Amendments 51 to 54 are technical amendments to schedules 3 and 4. The operating plan or occasional licence must state the times during which alcohol is to be sold on a premises. The amendments clarify the position to the effect that the mandatory condition that alcohol must be sold only in accordance with the times stated in the operating plan or licence, as the case may be, does not itself preclude the activities that are specified in section 59(2) relating to the sale, consumption, and taking away of alcohol outwith licensed hours. Amending the bill in this way makes clear the relationship between section 59(2) and the hours stated in the operating plan or licence. The amendments are not intended to affect the boards' power in any particular case to impose an extra condition on a licence under section 25(4) to restrict any of the activities mentioned in section 59(2).
I move amendment 51.
Amendment 51 agreed to.
Amendment 52 moved—[George Lyon]—agreed to.
Amendment 68 seeks to remove the provisions on non-differential pricing that keep the price of alcohol at a certain level for 72 hours. The Executive said that such a scheme has been piloted in Glasgow and that it works. However, we have not seen much evidence of that. Moreover, Glasgow operates only a 24-hour limit on pricing.
The provisions in the bill unfairly restrict trade and unfairly penalise responsible drinkers such as old age pensioners, who may lose their nip and a half of an afternoon. In evidence to the Local Government and Transport Committee, the National Union of Students Scotland said:
"we do not wish to see new laws that unfairly penalise student associations in favour of big pub chains or nightclubs. For example, for a nightclub that opens only between 10pm and 2am, the 48-hour rule represents a short period of time ... A nightclub can afford to have a two-day promotion and target the student market because it will make up the money at the weekend, whereas a student association cannot afford to do that."—[Official Report, Local Government and Transport Committee, 12 April 2005; c 2306.]
Therefore, there is concern that the policy will be completely ineffective in stopping binge drinking, because it will encourage off-sales—and it is the off-sales sector that causes the major problem,
I move amendment 68.
Amendments 68 and 70, in the name of David Davidson, seek to remove the mandatory licence conditions for premises and occasional licences that establish a non-differential pricing policy requiring licensees to adopt the same price for alcohol for a minimum of 72 hours.
I strongly oppose the amendments and hope that the Parliament shares my view. The need to tackle irresponsible promotions and the problems that are associated with them is central to the policy objectives of the new licensing system. That was supported by the Local Government and Transport Committee and by many of those who gave evidence. I am shocked that the Conservatives would even consider such amendments, particularly in the light of the information that alcohol-related deaths have risen exponentially. Our society is suffering from a real problem with binge drinking.
We recognise that not all alcohol promotions are irresponsible and that most licensees act responsibly in running their businesses. However, the undesirable consequences for health and society of the binge and underage drinking that can be encouraged by irresponsible promotions are widely recognised. We need to take firm action to stop the terrible effects that they are having on individuals and on our communities. That is why we oppose amendment 68.
In effect, the minister has gone down my line of argument about forcing people away from licensed premises, where they may drink socially and responsibly under the care and guidance of responsible property owners, staff and management, to off-sales. That is what will happen. If a new product is promoted in a way that is responsible and that the landlord is happy with, I do not understand how that will encourage binge drinking. The landlord is not going to encourage binge drinking, because that would affect his licence. There will be a responsibility on the premises owner to manage any such promotions on a reasonable basis while retaining some competitive edge.
In the case of bad premises that are not managed correctly, I would support the minister totally in ensuring that the people concerned have difficulty in getting their licence extended or even holding on to it. However, the Executive is tarring everybody with the same brush. It is taking the vast majority of the people concerned down a road that they probably do not want to go down. If licensees had such promotions, they would not cause any more problems. The problems can often start in the off-sales sector.
Division number 10
For: Aitken, Bill, Brocklebank, Mr Ted, Brownlee, Derek, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fraser, Murdo, Gallie, Phil, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Johnstone, Alex, McGrigor, Mr Jamie, Milne, Mrs Nanette, Monteith, Mr Brian, Scanlon, Mary
Against: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Arbuckle, Mr Andrew, Baillie, Jackie, Baird, Shiona, Baker, Richard, Ballance, Chris, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Byrne, Ms Rosemary, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Craigie, Cathie, Crawford, Bruce, Cunningham, Roseanna, Curran, Ms Margaret, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Ewing, Mrs Margaret, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Gibson, Rob, Gillon, Karen, Glen, Marlyn, Godman, Trish, Gordon, Mr Charlie, Gorrie, Donald, Grahame, Christine, Harper, Robin, Harvie, Patrick, Henry, Hugh, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Kerr, Mr Andy, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, MacAskill, Mr Kenny, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Macmillan, Maureen, Martin, Campbell, Martin, Paul, Marwick, Tricia, Mather, Jim, Matheson, Michael, Maxwell, Mr Stewart, May, Christine, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Pringle, Mike, Purvis, Jeremy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robson, Euan, Rumbles, Mike, Ruskell, Mr Mark, Scott, Eleanor, Scott, Tavish, Sheridan, Tommy, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Smith, Margaret, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Swinburne, John, Swinney, Mr John, Turner, Dr Jean, Wallace, Mr Jim, Welsh, Mr Andrew, White, Ms Sandra, Wilson, Allan
Abstentions: Leckie, Carolyn, Mitchell, Margaret
I am minded at this stage to accept a motion without notice to take decision time at 6.15 pm.
That the Parliament agrees that decision time be taken at 6.15 pm.—[Ms Margaret Curran.]
Motion agreed to.