§ (1) Where a person is proceeded against by a local authority for an offence against regulations made under section six of this Act in respect of any premises used as catering premises or of any business carried on at such premises, the following provisions of this section shall have effect.
§ (2) If the person is convicted of the offence, the court may if it thinks it expedient so to do having regard to the gravity of the offence or the unsatisfactory nature of the premises, or to any offences against regulations made under section six of this Act of which the person has previously been convicted, on the application of the local authority make an order disqualifying that person from using those premises as catering premises for such period not exceeding two years as may be specified in the order:
§ Provided that an order under this section shall not be made against any person unless the local authority have, not less than fourteen days before the date of the hearing, given that person written notice of their intention to apply for an order to be made against him.
§ (3) A person subject to an order under this section shall be guilty of an offence if, while the order is in force—
- (a) he uses the premises to which the order relates as catering premises, or
- (b) he participates in the management of any business in the course of which the premises are so used by another person.
§ (4) A person so subject may, at any time after the expiration of six months from the date on which the order came into force and from time to time thereafter, apply to the court before which he was convicted or by which the order was made to revoke the order, and on any such application the court may, if it thinks proper having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including in particular the person's conduct subsequent to the conviction and any improvement in the state of the premises to which the order relates, grant the application.
§ (5) If an application under the last foregoing subsection is refused by the court to which it is made, a further application thereunder shall not be entertained if made within three months after the date of the refusal.458
§ (6) The court to which an application under the said subsection is made shall have power to order the applicant to pay the whole or any part of the costs of the application.—[Dr. Hill.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
We are not now involved in the main controversy. We are now concerned with the procedure to be followed, and there is no discourtesy intended to hon. Members opposite if I formally move the Second Reading of this Clause and deal with questions afterwards.
§ Mr. Willey
I have no objection at all to the Parliamentary Secretary moving the Second Reading of the Clause in this way. The Minister has already said that he will meet us on the general issue, and, therefore, we do not wish to pursue this matter at this stage.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
There is one point in this Clause which I must bring to the attention of the Minister and the Solicitor-General. I am not at all certain that it is not an oversight. The Clause is concerned with the type of case where a person is proceeded against by a local authority, and if that person is convicted owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the premises, the local authority can apply to the court to disqualify the person from occupying those premises.
But what follows is extraordinary. It says that the court maymake an order disqualifying that person from using those premises as catering premises for such period not exceeding two years.…That means this: Notwithstanding that there are premises which have been shown to be quite unsuitable, in respect of which there has been an offence and some person has been convicted, nevertheless, at the expiration of two years that person can go into the same premises and carry on that business. By that time the premises may be more dilapidated and more unsuitable than they were previously.
A man can apply after six months, but he does not need to apply after two years. Certainly after six months he can apply, and within the period from six months to two years he must apply if he wants to carry on the business on the premises 459 again, but after the expiration of the two years he does not need to apply at all. He is at liberty, by the effect of this sub-section, to go into the premises again and carry on business.
I defy anyone to challenge that statement on the terminology of this proposed new Clause as it stands. It must be an omission, and inadvertence. I ask the Minister to look at the matter again, and if I am right in my interpretation, not only do I say that the matter should be put right, but I am perfectly certain that the Government will be prepared to put it right.
§ Clause read a Second time.
§ Mr. E. M. Cooper-Key (Hastings)
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, to leave out "offence or the unsatisfactory nature of the premises, or to."
The object of the Amendment is to prevent exceptionally harsh treatment of an offender against regulations, made under Clause 6, which would follow if this Clause were accepted as it now is. It is a very serious matter to envisage an order made by the courts forbidding a person to use his premises any longer as catering premises. My suggestion is that such an order should not be made, at least unless he has been convicted of more than one offence against the regulations. As this Clause stands, a court is given the power to make such an order on one of three grounds: having regard to the gravity of the offences, or the unsatisfactory nature of the offences, or any previous offences. This Amendment will make it possible for the court only to make an order having regard to both the gravity of the offences and the unsatisfactory nature of the premises.
In theory, any hotel, if it were convicted of breaking any of the regulations under Clause 6, could be closed down, and I think that these regulations for the most part deal with somewhat trifling matters.
§ Mr. G. Darling
I hope the Parliamentary Secretary is not going to agree that a bad catering establishment should have two goes at poisoning its customers.
I agree with the hon. Member that it must be open to the courts when grave offences should disqualify, even although it is a first offence. There is one point which my hon. Friend has raised. As matters stand, it is possible for the man to be convicted of an offence and, because of the unsatisfactory nature of his premises in respect of which there has been no conviction, to be disqualified. We will look at that point to see that we are being absolutely fair.
§ Amendment to the proposed Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause added to the Bill.