Clause 165 - Appeal from decision of magistrates' court

Licensing Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 15th May 2003.

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Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire 4:30 pm, 15th May 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 483, in

clause 165, page 90, line 3, leave out '21' and insert '14'.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment No. 484, in

clause 166, page 90, line 13, leave out '28' and insert '21'.

Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire

These are probing amendments to ask why the Government have decided on 21 days for the appeal period. We have amended that to 14 days. If someone wants to appeal against a magistrates court decision they should get on with it quickly. That is why we have put in a shorter time scale.

Allied to that is amendment No. 484, to clause 166. It is a probing amendment to ascertain why that period was chosen.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

We have already had a number of discussions about the length of time parties should be given to do the various things required of them by the Bill. The hon. Member for Isle of Wight just raised one of them. I have recognised that some of the amendments have logical reasoning behind them. I admit that although some of them have seemed logical I have not accepted them, because I have decided that our time limits are even more logical.

However, if the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I cannot see any great logic behind this group of amendments. The Bill provides that notice of an appeal against a decision made under clause 164 must be made within 21 days. Amendment No. 483 would reduce that period to 14 days. The Bill provides that the licensing authority must reach a determination on a review following closure within 28 days. Amendment No. 484 would change that to 21 days.

The amendments appear to propose arbitrary changes. I am sure that that is not the case, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will tell me why; nevertheless, they would bring the limit down. As I explained in a previous sitting, the time limits were arrived at after consideration of existing practices and after listening to the views of various stakeholders. Inevitably, the industry presses for a more liberal regime and the enforcement agencies, such as the police, press for a tighter regime. Similarly, local authorities would like to have long periods in which to carry out their functions, and the industry would like decisions made as quickly as possible.

We must find the balance between those perfectly reasonable positions. Accordingly, we have tried to set time scales that allow sufficient time for those required to carry out certain activities, but without causing unnecessary, unhelpful delays. I hope that the hon.

Gentleman will agree with our time scales and see fit to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire 4:45 pm, 15th May 2003

I am prepared to accept the Minister's assessment that, after negotiations and discussions, there has been some consensus in the industry about whether the time scales are acceptable. I am happy with that and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 165 ordered to stand part of the Bill.