Clause 113

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 10th February 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 1:30 pm, 10th February 2011

I beg to move amendment 587, in clause 113, page 73, line 32, at end insert—

Photo of Joe Benton Joe Benton Labour, Bootle

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 588, in clause 113, page 73, line 32, at end add—

Amendment 589, in clause 113, page 74, line 22, at end insert—

Amendment 590, in clause 113, page 74, line 26, after ‘106A(3)’, insert

Amendment 591, in clause 113, page 74, line 29, after ‘106A(3)’, insert

Amendment 592, in clause 113, page 74, line 44, after ‘106A(3)’, insert

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

We move on to the issue of conditions attached—or not, as the case may be—to TENs. The amendments attempt to close the loophole that exists whereby the conditions on a premises licence do not  apply for the duration of the temporary event notice, and to introduce a mechanism for adding controls to a temporary event notice in unlicensed premises.

When temporary event notices were introduced, there was a light-touch regime to minimise the regulatory burden on small, ad hoc events that were unlikely to give rise to problems. Unfortunately, the use of TENs has far exceeded the Government’s expectations, as some people regard them as a way of circumventing licensing controls. Some 124,400 TENs were used in the financial year ending in March 2010, according to the “DCMS National Statistics Bulletin” for April 2009 to March 2010.

The Bill proposes that, when a TEN is sought for a licensed premises, it is only following a representation—for example, from the police or the environmental health authority, as has been mentioned—that licensing authorities will be able to insist that relevant conditions from the licence also apply for the duration of the temporary event notice. Regulations will stipulate the process, format and time scales for notifying applicants of those conditions.

A more transparent and less burdensome approach would be for all existing premises licence conditions to apply automatically, apart from those that will be altered by the issuing of a temporary event notice—in general, that would be about the hours—and that is what the lead and following amendments propose. For example, if there are conditions on a premises licence that apply until midnight—having to have doors and windows kept closed during live entertainment, and requiring door supervisors to disperse crowds quietly at the end of the evening—a temporary event notice that extends the hours during which alcohol can be sold until 1 am should automatically be subject to the same conditions.

The amendment would allow a licensing authority to add appropriate conditions to temporary event notices that are granted to unlicensed premises. That is necessary to allow authorities to add simple controls to such temporary event notices—for example, on timings and noise restrictions. If premises do not have an existing license, no conditions would exist to be automatically transferred. Currently, no mechanism exists for adding controls to a temporary event notice in unlicensed premises. Will the Minister address the amendment? It is meant to be helpful, as it deals with a problem that might have been overlooked in the original 2003 Act.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

I thank the hon. Lady for the way in which she has approached the issue. There is a recognition that there have been problems in some cases with conditions and whether they should be applied to a temporary event notice. However, to revert to our previous debate on the balance to be struck in relation to bureaucracy versus ease of operation for a temporary event notice, we believe that the proposal, which could affect any temporary event in licensed or unlicensed premises, goes a step too far and is too onerous a requirement for what is intended to be a light-touch process for events of short duration, as she understood and accepted in our previous debate.

As the hon. Lady knows, licence conditions can be costly, and the amendment is likely to impose additional costs on temporary events, particularly those held in  unlicensed premises such as schools or for fundraising purposes. The amendment could undermine one principle of the 2003 Act, which is that conditions should be appropriate and tailored to the specific premises.

I also have concerns about the proposal to apply existing licensing conditions to temporary events held in licensed premises. Licensing conditions, as we have said, can be costly, and although the costs might be justified and necessary for permanent activities, they might not be so for temporary events. However, I agree that the requirement might not always be so onerous, which is why we have put in place the ability for an objection to be raised and conditions to be applied in such circumstances.

We share the Opposition’s concerns about some temporary events. For that reason, our proposals include measures to ensure that events that might lead to crime and disorder or nuisance do not go ahead. We are proposing that licensing authorities should be able to apply some or all existing licensing conditions to a TEN, but only if the police or, in future, the environmental health authority object to the TEN on the grounds of any of the licensing objectives.

Currently, the licensing authority has only two options: to allow a TEN to go ahead or to issue a counter-notice to prevent it. The Government’s approach provides a third option that will allow events to go ahead in licensed premises but with relevant license conditions applied to ensure adequate protection for those who might be at the premises, residents and local businesses. We believe that that is a proportionate response to the problems caused by a small number of temporary events and will not unfairly penalise responsible businesses.

We are also introducing other controls to ensure that temporary events are adequately controlled. Currently, the police may object to a TEN on crime and disorder grounds and have only two working days to consider a TEN and lodge any objections. Local authorities, the police and residents’ associations have told us that the main problem with temporary events, apart from crime and disorder, is noise nuisance, which is why we added the environmental health authorities, as I said during a previous debate. Finally, we will give both the environmental health authority and the police three working days to object to a TEN so that they have additional time to consider the matter and decide whether the event is likely to have an adverse impact on the licensing objectives.

We are confident that the measures will prevent temporary events that might undermine the licensing objectives without imposing unreasonable costs on licensees. I think that the hon. Lady acknowledged that point. There is a balance to be struck, but for the reasons that I have given, I ask her to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I am grateful for what the Minister has said. It is useful to hear the Government’s approach to temporary event notices. However, on amendment 587, I feel that most people, using common sense, would think it strange if the license conditions that apply to licensed premises did not automatically attach to those premises if a TEN were issued. On that basis, I would like to call a Division on amendment 587.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 8.

Question accordingly negatived.

Clause 113 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 114 ordered to stand part of the Bill.