Clause 113

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

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 1:30 pm, 10th February 2011

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.