HC Deb 19 June 1961 vol 642 cc1100-7


7. In subsection (1) of section one hundred and sixty-five of the Licensing Act, 1953, the definition of "new justices' licence" shall be omitted, and in that Act and this Act "new" in relation to a justices' licence shall be taken as referring to a licence granted otherwise than by way of renewal, transfer or removal.

8.—(1) For the purposes of the Licensing Act, 1953, the renewal of a justices' licence shall not include the grant of a licence to a person other than the holder or last holder of the licence to be renewed; but in relation to a transfer of a justices' on-licence whereby the duration of the licence is extended subsection (2) of section eleven and section twelve of that Act (which give licensing justices in the case of a renewal certain powers to call for a plan of the licensed premises and to require structural alterations) shall apply as they apply in relation to a renewal.

(2) The proviso to subsection (1) of section eleven of the Licensing Act, 1953, shall cease to have effect, but where the holder of a justices' licence fails to apply for its renewal at the general annual licensing meeting at which it is due for renewal, and the licence expires in consequence of his failure, an application by him for a similar licence for the same premises shall be treated as an application for renewal, and the grant of the licence applied for shall be treated as a renewal of the expired licence, if the application is made not later than the next general annual licensing meeting and the licensing justices are satisfied that he had reasonable cause for his failure.

(3) In subsections (3) and (4) of that section, the reference to the holder of a justices' licence shall include the last holder of an expired licence, and for the reference in subsection (3) to the general annual licensing meeting there shall be substituted a reference to the licensing sessions.

9.—(1) Any removal may be granted to a person other than the holder of the licence removed, and the application for the removal and, in the case of a temporary premises removal, the application for the certificate of the licensing planning committee shall be made, as in the case of an application for an ordinary removal, by the person wishing to hold the licence after removal.

(2) The provisons of the Licensing Act, 1953, with respect to special removals shall apply only in the case of an old on-licence, and (subject to the restrictions on removals imposed by Parts II and III of that Act) in relation to the special removal of an old on-licence subsection (4) of section eleven and sections fourteen, fifteen and seventeen of that Act shall apply as they would apply in the case of a renewal, except that

  1. (a) any reference to the licensed premises being structurall y deficient or structurally unsuitable as a ground for refusing the grant shall apply to the premises to be licensed and;
  2. (b) where the occasion for the special removal is the pulling down of the licensed premises or those premises having been rendered unfit by fire, tempest or other calamity, any compensation for the refusal of the grant shall be determined as if the premises were in the same condition as at the last renewal or transfer of the licence.

10. The provisions of section eighteen of the Licensing Act, 1953, as to the charges payable in respect of the renewal of old on licences shall have effect also in respect of a transfer or removal of such a licence whereby the duration of the licence is extended (the charge in respect of a removal to a different area being payable in that area); and references to renewal in sections forty-nine and fifty of that Act (which contain supplementary provisions as to the renewal of old on-licences) shall include transfer and removal.

11. In subsection (5) of section forty-eight of the Licensing Act, 1953 (which contains a saving for acts done by a justice as a member of a licensing committee or confirming authority while disqualified for membership), for the reference to a confirming authority there shall he substituted a reference to a compensation authority.—[The Solicitor-General.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Schedule be read a Second time.

Sir F. Soskice

This is a very complicated Schedule. I have read it several times and I am convinced that I have missed half of it. I think that before we give it blank approval that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should give us some indication of its content.

The Solicitor-General

I briefly indicated the contents of this Schedule in connection with an Amendment which we discussed at the beginning of the Report stage, which amounted to this, that we removed from Clause 1 and from the general law the confirmation procedure in so far as it related to the new Part I licences, and we also removed the confirmation procedure in respect of the general law.

In place of that we put a system of appeals to quarter sessions. That system of appeals to quarter sessions was not only at the suit of an applicant who had been refused an on-licence, but also also at the suit of an objector. That new code obviously commended itself to the House, as it commended itself to the Committee upstairs when it was adumbrated by my right hon. Friend.

Having instituted a new system of appeals to quarter sessions, it meant a considerable redrafting of the procedure before the licensing justices generally. Once we embarked on that, it gave an opportunity to review the existing code of procedure before the licensing justices.

Except for the confirmation procedure, that procedure before the licensing justices dated from the last century, and was out of date in many respects. We therefore thought that the convenient thing to do was to pick out all the existing statutes and re-enact a code of procedure which fitted into system which the House had of appeals to quarter sessions, it up to date.

The main matters in which the Schedule makes improvements and changes are as follows. I would be very pleased to answer any points of detail that may occur to hon. Members on the Schedule, but the easiest way is for me to say in what respects it departs from the existing procedure.

First, the old procedure provides for notice to be given to potential objectors very largely by posting the notice of application to the licensing justices on the church door. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) smiles, but he, with his experience on licensing benches, probably knows better than anyone else in the House that that procedure still exists. This has been replaced by a system of advertising similar to that which we laid down in the Betting and Gaming Act. All church door notices are now abolished, and there is substituted a requirement for newspaper advertisement. In the past the notice had to be given to the Chairman of the parish council; it must now be given to the clerk to the parish council. That was pressed on us by the National Association of Parish Councils as being a desirable improvement.

I think I mentioned earlier that there is a new requirement about notice to fire authorities. I know the House will have in mind the sort of situation to which that is directed. It is of particular significance at this time, because there is a little danger that some clubs may seek licences in view of the provisions of Part III. In other words, it may be felt that these provisions are too stringent and clubs may seek an ordinary on-licence because they do not qualify for registration. Apart from those and other minor procedural reforms, the Schedule is concerned with appeals to quarter sessions and the commencement and duration of licences. It contains provisions about the proper parties to appeals, and the procedure and the cost of appeals. The House will have realised that the provisions about the duration of licences are those which we went into exhaustively in Committee, on Clause 11.

Paragraph 1 governs the holding of the new brewster and transfer sessions. It modifies the present law in a way made and bring necessary by the provisions of the new Clause which we passed at the commencement of the Report stage, allowing licences to be granted at transfer sessions. Formerly they could be granted only at brewster sessions, held each March. Now they can be granted additionally at transfer sessions, which, under the new law, as under the old, are held anything from four to eight times a year. This means that the application for a new licence can be heard, roughly speaking, at the time it arises, without its having to wait for perhaps eleven months, if the desire for it arises shortly after the brewster sessions have been held.

Paragraph 2 deals with the procedure for application to the licensing justices. I have mentioned the main amendments to existing practice which it creates: the church door notices replaced by newspaper advertisements, the notice to the clerk of the parish council instead of the chairman, and the requirement to the fire authority. Paragraph (3) deals with procedure before the licensing justices and, I think, is self-explanatory. Paragraph (4) sets up the machinery for appeals under the Clause which has already been approved and is modelled on Sections 35–37 of the 1953 Act. Paragraphs (5) and (6) govern the coming into force and duration of justices' licences, and, as I said, much of it was contained in Clause 11.

11.0 p.m.

Part II is mainly concerned with drafting or technical amendments to the 1953 Act. I think that paragraph 9 (2) is the only one to which I need refer at this stage. By that a special removal may be granted only in the case of an old on-licence. A special removal, the House will know, is one which takes place only in certain very extraordinary circumstances, mainly in cases where the old premises have been totally destroyed or have fallen down, or something like that. The ordinary removal may now be granted at transfer sessions, and therefore an ordinary removal will serve instead of a special removal in all cases except that of the old on-licence, where special privileges apply.

As I have said, I shall be glad to explain any further detail later. I hope I have indicated the main alterations.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I wonder if it would be possible when the Bill reaches another place for cross-headings to be put into this Schedule. It is a very long and, for some people, probably a complicated Schedule, and it is not easy to find what one wants unless one has either marginal notes or cross-headings. It occurs to me that possibly the Solicitor-General might consider that when the Bill gets to another place or is reprinted, as I gather it is to be in the next 24 hours, something of the kind might be done.

The Solicitor-General made no reference to Schedule 8, but obviously it goes with this as, because of this Schedule, a number of changes will have to be made in the 1953 Act. I may be wrong, but so it seems to me. I do not blame the Solicitor-General for not referring to it, but I take it that when we reach that Schedule we shall pass through it quite quickly because many of the Amendments there suggested hinge on this new Schedule.

I for one have wondered whether, if an hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House had not by inadvertence voted the wrong way in Committee, we should have had this Schedule at all. It was a change in the Bill during the early days in Committee, which re-inserted the confirming authority as part of the procedure in the Bill, that obviously has led to this, and if this is going to be a better way of dealing with it I for one am not sorry that the hon. Gentleman on that occasion made the mistake he did. Some of us are a little sorry that the confirming authority is going. They have done a very good work in the past. But I suppose it was inevitable in view of the fact that licensing justices are going to have their authority so much curtailed under the provisions of the Bill that the confirming authority became in some ways slightly redundant.

Mr. Rees-Davies

It is regrettable that on both occasions when we have arrived at the Schedules it has been at the end of the day. May I ask these specific questions for future reference? Have there been discussions with the various trade parties affected with regard to the very detailed and excellent procedure laid down? If not, could that take place to make sure that they agree that this is a procedure which is suitable to them? I think the appeal to quarter sessions is a much better procedure than the confirming authority. What will be the position under this Schedule regarding the fact that a licence cannot be granted pending an appeal? The additional sessions are excellent in every way. There are now eight, but the difficulty is that there does not appear to be provision for a licence to come into effect in the event if an appeal.

Can it be ascertained whether the justices can dispense with the attendance of the parties and their witnesses for special occasions? That was a matter which was canvassed during the Committee stage proceedings along with many other points which have been satisfactorily covered in the Schedule. If that matter could be looked at, it would mean that it had been dealt with in this one comprehensive Measure. There will be an opportunity for these things to be looked at carefully in another place and therefore other suggestions may be made at a later date.

The Solicitor-General

There have been no consultations with the trade on this Schedule. But, on the other hand, it has been in print for quite a time and we have had no representations against it or any part of it. The representatives of the trade have been rightly alert to scrutinise the proceedings on this Bill. We will examine the other points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall) for what he said about the improvements to the Bill. We will favourably consider putting in cross-headings, which I think a good suggestion. But I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will excuse us if we do not do it before the Bill is reprinted. We have the Third Reading the day after tomorrow and, therefore, the re-printing will have to be undertaken pretty quickly.

I am sorry if I did not make plain that the necessary Amendments to the 1953 Act occur in the second part of the Schedule. They are quite extensive as a result of a number of essential Amendments to the Eighth Schedule which no doubt we can consider when we come to them.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule added to the Bill.

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