Clause 84 - Extension of Noise Act 1996 tolicensed premises etc

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 27th January 2005.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

I seek clarification of the term ''licensed premises''. Can the Minister give a proper definition, perhaps for the purposes of the clause and schedule 1, so that we can be clear about the exact scope of the Bill and the clause?

Photo of Ms Sue Doughty Ms Sue Doughty Shadow Minister (the Environment), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

I am interested in how the clause will work. When I read it initially, I assumed that it related to noise coming from licensed premises, but certainly in the past week, when the public and politicians have been having quite a wide debate about the extension of licensing hours, one thing that people have remarked on heavily is that   there is noise not only from the pub itself but from the comings and goings, the chatter of people leaving, the shouting in the street and the other activities associated with licensed premises. There is noise in the environment of licensed premises as well as in the licensed premises. Will the Minister explain what he means by an extension to licensed premises? Does that include noise from associated activity as well as in the premises themselves?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The clause applies to licensed premises rather than to wider issues in the street; it is not intended to deal with that. We should remember that this is an environmental Bill primarily, dealing with noise. The clause is intended to give local authorities new powers to tackle the night noise problem from licensed premises. It provides local authorities with powers to take action when the noise from licensed premises at night is causing annoyance to those in the vicinity but the problem is not severe enough to warrant serving a 24-hour closure order under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. That will make it easier to tackle antisocial behaviour in a proportionate way, and responds to a number of concerns about the impact of licensing hours in terms of noise. A local authority will be able to serve a notice on a pub or club requiring it to reduce noise levels. If it does not comply, an offence is committed.

Clause 84 gives effect to schedule 1, which amends the Noise Act 1996 to extend local authority powers to take action against night noise under the Act to cover licensed premises. The powers of local authorities under the Noise Act are currently restricted to night noise from dwellings. That is the principal difference. This measure provides for an appropriate and proportionate response where there was perhaps a gap in the powers available to local authorities.

The offence of causing noise beyond the specified level after due warning has been given is applied to the ''responsible person'', who is the person in charge of the premises when the offence is committed. The permitted level of noise for licensed premises will be determined—work is taking place on this—in time for the implementation of this provision. With those words of explanation, I hope that we can agree that clause 84 will stand part of the Bill.

Miss McIntosh rose—

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Order. I have allowed the Minister to give that explanation, but our debate on the narrow clause 84 is turning into a debate on schedule 1, which I do not want to happen at this point, although the Minister has very helpfully set the stage for it. If the hon. Lady intends to get us into schedule 1, I ask her to wait just a moment, by which time I suspect that we shall be on to schedule 1. Is that helpful?

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

Could I beg your indulgence, Mr. Forth, and ask whether the point that I was intending to raise is best made at that stage or at this stage? It concerns the relationship between clause 84 and section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst 3:00 pm, 27th January 2005

I suspect that that matter would be better raised in the debate on schedule 1.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 84 ordered to stand part of the Bill.