

The demand for the changes that the Bill will make was being made long before its previous incarnation in 2016. That said, our scrutiny of the Bill has had to consider the post-pandemic challenges that our hospitality industry and, indeed, all of us will face in the months and years ahead. Pubs and the wider hospitality industry face a fight for survival and will need support to enable them to contribute to our job market, tourism industry and social lives. The measures in the Bill will play a role in that and will make the changes to modernise licensing even more pressing than before.

Before I touch on each amendment, I must reiterate a point made by the Chair, the Minister and Mr McCann thus far. It is fair to say that this legislation has undergone an extremely comprehensive consultation process. Week-on-week, we have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders, discussing the impacts of the legislation on business, tourism, young people and wider public health. We have considered a significant amount of oral and written evidence from organisations, businesses, experts and individuals, which has shaped the legislation and the amendments before us today. We are no strangers to technical blips — much worse than that suffered earlier by Mr McCann — but we have worked very well together as a Committee to get through them. Although Committee members may not agree on every detail of the Bill or the amendments, we have reached consensus, for the most part, on the bulk of the legislation. It has been deliberated upon at great length and scrutinised to the nth degree, but, ultimately, it will fall to the House to decide on certain elements of the Bill.

Consideration Stage of the Bill is very technical in nature. I appreciate the fact that the Minister and the Chair have already covered much of the detail of the amendments. It was clear from the evidence considered by the Committee that it was necessary to amend existing clauses and provide new clauses. It was agreed that the Minister's amendments would be proposed in conjunction with the Committee's to streamline the Bill. At this point, I pay tribute to the departmental officials for their expertise, input and unwavering patience throughout the process, and I thank all the stakeholders who have given evidence.

On the detail of the Bill, we will support amendment No 1 and amendment No 48, which, similarly, entail the introduction of late Sunday opening hours in line with those permitted on weekdays for licensed premises and registered clubs. The provision will be broadly welcomed across the industry. I know that early Sunday closures have been something of a bugbear for businesses and consumers, or potential customers, alike. That issue is particularly acute west of the Bann. This provision marks a significant modernisation of our licensing law and will bring us in line with other jurisdictions.

I move to amendment No 2. Given that Committee members were content with, and voted in favour of, 104 nights, we cannot support that being doubled to 208 nights. Others have referred to the impact on people who live near bars in residential areas, as well as the massively increased policing bill to supervise that and to ensure the safe return home of customers on their way out of the bars.

I support amendment No 3 and its enhancement of clause 2, which requires licensed premises to give notice of intent to increase opening hours. In recognition of the hardship faced in the hospitality sector over the past year, it is incumbent upon us to afford every reasonable opportunity for businesses to get back on their feet. The option for further additional hours is a welcome inclusion, and I will therefore not support the opposition to clause 2.

Amendment No 4 is a provision that will give small pubs and clubs a fair crack of the whip among bigger players by increasing the number of late nights that they can apply for from 85 to 104. Those small venues have been among the hardest hit in the sector and must be supported where possible as they navigate the economic fallout of the COVID pandemic.

As mentioned previously, amendment No 5, with its suggestion to increase the number of late openings from 85 to 208, was not discussed at Committee nor evidenced in our research. I therefore do not support it at this point, but I will listen to the debate. As the Minister has said that the number of nights can be changed in regulation, perhaps she will clarify whether the number can change upwards as well as downwards.

As I mentioned, the legislation has, from its genesis, been highly collaborative and heavily consulted upon. In that same vein, it is important, given the significant rise in late nights provided for under amendment No 4, that local residents be informed of and consulted on any changes. I therefore support amendment No 6. However, I cannot support Mr Allister's opposition to clause 4, because we need to give the sector, and small clubs in particular, a fighting chance to regrow their businesses.

Following calls for evidence, it became apparent that a series of new clauses was needed. Those have been accounted for in the following amendments that I will discuss and that I will support. Amendment No 47 addresses the discrepancy between clubs and other licensed premises by requiring clubs to apply to the court before altering their premises. The option for clubs to apply for late-night opening or late opening for special occasions on 104 nights, rather than 85 nights, is welcome and brings them into step with similar provision offered to other licensed premises. Based on the evidence submitted to the Committee, 104 nights, in this instance, is sufficient. Increasing it to 208 nights, as per amendment No 50, particularly without any consultation, is unnecessary.

In bringing my remarks on the first group of amendments to a close, I will say that amendment No 63 is technical, as it adds a reference to Sundays. I will not elaborate any further on it other than to say that I also support that change.

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP

With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I will make some brief remarks on the Consideration Stage of the Bill. I assure you that, given the late hour that we are likely to run to across the groups, I will be concise and to the point on the amendments.

I thank the Chair of the Committee for Communities for her comprehensive overview of the Bill's progression through its Committee Stage. It was a very fair synopsis of the extensive work undertaken and the time invested by all, which were important in helping to further shape the legislation. That is reflected by the various amendments. I also echo the Chair's thanks to the departmental officials, all those who contributed evidence to inform the Committee and the wider Committee staff team.

As the Ulster Unionist Party representative on the Communities Committee, I will detail our position on the group 1 amendments. On amendment No 1, we recognise the need to modernise our licensing laws to address consumers' changing expectations and to support our hospitality sector. We will, therefore, support amendment Nos 1 and 48.

I will address amendment Nos 2, 4, 5 and 50 together. Again, we recognise the need to adapt our licensing laws to address consumers' changing expectations. We agree with the position that was reached at Committee that the correct extension for additional authorisations in this case should be up to a maximum of 104 occasions. We note the Minister's important inclusion of the ability to review and amend through secondary legislation the maximum number of occasions permitted. However, we highlight the seeming omission of that ability from amendment No 49, so I ask the Minister to clarify the intent of not including the secondary legislation for registered clubs.

We cannot support amendment Nos 2, 5, and 50, but we fully support amendment No 4. On amendment Nos 3, 6 and 49, we fully support the intention of ensuring that residents have the opportunity to be better informed of proposed applications, and we welcome the provision on strengthened mechanisms to allow complaints on such applications to be raised where required.

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

Today, as others confirmed, we are debating legislation that has the potential to modernise and update the licensing and registration of clubs in Northern Ireland. The legislation on the licensing of alcohol has not been overhauled or updated in about 24 years. Many in the House can remember the successful private Member's Bill by Judith Cochrane of the Alliance Party, which permitted sports stadia to serve alcohol during matches. Apart from that Bill, there has been little change to the rules on the selling of alcohol. We have the opportunity to bring the legislation up to date. As a member of the Committee for Communities, I reiterate the sentiments of our Chair and many others, and I add my thanks to all officials, both from our own Bill Office and the Department, for assisting us in our considerations. Those officials definitely made technical and complex legislation easier to understand.

Yesterday, we heard in the House how the Minister for the Economy set her sights on the opportunities to grow tourism as we recover from the pandemic. I hope that the new Minister for the Economy, Mr Frew, will value the opportunity to develop our tourism offer and work with the Minister for Communities to support our hospitality industry. I met representatives from Hospitality Ulster yesterday afternoon. The industry's plans to come back stronger and better need our support. That is why I tabled my amendments to group 1.

Alongside the Minister's amendments on Sunday opening hours, I have proposed that larger and smaller venues can apply for up to 208 licences per year. That equates to four days per week. I think that there is some confusion, because I was led to believe that the number of days that are available for operation cannot be changed unless primary legislation is changed.

Given the fact that it has been 24 years since the last change and the operating hours on a day can be changed by regulation but the number of days set in the Bill cannot, I produced the figure of 208 nights so that people could apply for up to that number.

Our night-time economy needs a boost, rather than having to concentrate late licences on two nights per week. Why not allow our hospitality industry the opportunity to open up to 208 nights per year? That would provide more operating hours, more opportunity to deliver hospitality to customers and more opportunities for employment. I accept that some may have concerns that late-night opening will be problematic and will mean lots of drunk people and violence: I do not agree. More late licences would be well managed, as professional bar personnel manage how much alcohol is consumed and door staff manage crowds through the night as they disperse. Adding more late-night offerings dilutes the intensity of a two-night weekend and could spread the ability to go out over three or four nights in a week. The hospitality sector contributes much to the economy. We should put our trust in that sector to enable the night-time economy.

Amendment No 2 to clause 2, page 3, line 22 asks that we allow larger pubs the opportunity to apply for 208 licences per year. Amendment No 5 to clause 4, page 5, line 26 asks that we allow smaller pubs — the type that are spread across my rural constituency — to be allowed to apply for up to 208 licences a year in line with larger pubs. In saying that, I support the Minister's amendment No 1, which brings the additional opening hours on a Sunday in line with what is allowed on weekdays; Nos 3 and 6, which increase requirements for a licensed venue to give notice to its neighbours of its intention to apply for a late licence; No 47, which creates a new clause that requires a licensed venue to apply to the courts for permission to alter premises before carrying out the work and fixes an anomaly that was raised by the police; and No 48, which creates a new clause that removes restrictions on late opening on a Sunday. The Minister's amendment No 49 limits authorisations for special occasions to a maximum of 104. My amendment No 50 asks that we consider an increase in the number of potential special occasions to up to 208.

I ask Members to consider whether we are limiting the hospitality sector to two late nights a week. We can increase that. My amendments Nos 2 and 5 extend the number of late licences for smaller and larger pubs to 208. That ties in with the proposals that I have made for taprooms, much later, in the other groupings. That is why that figure of 208 has carried through in the same way as 104 has carried through from the Committee.

Like the Chair, I cannot support Mr Allister's opposition to clauses 2 and 4. We should update and modernise our licensing rules. It has been 24 long years. I ask Members to commit to moving forward by allowing the hospitality sector to be permitted to open late, not just at weekends but during the week.

Photo of Alex Easton Alex Easton DUP 7:30 pm, 8th June 2021

I intend to speak on amendment Nos 2, 4, 6 and 47. The first issue that I want to touch on is the number of late-night openings permitted. In particular, I welcome amendment No 4. We all know that the hospitality industry continues to suffer greatly from the pandemic. It is, therefore, only right that we do all that we can to support its recovery. The amendment is, consequently, very timely. It brings small pubs into line with clubs with regard to the number of late-night openings permitted annually, bringing the number to 104 nights in total for clubs and pubs every year. Despite reopening, the hospitality sector is still operating with reduced capacity. Hopefully, the additional late nights permitted for small pubs in the Bill would go some way to assisting their recovery. Obviously, not every business will use the additional nights or has to use them. However, I hope that it will help out some of those that struggle at the moment.

Amendment No 2 proposes nearly doubling the number of late nights permitted to over 200 annually. Neither the written nor the oral evidence that we took as a Committee called for that number of late-night openings, nor did the evidence given compel the Committee to explore the option of increasing the number of late nights beyond 104. I therefore support the decision, alongside my Committee colleagues, to reject the amendment; indeed, I will oppose all the amendments that seek to increase the number of late-night authorisations beyond 104 annually. Incorporating the power to change the number via regulations is a sensible inclusion in the Bill. That is a significant alteration to the current law, so any problems that may arise can be dealt with quickly after its implementation.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr Beggs] in the Chair)

Amendment No 6 is another sensible inclusion. The number of late nights will increase by over 80 annually, so it is only right that residents are made aware of local businesses that will take advantage of the changes. I am also pleased that the Minister has tabled an amendment that will allow members of the public to complain about late-night authorisations, should they cause undue inconvenience. That means that a court will have the power to revoke authorisations, make them subject to terms and conditions or alter the hours permitted.

I also support the departmental amendment that will close the one-day membership loophole that was used to access bar facilities or clubs rather than sporting facilities. That is against the spirit of such one-day memberships and is not their intended purpose, so I am pleased that a clarification amendment has been proposed.

I intend to oppose amendment Nos 1, 2 and 5.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Bill at Consideration Stage. It has been a long time coming, as others have said. As I have done before, I will begin by declaring an interest as a frequent visitor to licensed premises and because I worked in the industry until the COVID pandemic lockdown restrictions and have family and a partner who still work in the industry. With your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will make some brief comments on the hospitality industry, especially given that I have not had the opportunity to do so via the Committee. I will be very brief, if that is OK.

We need to recognise the devastating impact of the pandemic on the sector, the business owners and the staff. There are problems with levels of debt and issues with grants and loans, and costs continue to mount despite government assistance. Many pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants are open again but not wholly, as others have said, and some will not have survived the last 18 months. Many of those on furlough struggle to support their families and have left to find other work. Recently, a friend in the industry described trying to find a chef with experience as like trying to find hen's teeth. We have much to do to support the sector as we emerge from the pandemic, and I fully support the call made by Unite for a hospitality and tourism rescue plan and Hospitality Ulster's call for a recovery plan. I ask the Executive and, in particular, the new Economy Minister to meaningfully engage and support the sector.

That goes for the music industry too, and I will touch on that later in my comments on the amendments in group 1. The Musicians' Union has said that, particularly in Northern Ireland, the blanket ban on all live music has left many musicians unable to work at all and that reform of our licensing laws should support them. However, we have logistical issues that make that unfeasible, and it is clear that the Executive will need to be mindful of the need for flexibility and dedicated support.

I will move on to the Bill and the amendments in group 1. I do not intend to speak on every amendment, but a few are worth mentioning. I will go into some detail on amendment Nos 2, 4 and 5 and how they relate to clause 3. First, I welcome the changes to clause 3 on consultations and neighbour involvement. It is very welcome, and having the local papers publish those types of notices will help levels of engagement. However, I hope that the Minister and Department will consider using other means, perhaps through councils, of making the information accessible to people online, because not everyone reads the papers. Granted, that is another issue, but it is worth considering in the context of more people in an area accessing information.

Prior to this evening, I spoke to passionate people about their experiences of leaving Northern Ireland — this is to do with permitted hours — and of coming back here and seeing the differences compared with elsewhere. They gave me their permission to speak about their experiences tonight. One of them said:

"What I learnt while living in Manchester was that there was an opportunity for creatives to put on events that would be well attended because of the distinction between evening and the late-night economy. When I came home in 2013, I found that our music scene is stronger than it has ever been and the level of professionalism in the industry is staggering, yet we still do not seem to have the support or progressive night-time policies to make Northern Ireland the booming cultural hotspot that it should be known as. Dance floors break down divides and bring people together".

While we are debating amendment Nos 2, 4 and 5 tonight on permitted hours and the number of nights specifically in clause 4, it is a matter of concern to me that clause 3 should have the effect of curbing the promotion of a booming, safe and responsible night-time economy, as well as opportunities for our creative sectors. I will happily take an intervention from the Minister or perhaps in her summing-up remarks she can tell us about the basis for aligning entertainment and liquor licensing, especially given that the majority of respondents to the Department's consultation stated that they agreed with the practice of entertainment continuing after the end of drinking-up time. I direct this to the Committee and the Minister again: what consideration was given to the night-time economy and the creative sectors? I would like to know in more detail the effect that that would have on council powers to grant entertainment licences. Does it change their ability to grant them to 5.00 am or 6.00 am?

I will give Members a practical example. Let us say that I am a bar manager, and I book some live music, such as a band or a DJ, for a Friday night. I have my late licence, and it has been granted until 2.00 am, so my bar is closed to the public at 3.00 am as we finish drinking-up time. I want my DJ to continue until 4.00 am, however, and I provide water for people to enjoy the music until that time. Does that mean that, under clause 3, with amendment Nos 2, 4 and 5, I no longer have the authorisation of the late licence and must stop serving alcohol at 11.00 pm?

In the survey report that was published further to the Department's consultation, consideration of entertainment going on past drinking-up time and alcohol sales was discussed, but that has not made its way into the amendments that we are discussing tonight. It was, however, debated at Committee Stage and mentioned in the recent Committee report on page 78:

"entertainment provided beyond 1am or 2am on the occasion of the 104 late licenses [sic] is not covered by this legislation."

If we look at amendment Nos 4 and 5 to clause 4, however, both effectively do the same thing. They extend the number of times that a licensed premises can get police authorisation for additional hours to either 104 or 208. If clause 3 stands part of the Bill as it is, when the Bill receives Royal Assent and depending on how the vote goes tonight on the amendments, it could mean that on the 85, 104 or 208 times a year that late nights could be authorised, entertainment would also finish at the same time as drinking-up time ends.

I go back to the band analogy. If I am in a band, and drinking-up time in the bar finishes at 1.00 am, I must finish playing at 1.00 am as well. As I stated before, however, in the Committee report, under clause 3, it states:

"the 104 late licenses [sic] is not covered by this legislation."

Now to my question in a very roundabout way: I would like to know exactly what that means for amendment Nos 4 and 5, one of which is in the Minister's name and one of which is in Ms Armstrong's name. What 104 late licences was the Committee discussing? Are they the 104 late licences under clause 4, to which there are the two amendments tabled, or are they 104 licences elsewhere?

I go back to the band example. Read alongside amendment Nos 4 and 5 and with what is in the Committee report, when do I stop playing? It is worth mentioning, as others will, the review clause that we will deal with in group 4 as it relates to my comments on clause 3 and those on the permitted hours amendments contained in group 1. I believe that the review, done properly with all those that need to be heard involved in it, can be a way of dealing with some of those issues if that is not done through the Bill, especially with the alignment issue that is changing the 2016 legislation and that did not get the majority of support in the Department's consultation.

We can cite numerous examples of why that would be beneficial for Northern Ireland and for the creative industry. We look to European cities, including Glasgow, which implemented a similar scheme in 2018. There are numerous other examples that the Committee has given consideration to on who and what would be impacted on, including the night-time economy, staff, public transport and the police, but how does that assist in addressing the bottleneck of people leaving bars and clubs at the same time? Again, that relates to amendment Nos 4 and 5. It does nothing.

Without the entertainment licence being extended past drinking-up time and with nothing else open at that later time, we will have people leaving bars and clubs and piling out onto the streets at the same time.

What of the provision of public transport? Again, I would certainly welcome any intervention from Committee members or the Minister in relation to this. If we are building back better and supporting our local industries, be they hospitality, tourism, DJs, musicians, artists or creatives, how do the opportunities afforded to us, as legislators, in the Bill allow for that?

I note from Hansard, which I had a quick look at today, that, on 11 March 2021, an official from the Department told the Committee:

"I do not think that there are a large number of premises that want to stay open until 4.00 am or 5.00 am any more."

Is that the rationale for clause 3? It does not make any sense. Because few entertainment venues would seek or benefit from a later closing time, will we prescribe in law that all of them must close at a time that corresponds to the liquor licence? What was the thinking behind clause 3 and the amendments that we are debating, specifically amendment Nos 4 and 5? I can see that the officials told the Committee:

"The reason for the proposed amendment is that some premises were abusing the entertainment licence and continuing to operate as pubs, which gave them an unfair advantage over law-abiding premises that were closing at the correct time."

That begs this question: why are we changing the law in response to a lack of enforcement against those who are abusing the licence? Surely we should not be disadvantaging those who want to provide entertainment until 4.00 am or 5.00 am and are doing so lawfully.

We will be supporting the amendments in this group, bar Mr Allister's for obvious reasons.

[Laughter.]

I hope that the Minister and Committee can address some of the issues in relation to the entertainment licence that I mentioned, and amendment No 4 in her name and amendment No 5 in that of Ms Armstrong.

Photo of Gerry Carroll Gerry Carroll People Before Profit Alliance 7:45 pm, 8th June 2021

We are moving more quickly than I anticipated, but that is a good thing, I suppose. I declare an interest as a member of Casement Social Club. Whether that is relevant at this or a later stage, l do not know. It is just to put it on the record.

Many have welcomed the changes in the Bill, and, for the vast majority of clauses and amendments, I will join them. It is abundantly clear how much of our licensing law is outdated. In the case of breweries, in particular, it is completely unfair, as Members have said. I look forward to the Assembly taking a step in the right direction on those fronts because it is clearly long overdue.

Unfortunately, there are amendments and clauses that I am not content to support because I do not believe that the interests of workers have been factored in whatsoever. In some cases, workers' conditions would suffer were these changes to pass in their current form. The amendments seek to extend opening hours without reflecting on or addressing the impact that working unsociable hours would have on hospitality workers, who are underpaid as it is. These workers are employed in one of the most precarious industries, as the COVID pandemic has cruelly illustrated. In that regard, I want to echo the concerns of trade unions in that sector, namely Unite Hospitality, as Miss Woods referred to already.

As far as I can see, there has been no attempt by the Minister in most of, if not all, the amendments to extend drinking hours to ensure that a premium is paid to those who will have to work more unsociable hours as a result of this legislation. There has been no attempt to ensure that staff's travel-home costs are covered not by the staff but by the employer. Public transport does not run into the wee hours, as we might see tonight and this morning. Workers have to fork out extra for private taxi fares to get home or walk home at a time when it is unsafe to do so. Workers are assaulted on a weekly basis while walking home from bars in Belfast, unfortunately.

These concerns were brought to the Minister and the Committee. Looking at the amendments today, however, it would appear that the voices of these workers, or certainly their representatives, have not been heard at all — or not listened to, depending on how you view it. The demand from Unite for assistance with travel-home and premium pay are not outlandish. Employers at a local level in Scotland must assist with travel-home pay. Why not here? Moreover, workers and Unite have been clear that their job can become increasingly difficult and more dangerous during drinking-up time, when they are more likely to be subjected to abuse and violence. It is particularly prevalent and dangerous for female members of staff, who carry far too many tales of harassment, abuse and sexual harassment during that period. Again, that was made clear in the consultation submission and at Committee Stage, in a presentation by Unite, yet the Bill extends drinking-up time. At the previous stage, I asked the Minister — I apologise, it might have been the stand-in Minister — to justify the extension of drinking hours or to provide evidence that it works, but I have yet to see good reasoning that does not go directly against what the workers and their representatives are asking for, based on their personal and very difficult experiences.

I may well be in a minority, as has been the case on that issue, but I am not content to endorse clauses or amendments that would force workers to work extended hours without also extending their rights and conditions, which would make it safer and beneficial for them to do so. To be clear, it is not a foregone conclusion that workers and their unions or I would criticise extended hours under those circumstances. In fact, it is incredibly regrettable that we are unable to give them approval in their current form. Under different circumstances, I might be able to support many of those measures, but, without the protections for workers, I simply cannot fully endorse them.

It is an abdication of responsibility that, from my reading of it, the Minister has not addressed workers' rights in the Bill at all, which will have the greatest impact on workers themselves. I hope that she will now work to bring supplementary legislation to the House that would put those conditions in place for staff who were thrown under a bus during the pandemic. They have been allowed to work for measly pay for too long, and they deserve much better. I understand that I may not be able to win Divisions on those points, but they are very important and have to be stated in this discussion.

In closing, I recommend that the Minister and all the MLAs who will support those provisions take a look at Unite Hospitality's fair hospitality charter and endorse it.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

I wish to examine the issue of extended hours for licensed premises through the prism of public health. It is abundantly clear, as our Health Minister is on record as saying, that the harms caused by the misuse of alcohol are a major public health issue in Northern Ireland. Of course, the harms that are caused by the misuse of alcohol are facilitated by two issues: one, by the affordability of alcohol and, secondly, the availability of alcohol. The Bill, effectively, does nothing yet about the affordability of alcohol. On the issue of availability, of course, it is headed in the direction of increasing it, therefore, I believe, increasing the public health damage that flows from the misuse of alcohol.

In the Second Stage debate on the Bill, I referred the House to the Audit Office's report on addiction services, and I asked whether Members had read it. When you get to the stage of a Bill returning with no decrease in or no regard to the public health issues, you have to wonder. What were those key facts in that Audit Office report from last year? The estimated cost of alcohol abuse per annum in Northern Ireland is £900 million — almost £1 billion. Every day, on average, 200 hospital beds are occupied by those who are suffering substance abuse, many of them from alcohol. In 2018, 284 of our citizens died from alcohol misuse, yet the proposition before the House tonight is that we should simply increase the availability in the certain knowledge that that will increase the misuse. Some of that is done, in the words of the Chair of the Committee, because the hospitality industry has had a hard time. Yes, it has, but are we just going to pile more pressure on our health service as a consequence? Is that the answer?

It is not that the Committee was left in ignorance of what would flow from these issues. It heard some very stark evidence from the Public Health Agency. On 28 January, Mr Meehan could not have been clearer with the Committee. I want to read into the record what he told the Committee that has come before the House to advocate more availability of alcohol. This is not me; this is not some zealot; this is the Public Health Agency. Mr Meehan told the Committee:

"Our overall view is that any increase in the accessibility of alcohol would put increased strain on health and social services resources on the basis that it would consolidate and further encourage alcohol consumption as a social norm and lead to increased overall population consumption. In turn, that would be expected to lead to increased negative effects on the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. Although increased alcohol availability may support aspects of our economy, such as tourism, we agree that it is responsible to adopt a whole-systems approach when considering changes to legislation. In financial terms alone, it has been estimated that the social cost of alcohol-related harm in Northern Ireland is at least approximately £900 million each year. That figure would be expected to increase if policies on the wider availability of alcohol were implemented."

There it is. The Public Health Agency could not be plainer to the House: do what you want to do in the Bill and you will increase the cost of alcohol-related harm in our community. That at a time when we all profess great concern about fixing our health service. What are we going to do? Pile on more pressure. Mr Meehan went on:

"Let us consider some of the alcohol statistics that relate to Northern Ireland."

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Order. I remind the Member that group 3 is the specific area where there will be discussion on minimising alcohol-related harm in society. There are some related issues with accessibility, and, as a result, I have allowed the Member a degree of time on that, but, if you are going to continue to talk about harm, it really would be better to do so in the debate on the group 3 amendments.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

I hear what you say, Deputy Speaker, but I believed that I was debating, in the group 1 amendments, the question of the extension of alcohol availability. I am quoting, not in some abstract, distant and remote way, but directly from the Public Health Agency on what it had to say on the extra availability of alcohol that clause 2, which is in this group, and clause 4 will produce.

Mr Meehan went on to say:

"Let us consider some of the alcohol statistics that relate to Northern Ireland. Thirty-one per cent of adults binge drink at least once a week ... Eighteen percent of adults consume alcohol above weekly limits according to the Northern Ireland health survey 2017-18. Alcohol-related hospital admissions, for primary care and any diagnosis, have also steadily increased for males and females. The same pattern was observed for admissions for the diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease. Alcohol-related deaths have increased over the past 17 years for males and females ... 40% of children and young people who are on the child protection register and 70% of looked-after children have that status due to parental substance misuse."

Mr Meehan went on to tell the Committee how significant a gateway drug alcohol was to other drugs. He said:

"alcohol, while pleasurable in moderation, is a very harmful drug when taken in excess. The £900 million social costs — courts, prisons, hospitals, social care, early deaths and the impact on the economy — are stark."

When Mr Durkan asked him a question, suggesting that you could not put all that down to increased hours, Mr Owen had a very crisp and straightforward answer:

"Yes, if you increase opening hours, you increase accessibility to alcohol."

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party 8:00 pm, 8th June 2021

I thank the Member for giving way. I certainly share his view on the damage caused by alcohol abuse. The Member has outlined the cost to the economy, which is staggering, but that pales in significance to the cost to families and the social cost of alcohol abuse. The Member cites two factors: affordability and availability. It is not for this Bill, but we have, in a later amendment, called on the Health Minister to get to work on minimum unit pricing, which is essential when it comes to affordability of alcohol.

Later in tonight's debate, my colleague, speaking on group 4, will outline the dramatic decrease in the number of bars in Northern Ireland over the past 20 years. Have we seen any decrease in alcohol abuse and its sad effects in the same time? I contend that it is quite the opposite. Over the lockdown that we have come through, when bars were all closed, did we see a decrease in alcohol abuse and its effects? Early reports from the PHA suggest otherwise. Does the Member accept that alcohol consumption is better in a controlled environment, under supervision, than at home alone or at house parties?

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

Of course, the argument that, if you do not have extended hours, you will have more harmful home drinking is quite a fatuous argument because, if there is logic in it, the ultimate logic of that is that you have no limitations on public house and hotel alcohol consumption. If the answer to people drinking too much at home is to have longer opening hours in our licensed premises, the logic of that argument, which is why I say that it is fatuous, is that you would have no licensing limits whatever. You would have opening 24 hours a day, and then people would not have the need to drink at home. That is the logic of that foolish argument, with respect.

The Public Health Agency was very clear to the Committee and to Mr Durkan about the harm that is being done. Mr Meehan, in answering Kellie Armstrong, was clear:

"Kellie, you are right that there will be an inevitable correlation between later closing times and presentations at accident and emergency."

It is pretty elementary in that regard.

If the Public Health Agency was not a suitable or adequate advocate for the Committee, what about Professor Niamh Fitzgerald from the University of Stirling? This is what she told the Committee on 25 February:

"I will deal first with timing and look at the evidence internationally as to what difference it makes when premises are open later. Across all the studies that have been done, we find that there is a clear link between extended late-night opening of alcohol premises and increased harms such as drunkenness, assaults, injuries or use of health, police and other services. That link holds true across all the studies that have ever been done. We have looked at more recent studies in high-income countries. We have focused particularly on the studies in Norway, because it focuses on smaller towns and cities that are more similar in size to what you have in Northern Ireland."

In the Second Stage debate, I referred to Norway. At Committee, Professor Fitzgerald said:

"In Norway, studies found that, for every extra one-hour extension to opening times, you get a 16% increase in police-reported assaults at night-time and that, if you reduce those opening hours, you get an exactly converse 16% reduction in those assaults. There is therefore a really clear link in both directions between late-night opening hours and police-reported assaults."

There we have it, Members. It is very clear, coming from an expert who has studied the matter and says that every study there has ever been reaches the same conclusion, which is this: increase the hours and you increase the assaults and all that flows with it.

Dr O'Donnell appeared before the Committee on that same day. She said:

"One of the proposed measures is additional nights with later hours, whereby public houses and hotels can apply for an additional one hour of late opening up to 104 times a year. What difference do additional nights and later hours actually make? To answer that question, let us consider this: adding an extra nightclub to a city where multiple nightclubs already exist may create extra space for, say, a few hundred additional people to drink and dance for a couple of hours late at night. When you add an extra hour of opening to standard late-night hours, however, that allows everyone to drink for an extra hour."

The academic studies that do not fit have just been ignored in the House. The professional advice has just been ignored. Is the House so beholden to the licensed trade and the hospitality industry that we are just going to ignore all that while mouthing platitudes about helping our health service? I really think that we have an opportunity to do that, and it is by rejecting clauses 2 and 4 of the Bill.

Dr O'Donnell went on:

"The potential impacts of granting an additional one-hour late-night opening time up to 104 times a year also needs to be considered carefully in conjunction with the proposal to extend drinking-up time from 30 minutes to one hour. When you take the two proposed measures together, it effectively means extending late-night openings, most likely at weekends, by 90 minutes."

She is right, of course, because the Bill does both. It extends the drinking time by an hour and extends the drinking-up time by half an hour to an hour. That will be the longest period anywhere in the United Kingdom. You are really talking about a 90-minute extension and people spilling on to our streets on a Friday or Saturday at 3.00 am.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I thank the Member for giving way. He has raised a number of points about the additional hour. Does he have any comments to make about the combining of the entertainment licence and the liquor licence, as is happening in clause 3 with regard to amendment Nos 4 and 5? That will ensure that there is not a spillover after entertainment ends because people will be able to stay on premises, while not being served alcohol, beyond that one hour.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

I listened to the Member's very interesting speech; she made some compelling arguments. I follow the logic of what she is saying, but, of course, the difficulty that might be ensnared in the logic of her argument is that that depends on wholly compliant premises. If a premises is still open — maybe the door is locked and the music is still playing — what assurance would we have that the rules will not be bent to a point where it extends to more drinking rather than less? That is the real ensnarement in her attractively packaged proposal, and that is where I have difficulties with it.

In clauses 2 and 4, the House, which knows about the dire state of our health service, is saying, "Although we have been warned by the Public Health Agency what one extended hour means in terms of cost to our health service and in terms of all those things, and although we have had professional advice from experts, such as the professor who told us what the international studies show, we know better, and we're going to extend the opening hours until, effectively, three in the morning". That is not a constructive or responsible way to go. That is why I oppose clauses 2 —.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

I am about to finish, but I will.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for giving way. After my earlier intervention, Mr Allister said that an extension of my fatuous argument, as he described it, was that it would be better to open all bars all the time. The flip side of that is that an extension of Mr Allister's argument is that we would be better to close all bars all the time and ban the sale of alcohol entirely. What does the Member say to that?

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

You have not heard anything like that from me. You have not heard any prohibition arguments from me. You have not heard any call for a ban on licensing hours from me. What you have heard is that what we have is enough. I have not tabled an amendment to oppose the extra drinking-up time. If you can be in licensed premises with drink served until 1.00 am and you have an hour of drinking up, that takes you to 2.00 am. Maybe I am an old fuddy-duddy, but that is quite long enough. The House needs to get a grip on where it is taking this society in terms of the public health implications. Maybe it is because it is fashionable and it appeals and it makes you all look so liberal and everything else that you think, "Well, let's just do it". Do not just do it; let us look at the health consequences and realise that enough is enough.

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Thanks very much to everybody who contributed to this part of the debate. I will try to cover as many of the points as possible. Many Members made comments about the officials and the Committee. I completely endorse those.

Members talked about tourism and life in towns and city centres, particularly around Easter Sunday etc. Opening up our towns and city centres has been widely welcomed, and it is not just for tourists. Broad public opinion is supportive of the changes that we are looking to make to bring our 25-year-old licensing laws into 2021. It is a step in the right direction, with protections built in. I am not supportive — other Members touched on it — of an increase to 208 nights. I have said that there is no big reason to do that. I will clarify the issues raised: yes, the number of nights can be changed by regulation, up or down. Those regulations would have to be filtered through and approved by the Committee and then by the Assembly. Those protections are built in. If the House is minded to go with 104 nights, that can be reviewed to see how it is operating, and changes can be made through subsequent regulations.

Many Members touched on the impact and the challenges of the pandemic. There is no doubt about that, but councils, the sector itself and the community more widely have been calling for the changes. They are outdated laws, and we need to modernise them. We need to bring them up to where people are and how they live in 2021. This is a balanced package of measures from the point of view of health and of making sure that we modernise our laws and keep them under review.

There has been a lot of concern about and endorsement of community consultation and engagement. I am really committed to that because I recognise that, even in my constituency, these issues come up regularly for the communities that live in and around the premises. We will ensure that we work with communities and ensure that they are notified, and I clarify that that will done through councils and not just by advertisements in local newspapers. There will also be a duty on public houses to put up notices in and around their premises. Those are extra engagements beyond the normal advertising in papers.

I am glad that Members agree on the changes to the one-day loophole. They were proposed as a result of the engagement with the Committee on closing that loophole and building greater protections around it.

An issue was brought up about entertainment licences. They will allow the entertainment to run to the end of drinking-up time. That is what I propose in the legislation that I want to bring through.

Obviously, as somebody who worked for most of my life as a shopworker, as well as a community activist and worker in the community and voluntary sector, workers' rights are important to me. It is an important issue, but it is beyond the scope of the Bill, so I cannot introduce it into this legislation. We have engaged with the Department for the Economy, which is responsible for it. It has given assurances that there are protections under existing legislation, but engaging with and listening to trade unions and workers is important.

I recognise, particularly as the pandemic has raged, that, in any shock to the system, whether it is a health pandemic or an economic crash, it is often the low-paid workers and those in precarious work who are doomed to zero-hours contracts who feel the impact most. I will engage with the incoming Economy Minister to make sure that we look at what we can do to strengthen workers' rights and protections. I am committed to doing that not only in relation to the Bill but in my responsibility for addressing poverty and inequality in the time ahead.

On the health issues that were raised, I reiterate that the law has not been changed in over 25 years. There was broad public support, not just in the hospitality sector, that change and modernisation needed to happen to bring the law into the 21st century, and I am committed to doing that. That said, I want to offer a balance going forward. Some people feel that we are going too far; some feel that we have not gone far enough. I want to find a balance in the modest changes that we are making. Of course there is an issue with alcohol consumption. The statistics show, however, that 70% of alcohol consumed is bought in off-licences, in uncontrolled premises. That was touched on by a Member.

In looking at the issues, we are trying to strike a balance between modernisation and addressing the health implications. We want legislation that tries to do both. The groups of amendments that will be debated later this evening consider some of the health impacts.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP 8:15 pm, 8th June 2021

I remind Members that they should continue to uphold social distancing and that those who have proxy voting arrangements should not come into the Chamber.

Before I put the Question, I again remind Members present that, if possible, it would be preferable to avoid a Division.

Question put a second time.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Before the Assembly divides, I remind Members that, as per Standing Order 112, the Assembly has proxy voting arrangements in place. Members who have authorised another Member to vote on their behalf are not entitled to vote in person and should not enter the Lobbies. I remind Members of the requirement for social distancing while a Division takes place. I ask Members to ensure that they retain at least a two-metre gap between themselves and other Members when moving around in the Chamber or the Rotunda, and especially in the Lobbies. Please be patient at all times, observe the signage and follow the instructions of the Lobby Clerks.

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 58; Noes 28

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Ms Anderson, Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Butler, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lynch, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCann, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Mullan, Mr Murphy, Mr Nesbitt, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Stewart, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Ms Brogan, Ms Ní Chuilín

NOES

Mr Allister, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mrs Cameron, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stalford, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Allister, Mr Wells

The following Members voted in both Lobbies and are therefore not counted in the result: Mr Carroll

Question accordingly agreed to.

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

We will pause briefly in case some Members need to return to the Chamber.

Clause 2 (Public houses and hotels: further additional hours)

Amendment No 2 not moved.

Amendment No 3 made:

In page 4, line 13, at end insert -

<BR/>

“(1A) In Schedule 9 to the Licensing Order (procedure for certain applications), after paragraph 2 insert—


 


‘2A. A person who intends to make an application under Article 44 or 44A must (in addition to complying with the duty under paragraph 2)—


 


(a) not more than 6 weeks nor less than 2 weeks before the time of the court sitting at which the application is to be made, cause notice of the application to be published at least once in 2 newspapers circulating in the vicinity of the premises to which the application relates;


 


(b) during the 3 weeks before that time, cause notice of the application to be displayed on or near the premises to which the application relates.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Before I put the Question on clause 2, I remind Members that we have debated Mr Allister's opposition to the clause. The Question will be put in the positive as usual. I have been advised by the party Whips that, in accordance with Standing Order 113(5)(b), there is agreement that, if there is a Division, we can dispense with the three minutes. I remind all Members of the requirement for social distancing while Divisions take place. Please ensure that you maintain at least a 2-metre gap between yourself and other people when moving around the Chamber, the Rotunda and especially the Lobbies.

Question put, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill. The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 84; Noes 2

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Ms Anderson, Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Mrs Dodds, Ms Dolan, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Ms Ennis, Ms Flynn, Mr Frew, Mr Gildernew, Mr Givan, Ms Hargey, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lynch, Mr Lyons, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCann, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGlone, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Mr Muir, Ms Mullan, Mr Murphy, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Stalford, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Ms Brogan, Ms Ní Chuilín

NOES

Mr Allister, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Allister, Mr Wells

The following Members voted in both Lobbies and are therefore not counted in the result: Mr Carroll

Question accordingly agreed to. Clause 2, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I will pause for a moment to allow Members to return to the Chamber.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 4 (Police authorisations for additional hours)

Amendment No 4 made:

In page 5, line 26, leave out “85” and insert “104”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

I will not call amendment No 5 as it is mutually exclusive with amendment No 4, which has been made.

Amendment No 6 made:

In page 5, line 34, at end insert -

<BR/>

“(4) After paragraph (3) of that Article insert—


 


‘(4) A person who intends to make an application under this Article shall—


 


(a) during the 3 weeks before the first occasion to which the application relates, cause notice of the application to be displayed on or near the premises for which the authorisation is to be sought;


 


(b) not less than 3 weeks before that time, serve a copy of the notice of the application on the district council for the district in which the premises are situated.


 


(5) The notice under paragraph (4) must specify the kind of premises to which the application relates and must contain such information as may be prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.


 


(6) The following provisions of this Article apply where a complaint is made to a court of summary jurisdiction under Part 8 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 on the grounds—


 


(a) that the business carried on in premises to which an authorisation under this Article applies is being conducted during the hours mentioned in paragraph (1) or any period immediately following their termination in such a manner as to cause undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises; or


 


(b) that such hours are causing undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises.


 


(7) Where the court is satisfied that the grounds of the complaint are made out, it may—


 


(a) revoke the authorisation; or


 


(b) modify the authorisation or, in relation to the authorisation, the hours mentioned in paragraph (1); or


 


(c) make the continuance of the authorisation subject to such terms and conditions as the court thinks fit.


 


(8) The terms and conditions which may be imposed under paragraph (7)(c) include those requested by the district commander of the police district in which the premises are situated.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

Before I put the Question, I remind Members that we have debated Mr Allister's opposition to clause 4. The Question will be put in the positive as usual.

Clause 4, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP

We now come to the second group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 7, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 8 to 34 and amendment No 61. In the group, amendment No 9 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 8; amendment No 29 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 28; and amendment No 31 is mutually exclusive to amendment No 30.

In addition, in group 2, there are a number of amendments to amendments: amendment No 15 is an amendment to amendment No 14; amendment Nos 20 to 32 all seek to amend amendment No 19; and amendment No 34 is an amendment to amendment No 33. Members may also wish to note that amendment No 13 is a paving amendment to amendment Nos 21 and 25.

I call Claire Sugden to move amendment No 7 and to address the other amendments in the group.

New Clause

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I beg to move amendment No 7:

After clause 7 insert -

<BR/>

Places of public entertainment: inclusion of cinemas


7A.—(1) In Article 2 of the Licensing Order (interpretation) in paragraph 2—


(a) in the definition of ‘place of public entertainment’, after sub-paragraph (a) insert—


‘(aa) premises used for a film exhibition;’


(b) at the appropriate place insert—


‘Film exhibition has the meaning assigned to it by Article 2 of The Cinemas (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 and means any premises licensed under Article 3 of this Order.’


(2) In Article 42(3) of the Licensing Order (general permitted hours) after ‘theatre’ insert ‘or a premises used for a film exhibition’”.

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 8: In clause 8, page 8, leave out lines 27 to 33 and insert -



“(2) But a local producer’s licence shall, where one or more persons are being given a tour of the production premises, authorise the provision to each person of no more than a total of four samples and one measure of any combination of intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises, so long as no charge is made for providing the samples or measure separate from the charge being given by the tour.


(3) In paragraph (2), ‘sample’, in relation to intoxicating liquor, means a serving which does not exceed the content, amount or strength prescribed in regulations.


(4) In paragraph (2), ‘measure’, in relation to intoxicating liquor, means a serving which does not exceed the content, amount or strength prescribed in regulations.


(5) Regulations may modify paragraph (2) so as to substitute a different number of samples and measures to be provided to each person for the number for the time being specified there.


(6) Regulations may not be made under paragraph (5) unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 9: In clause 8, page 8, line 32, leave out from “a” to “serving” in line 33 and insert-



“an amount (whether in one serving or more)”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 10: In clause 8, page 8, line 33, at end insert -



“(3A) In Article 42 of the Licensing Order (permitted hours)—


(a) in paragraph (2)(a) leave out ‘; and’ and insert ‘,’,


(b) in paragraph (2)(b) leave out ‘.’ and insert ‘; and’,


(c) after paragraph (2)(b) insert—


“(c) in the case of premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) which are authorised under Article 52B to provide samples and measures as part of a tour of production premises, these samples and measures may be provided from 10 in the morning to 7 in the evening, other than Christmas Day.” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 11: In clause 8, page 9, line 3, at end insert -



“(5A) Where the holder of a local producer’s licence, personally or by servant or agent, provides a person with intoxicating liquor in contravention of paragraph (3A), the holder is guilty of an offence.” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 12: In clause 8, page 9, line 23, at end insert -



“(9A) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (5A) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on standard scale.” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 13: In clause 8, page 9, line 24, leave out “and 52D” and insert “to 52F”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 14: In clause 8, page 9, line 28, at end insert -



“’tour’ means a tour of the premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) that—


(a) includes an explanation of, or information relating to, the process, whereby the intoxicating liquor is manufactured on the premises in accordance with a relevant licence,


(b) is carried out in person, whether the tour is guided or not, and


(c) requires a ticket to be issued to the person participating in the tour.” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 15: In amendment No 14, leave out from “means” to end and insert -



“, in relation to premises, means a tour of the premises which—


(a) includes an explanation of, or information relating to, the process whereby the intoxicating liquor is produced in the premises,


(b) is carried out in person, whether the tour is guided by a person or not, and


(c) requires a ticket to be issued to each person participating in the tour.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 16: In clause 8, page 12, line 4, at end insert -



“(5A) In each of the following provisions of that Order, after ‘Article 5(1)(b)’ insert ‘or (m)’—


(a) Article 46(1)(a)(ii) (exception for sales outside permitted hours),


(b) Article 56(1) (penalty for permitting consumption in unlicensed part of premises), and


(c) Article 58(1)(b) (prohibition on young persons).” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 17: In clause 8, page 12, line 21, (middle column), after “sample” insert “or measure”. — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 18: In clause 8, page 13, line 2, (after table), insert -



“(10) In Part 3 of Schedule 10A to that Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 5 fine), at the appropriate place insert-









‘52B



Provision of sample or measure, otherwise than during permitted hours



5-6’


 



”. — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 19: After clause 8 insert -



Sales and consumption of liquor in local producer’s premises


8A.—(1) After Article 43 of the Licensing Order insert—


 


Suitability of local producer’s premises for sales and consumption in own premises


43A.—(1) In respect of premises to which this Article applies—


(a) a county court which grants a licence or declares a licence provisionally granted to be final, on the application of the person applying for the grant or declaration, or


(b) a court of summary jurisdiction, at any time, upon the application of the holder of the licence for those premises made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 9,


may, by order, specify any part of the premises as being suitable for the sale of intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises during the hours specified in Article 42(4).


(2) A court shall not make an order under paragraph (1) unless it is satisfied that the part of the premises specified in the order is suitable for the sale of intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises.


(3) An order under paragraph (1) may be revoked by a court of summary jurisdiction—


(a) on the application of the holder of the licence; or


(b) where, on complaint made under Part VIII of the Magistrates Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981, the court is not satisfied that the requirements of paragraph (2) have continued to be complied with.


(4) The premises to which this Article applies are—


(a) any part of a premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) which is structurally adapted, and used or intended to be used, for the purpose of providing persons frequenting the premises with intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises.


(5) In Schedule 9 to the Licensing Order (procedure for certain applications)—


(a) in the title, after ‘43’ insert ‘,43A’,


(b) in paragraph 1, after ‘43’ insert ‘,43A’, and


(c) after paragraph (4)(a) insert—


‘(aa) in the case of an application under Article 43A, on any ground mentioned in Article 43(2).’.


(2) In Article 42(4) of the Licensing Order (general permitted hours) after paragraph (3) insert—


‘(4) Subject to Article 43B, the permitted hours for premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) to which an order under Article 43(A) applies are the hours on any day, other than Christmas Day, from 4 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening.’.


(3) After Article 43 of the Licensing Order insert—


 


Permitted hours for sale and consumption of liquor in local producer’s production premises


43B.—(1) In respect of premises of a kind to which an order under Article 43A applies—


(a) a county court which grants a licence or declares a licence provisionally granted to be final, on the application of the person applying for the grant or declaration, or


(b) a court of summary jurisdiction, at any time, upon the application of the holder of the licence for those premises made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 9,


may, by order, direct that the permitted hours for a part of the premises for which an order under Article 43A is in force shall be the hours mentioned in Article 42(4).


(2) Nothing in this Article shall authorise the sale of intoxicating liquor—


(a) for consumption in or off the premises unless it is produced in the production premises,


(b) for consumption in the premises to which this Article applies other than during the hours specified in Article 42(4); and


(c) for consumption off the part or parts of the premises specified in the licence other than during the hours specified in Article 42(2), or


(d) to a person admitted to a premises less than 30 minutes before the permitted hours specified in Article 42(4).


(3) In the case of premises to which an order under Article 43A applies, not more than 104 orders shall be granted under this Article to the holder of the licence of the premises in any one year.


(4) Regulations may modify paragraph (3) so as to substitute a different number of orders for the time being specified there.


(5) Regulations may not be made under paragraph (4) unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.


(6) Where the holder of a local producer’s licence to which an order under Article 43A applies, personally or by a servant or agent, sells intoxicating liquor or makes it available for purchase in the production premises in contravention of paragraph (2), the holder is guilty of an offence.


(7) Where intoxicating liquor is available for purchase in accordance with this Article, the holder of the local producer’s licence to which an Article 43A applies, shall at all times display in the production premises a notice in the form and manner, and containing the information prescribed in the regulations; and a person acting in contravention of this paragraph is guilty of an offence.


(8) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (2a) is liable on summary conviction on to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.


(9) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (2b), (2c) and (2d) is liable on summary conviction on to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.


(10) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (7) is liable on summary conviction on to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.


(11) In Part 1 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 3 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘43B



Failure by local producer to display notice on own premises



3-4’


 



 


(12) In Part 2 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 4 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘43B



Failure by local producer to comply with licence on own premises



4-5’


 



 


(13) In Part 3 of Schedule 10A to that Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 5 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘43B



Selling intoxicating liquor etc., otherwise than during permitted hours



5-6’



”. — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 20: In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), leave out “43 of the Licensing Order” and insert-



“52D of the Licensing Order (inserted by section 8(3))”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 21: In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), leave out first “43A” and insert “52E”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 22: In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), in the new Article 43A(1), leave out from “to which” to “those premises” and insert-



“which are of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) and part of which is structurally adapted, and used or intended to be used, for the purpose of providing persons frequenting the premises with intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises—


(a) a county court which grants a local producer’s licence or declares a local producer’s licence provisionally granted to be final, on the application of the person applying for the grant or declaration, or


(b) a court of summary jurisdiction, at any time, on the application of the holder of the local producer’s licence”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 23: In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), in the new Article 43A, leave out subsection (4). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 24: In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), in the new Article 43A, leave out subsection (5). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 25: In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), after the new Article 43A insert—



“’Authorisations for on-sales on production premises


52F.—(1) In the case of premises of a kind specified in Article 5(1)(m) in respect of which an application has been made for an order under Article 52E, the court hearing the application may, if it makes the order, also grant an authorisation under this Article on an application made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 10.


(2) In the case of premises of that kind in respect of which an order under Article 52E has effect, a court of summary jurisdiction may, on an application made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 10, grant an authorisation under this Article.


(3) An authorisation under this Article may authorise the holder of the local producer’s licence, on the day and during the hours specified in the authorisation, to sell in the part of the premises to which the order under Article 52E applies intoxicating liquor produced in the production premises for consumption in that part of the premises.


(4) Not more than 104 authorisations shall be granted under this Article to the holder of a local producer’s licence in any year.


(5) Regulations may modify paragraph (4) so as to substitute a different number of orders for the time being specified there.


(6) Regulations may not be made under paragraph (5) unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.


(7) Nothing in this Article permits an authorisation under this Article to authorise the sale of intoxicating liquor on Christmas Day.


(8) Where the holder of a local producer’s licence, personally or by a servant or agent, sells intoxicating liquor or makes it available for purchase in contravention of an authorisation under this Article, the holder is guilty of an offence.


(9) Where intoxicating liquor is made available for purchase in accordance with an authorisation under this Article, the holder of the local producer’s licence shall at all times display in the part of the premises to which the order under Article 52E applies a notice in the form and manner, and containing the information, prescribed in regulations; and a person acting in contravention of this paragraph is guilty of an offence.


(10) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (8) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.


(11) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (9) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 26: In amendment No 19, after subsection (1) insert—



“(1A) In Article 42 of the Licensing Order (general permitted hours), in each of paragraphs (1) and (2), after ‘or (m)’ (inserted by section 8(5)) insert ‘(subject to paragraph (4))’.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 27: In amendment No 19, in subsection (2), leave out from “Subject” to “Day,” and insert-



“In the case of premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) to which an order under Article 52E applies, the permitted hours for a part of the premises specified in the order on a day on which an authorisation under Article 52F has effect are the hours on that day”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 28: In amendment No 19, in clause 8A(2) leave out “4 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening” and insert-



“11 in the morning to 11 in the evening”. — [Ms Armstrong.]

No 29: In amendment No 19, in clause 8A(2) leave out “4 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening” and insert-



“12 in the afternoon to 11 in the evening”. — [Miss Woods.]

No 30: In amendment No 19, leave out subsection (3). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 31: In amendment No 19, in clause 8A(3), in inserted Article 43B(3) leave out “104” and insert “208”. — [Ms Armstrong.]

No 32: In amendment No 19, after subsection (3) insert—


 


“(4) In Article 46 of the Licensing Order (exception for sales outside permitted hours), in paragraph (1)(a)(ii), after ‘or (m)’ (inserted by section 8(5A)(a)) insert ‘(but see paragraph (1A))’.


(5) In that Article, after paragraph (1) insert—


‘(1A) The reference in paragraph (1)(a)(ii) to premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) does not include a reference to premises of that kind with respect to which an order under Article 52E is in force.’


(6) In Schedule 9 to the Licensing Order (procedure on certain applications)—


(a) in the title, before ‘or 58A’ (inserted by section 11(4)(a)) insert ‘52E,’,


(b) in paragraph 1, before ‘or 58A’ (inserted by section 11(4)(b)) insert ‘52E’, and


(c) in paragraph 4, after paragraph (ca) (inserted by section 11(4)(c)) insert—


‘(cb) in the case of an application under Article 52E, on the ground mentioned in Article 52E(2);’.


(7) In Schedule 10 to the Licensing Order (applications for extensions and authorisations), in paragraph 1A (inserted by section 11(5)(a)), before ‘58B’ insert ‘52F or’.


(8) In Part 1 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 3 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘52F(9)



Failure by local producer to display notice on part of premises to which authorisation under Article 52F applies



3-4’.



 


(9) In Part 2 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 4 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘52F(8)



Failure by local producer to comply with authorisation under Article 52F



4-5’.



”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 33: After clause 8 insert -



Restrictions on occasional licences


8B.—(1) In Article 30 of the Licensing Order (occasional licences), after paragraph (1), insert


‘(1A) The holder of a licence for premises for which this Articles applies shall not make an application on behalf of a person who is the holder of a licence for premises to which an order under Article 43A applies’.


(2) In paragraph (5)(b) of that Article, at the end insert—


‘(c) the sale of intoxicating liquor in premises to which an order under Article 43A applies.’” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 34: In amendment No 33, in subsection (1), leave out the new paragraph (1A) and insert—



“(1A) An occasional licence may not be granted for a part of premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) to which an order under Article 52E applies”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 61: In schedule 1, page 34, line 11, after “52D,” insert “52E,”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

Currently in Northern Ireland, patrons can purchase alcohol at theatres such as the Opera House, the Lyric and the MAC but cannot do so at cinemas. Live-show theatres provide a similar experience to cinemas, where both adults and children are welcomed. I appreciate that theatres tend to attract an older audience, but children can and do attend. Indeed, a visit to a theatre can be as much of a family experience as going to the cinema, yet theatres can provide alcohol to their patrons in the presence of children and families whereas cinemas cannot.

We are the only region in the United Kingdom and Ireland that does not offer customers the opportunity to buy alcohol and bring the drink into a cinema. I am not aware of any criticism of that position in any other jurisdiction. I am not aware of any attempts to reverse the policy or legislation since it came into force in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. If anything, I understand that it has enhanced the customer experience in those regions and strengthened the businesses that provide it. Removing it would cause more issues than any suggestion that it should not have been there in the first place.

There is already a model in Northern Ireland where alcohol can be purchased and consumed while watching a film: Queen's Film Theatre (QFT). That has been happening for eight to nine years. All ages are welcome there. I will quote from its website.

(Mr Deputy Speaker [Mr McGlone] in the Chair)

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

Not just yet.

The website states:

"QFT is open to all. Certain films will be age restricted in line with BBFC age restrictions. If you look under the age of these restrictions, i.e. under 15 or under 18, you may be asked to show ID. We operate the Challenge 25 policy at our bar when serving alcohol. If you look like you could be 25 or under, we may ask to see ID to prove you are over 18."

So, not only is this happening already but, to dissuade people of any concerns, it is demonstrated that it can happen in a controlled, safe environment. Cinemas already provide the environment where they can put those controls in place because of classifications on films. They manage age-appropriate situations. That is a safe environment where we can consider the amendment's provisions.

I have considered the view that cinemas are a family-oriented environment and that introduction of purchase and consumption of alcohol could disrupt that, but I think that that is unlikely. There are comparable examples where families are welcome despite the sale and consumption of alcohol on site, such as a licensed restaurant, a teenage concert in the Odyssey Arena or a pantomime in the Opera House. In my constituency, Movie House Cinemas operates in the Jet Centre complex. In that complex, as well as a cinema, there is a children's jungle gym, a bowling alley and amusements. There is also a licensed restaurant in the complex. Consumption of alcohol is obviously contained in the restaurant, but it is a wonderful family-oriented restaurant where many go before they go to the cinema or to bowl. They drink alcohol mere metres away from the same places where it is not currently permitted. My point is that family-oriented environments already sell and permit consumption of alcohol. For that reason, I see no rationale not to allow the same in cinemas.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

The Member will be aware that we, as Members, have received a huge amount of correspondence from individuals who are in the licensed trade and in entertainment. Few, if any, of those have suggested that there is a demand for the sale of alcohol in cinemas. Indeed, the first time that I heard it mentioned was through her amendment. Where does she see the demand for this type of additional provision of alcohol?

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I proposed the amendment because I was approached by the cinema in my constituency to see whether it could provide it. Just because the demand does not exist in Northern Ireland to ask for it, that does not mean that demand could not exist and that people would not want it if the offer were presented.

Having listened to the evidence provided at Committee, I understand that cinemas do not intend to sell alcohol in the afternoon, nor are they expecting significant consumption. I really cannot imagine anyone going to the cinema to consume large quantities of alcohol. There are other places for that, not least private homes because of how cheaply alcohol can be purchased in supermarkets. This is about offering a choice for adults to have an experience that is enjoyed in every other part of the UK and Ireland. If we look to GB and Ireland, we see that consumption is relatively low. It is important that we visualise what this is rather than what it is assumed to be. A cinema is a darkened room of adults. What people have in their hands could be a coke or a beer. It is not a bar or a club; it is a contained environment where people can enjoy something that, as adults, they have a right to.

Interestingly enough, cinema businesses suggest that the ask here is not about demand for this particular service but about widening their offer to provide a luxury element, which is a growing trend both nationally and internationally. There is also an interest in providing conferencing events. Cinemas have technology that may not be available in hotels. They can provide a unique service that is needed. The Department has suggested that including cinemas as a place of public entertainment would only increase the number of licensed premises. Of course, it would — but by no more than two dozen across Northern Ireland, and that is assuming that all cinemas will want to provide alcohol. Many will not, but the amendment provides the choice for businesses and customers.

I do not accept the Department's need to consult publicly. It has described that consultation as a short, focused exercise over the summer months. I am keen to hear the Minister's view as to why she thinks that that is necessary. Indeed, at Committee Stage, members heard from witnesses and the idea was publicly presented by cinema owners. It was also discussed in the media at that time. That did not give rise to any significant concerns or, indeed, any concerns that I am aware of. I appreciate that this is not a public consultation, but suggestions of significant concerns to justify a very specific, focused public consultation are unfounded.

It is not a controversial amendment. Had the Department not convinced the Committee otherwise, the amendment would have been tabled by the Committee and not me. It was written for the Committee; indeed, I held back from tabling the amendment because it felt obvious to me that the Committee would support it. It has cross-party support. This idea is fully supported, but, for some reason, the Minister and/or her Department are seeking at minimum to delay or at most to obstruct the process of licensing cinemas. I am a very deliberative politician, and I try to see all sides of the debate. However, I cannot understand what the rationale is here. Unless the Minister can provide a compelling reason, again mindful of the minimal risk, I implore the Committee and other Members to reconsider what they had intended to do from the outset.

I appreciate that the Committee is saying that it is content that the Department will progress the intent of the amendment over the summer months towards a potentially positive outcome in the autumn. Subsequently, I have presented the House with an opportunity to effect the same outcome today as what is hoped for in the autumn. Sadly, at this point in my tenure as an MLA, it is experience more than cynicism that makes me believe that we should progress the amendment today. If we delay this opportunity, we may lose this opportunity. These institutions are politically unstable, and anything that happens thereafter is uncertain. I sincerely hope that the Executive remain until the end of the mandate, if only to salvage any legislation, but I do not trust that they will, so we should not leave to chance anything that we can do now. Further, I have no confidence that the Department will lay its regulations. That comes from, again, experience rather than cynicism. For example, I am trying to convince the Department of Health to lay regulations that it has held for over five years to prevent schoolchildren purchasing e-cigarettes. It still has not done that.

Subject to persuasion by other contributions, I will move the amendment. Unless there is unanimous support, Members will be asked to vote. If you intend to vote no, I ask you to consider why, because I know that you agree with this. Are you voting no because you have concerns or because the Department has asked you to, despite minimal risk?

I will now speak briefly to the other amendments in group 2 tabled by the Minister for Communities, the Chairperson on behalf of the Committee for Communities, Ms Kellie Armstrong and Miss Rachel Woods. Amendment Nos 8 to 18 would amend clause 8. The Chairperson of the Committee and the Minister have tabled those amendments. Generally, clause 8 relates to alcohol producers. Committee amendments seek to revise article 52B, "Local producer's licence: sales on own premises". That is to increase the quantity of alcohol that local producers may provide as part of a tour from one sample to:

"no more than a total of four samples and one measure".

In addition, the amendments seek secondary legislation to prescribe the "content, amount or strength" of the intoxicating liquor in each sample and measure; secondary legislation making powers to alter the "number of samples and measures to be provided"; limited permitted hours for consumption of samples on the premises from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm; opening hours for off-sales remain unchanged; and to provide a definition of "tour". I am content to let the Chair and the Minister speak to the details of those amendments.

Amendment No 19 introduces new clause 8A. That clause seeks to cover taprooms in the legislation, which was not in the original draft of the Bill. The issue of taprooms is significant and has led to many contributions from stakeholders. I support the clause, subject to other amendments, which allows local alcohol producers to apply for a new licence to operate a taproom during limited hours.

The new clause provides an opportunity to enhance our tourism offer as well as to support local producers. Yesterday, I spoke in the Assembly of the strength of food tourism in Northern Ireland. Microbreweries, such as Lacada in my constituency, are very much part of our growing food industry. Taprooms will, by opening up new markets, enable producers to sell their produce. I encourage Members to get behind this one too.

Amendments Nos 20 to 32 seek to amend amendment No 19, the new clause just discussed. The amendment and the back and forth between the Committee and the Department reflect the divided opinion on taprooms not only among Committee members but among those who put forward their views. While I am generally content to support amendment No 19, I will listen with interest to the discussion from the Chair and the Minister relating to amendment Nos 20 to 32.

Notably, amendment Nos 28 and 29, tabled by Ms Armstrong and Miss Woods, are similar in their intent, except for an additional hour provided by Ms Armstrong.

The amendments extend the provision in amendment No 19 from 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm to 11.00 am to 11.00 pm. That is a practical consideration and roughly brings those premises into line with other licensed premises, but I am keen to hear from both Members about the rationale before I make my decision.

Ms Armstrong has tabled amendment No 31, which seeks to double the number of days when local producers can sell for consumption on their premises. I am not sure whether that relates to earlier amendments that have been discussed. In a sense, it seems excessive, given that it doubles that number, but I am mindful that that is an "up to" figure rather than a maximum. I will be keen to hear Ms Armstrong's contribution and her rationale for that.

The Committee's amendment No 33 introduces new clause 8B. The Minister for Communities has tabled amendment No 34, which seeks to amend the new clause. In summary, clause 8B restricts the use of occasional licences by those who hold a taproom licence. I expect that that is directly as a result of provisions in amendment No 19, but, again, I will let the Committee Chairperson and the Minister speak to the details of the amendments.

Amendment No 61 seeks to amend schedule 1. I feel that this amendment is connected to other amendments, so I look forward to hearing the Minister's rationale to help me to join the dots.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

Aside from amendment No 7, which is to do with the inclusion of cinemas, all the amendments in group 2 relate to the provisions of the Bill regarding local producers. The issue of the importance of local producers has increasingly come to the fore since the 2016 version of the Bill, particularly the issue of taprooms. Therefore, the Committee devoted a substantial amount of time to asking specific questions on the issues in its oral evidence sessions of all those who could be impacted by any decisions made in that regard, including the hospitality and tourism sector, public health representatives and a range of local producers, distillers, brewers and cider makers.

Before I go into detail on the amendments relating to local producers, I will cover amendment No 7. Ms Sugden is absolutely right about amendment No 7: given the evidence that the Committee heard from the sector, it considered its own amendment on the issue and asked the Minister to consider the inclusion of cinemas in the list of places of public entertainment in order that they could serve alcohol. However, over a number of discussions with departmental officials, we considered a range of matters, including the increase in the number of licensed premises that would occur, the concern that no public consultation had been done and the fact that cinemas here, aside from QFT, are one of the few entertainment options for families or people who prefer not to be in the presence of alcohol.

The Department sought legal advice on including cinemas in the definition of a place of public entertainment via regulations and confirmed that that could be done. The Committee then agreed to support the Minister's proposal, receiving in writing information that a public consultation could be carried out on that specific issue over the summer months. Provided the consultation raises no serious issues, the Committee understands, regulations can be made within a relatively short timescale in the autumn. We fully expected that a Member would table an amendment for the inclusion of cinemas, so it will now be up to the House to determine whether amendment No 7 becomes part of the legislation. The Committee continues to support the Minister's proposal, as I have just outlined.

Before I go into the detail of the remaining amendments in group 2, which are amendment Nos 8 to 34 and amendment No 61, I reiterate the in-depth nature of the Committee's evidence and deliberations on clause 8 and on the issue of taprooms, which I will come to shortly, in amendment No 19. The matters were discussed over a total of eight meetings, and we devoted at least 10 hours exclusively to those issues. It is worth repeating that the taproom issue was the only one in the Bill on which Committee unanimity could not be achieved. Although the Committee tried its best to come up with a fully agreeable and workable solution, it is fair to say that all Committee members had a genuine desire to support local producers and tourism through the Bill without causing harm to other hospitality sectors. It just came down to some very balanced and difficult decisions.

Our Committee report perhaps does not quite do justice to the in-depth discussions that took place on clause 8 and the taprooms issue, as much of the discussion had to take place in closed session for progress to be made. We worked closely with the Bill Office over a number of weeks to flesh out amendment proposals on the thorny problems that we were working through. A very considered approach was taken by all members to the issues, and lengthy debate and discussion took place in closed session to allow all members to take time and space to consider all the evidence that had been presented.

With regard to amendment No 8, the —.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Just a moment, please. There are conversations taking place. Members might wish to do business, but it is becoming quite audible at the top Table. If Members wish to do business, I am sure that their presence here for a minute or two is not imperative, and so I advise them to please do so outside the Chamber. Ms Bradley, please continue.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

On amendment No 8, the majority of the Committee agreed that clause 8 as introduced gave local producers more scope to market and sell their products than ever before. However, we felt that the clause would benefit from further enhancements for local producers, and so we proposed, through amendment No 8, an increase in the number of samples and the quantity of alcohol that local producers may provide as part of a tour in order that customers could taste a wider variety of product, with the detail being covered in secondary legislation, but, as a counterbalance to that, to limit the permitted hours for the consumption of samples on the premises from 10.00 am to 7.00 pm. A definition of "a tour" was also included. However, at its meeting on 3 June, the Committee agreed to not move amendment No 8 and to support the Minister’s alternative amendments for clause 8, which are amendment Nos 9, 13, 15 and 16.

During deliberations, the Department advised that the sample issue could be determined in regulations. However, the Committee was not convinced that clause 8 as introduced allowed for more than one sample to be provided and so proceeded with its own amendment. However, the Committee agreed that the Minister’s amendment No 9 reflects that matter. Supporting amendment No 9 means that the Committee will not move amendments Nos 10, 11, 12, 14, 17 or 18, which are consequential to amendment No 8.

Amendment No 19 is the Committee amendment that proposes new clause 8A:

"‘Sales and consumption of liquor in local producer’s premises."

Clause 8A provides for local alcohol producers to apply for a new licence to operate a taproom during limited hours — 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm — for 104 days in any year, with the sale of alcohol restricted to that produced in the production premises. The suitability of the premises must first be determined before the licence can be granted. The Committee divided on this, with 6 Ayes and 3 Noes. The Bill Office made the Committee aware that, if this amendment passed, the Minister would likely make amendments to improve the drafting at the Further Consideration Stage. However, due to the short timescales that we are working with and how close we are to recess, the Minister has chosen to make those amendments at this stage. At its meeting on 3 June, the Committee considered the Minister’s amendments to amendment No 19 and agreed to support the various technical, consequential and drafting improvement amendments, which are amendment Nos 20 to 27, 30 and 32.

I am not sure that, if I stood here and talked for the next 24 hours, I could do justice to the amount of consideration that the Committee gave to the evidence and the range of amendments that it considered on taprooms. I am sure that other Committee members will say the same in their speeches. Some members felt that the Committee amendments did not go far enough to support local producers and some felt that they went too far. A balanced proposal was found, and that is what the majority of the Committee finally agreed on, with the mitigations of limits on hours of opening and only alcohol produced on the premises being allowed to be sold.

The Committee was mindful of concerns that the licensing of taprooms could have wide-ranging implications, some of which related to additional competition for existing licensed premises. Members were concerned that, although taprooms had been an issue since the proposed 2016 legislation, the Department had not included the issue in the Bill's consultation or done any of the extensive research that the officials advised would be needed before the Minister could consider recommendations or legislation in the area.

That was a key driving factor in making the amendment that is proposed new clause 8A. The issues for local producers are now years old, and all our neighbouring jurisdictions, albeit they have different licensing regimes, provide for taprooms. By all accounts, those are popular and successful for the wider economy and tourism. The Committee knows that the local brewers in particular and perhaps the tourism sector will not feel that the proposal goes far enough to support them, and some in the hospitality sector will feel that it goes too far. The Committee felt that it really could not win on this one. As the Committee is supportive of its amendment No 19, it cannot support the changes proposed to opening hours for taprooms in amendment Nos 28 and 29 and changes proposed to the number of days a year in amendment No 31.

Amendment No 33 proposes to introduce new clause 8B. The Committee is aware that local producers use occasional licences to run taprooms. As part of the balanced approach in clause 8A to support our local producers, the majority of the Committee was supportive of those local producers who gain a taproom licence having restrictions placed on their use of occasional licences. The Committee divided, with six Ayes and three Noes, on this proposed amendment. The Committee also supports the Minister's related technical amendment Nos 34 and 61.

In drawing my comments on this group to a close, I will say that the Committee recommended in its report that, should the amendments on taprooms not be successful in becoming part of the Act, the Department should proceed to implement the commitment given to the Committee to carry out the relevant research on taprooms and produce a report on it in the Assembly as soon as is practicable.

At this point, I think that it is only fitting that I pay tribute to the amazing work and patience of our Bill Office officials, particularly Claire McCanny. As we called her back week after week to provide us with a range of options on the issue, she and her colleagues rose to the challenge every time.

As our party spokesperson on issues in the Department for Communities, I will now make a few comments on Ms Sugden's amendment. I absolutely understand where she is coming from. I think that it was me who encouraged our cinemas to respond to our consultation. They came in and gave us a very valued witness session, and the Committee got to the point where it wanted to make an amendment for our cinemas. I think that our cinemas are probably better regulated than many other industries and institutions that sell alcohol.

I have to say that the Minister gave the Committee and me the commitment, which I am honouring, that she would do a very swift consultation during the summer period and that, if no major issues arose, the change could be slotted in very quickly in the autumn. I call on the Minister in her contribution to reiterate that and to give us her word that that will go ahead, and I will give my word, as Committee Chair, that, when we come back after summer recess, I will ask where the consultation is and that it be presented to our Committee. I understand the concerns that our cinemas brought up, and I understand the product that they have to offer. The likes of QFT offer private birthday parties. Maybe those are fiftieth or sixtieth birthday parties where they show a movie and provide alcohol, food and everything else, and our cinemas are missing out on those opportunities as well as on conferencing. Our cinemas may not all avail themselves of the measure; it is only some that have said that they will. I look forward to the Minister bringing the consultation and bringing it back to the Committee and to the Committee making the decisions on how we go forward with the cinemas. Again, I ask that the Minister give her commitment to that in the House.

Photo of Sinéad Ennis Sinéad Ennis Sinn Féin

I will speak broadly on the group 2 amendments. As the Chair has just done, I put on record my thanks to the Assembly staff, including the Clerks, particularly Claire McCanny in the Bill Office for her invaluable assistance throughout the Committee's deliberations on the Bill.

I also recognise the efforts of departmental staff, such as Liam Quinn, Carol Reid and Suzanne Breen, who have been on hand as and when the Committee needed and provided a good sounding board and link between the Committee and the Department.

It is important for Members to understand the scale on which the Communities Committee consulted and engaged on the Bill, and that has been outlined by the Chair and other members. As the Chair outlined, we took 58 written submissions and 35 oral evidence sessions over 30-plus weeks and devoted no fewer than 10 hours, over eight or more meetings, to deliberating and scrutinising the evidence that we received, and the majority of that time was taken up with the issue of local producers.

Before I comment on the local producers' licence, I want to touch on amendment No 7, which relates to cinemas and whether they should be listed as places of public entertainment and therefore permitted to sell alcohol. We heard evidence from cinema operators on the issues facing the industry, and the Committee was sympathetic. However, there was also a compelling public health message. I ask Members to bear it in mind that, while the intention of the Bill is to relax the licensing laws and provide greater opportunity for people, if they so wish, to socialise in venues that serve alcohol, it is important that we are cognisant of the fact that we need to provide people and, more importantly, families and children with venues such as cinemas that are alcohol-free. We heard compelling public health advice to that effect. We cannot forget our responsibility to look after our young people in particular in that regard.

That is not to say that there is no case to be made for cinemas or that cinemas should be ruled out in the future. As the Chair said, and I am sure the Minister will address it, the Minister has already committed to carrying out a consultation on cinemas. I urge Members to bear it in mind that the Committee unanimously decided to support the Minister in that endeavour, due to the fact that cinemas were not included in the original consultation. It is only when we have all the necessary information to hand on the consequences, including possible unintended consequences, that we will be able to make an informed decision on cinemas.

I turn to the amendments relating to local producers. As I stated, we took 58 written submissions, 35 oral evidence sessions and spent hours deliberating over many meetings and scrutinising the evidence that we received. I make this point to lay it out for Members, because it is important for them to understand the importance that we placed on the issue and how the Committee attempted to find a balance between the asks of local producers and the needs of the hospitality industry as a whole. The detail that we received and considered was vast, and I am entirely satisfied that the Committee gave the matter the attention that it deserves.

Sinn Féin believes wholeheartedly that local producers should be afforded the mechanisms and opportunity to grow their business. There is huge potential for them to play an important role in our economic recovery and help to grow our tourism product. That opportunity has been afforded to them in the form of the Minister's Bill.

Of course, any Member is entitled to table amendments to the Bill, including members of the Committee. That is their right. However, I question the motives behind some of the amendments tabled by the likes of Kellie Armstrong, who is a Committee member, and I wonder whether the unintended consequences of those amendments and the impact that they could have on traditional pubs and bars been considered. Is it more about grabbing individual headlines at the expense of achieving a fair and balanced liquor licensing Bill that gives everyone, local producers and the hospitality sector, a fair crack of the whip? What will traditional pubs and the wider hospitality sector, which has struggled greatly over the past year and a half due to the necessary COVID restrictions placed on them, make of the amendments tabled this evening? How will they feel if some of them, which are listed in group 2, pass?

I am not sure that shoehorning amendments into the Bill without an understanding of the unintended consequences is the wisest thing to do. If some of the amendments in group 2 pass, we will need to build in protections for our traditional bars and pubs, particularly those in small rural places such as some of those that I represent in South Down.

Sinn Féin believes that more evidence gathering and consultation need to be carried out on the issue of taprooms, given that it was not included in the original consultation and no impact assessment has been carried out. It was good to hear the Minister stating her intention to do that at a later stage. It is clear that local producers will, through the mechanisms in the Bill, add great value to our tourism and hospitality sector. We must accommodate them in doing that, but we also must ensure that the right balance is struck so that our pubs are not put at a disadvantage. That is why we support the Minister's amendments and call for greater research to be carried out. There will be an opportunity to revisit the issue in due course.

I am so enthused to see such positivity and enthusiasm around the Bill. It is clear that the majority of the House wants to see modern, fit-for-purpose licensing laws. This is the first legislation that I have had an active role in advancing, and I am proud to have been involved in it. I am proud of the overwhelmingly positive impact that it will have on our hospitality and tourism sectors. It is exactly what we need, particularly at this time, as we try to build back from COVID.

[Interruption.]

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 9:30 pm, 8th June 2021

Excuse me, Members. If you wish to have a conversation — I have already said this — please conduct it outside. It is audible here, Mr Wells.

Continue, please, Ms Ennis.

Photo of Sinéad Ennis Sinéad Ennis Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle.

The extension of opening hours and the removal of restrictions around Easter opening are appropriate. The industry has been calling for that for a long time. I hope that the Bill will pass through the Assembly as quickly as possible. It is long past the time that our liquor licensing laws were brought into the 21st century.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I think that it is fair to assert that this group of amendments has been eagerly anticipated by local producers. It marks a set of provisions that deal with the rise of local producers throughout the North and with the notion of taprooms, which is an issue that has gained traction and come to the fore since the first iteration of the Bill. It is important that any legislation can evolve and adapt with the changing economic climate and shifts in consumer habits. Evidently, it is an area of the industry that continues to grow, so it must be provided for under the Bill. It is an exciting and potentially prosperous inclusion that could provide a wealth of opportunities for tourism and hospitality alike. However, following engagement with distillers, brewers, cider makers and public health, as well as the added context of the effects of the pandemic on the wider hospitality industry, it soon became clear that it must be managed in a fair, balanced and cautious manner.

Amendment No 7, from Ms Sugden, interests me. She certainly put forward her case very well. The Committee received evidence from a number of cinema owners, and, as I recall, all members were sympathetic to their asks. The amendment would give them the ability to offer something new. We talk a lot about the tough time that businesses have had. We are hearing tonight about the tough time that hospitality has had during not just the pandemic but the many years that preceded it. It is hard to think of many industries that will have taken the same hit as cinemas with the development of Netflix, Amazon and God knows how many other apps that allow people to watch even the latest releases from the comfort of their home.

We were deterred from proposing an amendment to the effect of Ms Sugden's following assurances that cinemas could and would be added as a place of public entertainment through regulations after a short consultation that would take place over the summer. It is only fair that cinemas and cinemagoers here should be afforded the same opportunity as those in other jurisdictions. I heard a clip of the Minister on the radio this morning. It was only a clip, Minister — I did not hear the full interview — but I wondered whether you were backtracking a wee bit on that. I share the Minister's view that it is important to have places of entertainment where alcohol is not prevalent, but I cannot envisage circumstances in which cinemas would jeopardise their family-friendliness, which is their biggest selling point, by not having strict policies on when, how and to whom alcohol is served.

I think of cinemas in my constituency and of the lengths that they go to in order to make sure that everything is shipshape for people coming in. I do not know what the detriment or the unforeseen circumstances would be that Ms Ennis referred to — they are unforeseen, I suppose — or what damage would be done by making the amendment to the Bill. I ask the Minister to clarify that.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

The honourable Member should realise that there are many families who want to take their children out to an event or situation in which they can be guaranteed that alcohol will not be present. I encouraged my children not to consume alcohol, and, I am glad to say, they generally agreed with that. We are trying to encourage our grandchildren not to take up the consumption of alcohol, simply because of the enormous social problems that it can sometimes engender. We must surely have one venue that we can take our children to where we are confident that we will not have to see the consumption of liquor.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for his intervention, and I entirely respect his point of view. The family-friendliness that those venues pride themselves on is not something that they would want to compromise. I am fairly sure that we are not talking about 'Toy Story 4' cocktails. It is envisaged that the sale of alcohol will be allowed at specific viewings of specific films. That enables cinemas to manage things better.

Interestingly, when we were taking evidence, I asked a couple of the cinema owners whether the issue of people smuggling alcohol into the cinema had ever arisen, as the law currently prohibits its sale in cinemas. Two owners gave different answers on the films that had caused them most difficulty. I am sure that the Member will have seen both of them. One was 'Fifty Shades of Grey', and the other was 'Magic Mike'.

[Laughter.]

You might need a drink to sit through them.

The remainder of the amendments deal with local producers and taprooms, and, contrary to the old adage, it has proved extremely difficult to organise anything in a brewery. This group has proved a wee bit divisive among Committee members, and, despite devoting substantial time to debate and consideration, we could not reach overarching agreement. If we do not deal with the matters in the Bill, however, and take a holistic view of the industry, it is highly likely that we will have to return to the issue <BR/>sooner rather than later.

Having engaged with producers in my constituency pre-pandemic, I saw clearly that current legislation had hindered their business. The previous version of the Bill failed to make provision for on-site sales of their beer, which is allowed in Britain and, increasingly, across the world. We have witnessed across the water and across the border just how popular brewery tours and taprooms can be. Northern Ireland has certainly been a step or two behind in that regard.

Having listened to proposals from local breweries and from pubs that stock local craft beers, I support amendment No 8, which provides more scope for producers to sell their product. I spoke about the need for the issue to be dealt with in a fair and balanced way. While the Committee agreed to increase the number of samples and the quantity of alcohol that local producers can provide as part of a tour, we also agreed to limit the hours for consumption of alcohol on the premises, so I support amendment Nos 9, 13, 15 and 16 tabled by the Minister, which, I think, supersede amendment No 8.

I support amendment No 19. It would insert new clause 8A, which relates to the sale and consumption of liquor on local producers' premises for reasons already outlined. I support the further amendments or improvements even detailed in amendments Nos 20 to 27, 30 and 32, which will essentially tidy up existing clauses. As the Chair said earlier, striking a balance proved to be difficult. While the Committee reached a majority vote on taproom-related clauses, it did not reach a unanimous decision.

I support the requirement for the suitability of premises to be determined prior to a licence being granted, as well as the limit on opening hours and the 104-days restriction for the sale of alcohol.

I recognise that that is a lot less than many brewers want, but it is also a lot more than a lot of publicans want. The figure is fair and balanced; I keep coming back to those words. The Chair referred to one of the publicans' concerns being additional competition. I do not think that it is that; I think the fear is that it would be unfair competition. I, therefore, will not support amendment Nos 28, 29 or 31, which seek to extend that provision.

Taprooms certainly offer potential for the local economy and tourism. However, we must be mindful of the landscape in which the outworkings of the Bill will be felt and the implications that it will have for and, indeed, the competition that will impose on other licensed premises, namely wet pubs. Wet pubs have been among the hardest hit in the last year, and many of them have not been able to reopen their doors following the extended period of closure. Bearing that in mind and considering the pleas made by local publicans, I cannot justify extending the opening hours for taprooms, which would place those premises in direct competition with severely struggling businesses.

In recognition of the challenges facing those in the hospitality sector, I support amendment No 18, which would impose a system of penalty points and fines on taprooms that breach sale of alcohol rules beyond the permitted hours or the permitted alcohol. Likewise, I support amendment No 33 and the restriction of the use of occasional licences. Lastly, I support the Minister's technical enhancements to the Bill in amendment Nos 34 and 61.

I appreciate that the conclusions reached here today will not be welcomed with open arms by all elements of the sector and probably not by any of them. However, I reiterate that the Committee was tasked with a particularly challenging and convoluted piece of legislation that forced us to consider the wide-ranging impacts of the changes. I have no doubt that some local brewers will be left feeling a bit short-changed, but, in the interests of fairness, certain sacrifices must be made. I believe that we have been as balanced and meticulous as possible in our considerations.

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP

It was remiss of me not to place on record during the group 1 debate my thanks to Claire McCanny and the Bill Office for their support, dedication and guidance throughout Committee Stage.

Turning to the group 2 amendments, we are not minded to support amendment No 7. We support the Committee's approach to supporting the Minister's proposal to carry out a short, sharp consultation over the summer months on the inclusion of cinemas as places of public entertainment, which would enable them to serve alcohol. The consultation will provide a clear understanding of public opinion on serving alcohol in cinema settings. As detailed by the Committee Chair, the Department has indicated its ability to designate by way of regulation. As per the Chair's comments, I ask the Minister to reaffirm that commitment and will listen closely to her comments.

On the remaining amendments, the Ulster Unionist Party recognises the growing importance of our local producers and the wider provision of taprooms. We support the important step of legislating for the provision of taprooms as an additional opportunity for local producers who wish to offer that service. To that end, we will support the Minister's amendment Nos 9, 13, 16, 20 to 27, 30 and 32. Those are all technical, consequential and drafting amendments to the Committee's amendment No 19, which we also support. In addition, we are minded to support amendment No 28, which would provide for additional hours beyond those provided for in amendment No 19, as articulated in the Committee and detailed in its report. For the reasons that I provided during the group 1 debate, we will not support amendment No 31. However, again, I highlight the Department's ability to change the number of occasions by way of regulation, if that is deemed necessary.

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

As we turn to the group 2 amendments, I want to clarify my position and the Alliance Party's position on local producers. Allowing a brewery or distillery to sell its own products does not constitute a quasi-pub. Taprooms are the norm across the world. They are places where visitors to a brewery can relax and build a connection to the brand without the confines of their stay being limited to having a small sample after a tour. Given that local breweries wish to sell only their own products, that is not competing with a pub that can sell a wide range of products.

Breweries are generally located in industrial estates or farms and are primarily manufacturing companies. The experience is totally different from that of sitting in the comfortable environment of a pub. Breweries require infrastructure that makes it difficult for them to open in town or city centres. The planning process is designed to allow opposition to any proposed development at a council level. That is not something that should be legislated for. We have council planning departments for that reason.

Alliance agrees that taprooms using occasional licences is far from ideal. That is why we believe that local producers need their own licence to ensure that all the regulations and requirements of selling alcoholic produce can be monitored and measured. That is why I support the new clauses that will allow for a local producer's licence to allow for those who want to sell their product in a closed container to be consumed off the premises or want to provide visitors on a tour with the opportunity to try a sample. I also support the taproom licences through which local producers can sell their products for consumption in their premises for a set number of days per year. I am aware that, if we put the hours that a taproom can operate in the Bill, that number cannot be changed by regulations and can be changed by primary legislation only. I thank the Minister for tabling the amendment on a taproom licence. The Committee considered how it could bring forward a taproom licence, and we are thankful that the Minister decided to include taprooms in her consideration of the Bill.

As others have done, I pay tribute to Claire McCanny of the Bill Office. Claire, you will be loving us. Her attention to detail and patient approach with each of us on the Committee, especially me, certainly enabled us to consider how to provide an opportunity for taprooms and how they could have a place in the market. Thank you, Claire.

During debate at Committee, I confirmed that I thought that we had not gone far enough for taprooms, and that is included in the Committee report. I have been a supporter of taprooms for a long time, so it will come as no surprise to anybody who knows me that I am not grabbing headlines. I have been working on this for the past five years, but we will get to that later.

I cannot agree with the limits that have been proposed that exclude taprooms from applying for an occasional licence. While the Committee considered that, after further consideration and reflection, I believe that that is wrong. Why should taprooms be excluded from occasional licences when they are already limited by the number of days that they will be permitted to open and the hours that they can operate? As Members are aware, I have tabled amendments to ask that taprooms be allowed to operate 208 times per year — there are Kellie's 208 days — which is the equivalent of four times per week, and that operating hours be changed from 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm to 11.00 am to 11.00 pm.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

Not just at the moment. Thank you.

I tabled those amendments because I spoke to a number of local producers, after the proposal of 104 days and the operating hours of 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm was made, and they confirmed that that proposal is financially problematic for them. It means that their taprooms would be allowed to sell their products for consumption on the premises for only 12 hours a week. Local producers asked me how many people the Assembly thinks will apply for a job that can provide only 12 hours a week of paid work. As the Economy Minister stated yesterday, the potential growth in tourism is directly linked to food and drink tourism. If we want to develop the local producer market, we have to allow that market to grow. To do that, local producers need to be able to sell their products.

Many pubs and hotels do not stock locally produced Northern Ireland craft beers or ciders because they have a commitment to stock international producers' brands; indeed, at Second Stage, I confirmed and nobody argued against me that 99% of the beer sold in Northern Ireland is produced elsewhere. A taproom licence provides an opportunity for our local artisan distillers and breweries to sell their products for consumption, which will allow them to generate an income to help them to develop their brands. As people get more opportunity to enjoy those drinks, perhaps we will see more pubs and hotels stocking Northern Ireland produce. Look at how amazing Bushmills is as a brand. Imagine what could be achieved if we gave our local producers the ability to grow and develop.

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Andy Allen Andy Allen UUP

Will the Member help the House to understand how she arrived at the figure of 208 days? Why was there no alternative figure?

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

I have to go back to our considerations at Committee Stage. A figure of 104 was brought forward, but there was no consultation with local producers after that. The producers told me that, if they were going to be forced to operate from 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm — six hours a day — they would need to be open at least four days a week to enable them to employ someone to work in the taproom.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

I thank the Member for giving way. She will be aware of the extensive lobby from Hospitality Ulster, which represents a large proportion of the licensed trade. The information given by Mr Colin Neill, the chief executive, was compelling. First, does the Member accept that it is possible to set up a local brewery for as little as £10,000, while many of our licensed traders pay that every quarter in rates, which is an incredible burden? Secondly, how will she police it? She says that only the products from the brewery can be sold in the taproom. Who will check that? Does she expect the PSNI to come round and say, "That's Bushmills" or — I am trying to think of drinks — "No. That's Jameson" etc? Who will prove that the product being sold is the product being produced by the brewery? Finally, given that she wishes to promote taprooms, why can that not be done on the lower 104 days a year rather than doubling it? If taprooms wish to exhibit their product, why can it not be done on the lower number of days?

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

I thank the Member. I will deal with his last point first. Six hours a day, two days a week, means 12 hours. They cannot get anyone to work in their premises. As the Chair said:

"The suitability of the premises must first be determined before the licence can be granted."

We are asking local producers to amend their premises so that they are suitable for the public to go in and drink. They have to make sure that the place is safe and that there are toilets. People will be taking alcohol, and we have to make sure that they are safe. We are saying to that group of producers, "You can sell for only 12 hours a week". That is why they have come back and said, "Double the number of days, please. That will make it financially viable for us to be taprooms".

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I thank the Member for giving way. Mr Wells pointed to the costs for other businesses. Does the Member have any idea of what it costs local producers to set up? I hear figures of £80,000. Could the suggestion in and around the hours be mitigated if the days were longer? Would the Member accept fewer days if there were more hours per day?

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

I will take the Member back to the way that the Bill will go. Amendment No 25 is the Minister's proposal for 104 days. We know that that can be amended through regulation. However, in the Bill, if we stick to 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm, that is it; that does not get changed. If amendment Nos 25 and 30 go forward, my amendment No 31 is not taken, so we will have 104 days, six hours a day, 12 hours a week. We could extend that from 11.00 am to 11.00 pm to cover a period that is reasonable. Not everyone has to apply for the full amount of time. We know that there are cideries, for instance, that say that they are not interested in having a taproom. That is fine, but let us give those who are interested the opportunity. That is why I have tabled the amendments. My 208 days are based on the fact that 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm is not financially viable for taprooms. The Minister has tabled amendment No 25, and we then have amendment No 28. We would have two days a week, 11.00 am to 11.00 pm. That is a fair move forward. As I said, look at how amazing Bushmills is. If we allow our producers to generate an income, they can be more sustainable.

I ask Members to think about the limitations that we are placing on a taproom. A taproom is not a pub. Taprooms can sell only their own alcoholic drinks. Mr Wells asked how we could prove that it is their own drink. They are allowed to sell it only with the container that it comes with. It is there; it is spelled out. We discussed that at Committee Stage. If you walk into a brewery and see someone drinking gin, it is blatantly obvious that it has not been brewed in that local producer's brewery. Taprooms are not like pubs, which are free to sell a range of beers, wines, spirits and ciders. Pubs can have late licences: these producers will not.

We would not limit a cheesemaker or any other artisan food producer in that way, so why are we doing it to producers of alcoholic drinks?

Group 2 also includes the amendment, tabled by Claire Sugden, which expands the definition for cinemas. To be honest, the Alliance Party is happy to support that amendment. As others have said, we were happy to support that during Committee Stage. We recognise that the Minister has given assurances that she will complete a consultation over the summer. Part of me thinks that we are just delaying the inevitable. QFT, for instance, provides alcohol on its premises, but it does not provide alcohol during the film festival when children's films are on, so cinema managers are very careful with their offer. Not all cinemas have to apply for this. There may be cinema suppliers that say that this is not for them, but why are we denying others? From the sound of things, unfortunately, it seems like your amendment is not going to pass, Ms Sugden. I therefore turn to the Minister and say the same as Mr Allen: it would be really good if, in your summary, you could confirm that you will bring forward the consultation on the ability of cinemas to sell alcohol, if they apply to do so.

Photo of Alex Easton Alex Easton DUP 10:00 pm, 8th June 2021

I intend to speak on amendment Nos 7, 9, 15, 33, 34 and 61. The second group of amendments deals with two main ideas: cinemas and local producers. I will deal briefly with cinemas before moving on to the issue of taprooms.

I was unable to support the idea, in amendment No 7, of cinemas being classified as "places of public entertainment" so that they could become licensed, without a prior public consultation. It is my view that Northern Ireland does not have a great deal of entertainment options for those who do not like to drink alcohol or do not like to be in the presence of those who do. Therefore, there are a significant number of questions surrounding the sale of alcohol in cinemas, such as whether it would be available to purchase only after a certain time or only in certain screenings. There would be obvious implications for families, children, teenagers and those who simply wish to have an alcohol-free experience at the cinema. We also have to consider the implications for cinema staff. In light of those concerns, and having great respect for those who are opposed to this development, I welcome the Minister's commitment to a consultation on the topic over the summer. I support the Committee's ultimate decision to withhold support for amendment No 7 until that public consultation has been completed and we have a greater understanding of the impact of that change. I say to Ms Sugden that it is not that I am not open-minded; I am, but I really need the Minister to make sure that the consultation happens. Whether or not I will be more open-minded depends on what that consultation says. I hope that that explains that.

On amendment No 9, the Committee Chair has already outlined the extensive deliberations carried out by the Committee in relation to taprooms and local producers, so I will not repeat at length the depth of work that has gone into those issues. I will only say that it is an area that has needed attention for a number of years and that it would have been preferable to have had more research available on the topic when it was being considered by Committee. I therefore echo the comments of the Committee Chair and welcome the commitment from the Department for Communities to make up a report on taprooms, if that proves to be necessary. I have been supportive of the majority view of the Committee regarding those issues, and I will support amendment No 9, which allows for breweries to showcase more of their products to those on tours. That amendment will increase the number of samples permitted from one to four, and also provides the power to alter that number through secondary legislation, if necessary.

I am also supportive of the consequential amendments, including amendment No 15, which contains the definition of "a tour" when it comes to local producers. Of course, the Bill balances out that development by restricting the time during which samples can be provided to between the hours of 10.00 am and 7.00 pm. The Committee was divided on new clause 8A but, as I said, that is an amendment that I support. It will enable local producers to take advantage of operational taprooms for up to 104 days in a year during the limited hours of 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm. The Bill seeks to provide further balance on that issue by limiting the alcohol that is available for consumption to that which is produced by the brewery in question. I understand the hospitality industry's concerns regarding competition, but that must be balanced with the benefits of those changes to the tourism sector. The evidence that the Committee examined showed that there is a boost to the local economy where taprooms exist and that visits to those breweries are popular with tourists.

Given the struggle that the tourism industry has faced during the pandemic and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the return of international travel, it is of great importance that we do all that we can to support the sector.

Finally, I agree with the Committee's view that those with taproom licences should have restrictions placed on their access to occasional licences. As a result, I support amendment No 33 and consequential amendment Nos 34 and 61.

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

I was not going to say too much, because I did not want to try to influence any Member. However, I have heard the way that the debate is going. It was maybe only 20 or 25 years ago that there was a complete drought of local cask beers in Northern Ireland. I think that the first brewery that we had was Hilden Brewery, which was opened by Seamus and Ann Scullion. I used to go to the Brains Brewery in Cardiff, Wales to buy a beer called Brains. I went out to Wales to bring Brains back to Belfast. They would have been glad to get something real, like traditional Guinness, even though it was slightly pasteurised.

There is a reason for saying all that, and it ties to public houses. Given the expense and the trouble, publicans found themselves going to certain large houses. In my time, it was Bass and Guinness, if I am allowed to say that. Publicans found themselves tying their premises to them. We are very lucky: things have moved on. I believe that there is room for everybody, and I welcome the changes.

Despite the distraction of ministerial appointments, today is a good day. It is the day when we take another step forward and finally modernise the outdated and, frankly, archaic licensing laws. It cannot come soon enough. Prior to COVID, we were losing 100 pubs a decade. The commercial viability of the industry was already under pressure due to rising costs and the lack of opportunity to increase consumer numbers and market share and to attract tourists. Since COVID, a huge number of pubs, as well as others in the entire hospitality sector, may not survive. When we look above the doors of pubs, we see the names of small business owners. They are proud to have their name there. The notices say, "Licensed to sell alcohol either on or off the premises".

Folks, contrary to what people might think, during my days in the bar, it was rare to see a drunk person. I firmly believe that that was due to the pricing, structure and operation of good publicans. Drunkenness had to be cut out. We did not want it. It is an absolute mess. The night is long, and you feel it in the pit of your stomach when you are trying to watch a drunk person. That has been eradicated.

As I said, when we look above the doors, we see the names of business owners who have worked long hours doing hard and dirty work to give us a place to share all the joys and sorrows of our common human experience. I have been there for the long days of lugging kegs around and scrubbing floors and even on the low days when I did not know whether enough punters would come through the door to keep the business afloat. I do not want to go on about the ring of steel that surrounded Belfast, but we had to operate with all sorts of pressures. I can tell you that the people who made their way into Belfast from the Shankill Road or Falls Road are the people who kept this city open, folks. They wanted to get into a neutral environment. They made their way down, and publicans were glad to get that business in the city centre.

I think of the experiences that I have been able to share with so many people through all the happy announcements of births, marriages, new jobs and new opportunities. I have seen people from across our whole community, who would never have come together normally, share a pint and talk about how all politicians are no good and do nothing. That is only a joke, folks, of course. That was before I came into politics.

I have also commiserated with friends during the hard times: the times of loss, hardship and having no one to turn to. Pub owners are family. Once you open a pub, that family extends to all the patrons who pay you the compliment of crossing your door. That is the human element that we must support, and, in doing so, we support Northern Ireland as a whole.

Pubs alone provide over £200 million to our economy. That grows when you add in local breweries and distilleries, which are growing day by day and producing award-winning beers and whiskeys. In my area of Lagan Valley, in County Down, we have the fantastic Hilden Brewery, the oldest independent brewery in Northern Ireland. We have the incredible facility at the Hinch Distillery, with a team distilling some excellent whiskeys and being part of the County Down revival. The county is quickly becoming the distillation hotspot of Ireland, with Echlinville, Copeland and the small but mighty Killowen.

The extension to opening hours, particularly around Easter, is small but necessary, as these changes will allow small family businesses to operate in the modern world. I hope that no one can come after me now, but I have to confess — I hate to tell you, but I will anyhow — that the restrictions were unnecessary. They were never that effective, at least in my day. Sometimes, your best pint was maybe when the old lock was on the door, but there you go. This is not about allowing unrestricted drinking. As I have said before, pub owners are smart business people, and there is nothing worse for your business than a drunk and difficult customer. We do all that we can to stop it.

My colleague Matthew O'Toole — may I speak to Matthew's amendment?

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

I advise the Member that that amendment is in a different group. There will be ample time to speak to it. I suggest that the Member come back to breweries and the like, which are within the scope of this group.

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

The alarming figures show the extent of the challenge that our hospitality businesses face. We all know how difficult it is; we can all feel it on our main streets and high streets. Long before the pandemic, small rural pubs were disappearing from isolated communities. Those communities do not just lose the local business, jobs or income to the local area. They lose a real part of themselves, because, particularly in rural, isolated communities, a pub is not just somewhere to have a pint; it is a place where you catch up with neighbours and connect with people. It is, in a true sense, a public house.

When I think of the money that we have spent trying to create community hubs or spaces across our society to fulfil the need for contact between people in our communities, it is mad that we are presiding over policies that are killing off pubs, which fulfil that exact need for so many. That is why I welcome my colleague's modest proposals for a review of the licensing system. I commend the Minister —.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

You are straying into group 4 again, Mr Catney.

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

OK, sorry. No one is saying that the current model is working as well as it should for business. It is not working in our communities. This is the start of modernising our licensing laws, which are a key part of our economy, and of supporting the many small family businesses at the heart of our communities. Pubs are not easy, folks.

Photo of John Stewart John Stewart UUP

I cannot stop laughing over here. I thank the Member for giving way. I really enjoy the passion with which he speaks on this subject and so many more. I totally agree with so much that he has said. I cannot believe for a second that he would ever have knocked on the door or let anyone do so, but, to keep that image going, it feels as though we are probably in for a lock-in tonight.

Does he agree that, given the pride and passion with which entrepreneurs and brewers from Northern Ireland produce their wares, it has been a shame that, up to now, so many have been selling so much more outside Northern Ireland than in Northern Ireland because of the restrictive rules. There are concerns in the wet-pub industry, however, that that will have an impact on the trade. Does he agree that we have struck a balance now, thanks to the Committee's great work and the research that it did?

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

I agree. There is room for our brewers and our new distillers as well. They add to what we have to offer here. There is no point in going to a marketplace and only seeing one stall; you need lots of different things to be there. I go back to what Kellie — sorry, my colleague from Holywood, no, Antrim —

[Laughter.]

He is putting me off. Stop it.

[Laughter.]

Look, we have the brewers. The brewers do beer. They do not do anything but beer. Then we have the distillers, who do the whiskeys and gins.

If any of you get a chance, even if you do not drink, go and have a look at Hinch Distillery. It is a brand new set-up. I have strayed off topic slightly, but I agree with you. We have some great products.

When I first worked in bars, it was on a five-year apprenticeship, folks. It was slave labour, but I had the best opportunities to work with some of the best bar people that this place ever produced. Whether selling from bars, distilleries or breweries, theirs are the first faces that tourists see when they come here. They are the first face of the entertainment sector, and they get asked where to go to and how to do things.

I support the changes — not all of them, of course — and I hope that the Bill is the start of a long journey and that we help to modernise the business. I hope that we look at what hospitality, or the drinks business, has done for Northern Ireland.

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

Again, I absolutely will.

[Laughter.]

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Does the honourable Member accept that I, a strict teetotaller who does not allow intoxicating liquor ever to cross his lips, have learned more about the licensing trade in the past 15 minutes than in the past 64 years? Does that not show that when the Member departs from his prepared script and speaks with passion about something of which he has detailed knowledge, it is extremely easy on the ear?

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

Thank you. Although my colleague represents South Down, he is a Moira man at heart. I know Moira well and worked in the Four Trees bar there.

Only together will we build this, folks. If we are seriously thinking about having a world-class tourism sector and inviting people here, we need to make these changes. We need to do it, and we need to stop looking down our noses at publicans and small brewers. We need to think about what they do and how they drive this place on, as I said. I have seen so many people who made their down the Shankill Road and the Falls Road. We need to cherish that, and we need to cherish the offering that we have. I accept what the Minister is trying to do, as best she possibly can. Thank you.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Thank you, too. Follow that, Miss Woods.

[Laughter.]

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I had quickly written down that I do not know how I can follow that contribution from Mr Catney, but I cannot agree more with him. As he knows, we share a passion for this industry. I had many years of slogging my guts out behind a bar, cleaning floors, cleaning up after people, serving pints and so on.

I turn to the group 2 amendments. All Members will have received briefings and, no doubt, been lobbied extensively about the local producer's licence, and rightly so. It has caused considerable debate from a number of sides. Many Members have spoken, at Second Stage or during tonight's debate, about a number of well-rehearsed issues. I reiterate comments made by Ms Armstrong earlier. Taprooms and pubs are far from one and the same. People do not go to them for the same reasons. Having been to many of both, I can completely attest to that. Also, why would a local producer want to sell somebody else's products? That was brought up by Mr Wells in relation to enforcement. They are the manufacturer of their own product. Why would they want to sell somebody else's product — a product that is available elsewhere?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Ms Armstrong, who represents Newtownards, not Antrim or anywhere else, made the point that taprooms are no threat to the licensed trade. Take the example of Bushmills, where you have the Bushmills distillery, which is, I accept, the oldest distillery in the world and a leading tourist attraction. There is also the Bushmills Inn. If tourists can go to the Bushmills distillery and avail themselves of the product and the taproom for the large number of days proposed by Ms Armstrong, inevitably, they will not go to the Bushmills Inn down the street. They will stay in the taproom. Meanwhile, the Bushmills Inn will be paying horrendous rates and costs, which the distillery will not have to do. Therefore, it is unfair to deprive the licensed trade by having taprooms open for 208 days a year.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I thank the Member for his comments. I am afraid that I do not agree with Mr Wells on that.

If I were to go to a taproom that was open until 10.00 pm or 11.00 pm, for example, I personally would go on to a bar afterwards, especially if it is connected to or in the same town as said distillery or taproom. I will enjoy my night out, and I am free to do so. I do not see taprooms and bars as being in direct competition with each other. In fact, I see them as complementing each other, and I use the example from my constituency of how good Copeland has been to the local town of Donaghadee. I wish that distillery all the best in getting its licences.

I will now move on to some issues that have been brought up.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I thank the Member for giving way. It is about the issue that Mr Wells brought up about Bushmills. Bushmills has a full pub licence. It can open full pub hours if it chooses to, but it chooses not to. As part of this debate, we need to understand that many breweries, cideries and distilleries out there will choose not to avail themselves of a taproom licence. We can see how it operates in Bushmills. The inn and the distillery complement each other in that tourism model. The taprooms very much hope to complement their local bars. I know that you will speak about it, but when the representatives from Copeland briefed us, we heard that it is one of the local distilleries in north Down that very much complements its local area.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I thank the Member for her intervention. That reiterates the need for there to be choice in the Bill. Not everyone will go to the limits that are allowed. They will go for what suits them and their local area. I do not know of any local breweries or distilleries that would want to jeopardise their local community, given that they are an inherent part of it. Again, I will get on to that later when I talk about Pub is The Hub.

I will not go into all the amendments in the group. Many of them are technical and have been discussed already, but I wish to draw attention to a number of potential issues that appear to me — I am very happy to be proved wrong — as though they could lead to the unintended consequences that Members discussed earlier but did not go into detail on. I am talking about proposed new clause 8A and amendment Nos 19 and 23. Specifically, I hope to get the issues addressed and to get some answers.

Members will be aware from CAMRA's briefing that it stated that similar legislation on local producers' licences and taprooms was introduced in the Republic of Ireland several years ago and that there has been virtually no take-up of the ability to run a taproom or offer premises tours. It is my understanding that the number is as low as one or two out of the 70-plus breweries and local producers in the Republic of Ireland. I asked a few people why they think that that is the case. For example, I asked whether it is the administrative burden or the financial burden, or whether there is just no appetite amongst local producers. The answers were a bit of mix, but the biggest issue is difficulty in getting planning permission and the restrictions on opening hours. I know that we will deal with that issue in a number of amendments on opening hours in this group.

CAMRA stated that the requirement to obtain planning permission to operate within restricted opening hours meant that it is not worthwhile for small independent businesses to do so. It argued that we need to make sure that the Bill does not end up being unworkable in practice owing to onerous restrictions. I am sure that Committee members will agree with me that, after all the hours that they spent on this, they would not want something in the Bill that is unworkable for the very people for whom they are trying to do something.

To put it bluntly, the main thing that we need clarification on is the producers' licence, how it will work in practice and how it will be interpreted in the courts, as that will have consequences for those who try to get one. As I said, CAMRA talked about the uptake of licences in the Republic of Ireland and what that would mean for the local producer here.

I will use a real-life example of planning permission. In one local brewery, 95% of its floor space is used during the week for manufacturing, but, at the weekend, it puts out some temporary seating in an area that is normally used to hold stock. It therefore uses the area for manufacturing purposes from Monday to Friday and then to sell beer, as part of a taproom licence, on Fridays and Saturdays. That is done through the taproom, allowed under the local producers' licence, for the nights that it is allowed and during the times that it is allowed under the licence agreement. The floor space dedicated to the taproom is therefore temporary. It could perhaps be described as ancillary to the main purpose of the building, which is manufacturing. Maybe the Minister will be able to clarify that for the local producers' licence. In Great Britain, if it is ancillary, no planning permission would be required, yet, in our Bill — and suitability of premises has been mentioned — planning permission is required.

I move on to another problem with lack of clarity around planning permission. How will LPS rate them? Licensed premises are rated on the receipts and expenditure method. I cannot speak for all local producers, but those who I have spoken to have said, perhaps rightly, that they would be happy to be rated on the basis of their taprooms and the retail that they do but not for the manufacturing premises as a whole. Why should they lose their industrial derating for an ancillary part of their business? Maybe that has already been figured out. Maybe there is an easy answer to it.

Learning from experiences in England and the Republic of Ireland, could the rating be decoupled? For example, some manufacturing businesses like printers operate as manufacturers on their premises but their front-facing section is only part of their business, so they are still industrially derated. Again, if the brewery floor space is used for manufacturing but there is dedicated permanent floor space and furniture there for the taproom event, different decisions could be made. However, that is not clear. It is not in the amendments, it is not in the explanatory and financial memorandum, and it has not been discussed on the Floor this evening.

As I said, much work has been done and many hours have been spent on the licensed criteria in the Bill, the amendments that we are debating tonight and the operational guidance that will come from the Department, which I welcome and which we will discuss in a later group. However, we do not want to get to a point where the regulations mean that the Bill is unworkable for the people and the businesses that it is designed for, namely the local producers.

On the occasional licences, again, I am happy to take an intervention from the Minister or anyone else on amendment Nos 33 and 34, which relate to clause 18. Is there any clarification of whether the amendment would mean that local producers cannot apply for occasional licences at a local festival, for example? Representation has been made to me about matters around occasional licences, and it would be helpful to know exactly what that amendment would and would not do. Also, why is the amendment here? Why would we stop local producers being able to apply for an occasional licence? I have not heard any reasoning for that outlined in any of the speeches.

Amendment No 29 is in my name. I submitted that amendment on the same day that Ms Armstrong submitted amendment No 28. I, too, thank Claire McCanny for her assistance with it, especially at such late notice. At the outset, I will say that I am happy to support the amendment standing in Ms Armstrong's name. Amendment No 29 is a very plain and simple amendment to change the opening hours allowed for local producers' licences under new clause 8A proposed by the Committee. Much like Ms Armstrong, the reason why I tabled the amendment to the opening hours is to try to make it more financially viable for local producers to create new jobs and increase investment.

Under the Committee amendment, the opening times would be six hours a day from 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm. I view that as overly restrictive with no clear rationale, because I do not see direct competition between pubs and bars and taprooms. It would not make local producers into pubs by another name. The amendment would allow only for an extension to opening hours, as in the Committee's proposed new clause 8A. If Members have been to a taproom, they will know that they are not pubs, as I said. They are totally different in atmosphere and in what is available. I absolutely love a pub. I have grown up in pubs.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

You are too young.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I wish I was too young, Mr Wells. I go for the community, the friends, the good food, the music, the craic, the atmosphere and the history and culture. We have such amazing pubs in Northern Ireland. I go to taprooms for very different reasons. I go to try products that are not available in pubs and bars. In effect, I go for something different.

Given that the number of days that a taproom can operate already exists, it does not follow that there should be further restrictions on opening times in the clause. While I appreciate that it would seem that those operating times have come from a compromise in the Committee's deliberations, they are not really fit for purpose and could lead to another situation of those licences not being used.

I have read the Committee report in relation to this, and I do not understand the reasoning. If the opening hours were allowed until 11.00 pm, which is in line with other licences during the week, it would be more of a compromise, make local producers more financially viable and make it clear for those tasked with enforcement that everything was open until the same time.

Finally, I want to mention the amendment about cinemas, tabled in Claire Sugden's name, which she has spoken to. The Committee heard evidence on the inclusion of cinemas and gave it consideration as an additional issue as part of the Bill. I read the report and listened to the speeches this evening. I note that the Committee was content with the information that the departmental officials provided and that they would consult the public on the matter over the summer. Pending that, there was agreement that regulations could be made relatively shortly. Perhaps, as others have asked, the Minister will give us an indicative date for when that consultation will be launched. We have said "the summer months". I believe that June is the summer.

I also wish to get clarification, hopefully, from the Minister, on how a venue normally becomes designated as a place of public entertainment. Is it up to the Department to decide? When venues were added previously, was there public consultation? I am sure that nearly all of us could tell stories about people smuggling alcohol into places where it was not allowed, as Mr Durkan mentioned. Maybe that is for another time.

Fundamentally, if cinemas do not want to serve alcohol and took the decision not to have alcohol present, that decision can still be taken by them. No one is forcing a cinema to stock or sell alcohol. It is merely an option, and I go back to the point about having choice in this legislation.

Those are my issues and questions. I would welcome an answer to most, if not all, of them with more detail.

Photo of Gerry Carroll Gerry Carroll People Before Profit Alliance 10:30 pm, 8th June 2021

Mr Catney said that he has not been in a pub with any drunk people, I think. He must have been in some quare establishments over the years. That was an interesting comment.

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

Would the Member give way to allow me to clarify?

Photo of Pat Catney Pat Catney Social Democratic and Labour Party

What I was saying was that the day of the drunk man in a public house is finished. That is simply because of where we are with the professionalism of our bar staff and publicans. The last thing that they want or anyone wants is a drunk man on their premises.

A Member:

Or woman.

[Laughter.]

Photo of Gerry Carroll Gerry Carroll People Before Profit Alliance

I was not trying to make light of the Member's comments, but obviously there is a wider issue about drunk people in pubs. That is my experience, but back to the matter at hand.

Photo of Gerry Carroll Gerry Carroll People Before Profit Alliance

Do not attack west Belfast, Mr Catney.

I will keep this contribution brief, because I support all the amendments and clauses in this group. I want only to put on record my party's support for those who continue to challenge the monopolies in this sector; those who have fought to give small local producers a look-in, while a lobby of mostly big businesses tries to shut them out for fear — misconception, maybe — that they would eat into their profits.

The Assembly and Executive put a lot of stock in tourism. In doing so, they boast about the production of local craft beers and ales. I think that some of the locally produced bottles are fantastic and outstanding. However, it is entirely hypocritical to attract tourists with a promise of unique produce whilst prohibiting the producers from selling their beers unless through a third-party vendor. Breweries and microbreweries should be able to avail themselves of taprooms, if they wish, so that they, too, can reap the benefits of what they sow and people can enjoy their produce at its source.

I thank everybody for raising this issue and the many people who contacted me about it. Like I said, I have been brief, but I wanted to speak in support of all the amendments and clauses in group 2.

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Thanks very much to everybody for their contributions and even amendments. I do not know about anybody else, but, when we finally get this legislation through, in whatever form it takes, I am going for a pint with Pat Catney for the craic.

[Laughter.]

Anybody else can join us. Jim, you can have tea if you want. It does not need to be alcohol.

I turn to issues raised in the debate. Amendment No 7, tabled by Claire Sugden, would introduce a new clause 7A, "Places of public entertainment: inclusion of cinemas". It will add cinemas to the list of venues that are defined as places of public entertainment under article 2 of the Licensing Order 1996 and are, therefore, eligible to apply for a licence to sell alcohol on the premises. In discussions with the Committee on the issue, my departmental officials made clear concerns regarding primary legislation that would allow drink to be sold in cinemas without public consultation. We have listened to some of those concerns tonight, but, externally, arguments have been made that there are few entertainment options for families or people who prefer not to be in the company of those who are consuming alcohol or in the presence of alcohol itself. There is also the potential for the wider cinema sector, including staff, to hold very strong views on the issue, one way or the other. I feel that there is a need to consult on the matter.

There has been no public consultation and nor have any impact assessments been carried out on the amendment. That would result in a change to the Licensing Order 1996. The amendment would be irreversible were there to be any unintended consequences, which is also a concern. Legal advice has confirmed that cinemas could be included in the definition of places of public entertainment by means of regulations. Therefore, I agreed with the Committee that my Department should carry out a short and focused public consultation exercise. I have given commitments and I have lived up to previous commitments that were given to the Committee, so there is no abdication from me on those commitments. Indeed, preparatory work for that consultation is already well under way, and it will begin in a couple of weeks, in early July. I wanted to give clarity on that. In considering the responses to the consultation and subject to no serious concerns being raised, regulations will be brought to the Assembly in the autumn. For that reason, I do not support the amendment, although I can understand the reasons for tabling it.

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I thank the Minister for giving way. I want to go back to the point that Miss Woods made that you are already able to grant this provision under the definition of places of public entertainment. Can you confirm, through legal advice, that it is normal practice that you would conduct a period of public consultation in moving towards that regulation?

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Given the legal advice that we have sought, it is important that, in not taking the amendment now, we consult further on the issue. I have said that I will do that over the coming weeks, and the consultation will be issued so that the regulations can then be changed.

In tabling amendment No 8, which relates to local producers, the Committee was concerned about the number of samples that a local producer could serve, particularly given that they will have a range of products to offer. Amendment No 8 has been tabled on that issue.

I am proposing an alternative amendment No 9, which will allow for the maximum amount of alcohol that could be provided to any one person, whether in one serving or more than one serving. Amendment No 10, which was tabled by the Committee Chairperson, inserts a new paragraph in article 42 of the Licensing Order 1996, which provides for the permitted hours of licensed premises. The amendment provides for permitted hours for the provision of samples and measures at local producer premises as being between 10.00 am and 7.00 pm.

In clause 8 as introduced, the provision of samples following a tour of local producer premises can take place at any time during the permitted off-sale hours of 8.00 am to 11.00 pm. I do not believe that there is a need to restrict the provision of samples to between 10.00 am and 7.00 pm. If tours take place later in the evening for a visiting group of tourists in the summer months, for example, the ability to offer samples as an inducement to sales would be taken away. Therefore, I do not support amendment No 10 and subsequent amendment Nos 11 and 12 to clause 8.

Amendment No 13 is a technical amendment to improve the drafting of the Bill should amendment No 19 be passed. The Committee's amendment No 14 defines a tour for the purposes of a person receiving a sample or measure. The Bill draftsperson has considered the amendment and believes that it is unnecessary. The advice that was received is that the only reason for defining an ordinary word in legislation is to give it special meaning that is narrower or broader than the natural meaning. However, should the amendment pass, there will be a need for a correcting amendment. For that reason, I am proposing amendment No 15. Amendment No 16 is a consequential amendment to ensure that the policy of clause 8 is achieved. Amendment Nos 17 and 18 from the Committee are consequential to amendment No 8 and add the offence to the list of those that attract penalty points.

Amendment No 19, tabled by the Chair of the Committee, is a significant divergence from the policy that was previously agreed by the Executive. The amendment permits the sale of alcohol for consumption on local producer premises. The amendment will allow a local producer to apply to a court for a suitability order for their premises for the sale and consumption of alcohol and, following the granting of such an order, to apply for authorisation to sell alcohol that is produced on the premises for consumption on the premises between 4.00 pm and 10.00 pm. I have some concern about this amendment due to the fact that there have been no consultations, impact assessments or screening exercises carried out. This is a fundamental change to the licensing system, and I caution against making such a change through an amendment to a Bill. The impact of the amendment is unknown, and, given the significant investment that many licence holders have made in their businesses, allowing, in effect, a mini pub in local producers' premises may have an adverse impact on local pubs, particularly small rural pubs in the vicinity of a local producer's premises, as they could end up in direct competition. The overheads for local producers will be less than those for pubs, and a local producer will not have to prove that the number of similar premises in the vicinity is inadequate, which a pub has to do when applying for a licence. That could result in a number of mini pubs being allowed to operate in local producers' premises in close proximity to each other. The Committee and, I believe, Members have received a number of representations from licence holders asking that such an amendment is not taken forward for, I suspect, the same reasons.

There is also a concern about the potential negative impact on health in both the short and long term. Evidence shows that there is a link between an increase in the availability of alcohol and an increase in consumption, and between an increase in consumption and an increase in the levels of alcohol-related harm. The strength of the alcohol produced in local producers' premises has also been raised as a potential health concern, given that it is often much stronger than other beers and ales. I do not support the amendment.

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Yes, go on ahead.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Does the Minister accept that, by their very nature, these premises produce high-strength alcohol? It is likely that those who avail themselves of the opportunity to drink in them will drink to a stage where they are quite happy. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that they will go on afterwards to licensed premises, because they probably will have had enough and spent a fair bit, and also they may well have reached a level that means that they would not be admitted to licensed premises. Therefore, the point made by Miss Woods, who I still do not believe is old enough to be availing herself of any of these premises, is invalid because there will be no benefit to licensed premises, which I once again emphasise are paying horrendous rates for the service that they provide.

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Kellie is looking to come in as well. Do you want me to respond to that first?

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

That is why we need to give more consideration to the issues. I recognise that there are concerns. We have moved some way with this Bill in providing additional allowances for microbreweries so that they are able to sell their products, go to fairs and have tours. However, recognising some of the concerns that may be raised, we need to do more work to scope them out. That is what I am asking for.

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

Thank you very much, Minister. I appreciate your time on this matter. You said that there has not been consultation, but there seem to be an awful lot of negative impacts coming out of local producers. Will you clarify where the consultation is that has identified those negative impacts? I am concerned that an opinion is coming forward that local producers are all bad, that there is something wrong with them and that they will always harm pubs, when my experience is that they strongly complement local rural pubs.

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin 10:45 pm, 8th June 2021

Local brewers make a good contribution to the sector and to the wider tourism sector. Microbreweries and those pubs are an increasing phenomenon over recent years, and, obviously, the existing legislation has never reflected that. That is why I have tabled amendments to work with that sector, which is committed to and passionate about what it delivers. I want to continue to work with it in the time ahead, but I believe that, in seeking advice on the issues, we need to consult further on any major change in legislation. Some Members raised fairness, and the other considerations and concerns that have been raised need to be considered as part of that consultation. I am willing to work with the sector and the community more widely as we move through that.

Should Members decide that the Committee's amendment No 19 should be made, I have tabled a number of mainly technical and correctional amendments to amendment No 19 — amendment Nos 20 to 28 — that will ensure a consistent approach through the Licensing Order and improve the enforceability of the provisions. I therefore do not wish to prolong the debate by commenting on each of those amendments.

Amendment No 28, tabled by Kellie Armstrong, proposes to amend the Committee amendment No 19, which would introduce a new clause 8A on sales and consumption on premises. Kellie's amendment proposes that the permitted hours for such premises should be changed from 4.00 pm until 10.00 pm to 11.00 am until 11.00 pm. I do not support amendment No 19, and, therefore, I do not support Kellie's amendment.

Amendment No 29, tabled by Rachel Woods, proposes to amend Committee amendment No 19 to the effect that the permitted hours of local producer premises should be changed from 4.00 pm until 10.00 pm to 12 noon until 11.00 pm. As with amendment No 28, I do not support that amendment.

Amendment Nos 30 and 32 are, again, technical and correctional amendments to amendment No 19, and I tabled them in order to ensure a consistent approach throughout the Bill. Again, I will not prolong the debate by going through them individually.

Amendment No 33, tabled by the Chair of the Committee, proposes to introduce new clause 8B, which would insert a restriction to prohibit an occasional licence being granted for a place licensed as a local producer's premises that is also in receipt of a suitability order to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises. I do not support the amendment. However, should amendment No 33 be passed, I have tabled a correcting amendment No 34 to improve the drafting and to ensure that it is compatible with the Licensing Order. My amendment No 61 is simply an update to the text of schedule 1 and will be necessary if amendment No 19 is passed.

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

In making a winding-up speech, I do not intend to repeat every point made by every Member, but I will pick out some of the key points that I think are interesting and see whether there is a way that we can take any of them forward. I will begin where I started, which is on my amendment. I am disappointed that it is unlikely that it will get support. I am disappointed not least because most of the Members who contributed to the debate on it indicated their support. I have similar concerns to Mr Durkan in that I have a nervousness about this not being taken to where other Members hope it will be taken in the autumn. Certainly, in the Minister's contribution, she seemed to be leaning towards not putting these into regulations, but I appreciate that she has put it on record today and has put it in writing to the Committee that she will have a public consultation. It seems that that is progressing already, and, hopefully, it will find its way through in the next couple of weeks.

Again, I agree with Ms Armstrong that we are delaying the inevitable. Given the challenges presented by some Members about cinemas in particular not only because of the pandemic but because of the ongoing challenge from streaming services, I really think there is an opportunity for cinemas to develop a business model that goes beyond just providing alcohol in theatres. Customers tell me that that is what they want, and I think it can happen in a safe space. I think that it is fine in a family environment. If anything, that is probably the safest space. There are arguments that this is the last family-friendly space, but why should that burden be on cinemas? We need to be careful with our language.

I turn to other amendments. Rachel Woods made some interesting points.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

The Member's amendment has given us maybe the best one-liner in the House for many years from Mr Durkan, which will be widely publicised. She asks why it should be cinemas: it is because no other industry in Northern Ireland specialises more in providing entertainment for children and families. I have taken my grandchildren to 'Toy Story' and similar films. I would prefer to be guaranteed, when I do so, that they will not be exposed to the consumption of alcohol. They will not be exposed to it anywhere else. They will not be sitting in pubs or clubs. Why should they not have an alcohol-free environment? She makes the point that not every cinema will wish to avail itself of a licence, but the point is that cinemas will be forced to take one if their competitors offer the facility.

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I do not believe that to be the case. I have spoken to the industry, and it was their suggestion that not every cinema will want to take a licence. I reviewed the cinemas across Northern Ireland, and, for some of them, the product that they offer is not conducive to providing a licence.

The expectation has been raised, not least by other regions of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, where this is already being offered. Northern Ireland is the exception to the rule. I appreciate the concerns about the family environment, and, whilst you may not want to be in an environment where there is alcohol, there are people who do, and they want to go to the cinema. It is about providing a balance. That is not to say that there are no public health concerns, but they are disproportionate to the fact that we are not doing this now.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I thank the Member for giving way. Much has been said about this being the last sector of children's entertainment that does not have alcohol involved. That is something of a stretch. There are vast areas of children's entertainment other than cinemas that do not have alcohol: outside, parks, forest parks, going for walks, soft-play areas. In my constituency, there is the Pickie Fun Park — I am bigging that up — the swimming pool, the leisure centre, youth clubs, community venues, community organisations and networks. I do not think that cinemas are the last bastion of alcohol-free children's entertainment that they are being made out to be.

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I thank the Member for her examples, and I agree with the sentiment. I appreciate the arguments, and I appreciate the wishes of a father and grandfather. That is certainly his wish. However, we need to look at this in the wider context of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom, Ireland and even the world. We need to move to a place where everywhere else in 2021 provides the service and Northern Ireland needs to come up to date with that.

I move on to other notable points. Rachel Woods made some really interesting points, and I wonder whether there is any opportunity for the Minister to consult the Minister for Infrastructure, particularly about planning permission concerns. It is valid when someone makes an issue of it. They may not make an issue of it, so it might be worth consulting councils to understand whether that is something that would be implemented or, in most cases —

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green

I thank the Member for giving way. We also need to get some clarity from the Minister of Finance with regard to the rating issue that I mentioned. We also need clarity on amendments relating to the local producers' licence and taprooms over the requirements of planning, as you mentioned, and from the Minister for Infrastructure and councils. We need clarity before Further Consideration Stage on whether the amendments that we are debating tonight have the unintended consequence of impacting on industrial derating, the whole rating process and whether they are ancillary or temporary. Without that and without an explicit mention in guidance or, indeed, in the explanatory and financial memorandum, we cannot know what those unintended consequences may be. As a Member, I would welcome anyone, including the Committee, getting this down before Further Consideration Stage. Otherwise, as, I think, the Member would agree, the hours taken by the Communities Committee will be entirely wasted if it this not accessible to local producers.

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I agree entirely with the Member. I would like to see that being fleshed out, particularly with the Department of Finance. Maybe the Minister will be willing to commit to that.

I am also mindful of the grants that went through the rating system during the pandemic. We could find ourselves in another pandemic and taprooms not being eligible for grants because the rating had been done incorrectly. While that may seem like a logistical argument, it is an important one. It seems that the Committee has done extensive work, and I commend it on turning its attention to this. That work cannot be in vain. This needs to serve the people who have put their blood, sweat and tears into bringing that type of event to Northern Ireland.

I am interested in the rationale put forward by Ms Armstrong for the calculation of whether it would be viable. By the same token, in terms of the rating and the other considerations, the Committee's work would be in vain if it does not work for the taprooms that want to take it forward. The most important thing is that we speak to the industry in particular. When we are gone and the Bill receives Royal Assent, it is the industry that will be trying to make it work on the ground. I am keen that others consider that.

Many thematic words came through in the debate. It is evident from listening to the various contributions that it really was about consideration, particularly around taprooms. When something is considered well, there is a good chance that it will not get consensus because it has given rise to a number of issues, not least from the members of the Committee and the stakeholders who presented to it. That is a sign of a good piece of work. I am sure that there are people who hoped that we would have done more and others who hoped that we would have done less, but there is balance. That word has been used throughout the contributions. That is not to say that we cannot do something in the future. It has taken this long to get to where we are now, but the important thing is that we are here. Future opportunities to amend the legislation even further could come up. It is important that we have given it a good start.

I thank every Member —.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Does the Member accept that, at the moment, craft brewers get a 50% reduction in alcohol duty and are eligible for industrial derating. Meanwhile, the licensed trade pays full duty and 100% rates? Indeed, its rates are based on turnover, which is twice as much as an equivalent business in any other field. Will she consider those facts before she starts to place the licensed trade at a further disadvantage by allowing taprooms to expand?

Photo of Claire Sugden Claire Sugden Independent

I have listened to the Member's comments throughout the evening. We are not putting the licensing trade at a disadvantage simply because we are promoting another interest in Northern Ireland. We are trying to ensure that everybody has access to the playing field. We should not be worried about that.

As I said, I spoke earlier in the week in the Assembly about food tourism in Northern Ireland. There is a real opportunity with that and taprooms in particular. I have travelled to other parts of the world and attended taprooms. They are absolutely fantastic. Thousands of people on a Saturday afternoon enjoy the local artisan product. I appreciate that that is not the Member's interest, but it is a significant interest for the people of Northern Ireland, never mind the tourists whom we want to attract. I appreciate that there are concerns, but they need to be looked at in a different context. It should not be a case of whataboutery and "That's not how we move things forward in Northern Ireland". As others have said, this is really positive and progressive legislation. I remarked to a journalist the other day that the first iteration of this came in 2016 and that, despite five years of very little movement, where we are today demonstrates some sort of progression in Northern Ireland. For the little impact that this mandate will have, this legislation will be a good take from it.

(Mr Principal Deputy Speaker [Mr Stalford] in the Chair)

I appreciate all of the contributions from everyone across the House, and, in particular, I appreciate the help of the Committee, the Department and the Minister. Claire McCanny is fantastic: she helped me with only one amendment, but the attention that she gave to me shows that she deserves the praise from other Members. Thank you for your attention this evening.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP 11:00 pm, 8th June 2021

OK. That is a good start. I remind Members to continue to uphold the social-distancing rules. Members who have proxy voting arrangements in place should not come to the Chamber.

Before I put the Question again, I remind Members that, if possible, it would be preferable to avoid a Division.

Question put a second time.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

You all sound very enthusiastic about it.

Before the Assembly divides, I remind Members that, as per Standing Order 112, the Assembly currently has proxy voting arrangements in place. Members who have authorised another Member to vote on their behalf are not entitled to vote in person and should not enter the Lobbies. I remind all Members of the requirement for social distancing while the Division takes place. I ask Members to ensure that they maintain a gap of at least 2 metres between themselves and other people when moving around the Chamber or the Rotunda and particularly in the Lobbies. Please be patient at all times, observe the signage and follow the instructions of the Lobby Clerks.

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 49; Noes 36

AYES

Ms Anderson, Dr Archibald, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mr Blair, Mr Boylan, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Ms Brogan, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Dickson, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Mr Durkan, Ms Ennis, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Ms Hunter, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lynch, Mr Lyttle, Mr McAleer, Mr McCann, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Muir, Ms Mullan, Mr Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Ms Sugden, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Ms Sugden, Miss Woods

NOES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Mr Allister, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Easton, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Mr Irwin, Mr Lyons, Miss McIlveen, Mr Middleton, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Easton, Mr Wells

Question accordingly agreed to.

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I ask Members to take their ease for a moment.

Clause 8 (Licence for off-sales)

Amendment No 8 not moved.

Amendment No 9 made:

In page 8, line 32, leave out from “a” to “serving” in line 33 and insert-

<BR/>

“an amount (whether in one serving or more)”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 10 not moved.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I will not call amendment No 11 as it is consequential to amendment No 10, which has not been moved. I will not call amendment No 12 as it is consequential to amendment No 11, which has not been made. Amendment No 13 is a paving amendment to amendment Nos 21 and 25.

Amendment No 13 made:

In page 9, line 24, leave out “and 52D” and insert “to 52F”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 14 not moved.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I will not call amendment No 15 as it is consequential to amendment No 14, which has not been moved.

Amendment No 16 made:

In page 12, line 4, at end insert -

<BR/>

“(5A) In each of the following provisions of that Order, after ‘Article 5(1)(b)’ insert ‘or (m)’—


(a) Article 46(1)(a)(ii) (exception for sales outside permitted hours),


(b) Article 56(1) (penalty for permitting consumption in unlicensed part of premises), and


(c) Article 58(1)(b) (prohibition on young persons).” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

Mr Principal Deputy Speaker, may I interject?

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I ask you to go back to amendment No 15, which is an amendment to amendment No 14 from the Minister. Has that not to be moved by the Minister? Maybe ask the Bill Clerk's opinion on that.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I ask Members to take their ease for a moment while I take advice.

[Pause.]

I am advised that amendment No 15 is consequential to amendment No 14. Amendment No 14 was not moved and, therefore, amendment No 15 was not called. It is as clear as mud.

I will not call amendment No 17 as it is consequential to amendment No 8, which has not been made. I will not call amendment No 18 as it is consequential to amendment No 10, which has not been made.

Clause 8, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

Amendment No 19 has been debated. I call the Chairperson of the Committee for Communities, Ms Paula Bradley, to move formally amendment No 19.

Amendment No 19 proposed:

After clause 8 insert -

<BR/>

Sales and consumption of liquor in local producer’s premises


8A.—(1) After Article 43 of the Licensing Order insert—


 


Suitability of local producer’s premises for sales and consumption in own premises


43A.—(1) In respect of premises to which this Article applies—


(a) a county court which grants a licence or declares a licence provisionally granted to be final, on the application of the person applying for the grant or declaration, or


(b) a court of summary jurisdiction, at any time, upon the application of the holder of the licence for those premises made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 9,


may, by order, specify any part of the premises as being suitable for the sale of intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises during the hours specified in Article 42(4).


(2) A court shall not make an order under paragraph (1) unless it is satisfied that the part of the premises specified in the order is suitable for the sale of intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises.


(3) An order under paragraph (1) may be revoked by a court of summary jurisdiction—


(a) on the application of the holder of the licence; or


(b) where, on complaint made under Part VIII of the Magistrates Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981, the court is not satisfied that the requirements of paragraph (2) have continued to be complied with.


(4) The premises to which this Article applies are—


(a) any part of a premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) which is structurally adapted, and used or intended to be used, for the purpose of providing persons frequenting the premises with intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises.


(5) In Schedule 9 to the Licensing Order (procedure for certain applications)—


(a) in the title, after ‘43’ insert ‘,43A’,


(b) in paragraph 1, after ‘43’ insert ‘,43A’, and


(c) after paragraph (4)(a) insert—


‘(aa) in the case of an application under Article 43A, on any ground mentioned in Article 43(2).’.


(2) In Article 42(4) of the Licensing Order (general permitted hours) after paragraph (3) insert—


‘(4) Subject to Article 43B, the permitted hours for premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) to which an order under Article 43(A) applies are the hours on any day, other than Christmas Day, from 4 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening.’.


(3) After Article 43 of the Licensing Order insert—


 


Permitted hours for sale and consumption of liquor in local producer’s production premises


43B.—(1) In respect of premises of a kind to which an order under Article 43A applies—


(a) a county court which grants a licence or declares a licence provisionally granted to be final, on the application of the person applying for the grant or declaration, or


(b) a court of summary jurisdiction, at any time, upon the application of the holder of the licence for those premises made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 9,


may, by order, direct that the permitted hours for a part of the premises for which an order under Article 43A is in force shall be the hours mentioned in Article 42(4).


(2) Nothing in this Article shall authorise the sale of intoxicating liquor—


(a) for consumption in or off the premises unless it is produced in the production premises,


(b) for consumption in the premises to which this Article applies other than during the hours specified in Article 42(4); and


(c) for consumption off the part or parts of the premises specified in the licence other than during the hours specified in Article 42(2), or


(d) to a person admitted to a premises less than 30 minutes before the permitted hours specified in Article 42(4).


(3) In the case of premises to which an order under Article 43A applies, not more than 104 orders shall be granted under this Article to the holder of the licence of the premises in any one year.


(4) Regulations may modify paragraph (3) so as to substitute a different number of orders for the time being specified there.


(5) Regulations may not be made under paragraph (4) unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.


(6) Where the holder of a local producer’s licence to which an order under Article 43A applies, personally or by a servant or agent, sells intoxicating liquor or makes it available for purchase in the production premises in contravention of paragraph (2), the holder is guilty of an offence.


(7) Where intoxicating liquor is available for purchase in accordance with this Article, the holder of the local producer’s licence to which an Article 43A applies, shall at all times display in the production premises a notice in the form and manner, and containing the information prescribed in the regulations; and a person acting in contravention of this paragraph is guilty of an offence.


(8) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (2a) is liable on summary conviction on to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.


(9) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (2b), (2c) and (2d) is liable on summary conviction on to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.


(10) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (7) is liable on summary conviction on to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.


(11) In Part 1 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 3 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘43B



Failure by local producer to display notice on own premises



3-4’


 



 


(12) In Part 2 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 4 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘43B



Failure by local producer to comply with licence on own premises



4-5’


 



 


(13) In Part 3 of Schedule 10A to that Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 5 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘43B



Selling intoxicating liquor etc., otherwise than during permitted hours



5-6’



”. — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

As amendment Nos 20 to 32 are amendments to amendment No 19, we need to dispose of those before returning to amendment No 19.

Amendment No 20, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), leave out “43 of the Licensing Order” and insert-

<BR/>

“52D of the Licensing Order (inserted by section 8(3))”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 21, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), leave out first “43A” and insert “52E”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 22, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), in the new Article 43A(1), leave out from “to which” to “those premises” and insert-



“which are of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) and part of which is structurally adapted, and used or intended to be used, for the purpose of providing persons frequenting the premises with intoxicating liquor produced in the premises for consumption in the premises—


(a) a county court which grants a local producer’s licence or declares a local producer’s licence provisionally granted to be final, on the application of the person applying for the grant or declaration, or


(b) a court of summary jurisdiction, at any time, on the application of the holder of the local producer’s licence”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 23, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), in the new Article 43A, leave out subsection (4). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 24, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), in the new Article 43A, leave out subsection (5). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 25, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, in subsection (1), after the new Article 43A insert—



“’Authorisations for on-sales on production premises


52F.—(1) In the case of premises of a kind specified in Article 5(1)(m) in respect of which an application has been made for an order under Article 52E, the court hearing the application may, if it makes the order, also grant an authorisation under this Article on an application made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 10.


(2) In the case of premises of that kind in respect of which an order under Article 52E has effect, a court of summary jurisdiction may, on an application made in compliance with the procedure set out in Schedule 10, grant an authorisation under this Article.


(3) An authorisation under this Article may authorise the holder of the local producer’s licence, on the day and during the hours specified in the authorisation, to sell in the part of the premises to which the order under Article 52E applies intoxicating liquor produced in the production premises for consumption in that part of the premises.


(4) Not more than 104 authorisations shall be granted under this Article to the holder of a local producer’s licence in any year.


(5) Regulations may modify paragraph (4) so as to substitute a different number of orders for the time being specified there.


(6) Regulations may not be made under paragraph (5) unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.


(7) Nothing in this Article permits an authorisation under this Article to authorise the sale of intoxicating liquor on Christmas Day.


(8) Where the holder of a local producer’s licence, personally or by a servant or agent, sells intoxicating liquor or makes it available for purchase in contravention of an authorisation under this Article, the holder is guilty of an offence.


(9) Where intoxicating liquor is made available for purchase in accordance with an authorisation under this Article, the holder of the local producer’s licence shall at all times display in the part of the premises to which the order under Article 52E applies a notice in the form and manner, and containing the information, prescribed in regulations; and a person acting in contravention of this paragraph is guilty of an offence.


(10) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (8) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.


(11) A person guilty of an offence under paragraph (9) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 26, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, after subsection (1) insert—



“(1A) In Article 42 of the Licensing Order (general permitted hours), in each of paragraphs (1) and (2), after ‘or (m)’ (inserted by section 8(5)) insert ‘(subject to paragraph (4))’.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 27, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, in subsection (2), leave out from “Subject” to “Day,” and insert-



“In the case of premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) to which an order under Article 52E applies, the permitted hours for a part of the premises specified in the order on a day on which an authorisation under Article 52F has effect are the hours on that day”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 28, as an amendment to amendment No 19, proposed:

In amendment No 19, in clause 8A(2) leave out “4 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening” and insert-



“11 in the morning to 11 in the evening”. — [Ms Armstrong.]

Question put, That amendment No 28 be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I remind Members that we continue to uphold social distancing and that Members who have proxy voting arrangements in place should not come to the Chamber.

Members may wish to take their ease for a few seconds while I consult the Whips about speeding up the voting process. Obviously, we need to have as many parties on side for that as possible. Members may take their ease for a few seconds before I put the Question again.

It did not take long. I have been advised by the party Whips that, in accordance with Standing Order 113(5)(b), there is agreement that we can dispense with the three minutes and move straight to a Division.

Before the Assembly divides, I remind Members that, as per Standing Order 112, the Assembly has proxy voting arrangements in place. Members who have authorised another Member to vote on their behalf are not entitled to vote in person and should not enter the Lobbies. I remind all Members of the requirements for social distancing while the Division takes place. I ask you to ensure that you retain at least a 2-metre gap between yourselves and others when moving around the Chamber, the Rotunda and especially in the Lobbies. Please be patient at all times, observe the signage and follow the instructions of the Lobby Clerks.

Question, that the amendment be made, put a second time. The Assembly divided.

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 21; Noes 64

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Ms Bradshaw, Mr Butler, Mr Carroll, Mr Chambers, Mr Dickson, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr Muir, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Stewart, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr Carroll, Miss Woods

NOES

Mr Allister, Ms Anderson, Dr Archibald, Mr Boylan, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Ms Brogan, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mrs Cameron, Mr Catney, Mr Clarke, Ms Dillon, Mrs Dodds, Ms Dolan, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Ms Ennis, Ms Flynn, Mr Frew, Mr Gildernew, Mr Givan, Ms Hargey, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mr Lynch, Mr Lyons, Mr McAleer, Mr McCann, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Ms Mullan, Mr Murphy, Mr Newton, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Easton, Ms Ní Chuilín

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment No 29, as an amendment to amendment No 19, proposed:

In amendment No 19, in clause 8A(2) leave out “4 in the afternoon to 10 in the evening” and insert-

<BR/>

“12 in the afternoon to 11 in the evening”. — [Miss Woods.]

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

The Question will be put using the fast voting procedure that has been agreed by the Whips. Before I put the Question again, I remind Members present that, if possible, it would be preferable to avoid a Division.

Question put a second time.

Some Members:

Aye.

Some Members:

No.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

Before the Assembly divides, I remind Members that, as per Standing Order 112, the Assembly currently has proxy voting arrangements in place. Members who have authorised another Member to vote on their behalf are not entitled to vote in person and should not enter the Lobbies. I remind all Members of the requirement for social distancing while the Division takes place. I ask Members to ensure that they retain at least a 2-metre gap between themselves and others when moving around the Chamber or the Rotunda, and especially in the Lobbies. Please be patient at all times, observe the signage and follow the instructions of the Lobby Clerks.

Why do I have the feeling that I am going to be saying that in my sleep tonight?

The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 21; Noes 63

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Ms Bradshaw, Mr Butler, Mr Carroll, Mr Chambers, Mr Dickson, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyttle, Mr Muir, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Stewart, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr Carroll, Miss Woods

NOES

Mr Allister, Ms Anderson, Dr Archibald, Mr Boylan, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Ms Brogan, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mrs Cameron, Mr Catney, Mr Clarke, Ms Dillon, Mrs Dodds, Ms Dolan, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Ms Ennis, Ms Flynn, Mr Frew, Mr Gildernew, Mr Givan, Ms Hargey, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mr Kearney, Mrs D Kelly, Mr G Kelly, Mr Lynch, Mr Lyons, Mr McAleer, Mr McCann, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGrath, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Ms Mullan, Mr Murphy, Mr Newton, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin, Mr Storey, Mr Weir, Mr Wells

Tellers for the Noes: Mr Easton, Ms Mullan

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment No 30, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, leave out subsection (3). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I will not call amendment No 31, as it is mutually exclusive with amendment No 30, which has been made.

Amendment No 32, as an amendment to amendment No 19, made:

In amendment No 19, after subsection (3) insert—

<BR/>

 


“(4) In Article 46 of the Licensing Order (exception for sales outside permitted hours), in paragraph (1)(a)(ii), after ‘or (m)’ (inserted by section 8(5A)(a)) insert ‘(but see paragraph (1A))’.


(5) In that Article, after paragraph (1) insert—


‘(1A) The reference in paragraph (1)(a)(ii) to premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) does not include a reference to premises of that kind with respect to which an order under Article 52E is in force.’


(6) In Schedule 9 to the Licensing Order (procedure on certain applications)—


(a) in the title, before ‘or 58A’ (inserted by section 11(4)(a)) insert ‘52E,’,


(b) in paragraph 1, before ‘or 58A’ (inserted by section 11(4)(b)) insert ‘52E’, and


(c) in paragraph 4, after paragraph (ca) (inserted by section 11(4)(c)) insert—


‘(cb) in the case of an application under Article 52E, on the ground mentioned in Article 52E(2);’.


(7) In Schedule 10 to the Licensing Order (applications for extensions and authorisations), in paragraph 1A (inserted by section 11(5)(a)), before ‘58B’ insert ‘52F or’.


(8) In Part 1 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 3 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘52F(9)



Failure by local producer to display notice on part of premises to which authorisation under Article 52F applies



3-4’.



 


(9) In Part 2 of Schedule 10A to the Licensing Order (penalty points for offences punishable with level 4 fine), at the appropriate place insert—









‘52F(8)



Failure by local producer to comply with authorisation under Article 52F



4-5’.



”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

Having disposed of the amendments to amendment No 19, we now return to amendment No 19.

Amendment 19, as amended, agreed to.

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

Amendment No 33 has been debated. I call the Chairperson of the Committee for Communities, Ms Paula Bradley, to move formally amendment No 33.

Amendment No 33 proposed:

After clause 8 insert -

<BR/>

Restrictions on occasional licences


8B.—(1) In Article 30 of the Licensing Order (occasional licences), after paragraph (1), insert


‘(1A) The holder of a licence for premises for which this Articles applies shall not make an application on behalf of a person who is the holder of a licence for premises to which an order under Article 43A applies’.


(2) In paragraph (5)(b) of that Article, at the end insert—


‘(c) the sale of intoxicating liquor in premises to which an order under Article 43A applies.’” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

As amendment No 34 is an amendment to amendment No 33, we need to dispose of amendment No 34 before returning to amendment No 33. Amendment No 34 has already been debated.

Amendment No 34, as an amendment to amendment No 33, made:

In amendment No 33, in subsection (1), leave out the new paragraph (1A) and insert—

<BR/>

“(1A) An occasional licence may not be granted for a part of premises of a kind mentioned in Article 5(1)(m) to which an order under Article 52E applies”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment 33, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 9 and 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The sitting was suspended at 11.57 pm and resumed at 12.08 am.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

We now come to the third group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 35, it will be convenient to debate amendment Nos 36 to 44, 51 to 57 and 62. I call the Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, to move amendment No 35 and to address the other amendments in the group.

Clause 11 (Underage functions)

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

I beg to move amendment No 35

In clause 11, page 16, line 12, at end insert -

<BR/>

“(5A) A court of summary jurisdiction which grants an authorisation under this Article may attach to the authorisation such other conditions as the court thinks fit.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 36: In page 16, line 16, leave out “the condition in paragraph (5)” and insert-



“a condition attached to the authorisation”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 37: In page 16, line 38, after “force” insert-



“or during the first 30 minutes after the authorisation has ceased to be in force”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 38: In page 17, line 12, (middle column), leave out “on access to intoxicating liquor” and insert-



“attached to authorisation for underage function”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 39: In clause 12, page 17, line 28, leave out from “of” to “parent” in line 29 and insert-



“either of a parent of that person or of a parent of another person who is under 18 and attending the function”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 40: In clause 15, page 19, line 8, leave out from “The” to “is” in line 10 and insert-



“In any licensed premises, intoxicating liquor must not be sold or made available for purchase for consumption in or off the premises in a form which would enable a person to whom it was”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 41: In clause 15, page 19, leave out lines 12 to 14 and insert -



“(2) In any licensed premises, intoxicating liquor must not be sold or made available for purchase for consumption in or off the premises by means of a vending machine.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 42: In clause 15, page 19, line 14, at end insert -



“(2A) The activities prohibited by this Article include making available in a public or common part of the premises concerned intoxicating liquor for consumption in or off the premises which, in the absence of the licence holder or a servant or agent, persons are trusted by the licence holder—


(a) to pay for by placing money in a container, or by some other process, which the licence holder has provided for that purpose in a public or common part of the premises, or


(b) to agree to pay for by recording by a process which the licence holder has provided for that purpose in a public or common part of the premises the intoxicating liquor appropriated.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 43: In clause 15, page 19, line 26, (middle column), leave out “a person to operate the dispenser, or selling it” and insert “self-service or”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 44: After clause 17 insert -



Minimum unit pricing


17A. Within 3 years of this Act coming into operation, the Department of Health must bring forward to the Assembly legislation introducing minimum pricing provisions for the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor in Northern Ireland.” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

No 51: In clause 27, page 29, line 8, after “force” insert-



“or during the first 30 minutes after the authorisation has ceased to be in force”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 52: In clause 28, page 29, line 29, leave out from “of” to “parent” in line 30 and insert-



“either of a parent of that person or of a parent of another person who is under 18 and attending the function”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 53: In clause 29, page 30, line 8, leave out from “1 June” to “August” in line 9 and insert-



“and includes 1 May and ends on and includes 30 September”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 54: In clause 29, page 30, line 25, leave out from “one” to “ceremony” in line 26 and insert “up to three such ceremonies”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 55: In clause 29, page 30, line 29, at end insert -



“(5) In that Article, after paragraph (14) insert—


‘(15) Regulations may modify paragraph (13)(a)(i) so as to substitute a different period for the period for the time being specified there.


(16) Regulations may modify paragraph (13A) so as to substitute a different number of prize-giving ceremonies for the number for the time being specified there.


(17) Regulations may not be made under paragraph (15) or (16) unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 56: In clause 30, page 30, line 41, at end insert -



“(2A) The activities prohibited by this Article include making intoxicating liquor available for consumption in the premises of a registered club which, in the absence of an official, manager or servant employed in the club, members or guests are trusted by the committee of management or governing body of the club—


(a) to pay for by placing money in a container, or by some other process, which the club has provided for that purpose, or


(b) to agree to pay for by recording by a process which the club has provided for that purpose the intoxicating liquor appropriated.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 57: In clause 30, page 31, line 6, (middle column), leave out “member or guest to operate dispenser or supplying it” and insert “self-service or”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 62: In schedule 1, page 35, line 34, at end insert -



“18A. In Schedule 1 (provisions to be included in club rules), after paragraph 13 (day membership at sporting clubs) insert—


‘13A. But paragraph 13 entitles a person to use facilities of the club on the day in question only if the person also engages in sporting activities of the club on that day; and paragraph 14 applies subject to this paragraph.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Clause 11 allows a court to make an order that specifies that part of a premises is suitable for an underage function. A court must be satisfied that the part of the premises in question has been structurally adapted for the purpose of holding functions, that appropriate steps have been taken to secure the safety of under-18s and that under-18s do not have access to other parts of the premises that are used for the sale of alcohol. A court will then be able to make an authorisation for a specific function. An authorisation can specify the hours for the function, but it cannot go beyond 1.00 am.

Amendment No 35 would allow the court, when granting an authorisation for a specific underage function, to attach conditions to the authorisation. The amendment would allow the clause to operate as originally intended in order to safeguard the young people who are attending a function. Consequential amendment No 36, would make it clear that a licence holder who contravenes any condition relating to an underage function is guilty of an offence.

During its scrutiny of the Bill, the Committee for Communities questioned whether an underage function would need to stop earlier to allow young people to be off the premises by 1.00 am. Advice sought by my officials has confirmed that the current draft would mean that the licence holder was committing an offence if an under-18-year-old was still on the premises, albeit in the process of leaving, after 1.00 am, and that is clearly not the policy intent. I therefore propose amendment No 37, which will clarify the policy intent of the provision, allowing a young person to remain on licensed premises while in the process of leaving and/or waiting to be collected. A further consequential amendment, amendment No 38, ensures that a relevant number of penalty points is attached to a licence where the licence holder has been found guilty of contravening any condition attached to underage functions. Clause 12 will allow a young person to remain on the licensed premises beyond 9.00 pm for a private function, provided that they are accompanied by a parent or someone with parental or caring responsibility and a substantial meal is being served.

The Committee deliberations on the Bill included some discussion on young people who may not have someone fulfilling the role of the parent, and, with the agreement of the Committee, I propose amendment No 39 to extend the provision to allow a young person to be in the company of a parent or another child attending the function.

Clause 15 adds the new article to the Licensing Order prohibiting liquor licensing holders from selling alcoholic drinks via any unsupervised means. The Committee, at its evidence sessions with officials, sought assurances that so-called honesty boxes were captured in these provisions. Having confirmed that honesty boxes were captured, the draftsperson of the Bill advised that, on reflection, the clause should be redrafted. I therefore propose amendment Nos 40, 41, 42 and 43 at the request of the draftsperson to improve the drafting of the clause and to ensure its enforceability.

The Committee Chair has tabled amendment No 44 to introduce a new clause 17A, which places a statutory duty on the Department of Health to legislate for minimum unit pricing within three years of the Act coming into operation. The Minister of Health launched a public consultation on the new substance use strategy in October last year, and the consultation closed earlier this year, with the expected strategy going to the Executive and being published in the near future. The Health Minister has publicly committed to holding a public consultation on minimum unit pricing. That is a matter for the Department of Health, although I would like to see it brought forward as a matter of urgency.

Clause 27 is similar to clause 11 for underage functions in licensed premises in that it allows underage functions in registered clubs. Amendment No 51 will allow a young person to remain on the premises of a registered club while in the process of leaving or waiting to be collected. Again, with clause 12 for licensed premises, amendment No 52 to clause 28 will allow a young person to attend a private function in a registered club with a parent or another young person who is also attending the function.

Clause 29 will allow under-18s to remain in the bar area of a sporting club up to 11.00 pm between 1 June and 31 August and to attend one awards ceremony at any time of the year. On consideration of the evidence provided to the Committee, I propose amendment No 53, extending the time period from 1 May until 30 September. That is to allow for participation in a range of evening activities provided by clubs. A further amendment, amendment No 54, will increase the maximum number of awards ceremonies to three a year. That will allow young people who play at different levels in the same club to attend the relevant ceremonies. I also propose amendment No 55 to include a power that both the months and number of ceremonies can be amended by regulations. That will mean that any issues arising from the increase can be addressed fairly quickly.

Clause 30 is similar to clause 15 for prohibition of self-service in licensed premises in that it prohibits the supply of alcoholic drinks via any unsupervised means in a registered club. As was the case with clause 15, the draughtsperson's advice was that the drafting of clause 30 could be improved to better ensure its enforceability. I therefore propose amendment Nos 56 and 57.

Still on registered clubs, schedule 1(13) to the Registration of Clubs Order allows a non-member of a sporting club to pay a fee to use the club's facilities for a day. The club's committee determines which facilities can be used, and there is no need to be signed in or be in the company of a member, which is normally the case. The Committee for Communities highlighted concerns raised by the PSNI during its evidence session about the use of one-day club memberships. It was reported that a number of sporting clubs openly advertised for non-members to pay a small fee for the sole purpose of watching a televised sport or using the bar facilities, which is not the policy intent of the allowance. For that reason, I propose amendment No 62 to clarify the policy intent of the provision for one-day memberships.

Those are the amendments in group 3.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP 12:15 am, 8th June 2021

Mr Principal Deputy Speaker, I apologise for my little blip earlier when I asked you, never mind asking Claire McCanny, which vote we were on.

I start my contribution on the group 3 amendments by taking the opportunity to reassure the House that the Committee considered substantial evidence on alcohol-related harm and the exposure of children and young people to alcohol. We took written and oral evidence and research findings from, among others, the Department of Health, the Public Health Agency, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland, the University of Stirling, the British Medical Association, Assembly researchers, the Safeguarding Board and the Northern Ireland Alcohol and Drug Alliance. The Committee remained mindful of the views that it had heard during its informal Zoom engagement with young stakeholders on 9 March. They made many relevant comments. I thank the young people who gave up their evening to take part, and I thank the Assembly's Engagement team for facilitating the event.

On numerous occasions throughout the evidence, concerns were raised to the Committee about the public health impacts of alcohol; the potential for the increased availability of alcohol to increase overall alcohol-related harm in society; and the impact that can be made by controlling alcohol availability through licensing decisions. I take the liberty of highlighting the recommendations that the Committee made in the public health section of its report. The Committee recommends that public health messaging on the effects of alcohol misuse is communicated regularly as part of the liquor licensing system and as part of a communication strategy in connection with the new legislation. It also recommends:

"Consideration is given by licensing authorities to the creation of a meaningful role for local health bodies when licensing decisions are being made."

The Committee's next recommendation is based on the feedback from our young persons' event:

"Cross-departmental work is taken forward to devise an education programme to be delivered ... in schools, colleges and other relevant youth settings on the harms of alcohol to health, family and other relationships – in the manner of successful anti-smoking education programmes."

Amendment Nos 35 to 38 are to clause 11, "Underage functions". On the balance of evidence received, the Committee broadly welcomed the provisions in clause 11, which allow underage functions to go ahead in an alcohol-free, safe and controlled manner. Under current law, school formals in hotels, for example, must end at 9.30 pm, which means that young people often go on to unsupervised venues and parties where alcohol may be available. However, members were concerned that the clause did not provide for under-18s being on the premises, albeit in the process of leaving, after 1.00 am. The Department thanked us for highlighting the need for a very necessary amendment, and the Minister has taken that forward as amendment No 37. The Committee supports that amendment and amendment Nos 35, 36 and 38, which are improvements to the drafting of the clause. The Committee also supports amendment No 51, which provides for similar improvements to clause 27, which applies to registered clubs.

The Committee supports amendment No 39, which applies to clause 12. Again, it was tabled by the Minister at the Committee's request. It allows for a child at a private function to be supervised by their own parent or by a parent of another person under 18 and attending the function. In that regard, the Committee also supports amendment No 52, which provides for a similar improvement to clause 28, which applies to registered clubs.

The Committee was concerned that it was potentially too restrictive to require an under-18 to be:

"attending the function in the company of a parent", as defined as being someone with "parental responsibility" within the meaning of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. The Committee gave some examples of a child bringing a friend or a 16- or 17-year-old care leaver who has no parent.

In connection with clause 15, the Committee is pleased to support the Minister's technical and drafting improvements in amendment Nos 40 to 43 regarding the prohibition on self-service and sales by vending machines, as well as amendment Nos 56 and 57, which will amend clause 30 in a similar way for registered clubs. The Committee queried the use of honesty boxes to pay for alcohol in, for example, a guest house and wanted to be sure that the prohibition would also cover that. The Department accepted that the clause needed further clarity, and amendment Nos 40 to 43 and amendment No 56 cover that issue.

I am pleased to support our Committee amendment No 44, which would introduce new clause 17A on minimum unit pricing. As I have stated, the Committee considered the Bill's public health impact and supports a balanced package of measures to focus on alcohol consumption in controlled settings. We simply could not, however —.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Chair give way?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

I fully support the Committee's view on that, but I am mindful of the comments that the Minister made. It appears that responsibility for minimum unit pricing rests entirely with the Department of Health. I am therefore somewhat bemused by the standing of the amendment that the Chair is proposing, as it is clearly outwith the bailiwick of the Minister for Communities to do anything about it. Although the amendment has considerable merit, what is its purpose? What does she hope to achieve by having it in the Bill?

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I thank the Member for his intervention. The Committee tabled the amendment. We understand from our departmental officials that it could be included in the Bill and that we could compel the Minister of Health to introduce minimum unit pricing. That is why we tabled it. We understand that there might have been issues for the Minister had she tabled such an amendment herself, because that would have been one Minister compelling another, but we felt that we, as an Assembly, should ask for it to be included in the Bill. I know that the Health Minister is also keen to see minimum unit pricing put in place. I hope that that explains that somewhat.

The Committee understands that the Minister of Health, Robin Swann, made a commitment in July 2020 to undertake a consultation on the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Northern Ireland. We felt at first that that was not within our remit. After taking advice from the Assembly Bill Office, however, it was determined that the issue was potentially within the scope of the Bill, and, after considerable deliberation, the Committee asked the Bill Office to draft an amendment that placed a duty on the Minister of Health to introduce minimum unit pricing within three years of the Act's coming into operation. The Committee has no desire to undermine or take away from the work of our Health Minister, but we felt that we could not ignore the issue. We sincerely hope that the Minister of Health will support the amendment and that it will give him leverage as he takes forward work in that regard.

The Committee is pleased to support amendment Nos 53 to 55. They cover requests that the Committee made to the Minister to take forward on clause 29, "Young people prohibited from bars", as it applies to registered clubs. Based on consideration of its evidence from sporting clubs, the Northern Ireland Federation of Clubs and young people themselves, the Committee requested that the Minister extend the time period in clause 29(1) and make it from 1 May to 30 September. That would cover the period during which summer training and sports camps run. The Committee also requested an increase in the number of award ceremonies in clause 29(3) to not more than three for young people who play on more than one team. Those changes are taken forward in amendment Nos 53 and 54. To allow for future changes, the Committee requested that the Minister table an amendment to allow regulations to alter the time period and the number of award ceremonies, if necessary. That is taken forward in amendment No 55.

To complete this group of amendments, the Committee is pleased to support the Minister's amendment No 62, which deals with an issue that came to the Committee's attention during its evidence sessions on the inappropriate use of one-day club memberships. Those memberships are, on occasion, being misused to allow people to use simply the bar facilities rather than to try out the sports and leisure facilities, which was the intended purpose of such one-day memberships. The Minister supported the aim to deal with that issue. Amendment No 62 amends schedule 1 to clarify the policy in respect of the Registration of Clubs (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 that allows a member of the public to pay a fee to use the facilities of a sporting club for a day in order to ensure that it is not used to allow someone to simply use the bar facilities.

That concludes my comments on the third group of amendments. I will briefly reiterate my thanks to the young people for their evidence. The information that they gave us has shaped this part of the Bill. Without them, we might not have come to some of our conclusions. It shows the value of those people being part of our decision-making in the Assembly. Great thanks to the Education Service in the Assembly for all its work to facilitate that.

Photo of Karen Mullan Karen Mullan Sinn Féin

As the Chair and other members of the Committee have highlighted, the Committee undertook a wide range of evidence sessions with interested parties in the health, justice, tourism, hospitality and many more sectors. During our deliberations, we heard of the clear need to modernise our licensing laws. I welcome the amendments to the Licensing and Registration of Clubs Bill that Minister Hargey has tabled. The Bill is an important piece of legislation that will have a positive impact on our hospitality, entertainment and tourism sectors.

The group 3 amendments look at minimising alcohol-related harm in society. As the Chair outlined, the Committee heard evidence from a wide range of sectors, including health, and from other jurisdictions on how changes in their laws have impacted on or reduced alcohol-related harm.

Many of the amendments in this group centre on under-18s and underage functions. I joined the Committee in the middle of its deliberations. I welcomed the fact that the Committee had organised an informal stakeholder event with young people, which I attended. Like the Chair, I thank and commend the young people, whose contribution was invaluable. I hope that that will continue with the other legislation that will be coming through the Committee, particularly, as the Committee noted at that event, the gambling legislation. It would be good to see that. It was important that the young people were given the opportunity to take part and inform the amendments to the Bill, as a lot has changed since many of us were young. We heard about that on the night of the event.

The Committee heard from the Safeguarding Board about the dangers of alcohol misuse among children and their parents. We also heard from the board that young people are drinking less and that there is less binge-drinking behaviour, which shows that some progress has been made on health messages. That needs to continue to be built upon. That said, binge drinking and alcohol addiction continue to rise among our adult population. As the Chair highlighted, the Departments and Assembly should work more closely with young people to design and deliver education programmes around alcohol and continue to listen to and learn from our young people.

Amendment Nos 35 to 38 cover underage functions, and we will support those. Amendment No 37 clarifies the policy intent of the Bill and fixes the problem or offence that would occur under the legislation as introduced. It would allow a young person to remain on licensed premises while waiting to be collected. We will support that important amendment, as it tightens the protection for young people, especially late at night. Amendment No 39 allows another adult to fulfil the role of a parent or guardian while a young person attends functions or events; we will support that.

The Committee had lengthy discussions on the clauses about underage functions and private functions. As the parent of two young people, I share the worries of many parents whose children are going to school formals and have to leave to go to unsupervised parties. We want a safe and controlled environment for our young people to enjoy a night out with their friends.

Clause 29 was discussed at length during the Committee's deliberations. As the Bill stands, under-18s can attend only one award ceremony in the bar area of a sporting club premises per year between 1 June and 31 August. That is unfair to many young people, especially those who play for more than one team in a club. They will miss out on their award ceremony due to the clause. The clause is also restrictive when you take into account the various sports that some young people are involved in and the different months of the year in which they operate. For example, I am the secretary of the Waterside Boxing Club, and our season usually finishes in May and returns in the middle of August. Amendment No 53 will allow under-18s to attend up to three award ceremonies per year between 1 May and 30 September. Again, we support that amendment.

We also support the Minister's drafting improvements in amendment Nos 40 to 43 regarding not allowing alcohol sales from vending machines. We are supportive of the Committee's amendment No 44, which requires the Minister of Health to legislate to introduce minimum unit pricing. We also support amendment Nos 51 to 57 and amendment No 62.

Finally, I put on record our thanks to the Minister and the departmental officials, in particular, Liam and Carol, and to Claire from the Bill Office for their work and support throughout the Committee's deliberations.

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party 12:30 am, 8th June 2021

First, I echo the sentiments expressed by others and recognise the importance of this section of the Bill and the safeguarding children and young people against alcohol-related harm. Much as the Bill's focus is the relaxation of licensing laws, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are always trying to strike the right balance between a vibrant hospitality industry and responsible drinking.

I reiterate assurances that a myriad of evidence and research was considered as part of the process. The public health impacts of alcohol are keenly felt, particularly in my constituency of Foyle. I am acutely aware of the scourge of addiction issues in our communities. Concerns have been raised from some quarters that alcohol-related harm could increase, given the increased availability of alcohol. That certainly warranted careful consideration, in conjunction with the fact that such issues have been exacerbated over the lockdown period.

I concur with the Chair's comments and those of Ms Mullan on the value of our engagement with young people. It is important that we continue to ask young people what, they think, should be in legislation, rather than dictating to them. Following the engagement with those young people, the Committee determined that the best approach was a comprehensive education programme, delivered in educational settings, that will be similar to other successful public health campaigns. While the communication strategy must be embedded in the liquor licensing system, a cross-departmental approach will be key in addressing the potential for alcohol-related harm.

I seem to have lost a page or two. Maybe someone took them during the voting to speed things up.

[Laughter.]

I support all the amendments, so it is not that much of an issue.

Many of these amendments and those tabled by the Minister are technical authorisations dealing with underage and private functions and the requirement for under-18s to be accompanied by an individual with parental responsibility. We support those improvements, the focus of which must be on the creation of a safe and controlled environment for underage functions and functions at which underage people are present.

At Second Stage, I raised concerns that the Bill failed to touch on the minimum unit pricing issue. I am pleased that that inclusion has now been afforded under amendment No 44, which would introduce new clause 17A. In the interests of the public health impact of the Bill, that inclusion was and is a necessity. I respect that, last year, the Health Minister, Robin Swann, committed to consult on the implementation of minimum unit pricing here; however, the amendment requires the Health Minister to enact that provision within three years of the Act coming into play. It is better to ensure that minimum unit pricing is accounted for within the confines of this legislation than to keep that crucial element on the back burner, where it has been for so long.

I support the amendments on sports clubs and, in particular, amendment No 62, which deals, as other Members said, with the misuse of one-day club memberships. It will amend the current policy to ensure that non-members can avail themselves of club facilities only if they are engaged in sporting activity, rather than having the sole purpose of accessing the bar.

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

I am extremely tired. I hope that the rest of the Members in the Chamber understand just how many hours we put into this legislation. If you are tired along with me, this is what it has been like for some time.

As was said, the group 3 amendments consider how we can minimise alcohol-related harm in society. I thank the Chair, our Clerks and all those who support us in Committee for their efforts to ensure that we had access to a range of witnesses who spoke about the impact that alcohol has on health. I could never have imagined the number of witnesses to whom we would speak, the range of information that they provided or the value that they gave us, but here we are.

The Minister will be pleased to hear that I will not talk about 208 days, times or anything like that, because I support all the amendments in this group. As the Chair stated, in March, we had a very informative session with young people, who brought us back to earth by confirming that, whatever rules we bring in, young people will find a way to drink if they want to drink. Minister, the fact that you have allowed school formals to continue to 1.00 am means that, as Ms Mullan said, a lot fewer young people will be disappearing off to private house parties where they will be drinking. Hopefully, it will get back to what it was like in the dark ages when I had a school formal.

The Committee has recommended improvements to the marketing of the message that needs to be brought forward. The misuse and abuse of alcohol is not just a health issue; we need to ensure that we reach out to those young people through education and communicate in a way that suits their needs and with which young people will engage. That has never been so clear than during the COVID pandemic of the last year, when we have had to adopt and adapt to different methods of communication. I do not know how many times we have used the word "Zoom" in the last year. Two years ago, you would never have heard about that. Through our young people's event and the many other events that the Committee held, we had the opportunity to engage with people in a way that allowed them to speak less formally and more communicatively. That was very good, especially throughout this process.

I reiterate what the Chair said: we have taken forward difficult programmes before. The anti-smoking campaign was tough, but it worked. The campaign on wearing a seat belt was tough, but it worked. With appropriate cross-departmental commitment and investment, we can further address the public health issues created by the abuse of alcohol. For instance, young people brought up the issue of the number of adults or older young people who buy drink for them at off-licences and carry it out to them. That needs to stop, and we need to consider how we can prevent it. We need to engage, and co-production and co-design work.

I am delighted that the Committee was permitted to bring forward a requirement in the Bill for the Department of Health to produce minimum pricing per unit within three years of this Bill becoming an Act. It is absolutely a matter for the Minister of Health, but it will help to reduce the abuse of alcohol. It has happened in other places and has been shown to work.

While young people can attend functions later in the evening, they will have to be accompanied by a responsible person who will act as their parent. As I said, school formals will be allowed to continue to 1.00 am, and I am grateful to the Minister for tabling amendment No 37. It is a reasonable allowance that will protect young people from hanging about outside hotels or outside the venue where they have had their event, where there could be adults who are leaving from a late licence in another venue. I am grateful for that. It is a health protection that is an unintended consequence of the amendment.

I welcome the Minister and the Department's changes to allow sports clubs to permit young people to be on premises over the summer season and for the extended period from 1 May to 30 September. That followed discussions with representatives of various sports. Thanks to the Minister for allowing young people to access sports club functions up to three times per year during the rest of the year — to attend an awards ceremony, for example. It was through that youth engagement that we found out that some sports do not always work over the summer, as Ms Mullan mentioned. Cricket was the one that surprised me most; it needs access over the wintertime.

Thankfully, the Bill stops the use of self-service facilities, such as vending machines and honesty boxes. That is a welcome clarification. Their removal will mean that, where alcohol is available, the venue has control over sales.

Clarification on one-day membership of clubs means that people can no longer use club premises just to access the bar. They will need to be a member or have proof that they have paid a fee, to use the facilities of that sporting club for a day.

We talked about many things when we were taking on the health considerations. We talked about a limit on advertising and the removal of alcohol from loyalty schemes, but one of the key things that struck me most was the evidence that we received from the University of Stirling, which really put it front and centre that we needed to consider the impacts on health in all of our considerations. We will talk about the surrender principle when we move to group 4. The University of Stirling congratulated Northern Ireland on how we have limited the number of licences and the protections that that can have for the public. We will talk about that later.

It has been a long time, but I believe that, in the Bill, we have not forgotten about health, the impact of addiction and the impact that alcohol can have on families and individuals. I thank the Minister for all of her amendments. The number of amendments that we have show how seriously it has been considered and how much thought and consideration has gone into the legislation.

Photo of Gerry Carroll Gerry Carroll People Before Profit Alliance

I was expecting others to be called before me.

I want to address only one amendment in the group. I will support the others but oppose amendment No 44 around minimum unit pricing, and here are my reasons why. In practice, the demand for minimum unit pricing levels of alcohol serves only to prevent those who cannot afford I buying as much alcohol as they may decide they want or need. To follow that logic, it essentially says that only poor or working-class people will be priced out of alcohol. In 2021, the assumption by the Committee or by Members that only working-class people engage in binge drinking or drink at unhealthy levels will sound terribly classist and offensive when spelt out. There is nothing to address the underlying causes that drive people to drink, regardless of what price it is and whether it goes up, down or stays the same.

Not only does it make little sense to implement a policy that will have little or no impact on those who earn enough or who are higher earners, but it is discriminatory to introduce a policy that would hit poorer households hardest, especially without strong evidence — I certainly did not hear it this evening — that poorer households engage in more hazardous drinking, particularly when the Assembly has just passed an austerity Budget, although it is described as a "standstill Budget". For those reasons, I will oppose and vote against amendment No 44. I appreciate that I might be in a minority of one again, but I put on record my opposition to it, because of who is targeted by it and because it does not do anything to deal with the underlying causes that drive people to hazardous drinking.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

No other Members have indicated that they wish to speak on this group of amendments. Therefore, I call the Minister to make her winding-up speech on the group.

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin 12:45 am, 8th June 2021

I will be brief on this group. I thank the Chair, Deputy Chair and the whole Committee for their deliberations on this important part. By working together to improve the Bill, we have offered greater protections, particularly on adult supervision, and we will extend the date for events from May to September and look at day memberships and honesty boxes etc.

Whilst, as I stated, this is not within my remit, I support the call for minimum unit pricing for and call on the Health Minister to bring it forward urgently. I am hopeful that the last issues to be raised will be considered, debated and equality-screened so that we can look at the implication of any policy on minimum unit pricing.

Finally, a lot of Members mentioned how good it was that young people were involved. I agree that, when developing policy, it is important to engage with young people about how it affects them. Again, I give particular thanks to the Education Authority's Youth Service, which facilitated engagements with young people as part of my Department's 2019 consultation on licensing laws.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No 36 made:

In page 16, line 16, leave out “the condition in paragraph (5)” and insert-

<BR/>

“a condition attached to the authorisation”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 37 made:

In page 16, line 38, after “force” insert-



“or during the first 30 minutes after the authorisation has ceased to be in force”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 38 made:

In page 17, line 12, (middle column), leave out “on access to intoxicating liquor” and insert-



“attached to authorisation for underage function”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 11, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 12 (Private functions)

Amendment No 39 made:

In page 17, line 28, leave out from “of” to “parent” in line 29 and insert-



“either of a parent of that person or of a parent of another person who is under 18 and attending the function”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 12, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

No amendments have been tabled to clause 13 or clause 14. I propose by leave of the Assembly to group the clauses for the Question on stand part.

Clauses 13 and 14 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 15 (Prohibition on self-service and sales by vending machines)

Amendment No 40 made:

In page 19, line 8, leave out from “The” to “is” in line 10 and insert-

<BR/>

“In any licensed premises, intoxicating liquor must not be sold or made available for purchase for consumption in or off the premises in a form which would enable a person to whom it was”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 41 made:

In page 19, leave out lines 12 to 14 and insert -



“(2) In any licensed premises, intoxicating liquor must not be sold or made available for purchase for consumption in or off the premises by means of a vending machine.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 42 made:

In page 19, line 14, at end insert -



“(2A) The activities prohibited by this Article include making available in a public or common part of the premises concerned intoxicating liquor for consumption in or off the premises which, in the absence of the licence holder or a servant or agent, persons are trusted by the licence holder—


(a) to pay for by placing money in a container, or by some other process, which the licence holder has provided for that purpose in a public or common part of the premises, or


(b) to agree to pay for by recording by a process which the licence holder has provided for that purpose in a public or common part of the premises the intoxicating liquor appropriated.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 43 made:

In page 19, line 26, (middle column), leave out “a person to operate the dispenser, or selling it” and insert “self-service or”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 15, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 16 and 17 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 44 made:

After clause 17 insert -



Minimum unit pricing


 


17A. Within 3 years of this Act coming into operation, the Department of Health must bring forward to the Assembly legislation introducing minimum pricing provisions for the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor in Northern Ireland.” — [Ms P Bradley (The Chairperson of the Committee for Communities).]

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

I am happy to state for Hansard that Mr Carroll opposed amendment No 44.

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

We will now move on to the fourth group of amendments. If Members will —.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

On a point of order, Mr Principal Deputy Speaker. What on earth was the Business Committee thinking when it decided to put the Budget Bill and this legislation on the agenda for the one sitting of the Assembly? It must have been obvious to all concerned that we would not start this debate till very late. According to my calculations, we have dealt with only 18 or 19 clauses so far. We are now moving to Mr O'Toole's controversial amendment on sale-of-liquor licensing — licences. The fact that I cannot even say it indicates how tired I am. Can you relay to the Business Committee, of which I am not a member and on which I am not technically represented, that it must be more careful in future? We are not doing our duty of scrutinising legislation at five to one in the morning, simply because of bad timetabling.

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

Insofar as that relates to how the business of the House is dealt with, that is a matter to be determined by the Business Committee rather than by the Speaker's Office. However, the Member has put his point on the record. I am sure that the Business Committee, which comprises representatives of almost all parties represented in the Chamber, will take note.

I ask Members to take their ease for a few moments while we change the top Table. We will then move on to the fourth group of amendments.

New Clause

Photo of Christopher Stalford Christopher Stalford DUP

Folks, you are stuck with me for a while yet.

We now come to the fourth group of amendments for debate. With amendment No 45, it will be convenient to debate amendment No 46 and amendment Nos 58 to 60. I call Mr Matthew O'Toole to move amendment No 45 and address the other amendments in the group.

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I beg to move amendment No 45:

Before clause 19 insert -

<BR/>

Independent review of the licensing system and surrender principle


 


18A.—(1) The Department for Communities must, not later than 6 months after the date of Royal Assent of this Act, appoint an independent person to undertake a review of the licensing system, including the operation of the ‘Surrender Principle’, in Northern Ireland.


 


(2) The Department must, so far as is reasonable, ensure that the review mentioned in subsection (1) has regard to—


(a) the social, health, economic and industry competition impact of the current licensing system in Northern Ireland,


(b) the distribution of licences in areas that are under-licensed, including but not limited to rural areas and tourist areas,


(c) the functioning of the ‘Surrender Principle’, including legislative options for reform to allow for the creation of new liquor licences for sale on premises, including specific options for the creation of licenses based on clear community need,


(d) draft options, where appropriate, to compensate existing license holders.


 


(3) The person must, not later than 1 year after their appointment, report and make recommendations on developing a liquor licensing system that is responsive to consumer and community needs in a changing social and economic environment, while taking due account of the public health concerns around alcohol-related health and social harms.


 


(4) The Department must—


(a) lay the report before the Northern Ireland Assembly, and


(b) arrange for it to be published.


 


(5) The Department for Communities must, not later than six months after the date of the publication of the report mentioned in subsection (3), publish an action plan for addressing the recommendations contained in the report.


 


(6) The Minister for Communities, must, not later than six months after the date of the publication of the report mentioned in subsection (3), make an oral statement to the Northern Ireland Assembly on the Department’s action plan for addressing the recommendations contained in the report.”

The following amendments stood on the Marshalled List:

No 46: Before clause 19 insert -



Annual publication of the number of operational liquor licenses


 


18B.—(1) The Department for Communities shall publish an annual report on the operation of the liquor licensing system in Northern Ireland that includes for each year—


(a) the number of Article 5(1)(a) and Article 5(1)(b) licenses in operation,


(b) the number of operational public houses and their location by postcode,


(c) a ten-year rolling horizon forecast for each of 1(a) and 1(b).” — [Mr O'Toole.]

No 58: Before clause 33 insert -



Guidance


 


32A.—(1) The Department for Communities must issue guidance about—


(a) the effect of the Licensing Order,


(b) the effect of Part 1 of this Act on that Order, and


(c) such other matters as the Department considers appropriate in connection with licensing premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor (within the meaning of the Licensing Order).


 


(2) The Department for Communities must issue guidance about—


(a) the effect of the Registration of Clubs Order,


(b) the effect of Part 2 of this Act on that Order, and


(c) such other matters as the Department considers appropriate in connection with the registration of clubs.


 


(3) The Department for Communities must—


(a) keep any guidance issued under this section under review, and


(b) revise any guidance issued under this section if the Department considers revision to be necessary in light of review.


 


(4) The Department for Communities must publish any guidance issued or revised under this section.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 59: Before clause 33 insert -



Review


 


32B.—(1) The Department for Communities must review and make a report on the implementation of each provision of Part 1 and of each provision of Part 2—


(a) as soon as practicable after the third anniversary of the commencement of that provision, and


(b) at least once in every five years after the making of the previous report on the implementation of that provision.


 


(2) The Department for Communities must—


(a) lay a copy of each report under this section before the Assembly, and


(b) having done that, publish the report.


 


(3) The Department for Communities may by regulations provide that subsections (1) and (2) are to cease to have effect on the date specified; but the regulations may not specify a date which is earlier than the tenth anniversary of this Act receiving Royal Assent.


 


(4) Regulations under this section are not to be made unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

No 60: In clause 36, page 33, line 24, leave out paragraph (a). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I am tempted to say, "Last orders at the bar". That would be cringeworthy, but I have said it. I will try to be brief.

I will address the critical issues in my amendments and try to cover some of the other amendments in the group. I will try to reassure those like Mr Wells, who believe that my first amendment is controversial. I do not think that it is. It is relatively routine but useful, and I will explain why.

Briefly, before I come to my amendment Nos 45 and 46 and given that I am opening on the entire group, I will mention that the Minister's amendment Nos 58, 59 and 60 are sensible. Amendment No 58 is a new clause on guidance. It mandates the Department to issue and publish guidance about the effect that the Bill has on the Licensing Order 1996 and the Registration of Clubs Order 1996. Amendment No 59 is a new clause on review, requiring the Department to review and report on the functioning of particular parts of the Bill. The first review should be produced three years after commencement of the legislation. Thereafter, a report should be produced every five years. In a sense, that is what my amendment No 45 does, so I am completely up for reviewing and reporting. It is useful, because part of what we have learnt about the licensing system is that the more information we have, the more reviewing and reporting there is and the more we understand the system, the more we can ensure that it is working as well as it can for all stakeholders. Amendment No 60 is relatively technical, concerning when restrictions come into operation.

I turn more specifically to the two amendments that stand in my name, particularly amendment No 45. The amendments sit together and attempt to do the same thing, broadly speaking. The first thing that I want to say is that pubs mean a huge amount to me. They mean a lot to all of us. They mean much more than simply places to drink. In many ways, I grew up in the pub trade. There are publicans on both sides of my family, and I was working in a pub from the age of 16, which is not an appropriate age to be working in a pub. I worked behind a bar locally and further afield. For me, pubs have been part of the fabric of my life, as they are for many people and communities. All the available data shows, however, that we face a crisis with pubs in Northern Ireland. The number of pubs has declined in all parts of these islands, but the decline has been sharper in Northern Ireland. All the indicators show that the number of pubs has declined more here. Specifically, replacing pubs that are lost is a real challenge, because of the nature of our licensing system, which I will come to.

(Mr Speaker in the Chair)

The House of Commons Library, which gathers its data from a range of sources, indicates that the number of operational pubs in Northern Ireland fell by 36% between 2001 and 2019. That is, by some margin, the fastest of all UK regions. Although the numbers are not directly collected for the same period, it is also sharper than the fall in the South of Ireland. I acknowledge that Hospitality Ulster has pointed to alternative figures on licences in operation, but those figures point to a broadly similar or slightly smaller fall in the number of pubs. No one disputes, however, that there has been a very sharp fall in the number of pubs operating in Northern Ireland in the past couple of decades. In the year 2019-2020 alone, the number of pubs fell by 3%. That was the sharpest fall in the UK, while — this is critical to understanding why my review clause is important — other regions increased their numbers of operational pubs. That has been structurally difficult to do in Northern Ireland, for reasons that I will come to. The same data shows that the number of employees working in pubs has fallen by 22% since 2019. We now have the lowest number of pubs per head of population in any region outside London, and, of course, since London has such a high density of population, it is a bad comparator.

If pubs were simply places to drink, those trends would be less concerning, but pubs are much more than places to drink. They have real meaning to real people. Why was it that so many were genuinely affected by images of pubs reopening and people reconnecting with one another over the past fortnight? It was not simply about drinking. I will come back to that point. It is not simply about drinking, because many of us have been doing lots of that at home anyway. Too many people have probably been doing too much of it at home, and I will come back to that public health aspect. Pubs are community hubs, meeting places, economic drivers, information exchanges, repositories of what might otherwise be lost local knowledge, incubators of creative talent and so much else. When I think of my time working in pubs, I think of the richness of human contact that I experienced and the people from different generations and backgrounds with whom I connected but might not otherwise have met. I mean people like the late Joe Cassidy, who owned a shoe shop in Downpatrick and drank bottles of stout off the shelf and "by the brace", as he would say. He once counselled me by saying, "The wise man seldom speaks". Sadly for Members in the Chamber, I have never learned to heed that advice.

I tabled the amendments because pubs mean a huge amount to people and we are losing them. The core of amendment No 45 is simply about reviewing our licensing system, because, as the figures that I mentioned make clear, there is something that we need to address. However, before we address it, we need to understand it. We need to have a proper evidence base. My amendment specifically mentions the so-called surrender principle, because it is impossible to properly review our system of liquor licensing without examining the core tenet of that system. I do not know whether the surrender principle is the primary driver of the closure of pubs in small rural towns and, indeed, pubs in larger towns; in fact, we can be fairly certain that it is not. There will be a huge number of reasons and factors that have contributed to it, but we need to understand what they are and how the licensing system plays into that.

A substantial number of licences have moved from pubs to supermarkets and to convenience stores with integrated off-sales, and the decisions to sell those licences were entirely reasonable. People operate within the system of liquor licensing that we have had, in one form or another, since 1902: it is worth bearing that in mind. My amendment does not change that in any way and does nothing to the licensing system. It simply says that we should have a review of how the licensing system works; indeed, the Committee, in its report, said that we should have a review of the licensing system and specifically said that we should have a review of the surrender principle. All that my amendment does is put that in the Bill.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

If only the Member's amendment did only that. The reality is that there are many pubs in South Down and throughout Northern Ireland whose main asset is their licence. Many have borrowed money on the basis of that asset. The grave danger of his proposed review is that banks will stop lending on the basis of that asset, given the uncertainty that his amendment will create. That will do nothing to protect small rural pubs in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for his intervention, but let me make this absolutely clear: my amendment says nothing about changing the surrender principle or the licensing system. It calls for a review, and I caution the Member about putting out inaccurate information. To be absolutely clear, it does not do that. The Committee report calls for a review of the surrender principle. There have been multiple reviews of the surrender principle. The licensing system is, by definition, under permanent review by the officials who oversee it, so putting out information that this is somehow about to change is, I am afraid, wrong.

All that my amendment does is, as I said, call for a review. It sets a time parameter and specifies criteria. If you look at the criteria that it specifies, you will see that it says explicitly that, along with public health, socio-economic conditions and rural and community need, we need to take into account the interests of existing licensees. That has not been put in legislation anywhere before. There have been multiple reviews of licensing and the surrender principle, but — the honourable Member did not note this — never before, in any of those reviews, has anyone said that the rights or interests of existing licensees should be enshrined in it. I want to make that absolutely clear: that has to be part of any review.

As I said, our current system means that, to all intents and purposes, once pubs disappear, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, they are unlikely to reappear. I ask colleagues across the Assembly to consider that. I do not represent a rural constituency, but I am from a rural area, and pubs have closed in Belfast too. I will give way to any Member who can tell me that they have not seen pubs close in their constituency. They are closing across Northern Ireland. The data is broken down by constituency by the House of Commons Library. East Belfast has lost 50% of its pubs in the last 20 years. Half the pubs in east Belfast have shut. That is an astonishing number.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I thank the Member for giving way. I am glad that he is explaining his points. Will he agree that part of the reason why we see the decrease in our licensed premises is that we need to do something more? They need to be something more, and the likes of the Pub is the Hub model would go some way to retaining our pubs, especially in rural areas, to be more than just the pub.

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Committee Chair for her intervention. I completely agree; in fact, the Pub is the Hub model that Hospitality Ulster and others talked about is exactly the type of thing that I want to see being fed into the review. The review is not simply about the surrender principle; the review is about the licensing system. That is what it says. It says, "Look at the surrender principle because that is fundamental to the licensing system", but it talks about the licensing system more broadly. It does not require change; it simply requires a review and information gathering and proposals. It does not oblige the Minister or the Department to do anything after that other than to give the Assembly their response. It does not require action after that. It does not require any legislative change to correct some of the misinformation and misapprehensions. The Pub is the Hub model is critical. It is really important that existing licensees and the sector understand that everything to do with the sector can be part of the review, and it should include questions of rates and costs. All those things can and should be part of the review.

I go back to my point about some of the issues that we have particularly but not exclusively with rural and small town pubs. Even where large areas are not served by a pub, where no one could credibly claim that they are already served by lots of licensed premises, it very rarely happens that people acquire licences to reopen pubs once they have closed. Genuinely, I will give way to any Member who is aware of a specific situation where a pub has reopened in a rural area. If it happens, it is very rare.

As I said, this is not just about surrender and how licences move around. My amendment provides for a review of the licensing system and draft recommendations. It is about looking at our licensing system in the round. That will include, as subsection (2) makes clear, social and economic factors. Those will include issues around how pubs can help to deal with loneliness and social isolation; indeed, the Committee Chair just mentioned the Pub is a Hub model. That model is about pubs, particularly in rural areas, establishing themselves as community hubs for services. It is about tackling rural isolation and rural access to services more broadly, whether it is postal services or other social activities. That goes back to my earlier point about pubs being about something much more than drinking.

It is explicitly mentioned in amendment No 45 that the review should also include questions of public health and alcohol-related harm. As has rightly been said tonight, alcohol is rightly a controlled substance. It can and often does create significant harm. On that subject, it is legitimate to ask and to gather evidence on whether a system that appears to incentivise the movement of licences from small pubs to off-sales is the best way of encouraging moderate intake. As many people have discovered during our recent periods of lockdown, there are no last orders in your own house. There is no barman looking askance as you have another drink, and there is no bus or taxi needed to get home. The point that I make is that pubs do not equal alcohol harm, and, when set against people drinking at home, they often mean much less harm. Set against that, you have the broader range of social goods that I talked about.

Given that we have lost so many pubs, it is surely reasonable to simply gather evidence and examine how the current system is working. That is what amendment No 45 does. As I said, it does not change the licensing system. It does not create more licences. It does not alter the licensing system in any way. It does not oblige the Department to alter the licensing system in any way. It is simply a review.

There has been widespread support for my amendments from campaign groups. As I said, however, I want to address the concern of any publican who thinks that a review of this will —

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I will give way to the Member, but if he is going to stand up and rail against my amendment — I am not sure that he has read it — and create more misinformation about what it does, I will not give way.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Does the Member accept that Hospitality Ulster, which represents a large proportion of the small pubs in Northern Ireland, is totally opposed to his amendment and has lobbied many Members and asked us to vote against it? How am I, as a teetotaller who does not go to pubs, meant to know better as far as the industry is concerned than the official body that represents so many of its members?

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

All I would say is: read the amendment. The Member is in this place long enough to know that the best thing to do when you are debating legislation is to read what it does and understand its purpose. It is fairly clear, if you read my amendment. I have explained it in the House and engaged and had conversations with Hospitality Ulster. Although, as you say, it was not immediately keen on this idea, it has recognised that this is about a broader review of the licensing system. In my speech today, I have endeavoured to explain that this is simply about a review of the licensing system. It is not about changing the surrender principle because this does not change the surrender principle. It simply gathers evidence.

It is important to say that the purpose of the review is to allow us to understand how well our licensing system is working. The review should and could work in the interests of existing licensees. I care deeply about their interests, and I want the review to work in their interests.

To be clear, amendment No 45 simply mandates a review of the system, with draft recommendations and a departmental response to be given to the Assembly six months after the initial independent reviewer makes their report. For the sake of those who did not read the Committee report, let me remind everyone that the report called for:

"a balanced review of the Surrender Principle".

All that I am doing is putting that in the Bill.

I assure publicans that this is simply a review of the system. I encourage them to participate in the review. Many of them are keen, after what has been a very stressful year, to be assured that there is a bright future for this industry. The amendment is, hopefully, a critical part of ensuring that and our planning for the future. I want publicans to make their voice heard and to influence the review.

As I said, my amendment specifically mandates the independent reviewer to consider the financial interests of existing liquor licence holders when examining the system. That was never done when the system was reviewed before, as far as I am aware. The interests of existing liquor licence holders would be in this Bill. That is in the amendment, and, if it passes, it would be in the Bill.

If my amendment passes, I would be happy to consider amendments at Further Consideration Stage that offer more specificity to particular elements of the amendment or, indeed, amend the timescale. Some people who have been broadly supportive of the principle of reviewing how the licensing system works have commented on the timeline. The timeline that I have put in is basically to allow the Department six months to appoint an independent reviewer, for the independent reviewer to take a year to gather evidence and report and, six months after that, for the Department to respond. If people were minded to support the amendment, I would be happy to consider amendments at Further Consideration Stage to prolong that period and look at how long it lasts.

The whole point of this is gathering information and reviewing it. It is not about getting any of this done quickly. It is fine with me if it is on a slightly longer timescale. It is about long-term planning for how our licensing system works. If we go for reform, that will happen, by definition, years into the future after thorough information gathering.

However, I return to my core point, which is that our current system does not appear to be working. I encourage Members to pause and to think about that as they consider amendment No 45. Northern Ireland has lost nearly 40% of its pubs over the last 20 years and we have, in effect, no way of replacing them. We are making specific and welcome reforms tonight — if the Bill passes its Final Stage — to how the licensing system works. I am very much in favour of the additional hours that have been created and the additionality around taprooms. However, given the broad socio-economic context in which pubs operate and the extraordinary community need, it is important that we look at what is not working, examine it and gather information. Let me be absolutely clear that no one has anything to fear from that. I cannot reiterate enough that all my amendment does is call for information gathering and review, which, I think, is in everyone's interests.

Amendment No 46 is part of the same effort and simply requires the Department to regularise its publications on pub numbers via an annual report on the number of article 5(1)(a) and 5(1)(b) licences — basically the liquor licence — either in pub or off-sales form, including their location by postcode. I am aware that, time and again, the Committee and others have found it frustrating to get information. Amendment No 46 regularises that by requiring the Department to publish the information on an annual basis. I do not see how anyone could object to that. I am aware that departmental officials are here today; this might involve creating more work for them, but they are very competent people. Broadly, all that the amendment does is to regularise the publication of information and make sure that it is accessible online to MLAs and others. I ask people to support it on that basis.

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

Will the Member give way?

Photo of Jim Wells Jim Wells DUP

I am a bit surprised by this particular amendment. My understanding is that the Department for Communities already publishes a full list of licensed premises. Why the need for further bureaucracy when that is done already?

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

If you could find the list for me and tell me where it is published, that would be helpful.

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

Perhaps I can help on that matter. I had asked for a copy of that list and was told that I could go to the courthouses and do that investigation myself. There is no list. We were very kindly provided with a map as part of our considerations, but it was out of date. There is no current list of all our licences in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for that helpful intervention. That has been my experience and that of others on the Committee. It is very difficult to get information about this. Our licensing system has been operating in its current form since 1902. I do not know whether it should be reformed. I do not know whether it should be changed. I do not think that we should rush into anything. I simply think that we should gather information and evidence about how it is working and, then, form a judgement in the years to come. That is all that my amendment Nos 45 and 46 do.

I care deeply about pubs and publicans and the huge, vital contribution that they make to our society. I have not even talked about the contribution to tourism. We know that, for example, our pubs are a critical part of our tourism offer on this island as a whole and, clearly, here. Why should we not, given that it is such a critical and structurally important part of our tourism offer and, therefore, our economy, look to see whether the licensing system is functioning as well as it could be?

In conclusion, I hope that as many colleagues as possible can support my amendments, which are grounded in a strong belief in the importance of the pub sector to our community and its vital role in protecting communities, in enhancing mental health for people who use them, in tackling isolation and in binding communities together. I am very proud to submit amendment Nos 45 and 46. As I said, I have covered the other amendments in the group.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I am glad to be able to raise the issue of the surrender principle on the Committee's behalf, as amendment No 45 gives me a reason to do so. Although not part of the Bill, the surrender principle for licences was highlighted to the Committee in written and oral evidence from both positive and negative perspectives. Alcohol licences can change hands for considerable sums of money, and they are often viewed as part of the assets of licensed businesses.

On a positive note, the surrender principle provides some control over expanding the availability of licences and in normalising alcohol consumption, which are not possible in any other part of the UK. On a negative note, it causes difficulties for smaller retail outlets in getting a licence. Also, in rural areas, if a local pub sells its licence and it is snapped up by a larger retail chain, the area may lose a vital community asset. The Committee was certainly supportive of a review of the surrender principle, and it recommended in its report that a balanced review of the surrender principle's impact on public health, the economy and rural and local community life should take place no later than the first review of the legislation, which it should form part of.

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Chair for giving way. In case I was not specific enough in my previous remarks, I reiterate that the review in my amendment not only would not mandate any change but it would not presuppose any change to the surrender principle. It might state that the surrender principle is a good thing; it takes no positive or negative view on it. The financial interests of existing licensees have to be at the core of any review.

Photo of Paula Bradley Paula Bradley DUP

I thank the Member for clearing that up. To conclude on that part, it is up to the House to decide whether amendment No 45 is the way forward on that.

As with amendment No 45, amendment No 46 gives me an opportunity to highlight several data-related issues that the Committee considered in its work on data on alcohol and alcohol licences. The Committee was concerned about the lack of a centralised liquor-licence database, as members were concerned that there was no way to check for any imbalances in the range and spread of licences. The Department agreed with the Committee that there was work to be done to compile a full and accessible list of all licensed premises. The Committee thanks the Minister for engaging with the Justice Minister on taking that forward.

Based on research that it considered, the Committee raised with the Department the lack of a wider comprehensive database on alcohol issues, as members were concerned about a lack of available centralised data on many of the pertinent issues regarding alcohol sales, consumption and harms in Northern Ireland. The Department advised that it is working with the relevant officials in its professional services unit to develop an evaluation plan for the Bill. The Committee understood that available information will be used in order to determine a baseline and any relevant information identified that will be required to carry out an evaluation in the future.

Based on all the evidence that it took on that, in its report, the Committee recommended that the Department of Finance lead an exercise to agree and take forward with NISRA a cross-departmental database that covers the range of societal issues that should be monitored, mainly alcohol licences, sales, consumption and harms in Northern Ireland. The Committee also recommended that it be provided with a draft of the Department for Communities' evaluation plan at the earliest opportunity and sought assurance that it will be able to feed into that plan on the issues that it would like to see included. Again, it is now up to the Members to decide whether amendment No 46 is the way forward on that aspect of data gathering for the annual publication of the number of operational liquor licences.

Amendment No 58 provides for new clause 32A. Again, that amendment was taken forward by the Minister at the Committee's request, so it is supported by the Committee. The Committee heard evidence on the need for new legislation to be supported by strong and concise communication on the new licensing laws and any subsequently approved codes of practice so that individuals, organisations and businesses know exactly what is expected of them. The Committee agreed the amendment with the Minister in order to ensure that there is a duty to produce guidance on the new Act.

In its report, the Committee also recommended that the Department for Communities issue bespoke and clear communications, once Royal Assent is given, to alert the various sectors impacted by the Act and to direct them to the appropriate guidance materials.

Amendment No 59 provides for new clause 32B regarding review of the implementation of the Act, and the amendment was kindly taken forward by the Minister, again at the Committee's request. Due to the potential breadth of impacts of the Bill on public health, emergency services, young people, the economy, tourism and wider society, the Committee proposed that a new specific review clause be added to the Bill. After discussions between officials and the Committee on the specifics and practicalities of the wording of the clause, the Minister accepted the request. I thank her for tabling the amendment, which the Committee is pleased to support. As reviews of the Act are of significant importance to the Committee, the Committee also recommended in its report particular areas that such reviews should include. I am sure that all Members have read the recommendations in the Committee report, so I will not go into any more detail on what is a fairly lengthy list of recommendations.

Finally on this group of amendments, the Committee welcomes amendment No 60, which amends clause 36 to remove paragraph (a) relating to sections 1 and 23, which are on the removal of additional restrictions at Easter, as the policy intent originally was to have the provisions relating to Easter come into operation on the day after Royal Assent to allow licensed premises to benefit from those positions in Easter 2021. The Committee welcomes the amendment.

I would like to finish with some comments as a DUP Member and a member of the Committee. First, I will comment on the two amendments that Matthew O'Toole tabled. I can absolutely see merit in looking at a review of the surrender principle, and that was in the Committee report. It is vital that we take that forward. His amendment No 45 is vital when it comes to data gathering. Data gathering will be required when we come to the review in three years' time for comparing the data now with two years' or three years' time, so I am in agreement with that. However, I want to impress upon Mr O'Toole that, as I brought up during the discussions, there are many reasons why our smaller pubs, not just in rural areas but in our towns and cities, are suffering and failing greatly. There are many reasons for that, whether it is the increase in people drinking at home or the lack of people using our pubs. That is why I believe that the Pub is the Hub model could go some way to reversing that trend.

I finish by thanking everyone who has taken part in debating all aspects of the Bill tonight. It has been a long night. I also thank my Committee colleagues, who have done a wonderful job over recent weeks and months in getting us to where we are today. I say a special "Thank you" to Janice, Sean, Antoinette and Oliver, our Committee team, who have supported and guided us and shown great patience in the past few months with all our Committee members. A big "Thank you" to them.

Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin 1:30 am, 8th June 2021

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate. I commend the Minister for introducing this much awaited reform of licensing legislation, which will be hugely beneficial for the whole of the North. The Bill has the potential to bring so much to our tourism and hospitality sectors and to create jobs in different sectors. It is important that we get the Bill through so that we see its benefits as quickly as possible. Listening to the Members who have spoken so far reaffirms the importance of the Bill to so many people. The enthusiasm that Members have shown this evening illustrates the significance of what it can deliver. Also, after listening to Committee members and speaking to colleagues, I understand and very much welcome the work that all members of the Committee have put into robustly scrutinising and deliberating on the Bill. From the number of written submissions made to the Committee and the 30-plus oral evidence sessions held, it is clear that the interest is there. They highlight the need for the Bill to be introduced as quickly as possible.

Throughout the debate, Members have highlighted the fact that this year has been really tough on many in our communities. Of course, most of all, it has been tough for those who have lost loved ones and those who have been ill. It has also been hard on our businesses and workers. Of all the sectors, hospitality and tourism are amongst those on which there has been most impact. Pubs, clubs, hotel owners and bar managers have all struggled, despite the significant support that has been made available by the Executive. Even though premises are closed and have been closed for a hell of a lot longer than they have been open over the past 16 months, the bills continue.

In a few weeks, the Bill will put licensed premises and local producers on a better footing to recover, with extended opening hours and the easing of restrictions around Easter and greater flexibilities. It is a chance to modernise and update our licensing laws. It is also a chance to make our towns and cities more attractive to people who come here for long weekends and all those things.

We support amendment Nos 58, 59 and 60. However, we do not support amendment Nos 45 and 46. Amendment No 45, tabled by Mr O'Toole, is on the review and surrender principle, Sinn Féin understands that the licensing system could be looked at, including the surrender principle. I appreciate that Mr O'Toole has spoken about this, but we feel that the amendment is unrealistic, particularly the time frame. It is just not achievable in that context. Another aspect is the financial cost to the Department, which is not detailed. I have heard from pub owners who agree that the licensing system must be looked at, particularly the surrender principle. They support review but believe that this needs to be carefully thought out and given due consideration. It is really important that we have a fair licensing system. There are issues with the current system, and I very much agree with the point made by Matthew O'Toole and Paula Bradley: pubs are about much more than selling drinks. They are about being hubs and providing social support and social inclusion in our communities, particularly rural communities.

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I appreciate the Member's giving way. I agree with much of what she says. As I said, I am happy, if the amendment is made, to look at the timing and extend the period. I am in no way precious about that. My other point is that, in reviewing this, I have no fixed outcome, and there is no fixed outcome from the amendment. However, the key thing is that, if we do not do this now, when will we do it? The Licensing Bill fell just before the institutions fell in 2016. We do not tend to do these things quickly, and we will not do anything on this quickly, which is why my question is this: why not start now? It might be a decade before we do anything.

Photo of Caoimhe Archibald Caoimhe Archibald Sinn Féin

I thank the Member for his intervention and appreciate his comments. I know that the Minister will address them in her response. Members remarked on another thing during the debate. Trends that we have seen over the past year include people drinking at home, and that increased consumption is worrying. It is much better that we have regulated settings and measures. Having a licensing system that is fit for purpose is really important. However, at this time, when our hospitality and tourism sectors are only just reopening and are not even close to being back on their feet, a rushed review could cause uncertainty in the sector, and that could have unintended consequences. Therefore, while we are sympathetic to the intent, we will not support the amendment.

The Minister's amendment Nos 58 and 59 cover guidance and a review, including reporting, which provides a good opportunity to keep the implementation of the legislation under review.

Amendment No 46 concerns publication. Given that the Minister has already agreed to reviewing and reporting more in depth and over a longer period, the amendment is unnecessary at this point. I also refer to some of the comments that were made about that information being held by DFC.

Once again, I note the importance of the legislation for the reform of licensing. This is a positive day. The reform outlined in the Bill will reinvigorate our hospitality and tourism economy. It will take us out of the dark ages in some respects. I thank the Committee for its work and commend it on its consideration of all the issues, complex as they are, particularly in striking a balance between necessary reform and protecting health. We all recognise that alcohol causes harm. There is work to be done beyond the scope of the Bill on educating on those issues, but I am very much of the view that regulation is the way in which to go to achieve harm reduction. I thank the Minister and the Committee and look forward to the Bill completing its passage and being implemented.

Photo of Kellie Armstrong Kellie Armstrong Alliance

We are nearly at 2.00 am, so we are nearly at the end of our late licence.

I agree with Mr O'Toole that pubs are a key part of many people's lives. We have just to look at how much we have missed our pubs and hotels throughout the pandemic. As Ms Archibald said, this is a good day. The legislation has been a long time coming. There have been lots of votes tonight and lots of things have gone through, but this is modernising our liquor licensing and the registration of clubs. That is something that we should celebrate. As a member of the Committee, I have been in awe of the amount of work that our Committee staff, fellow Committee members, Bill Office staff and so many officials from the Department have done to help us.

The Alliance Party supports Mr O'Toole's amendment No 45, which calls for an independent person to undertake a review of the licensing system, including the operation of the surrender principle. We support that review, because, as the Committee report states, people gave us positive and negative experiences of the surrender principle. Witnesses from the University of Stirling confirmed to the Committee that our surrender principle controls the number of places that sell alcohol, and that is a good thing. They pointed out that that was very welcome when it comes to health. We also heard, however, that, when licence holders sell their licence, as they have the right to do, that licence is often sold to the highest bidder, which, in many cases, is a supermarket. That means that the pub that sold its licence is no longer in the area. The loss of that licence does not help the Pub is the Hub model promoted by Hospitality Ulster. I really like that model, and I thank Hospitality Ulster for introducing us to it. It is something that we should aspire to.

The Committee recommended that a balanced review of the surrender principle's impact on public health, on the economy and on rural and local community life be carried out. Mr O'Toole's amendment No 45 would introduce a new clause 18A that provides the opportunity to review the licensing system, including the balanced review that the Committee proposed. As others have said, the review does not mean that change will happen or that bad change will happen. Licence holders should and would have input into that review. The independent reviewer could even say that the licensing system and the current surrender principle are fine. We need to trust that independent report.

I also support amendment No 46. It is appropriate that an annual publication of the number of operational liquor licences be produced. That list will help us see where the licences are located, where there is a concentration of licences and where there is a gap in provision. It will help planners, councils, the police and the health service. There is always merit in having access to data.

I support the Minister's amendment Nos 58 and 59. It is absolutely right and proper that guidance be produced.

We do not want people to guess how the Act will work. It is right and proper that professionals who work with the Minister be involved in producing that guidance. We should have a review, as in amendment No 59, at three and five years. The amendment gives the Department the opportunity to end the reporting, if it so chooses, after 10 years. I support amendment No 60, which is a technical amendment.

This is a good day. While not all my amendments were accepted by everyone, people — I do not think that anyone is listening to us at this stage, but some might be — will see that we, as an Assembly, have worked really hard to get a balanced way forward for the people who hold licences for a taproom, for the local producers and for everyone. Most importantly, we have a hospitality sector that is trying its best to come back after COVID. I want to help those people. I think that we all want to help them, and we have gone a huge way towards doing that tonight.

Photo of Rachel Woods Rachel Woods Green 1:45 am, 8th June 2021

I will not go into detail about all the amendments in the group, as others have done that. I support all the amendments in the group. I wish to highlight a few matters on amendment Nos 45 and 46, in Mr O'Toole's name, and amendment No 59, in the name of the Minister, on an independent review of the licensing system. On the face of it, the reason to support that is a simple one: why not review? Why would we not have an independent review of a system to know where we stand? On previous legislation that I have worked on in my short time at the Assembly, specifically as a member of the Justice Committee, I have pushed for review systems and mechanisms to show the effectiveness of, say, the creation of a new offence. I will continue to do so. I see no reason why that should not be part of this Bill in respect of our licensing system, which is, understandably and as we have heard in the debate, incredibly complicated. There is nothing to be feared from a review; it is good to take stock and see how things are progressing and working and who they are working and not working for.

Turning to amendment No 45, whilst I understand that there would be issues with overhauling the entire surrender principle and consequences for many publicans if that happened, that is not what amendment No 45 would do. Mr O'Toole's amendment would mandate that the interests of existing licensees, including the option of compensation, be examined by an independent expert. I see nothing in the amendments to suggest that there would be a free-for-all, nor anything to do with cheaper alcohol. I would welcome an intervention from any Member who does see that.

There may, of course, be repercussions for loans, banking, finance, affordability, and there may be impacts elsewhere that are not covered here, but a review will show the impacts and what could happen and will look at the current system, the distribution of licences and the functioning of a system, and where appropriate, the drafting of options to compensate. Basically, it gives us information, all bedded into a report, with recommendations, that must be laid before the Assembly and published. Nothing happens without the support of the Assembly.

I welcome Mr O'Toole's intention to look, at Further Consideration Stage, at the time limits of a year and six months that are specified in his amendments, because I am concerned about them in the context of the business that the Assembly and the Department will have to deal with. I look forward to discussing that at a later time.

Amendment No 46 arranges for data on operational licences to be collected and published annually. There is nothing to be feared from data collection. It is key to so much in society. I see no reason why data should not be collected on the number of licences in operation and the number of operational public houses by location.

Much has been said about the potential impact and unintended consequences of these amendments, especially in relation to rural pubs. We need to support our rural pubs — I do not hear anyone speaking against that — especially through the Pub is the Hub campaign that others have mentioned. There is much merit in helping pubs by making regulations that would allow them to enhance community services such as post offices and farm shops and to facilitate community meetings, events and internet access points as well as initiatives to tackle loneliness and social isolation. From recent reports, we know about the social value that pubs and publicans create by providing local services. That happened especially during the first COVID-19 lockdown. A new report from Pub is the Hub measured the social value impact of services. The report found that for every pound spent on a project through the Pub is the Hub's community services fund in the first lockdown, between £8·98 and £9·24 of social value was created.

It is usually Mr Catney who likes to tell stories about his life and experiences as a publican. However, a recent conversation with my grandmother came to my mind when Mr O'Toole's amendments and the lobby for rural pubs were being debated. She is 92 years old and was brought up in rural Galway in the 1930s. She mentioned that, back in the day, you had to go to your local pub to get fresh yeast for baking because there were no grocery stores nearby. She had to get a form from the police to say that she was not illegally brewing alcohol, but that is another matter. All the other local services, including access to groceries, were miles away, and she had to walk or go by bicycle — not by car — in the rain, hail and snow. You could not go and get your big shop, let alone your small shop. When I explained what I was working on and would be debating in the Chamber today, she said, "Much is still the same today for our rural pubs". We have not changed. As in 1930 and 1940's Galway, people still have to travel to get local services such as access to groceries.

Why are we not supporting the Pub is the Hub campaign? The point is that the community pub is the hub, and it has been for years, especially in rural areas where other local service provisions do not exist or have ceased to exist for any number of reasons. What regulations need to be amended to facilitate licensees to widen their community role based on the Pub is the Hub model? Perhaps the Minister can detail whether that requires primary or secondary legislation or if it can be done by way of regulation after this Bill has passed.

Amendment No 59 inserts a new clause proposed by the Minister. I welcome that, as it ensures that there will be a review of and report on the implementation of provisions in Parts 1 and 2. When the Department reviews the provisions, I urge it to properly consider the impacts from the point of view of staff and those who work in the industry — the front-line workers, the kitchen porters, the chefs, the bar staff, the cleaners and the suppliers — and not just that of the traditional stakeholders. The review should also cover some of the additional issues that have been considered by the Committee and others that are connected to health and the socio-economic impacts that fall outside the scope of the Bill.

We are aware of a number of issues that staff have had to face, and those have been raised at Second Stage, Committee Stage and today's Consideration Stage. There are issues to do with staff safety, sexual harassment, the responsibility of business owners to get staff home at night, kicking-out time, the impact of the one hour versus 30 minutes of drinking-up time, the lack of a staggering of closing hours, and the impact on the legal entitlement to breaks and ensuring that staff get rest periods and adequate time off between shifts.

Whilst I appreciate that having specific social clauses may be outside the scope of the Bill at this stage, it should be part of a review. The Executive should take a joint approach to ensure that those issues can be legislated for. Staff should be employed under fair work principles, and any exploitative practices should be tackled through legislation. This is a huge body of work, and I take that point. I would welcome a specific work stream to be undertaken by Executive Ministers — the issues are cross-departmental — on how to support the hospitality and tourism industry as a whole. Worker's voices on working conditions should be heard.

Finally, the impact of the coupling of the entertainment licence with the liquor licence should be part of any review, and I mentioned that matter at length during the debate on the group 1 amendments. Again, I note that the majority of respondents to the consultation favoured the continuation of the status quo that we have had since 2016, which is not what stands in clause 3. Additionally, in the consultation report, there was a common theme about justifying an extension of permitted hours with staggered closing times. Again, that is something that I hope will be considered as part of any departmental review, in order to reduce antisocial behaviour and fights that happen after people have been in licensed premises — Mr Wells and Mr Allister mentioned those issues — and to reduce the pressure on the police and emergency services.

A number of other issues have been brought up. The Chair said that she would not go into all of them but that the recommendations are in the report for anybody who has read them. I have. The review is a key area that the Department should work on. It should also work on the consequences of the Bill as a whole. If we are legislating to extend drinking-up times and to grant later licences to assist with the ending of bottlenecks of people leaving pubs and clubs at the same time — among other things, of course — does the Bill do what it says on the tin?

I hope that all those points will be considered. We will support all the amendments in this group.

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Again, thanks to everybody for their contributions. I will start with amendment No 45 that was tabled by Matthew O'Toole. If passed, it would require the Department for Communities to appoint an independent person to carry out a review of the licensing system, including the operation of the surrender principle for licences, no later than six months after the date of Royal Assent. I have a number of concerns about the feasibility of that amendment. I know that Matthew spoke to officials, and I asked my officials to take advice on whether what is being asked of the Department is achievable within the timescale that has been set out. While I agree with the point about the importance of pubs in communities that Matthew raised, I struggle to support the amendment as it cannot be delivered within the required time frame that has been set out. That said, if the amendment is voted down or not moved, I give a clear commitment to engage to see whether it can be included at Further Consideration Stage, if allowed by the Speaker, and to look at a better timeline in line with what we in the Department see as deliverable.

Although my Department is responsible for the policy and legislation on the retail sale of alcoholic drinks, the courts are responsible for issuing licences. Obviously, the records are held by the courts, and it would be for the Minister of Justice to publish those. As noted, I wrote to the Minister to follow up on that work. Some Members mentioned that the courts provide the Department with figures every year, albeit they are caveated as being taken at a point in time. They are also issued to stakeholders who request them and, again, are caveated that they are subject to variation over the years. There is no doubt that there is work to be done and improvements to be made to those parts of the system.

There are 38 articles in the Licensing Order that relate to who and what type of premises a court can grant a licence to, the court process of applying for a licence, including the grant renewal duration of the licence, and the type of information to be held by the courts. There are 38 articles in the general licensing system as part of the order. The order also contains another eight articles on permitted hours, a further 27 articles on the conduct of licensed premises, 20 articles on enforcement and more articles on miscellaneous provisions. There are 13 schedules to the order. Altogether, the articles that form the Licensing Order provide for the licensing system here.

The Member's amendment specifically states that the review should include:

"the operation of the ‘Surrender Principle’".

In a nutshell, that means that anyone who wants to apply for a pub or off-sales licence is required to hand over a current licence for either a pub or off-sales. As was said, the principle dates back to the early 1920s, and it had the intended effect of placing a cap on the number of pubs and off-sales here. It is an attempt to influence the health and social behaviours of consumers. Over the years, the cap on the number of pubs and off-sales has created a lucrative trade in licensing in the private sector. Therefore, there has always been an argument that removing the principle would devalue those businesses that had already invested in their licences, which are far too often recorded as assets in financial records.

Previous Ministers considered removing the surrender principle, and, indeed, an independent impact assessment was carried out a number of years ago by the then Minister, Margaret Ritchie, who was responsible for the then DSD. The report on the assessment showed that there was insufficient evidence to support the need for removal, and, because of the potential damage to existing businesses, a decision was taken not to take any action.

That independent impact assessment relates to only one of the components detailed in the Member's amendment. It took about 11 months to complete and cost in the region of £21,000.

I have been advised by officials in procurement and consultancy that, given the complexity of such a review and the sheer size, scale and number of variables, pre-market engagement would be required. That would take somewhere between four and six months and would assist in the development of the terms of reference before going out to tender. I have also been advised that, for such a project, a multidisciplinary project team would be required that would include economists and experts in health and social harms, competition law and licensing. It is not likely that one consultancy firm would be equipped to carry out the entire project. The advice that I have received suggests that a scoping exercise would need to be carried out to enable a timescale and cost for such a review to be put in place. It has, however, been estimated that a review of that magnitude would be expected to take longer to complete, and costs would need to be worked out. For those reasons, I cannot support the amendment. It would not be practical to take it forward in the timescales. It would also enshrine timescales and scope of the review in law and, given the timescale set out in the amendment, could only result in the production of an extremely poor report.

Matthew has also tabled amendment No 46, which introduces a new clause 18B. That amendment will require the Department to produce an annual report on the operation of the liquor licensing system here and the number of pubs and off-licences in operation, along with a 10-year rolling forecast of those premises. An annual report on the liquor licensing system would place a significant burden on the Department's time and resources, and that would need to be looked at. I do not believe that it would be appropriate for my Department to be required to include some of the components of the report or to publish figures that would need to be provided by another Department. As has been said, the Department of Justice is responsible for the courts which actually do the licences. The figures for the licences that are in force are also subject to change as they are provided at a point in time, as I said. Licence holders have up to a year in which to renew their licences after the end of the licensing period. Some licences are granted for less than the licensing period. There is also no way of predicting how many there will be in the future. For those reasons, I do not support the amendment.

I move now to some of my own amendments. The Committee for Communities considered a number of areas in the Bill for which it requested clarification, and it has linked that to the complexity of the Bill. The Committee and I agreed amendment No 58, which introduces a new clause 32A. It places a duty on the Department to produce and publish guidance on the provisions of the final Act. I have also tabled amendment No 59, at the request of the Committee for Communities, to require the Department to carry out a review of the implementation of the final Act. The first review is to be carried out as soon as is practicable after three years following the commencement of the provisions. Subsequent reviews will take place no later than five years after the last report, with the inclusion of a regulatory power that will allow the Department to cease those reviews. That power cannot be used before the end of the period of 10 years from the date of Royal Assent, and regulations cannot be made unless approved by a resolution of the Assembly.

Finally, I tabled amendment No 60 to remove the requirement at clause 36 to bring a removal of the additional restrictions at Easter into operation on the day after the Bill receives Royal Assent. That was included when there was a possibility of having those provisions in place before Easter of this year and is no longer necessary, because we have passed that date.

I conclude by extending my sincere thanks to everybody who has participated in the debate. I am glad that we have the Bill at this stage and that it is going to progress. Again, I thank the Chair, the Deputy Chair and all the Committee for the engagement. The work that we have been able to do together in making the amendments has made for a better and more balanced Bill.

I again thank the staff and officials from my Department. Carol has worked on the Bill since 2006. She probably thought it would never reach this stage, but, thankfully, it has. Liam and Suzanne have worked on it from around 2014. We thank the staff in the Bill Office, the Committee and those in the Assembly tonight for their support.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin 2:00 am, 8th June 2021

I call on Matthew O'Toole to make a winding-up speech.

Photo of Matthew O'Toole Matthew O'Toole Social Democratic and Labour Party

I will try to keep this brief. I welcome the debate. It has been very productive. I echo what everyone said about the importance of the legislation and of debating it. Whatever happens with the Bill, it is good that we are debating it and that we are making reforms.

I will go through a few comments that were made. The Committee Chair talked about how the report wanted to get a balanced review of the surrender principle. I could not agree more with that, and I reiterate that my amendment is not simply about a review of the surrender principle but about a review of the licensing system. I will come later to what the Minister discussed. Critically, my amendment is about data gathering and getting more info. I could not be more in agreement about the importance of the Pub is the Hub model.

It is true that a precedent has been set by other proposed amendments to clarify and introduce review mechanisms to the Bill. My amendment No 45 simply extends review mechanisms to a broader review of the licensing system. I recognise that people want to know that this will be a carefully thought-through and holistic review of the licensing system. That is why I drafted amendment No 45 as I did. I agree with much of what Caoimhe Archibald said. I do not agree with her view of the amendment, but I agree with nearly everything else that she said about how the system is regulated.

As I said, if my amendment passes tonight, I will look to clarify a timeline. I will come back to that when I get on to what the Minister said. People raised timing. I will not die in a ditch, as it were, over the timeline. It is much more important that we get it right and that it is done properly. I am not wedded to the timeline. If my amendment passes tonight, which is for the Assembly to decide, I will certainly work with others to table an amendment at Further Consideration Stage to clarify the timeline. I hope that the Speaker accepts that, because it should be a relatively straightforward amendment to the amendment that I tabled tonight.

Kellie Armstrong was clear, as I was, that nothing in my amendment changes the surrender principle. Perhaps it is because I mentioned the surrender principle in the title of my amendment that people see that as the monomaniacal focus of the amendment. It is not. The surrender principle is mentioned simply because it is important that we understand and acknowledge that it is a critical part of how our licensing system works. It was not in the scope of the original Bill when it was presented to the Assembly back in 2016. The officials have lived with and endured the Bill for a number of years. The purpose of putting the reference to that phrase in the amendment is that it is part of the review. It is not because it is the sole focus of the proposed review but simply because it is critical to understanding how our system works. As Kellie Armstrong and I said, it does not presuppose change and does not say that there will be good or bad reform of the surrender principle or, indeed, of any other aspect of the licensing system. It is simply about understanding it and having a fulsome look at it. I do not understand or see how that could have any sort of prejudicial financial consequences, given that it is simply a statutory version of what was called for in the Committee report and of reviews that the Department has already pledged to carry out on other parts of the Bill.

I think that we would all quite like to go to Rachel Woods's granny's taproom in Galway, which sounds like great craic. I am sure that it is closed now, unfortunately, and it is a long drive to Galway. Data is critical, and Rachel mentioned the importance of getting it right. She also pointed out, and it is true, that there is nothing in amendment No 45 that has anything to do with cheap drink. Sometimes, people rush to that conclusion. First, there is nothing in my amendment that creates or presupposes any reform. Secondly, even if there was reform at some date in the future, which would have to be debated and decided by the Assembly, literally, in years to come, no kind of reform would necessarily need be done as it has been done in England. It does not necessarily mean licensing liberalisation: it could mean any number of things. It would not necessarily even remove the surrender principle. As I say, the review would simply examine how it, and the rest of the licensing system, is working.

Rachel also talked about the importance of the Pub is the Hub model. That is important to me because my amendments endeavour to create a review structure that sees how we can best make that a reality. We all want to see it become a reality. Rachel also mentioned the important issue of staff safety. When we extend licensing, as we are doing in other parts of the Bill, it is important that we recognise that we are creating additional burdens and, occasionally, stresses and risks for staff.

She also mentioned staggered closing times. I will be as brief as I can on that. People have been in touch with me about it. There is a strong argument for staggering closing times in order to make them as secure as possible but also to build the night-time economy for entertainment venues and performers. That is something to be considered in the future.

Finally, I come to the Minister's remarks. I have dealt with a lot of what she said. I welcome the Minister's acknowledgement that there is something to be reviewed and to engage here. I recognise that she has given a clear commitment to engage. If my amendment falls, I will certainly take her up on that offer in a constructive way. If it passes, I will come forward with an amendment at Further Consideration Stage, which I hope is taken, that would address the issue of the timeline and any other technical issues that the Department, or others in the sector, felt could be usefully clarified, because the purpose of that is not to rush headlong into something or to presuppose an outcome: it is simply to design a system and guarantee that we have a review. That is the purpose.

I appreciate the detail that the Minister gave. That was useful for me in understanding the logistics of what would be required. I respect that. As I say, if my amendment passes, I do not see that as the end of this. I would be happy to look at further amendments to give comfort to the Department that it would have the space and what it needs to make it work. If my amendment does not pass, I will also engage with and lobby the Department to ensure that, as the Minister said, it does not fall by the wayside and that we have other means by which to do it.

I do not agree with the Minister with regard to amendment No 46. She acknowledged that the way in which information on extant licences and operational pubs is gathered is, at best, disparate. I urge people who want to inform themselves about that to read the House of Commons Library document, which gathers that stuff into a useful format. It would, however, be useful to have that done by DFC.

Let me say again that I am open, if my amendment passes, to looking at clarifications or amendments to technicalities at Further Consideration Stage. I am aware that it was not debated in detail by the Committee and that the Department has been busy. If the Department wishes to engage on further detail, should the amendment pass, I would be more than happy to discuss that and engage on it.

I will not go through the other amendments in detail, because I think that there is broad support for them. The Minister explained what they do in detail. Since we all want to get home, I will close my remarks at that point.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Thank you, Members, for participating in the debate.

Question put, That amendment No 45 be made. The Assembly divided:

<SPAN STYLE="font-style:italic;"> Ayes 57; Noes 26

AYES

Dr Aiken, Mr Allen, Ms Armstrong, Ms Bailey, Mrs Barton, Mr Beattie, Mr Blair, Mr M Bradley, Ms P Bradley, Ms S Bradley, Ms Bradshaw, Mr K Buchanan, Mr T Buchanan, Mr Buckley, Ms Bunting, Mr Butler, Mrs Cameron, Mr Carroll, Mr Catney, Mr Chambers, Mr Clarke, Mr Dickson, Mrs Dodds, Mr Dunne, Mr Durkan, Mr Easton, Mr Frew, Mr Givan, Mr Harvey, Mr Hilditch, Mr Humphrey, Ms Hunter, Mr Irwin, Mrs D Kelly, Mrs Long, Mr Lunn, Mr Lyons, Mr Lyttle, Mr McCrossan, Mr McGrath, Miss McIlveen, Ms McLaughlin, Mr McNulty, Ms Mallon, Mr Middleton, Mr Muir, Mr Nesbitt, Mr Newton, Mr O'Toole, Mr Poots, Mr Robinson, Mr Stewart, Mr Storey, Ms Sugden, Mr Swann, Mr Weir, Miss Woods

Tellers for the Ayes: Mr Catney, Ms Sugden

NOES

Ms Anderson, Dr Archibald, Mr Boylan, Ms Brogan, Ms Dillon, Ms Dolan, Ms Ennis, Ms Flynn, Mr Gildernew, Ms Hargey, Mr Kearney, Mr G Kelly, Ms Kimmins, Mr Lynch, Mr McAleer, Mr McCann, Mr McGuigan, Mr McHugh, Ms Mullan, Mr Murphy, Ms Ní Chuilín, Mr O'Dowd, Mrs O'Neill, Ms Rogan, Mr Sheehan, Ms Sheerin

Tellers for the Noes: Ms Ennis, Ms Ní Chuilín

Question accordingly agreed to.

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 46 made:

Before clause 19 insert -

<BR/>

Annual publication of the number of operational liquor licenses


18B.—(1) The Department for Communities shall publish an annual report on the operation of the liquor licensing system in Northern Ireland that includes for each year—


(a) the number of Article 5(1)(a) and Article 5(1)(b) licenses in operation,


(b) the number of operational public houses and their location by postcode,


(c) a ten-year rolling horizon forecast for each of 1(a) and 1(b).” — [Mr O'Toole.]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 19 to 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 47 made:

After clause 22 insert -



Alterations to premises


Consent required for alterations to premises


 


22A.—(1) After Article 12 of the Registration of Clubs Order insert—


 


‘Alterations to club premises


 


Consent required for certain alterations to premises


 


12A.—(1) An alteration shall not, subject to paragraph (2), be made to the premises of a registered club if the alteration—


(a) gives increased facilities for drinking in any part of the premises which contains a bar; or


(b) adds to any part of the premises which contains a bar or substitutes one such part of the premises for another; or


(c) conceals from observation a part of the premises in which intoxicating liquor is supplied; or


(d) affects the means of passage between a part of the premises which contains a bar and the remainder of the premises or any road or other public place.


(2) An alteration such as is mentioned in paragraph (1) may be made if—


(a) an application under this Article has been made by the secretary of the club to a county court and the court has made an order consenting to the alteration; or


(b) the alteration is required by order of some lawful authority and, before the alteration is made, notice of the requirement is served by the secretary of the club on the clerk of petty sessions.


(3) The procedure for applications under paragraph (2)(a) is set out in Part 1 of Schedule 4A, and Part 2 of that Schedule has effect in relation to notices under paragraph (2)(b).


(4) If an alteration such as is mentioned in paragraph (1) is made to premises otherwise than in accordance with an order of the county court or an order of some lawful authority, a court of summary jurisdiction may order the registered club to restore, as far as is practicable, the premises to their original condition within a period fixed by the order.


(5) The period fixed by an order under paragraph (4) may be extended by order of a court of summary jurisdiction on the application of the secretary of the club.


(6) If paragraph (2)(b) is not complied with, the registered club and every official of the club is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.


(7) If the registered club makes default in complying with an order under paragraph (4), the club and every official of the club is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.


(8) This Article does not apply to an extension such as requires authorisation under Article 15A.’.


 


(2) After Schedule 4 to the Registration of Clubs Order insert—


‘SCHEDULE 4A


APPLICATIONS AND NOTICES UNDER ARTICLE 12A


PART 1


APPLICATIONS FOR CONSENT TO ALTERATIONS


1. In this Part ‘application’ means an application under Article 12A(2)(a).


2. The secretary of a club which intends to make an application must, not less than 3 weeks before the time of the opening of the court sitting at which the application is to be made, serve notice of the application upon the chief clerk and at the same time serve a copy of the notice upon—


(a) the district commander for the police district in which the premises of the club are situated; and


(b) the person whose name is recorded in the register of clubs as the owner of the premises of the club.


3. The notice mentioned in paragraph 2 must be in such form and, without prejudice to paragraph 4, must contain such other information as may be prescribed by county court rules.


4. The applicant must attach a plan of the premises showing the alteration to—


(a) the notice mentioned in paragraph 2, and


(b) the copy of that notice which is served upon the district commander.


5. The district commander upon whom notice is required by paragraph 2 to be served or the person whose name is recorded in the register of clubs as the owner of the premises of the club may appear at the hearing of the application and object to the court consenting to the alteration to which the application relates.


6. A person intending to object under paragraph 5 must, not less than 1 week before the time of the opening of the court sitting at which the application is to be made—


(a) serve upon the applicant notice of the intention to object, briefly stating the grounds for so doing;


(b) serve a copy of the notice upon the chief clerk.


PART 2


NOTICES OF ALTERATIONS REQUIRED BY AUTHORITIES


7. The notice must be in such form and, without prejudice to paragraph 8, must contain such other information as may be prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.


8.—(1) The secretary of the club must attach to the notice a plan of the premises showing the proposed alterations.


(2) The alterations shown in the plan mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) must be authenticated by or on behalf of the authority in question in the manner prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.’.


(3) In Article 16 of the Registration of Clubs Order (register of clubs), in paragraph (2), after paragraph (d) insert—


‘(da) particulars of any order made under Article 12A(2)(a), (4) or (5) in respect of the premises of the club and of any requirement in respect of those premises notice of which is served under Article 12A(2)(b);’.


(4) In Part 3 of Schedule 6 to that Order (penalty points punishable with level 5 fine) at the appropriate place insert—


 









‘12A(7)



Failure to comply with court order to make alterations etc.



5-6’


 



”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 23 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 48 made:

After clause 23 insert -



Removal of restrictions on late opening on Sunday


23A.—(1) In Article 24 of the Registration of Clubs Order (general permitted hours), in paragraph (1)—


(a) after sub-paragraph (a) and the following ‘and’ insert—


‘(aa) on Sundays other than Christmas Day, from half past 12 in the afternoon to 11 in the evening; and’, and


(b) in sub-paragraph (c), omit ‘Sunday or’.


(2) In Article 26 of the Registration of Clubs Order (authorisations for special occasions), in paragraph (1)(a), for paragraphs (ii) and (iii) (but not the ‘or’ following paragraph (iii)) substitute—


“(ii) on Sundays, from 11 in the evening to 1 in the morning of the day next following,’.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 24 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 49 made:

After clause 24 insert -



Increase in number of authorisations for special occasions


24A.—(1) In Article 26 of the Registration of Clubs Order (authorisation for special occasions), in paragraph (2), for ‘85’ substitute ‘104’.


(2) After paragraph (4) of that Article insert—


“(5) A person who intends to make an application under this Article shall—


(a) during the 3 weeks before the first occasion to which the application relates, cause notice of the application to be displayed on or near the premises of the club;


(b) not less than 3 weeks before that time, serve a copy of the notice of the application on the district council for the district in which the premises of the club are situated.


(6) The notice under paragraph (5) must contain such information as may be prescribed by magistrates’ courts rules.


(7) The following provisions of this Article apply where a complaint is made to a court of summary jurisdiction under Part 8 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 on the grounds—


(a) that the business carried on in the premises of the club is being conducted during the hours mentioned in paragraph (1) or any period immediately following their termination in such a manner as to cause undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises; or


(b) that such hours are causing undue inconvenience to persons residing in the vicinity of the premises.


(8) Where the court is satisfied that the grounds of the complaint are made out, it may—


(a) revoke the authorisation; or


(b) modify the authorisation or, in relation to the authorisation, the hours mentioned in paragraph (1); or


(c) make the continuance of the authorisation subject to such terms and conditions as the court thinks fit.


(9) The terms and conditions which may be imposed under paragraph (8)(c) include those requested by the district commander of the police district in which the premises of the club are situated.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin 2:15 am, 8th June 2021

I will not call amendment No 50 as it is mutually exclusive with amendment No 49, which has been made.

Clauses 25 and 26 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 27 (Underage functions)

Amendment No 51 made:

In page 29, line 8, after “force” insert-

<BR/>

“or during the first 30 minutes after the authorisation has ceased to be in force”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 27, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28 (Private functions)

Amendment No 52 made:

In page 29, line 29, leave out from “of” to “parent” in line 30 and insert-



“either of a parent of that person or of a parent of another person who is under 18 and attending the function”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 28, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 29 (Young people prohibited from bars)

Amendment No 53 made:

In page 30, line 8, leave out from “1 June” to “August” in line 9 and insert-



“and includes 1 May and ends on and includes 30 September”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 54 made:

In page 30, line 25, leave out from “one” to “ceremony” in line 26 and insert “up to three such ceremonies”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 55 made:

In page 30, line 29, at end insert -



“(5) In that Article, after paragraph (14) insert—


‘(15) Regulations may modify paragraph (13)(a)(i) so as to substitute a different period for the period for the time being specified there.


(16) Regulations may modify paragraph (13A) so as to substitute a different number of prize-giving ceremonies for the number for the time being specified there.


(17) Regulations may not be made under paragraph (15) or (16) unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 29, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 30 (Prohibition on self-service and supply by vending machines)

Amendment No 56 made:

In page 30, line 41, at end insert -



“(2A) The activities prohibited by this Article include making intoxicating liquor available for consumption in the premises of a registered club which, in the absence of an official, manager or servant employed in the club, members or guests are trusted by the committee of management or governing body of the club—


(a) to pay for by placing money in a container, or by some other process, which the club has provided for that purpose, or


(b) to agree to pay for by recording by a process which the club has provided for that purpose the intoxicating liquor appropriated.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 57 made:

In page 31, line 6, (middle column), leave out “member or guest to operate dispenser or supplying it” and insert “self-service or”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 30, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 31 and 32 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 58 made:

Before clause 33 insert -



Guidance


32A.—(1) The Department for Communities must issue guidance about—


(a) the effect of the Licensing Order,


(b) the effect of Part 1 of this Act on that Order, and


(c) such other matters as the Department considers appropriate in connection with licensing premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor (within the meaning of the Licensing Order).


(2) The Department for Communities must issue guidance about—


(a) the effect of the Registration of Clubs Order,


(b) the effect of Part 2 of this Act on that Order, and


(c) such other matters as the Department considers appropriate in connection with the registration of clubs.


(3) The Department for Communities must—


(a) keep any guidance issued under this section under review, and


(b) revise any guidance issued under this section if the Department considers revision to be necessary in light of review.


(4) The Department for Communities must publish any guidance issued or revised under this section.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause

Amendment No 59 made:

Before clause 33 insert -



Review


32B.—(1) The Department for Communities must review and make a report on the implementation of each provision of Part 1 and of each provision of Part 2—


(a) as soon as practicable after the third anniversary of the commencement of that provision, and


(b) at least once in every five years after the making of the previous report on the implementation of that provision.


(2) The Department for Communities must—


(a) lay a copy of each report under this section before the Assembly, and


(b) having done that, publish the report.


(3) The Department for Communities may by regulations provide that subsections (1) and (2) are to cease to have effect on the date specified; but the regulations may not specify a date which is earlier than the tenth anniversary of this Act receiving Royal Assent.


(4) Regulations under this section are not to be made unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the Assembly.” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

New clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 33 to 35 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 36 (Commencement and short title)

Amendment No 60 made:

In page 33, line 24, leave out paragraph (a). — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Clause 36, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 (Minor and consequential amendments)

Amendment No 61 made:

In page 34, line 11, after “52D,” insert “52E,”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Amendment No 62 made:

In page 35, line 34, at end insert -



“18A. In Schedule 1 (provisions to be included in club rules), after paragraph 13 (day membership at sporting clubs) insert—


‘13A. But paragraph 13 entitles a person to use facilities of the club on the day in question only if the person also engages in sporting activities of the club on that day; and paragraph 14 applies subject to this paragraph.’” — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 (Repeals)

Amendment No 63 made:

In page 37, line 5, at end, insert in column 2 -









 



In Article 24(1)(c), ‘Sunday or’.



 


”. — [Ms Hargey (The Minister for Communities).]

Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.

Long title agreed to.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

That concludes the Consideration Stage of the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill. The Bill stands referred to the Speaker.

Adjourned at 2.45 am.