HC Deb 19 October 1994 vol 248 cc342-3

Lords amendment: No. 47, in page 44, line 13, after ("apply") insert ("—

(a) in England and Wales,")

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

With this, it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 48, 51, 56 to 63 and 173.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Existing powers in Scotland were previously deemed to be adequate to deal with any problems likely to be encountered in controlling unlicensed raves. We were mindful of the fact that in extreme cases the police already have powers to seize music-making equipment and that those powers may serve as a deterrent to persons who might otherwise be inclined to hold illegal raves. Furthermore, there was a limited measure of control in respect of raves that enabled local authorities to require a licence for the use of premises as a place of public entertainment. In another place, we undertook to review whether those powers were sufficient, in a preventive capacity, to stop growth in illegal raves in Scotland of the type experienced in England.

The outcome pointed to the possibility that persons who arrange such events may turn their unwelcome attention to the north if prevented from mounting raves south of the border, thereby causing misery to local residents. The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland concurs with that view.

7.45 pm

Amendment No. 173 will have the effect of extending to Scotland prevention powers in relation to raves and the power to retain and to charge for seized vehicles and property, including musical equipment under clause 59. Although the existing rave scene in Scotland can adequately be contained, it may not be able to deal effectively with any increases in such events if organisers decided to exploit the potentially lucrative market in Scotland. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Clifton-Brown), who tabled relevant amendments in Committee. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) also raised the issue.

Incidentally, in case any hon. Member does not know, a rave—for the purposes of clause 58—is a large gathering in the open air at which incredibly loud music is played during the night, likely to cause serious distress to local people. We are not in favour of unlicensed uncontrolled raving. In contrast, a licensed rave is a form of entertainment including dance and music that is approved by local authority licensing procedures and which, by definition, is unlikely to cause serious distress to local people.

Mr. Beith

The Minister may be encouraged to know that plans were made to hold a rave of the first kind in my constituency, within one mile of the Scottish border. That was desisted from after strong local opposition. I am relieved to inform the Minister that the organisers did not proceed to stage the event immediately north of the border, as they might have done.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The right hon. Gentleman's point reinforces our argument that pre-emptive measures are necessary. I commend the amendment to the House.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

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