HC Deb 01 May 1996 vol 276 cc1226-30

18B.—(1) This section applies to premises in respect of which a licence has been granted, whether before or after the coming into force of this section, under section 17 of this Act where no conditions have been attached to the licence in pursuance of section 18A of this Act.

(2) Where it appears to a licensing board that an event to which section 18A of this Act applies may be held on premises to which this section applies, the board shall convene a meeting for the purpose of attaching to the licence the conditions specified in subsection (1) of that section.

(3) The clerk to the licensing board shall, not later than 21 days before the date of the meeting to be held under subsection (2) above, serve on the holder of the licence and send to the chief constable a notice of—

  1. (a) the meeting;
  2. (b) where the Secretary of State has prescribed the terms of any prescribed conditions, such terms;
  3. (c) in the case of any other prescribed conditions, the terms proposed by the board; and
  4. (d) where the board proposes to attach any other conditions to the licence, the terms of such conditions.

(4) At the meeting held under subsection (2) above, unless the holder of the licence satisfies the board that no event to which section 18A of this Act applies will be held on the premises, the board shall attach to the licence the prescribed conditions and such other conditions as it considers necessary in the terms determined in accordance with subsection (5) below.

(5) In determining—

  1. (a) whether the board is satisfied as mentioned in subsection (4) above; or
  2. (b) what conditions (other than prescribed conditions) to attach to a licence or the terms (other than such terms as are prescribed) of such conditions,
the board shall have regard to any observations submitted by the chief constable and any other person or body mentioned in section 16(1) of this Act.

(6) Subsections (2) to (4) of section 16 of this Act shall apply in relation to any observations made under subsection (5) above as they apply in relation to any objection made under that section; and for the purposes of such application any reference in the said subsections (2) to (4)—

  1. (a) to an application shall be construed as a reference to conditions proposed to be attached to the licence;
  2. (b) to the applicant shall be construed as a reference to the holder of the licence;
  3. (c) to an objection shall be construed as a reference to an observation;
  4. (d) to the proper address of the applicant shall be construed as a reference to the address at which notice is served on the holder of the licence under subsection (3) above,
and cognate expressions shall be construed accordingly.

(7) The terms of conditions to be attached to the licence in pursuance of subsection (4) above are—

  1. (a) in the case of the prescribed conditions—
    1. (i) where the terms of any condition have been prescribed, such terms;
    2. (ii) where the description of any condition has been prescribed, such terms as the board considers appropriate;
  2. (b) in the case of any other condition notified under subsection (3)(d) above, such terms as the board consider appropriate; and
  3. (c) in the case of any condition not so notified, such terms as are agreed with the holder of the licence.

(8) Subsections (4) to (9) of section 18A of this Act shall apply to conditions attached to a licence under subsection (4) above as they apply to conditions attached to a licence under section 18A(1) of this Act.

(9) The clerk to the licensing board shall forthwith intimate to the holder of the licence—

  1. (a) where the board is satisfied that no event to which section I 8A of this Act will be held on the premises, that fact; and
  2. (b) where the board attaches conditions to the licence, such conditions by sending to the holder of the licence a copy of the licence with the conditions attached.

(10) In this section "prescribed conditions" has the same meaning as in section 18A of this Act.'.

No. 11, in page 2, line 42, after '18A(1) ', insert 'or 18B(4) '.

No. 12, in page 2, line 46, after '18A(1) ', insert 'or 18B(4) '.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

Order for Third Reading read.

8.33 pm
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I shall speak briefly and mention only one or two key points. The Special Standing Committee heard evidence from interested parties at sessions in Stirling, Ayr and Inverness. The hearings were a considerable success and made the future progress of the Bill more satisfactory.

The parties included such organisations as the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, Sheriff Neil Gow, the Law Society of Scotland, medical, health and education experts and the owners of venues for raves.

We listened to the concerns expressed in Special Standing Committee and decided to give licensing boards a free-standing power with a requirement to apply conditions where appropriate. Other changes followed the Special Standing Committee evidence, including a significant amendment enabling the Secretary of State to ensure consistency in practice throughout the country.

I believe that the Bill will make a valuable contribution to liquor licensing practice in Scotland. I have always said that it is a relatively limited measure, but it flags up our resolve to deal with the evil of drugs, to protect young people and to take every measure that is necessary in that process, of which this is merely one.

8.34 pm
Mr. Galbraith

In continuation of the spirit of which the Minister spoke—

Dr. Godman

My hon. Friend will be brief.

Mr. Galbraith

As my hon. Friend always says, I shall be brief. However, my hon. Friend normally follows that phrase with a 45-minute speech. I shall not do that.

Let me once again commend the procedure in the Special Standing Committee. I served on the Special Standing Committee considering the Children Bill, as did the Minister, and its scrutiny greatly helped that measure. This Bill was almost rewritten as a result of the same procedure and that is to be commended.

I also commend the speed with which the Bill has been introduced to deal with an identified problem. In many ways, legislation reflects the failure of society, as we have not been able to do the right thing without it. However, when it is necessary, we should introduce it quickly and make it short. The Bill is a model of that process.

Let me emphasise a point that I tried to make time and again on Second Reading. The Bill is not a drug prevention measure. On Second Reading, the Minister attempted to link it with drug prevention schemes in Scotland. It is a health and safety Bill involving raves. It is not a drug prevention Bill and the Minister demeans it if he persists with that idea.

Finally, I should like to address the criticism that we cannot have chill-out areas and various other facilities as that assumes that we are in favour of people taking drugs. As my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) said, the fact that we have fire extinguishers in halls does not mean that we are in favour of fire and the fact that our hospitals have facilities for dealing with people who have been stabbed does not mean that we are in favour of people being stabbed.

Legislation has to consider the real world and not moralise about it. We must produce legislation not for the world as we would like it to be, but for the world as it exists, the Bill certainly does that. I welcome it, and commend it to the House.

8.37 pm
Mr. Menzies Campbell

In the calm, rational and consensual atmosphere in which we have discussed the Bill this evening, it is easy to forget the tragic events that prompted it. Those tragic events caused great suffering to families, raised great apprehension in the minds of many people and created considerable public concern. The Bill would meet the difficulties that gave rise to that public concern.

One cannot always be 100 per cent. confident that a measure passed through the House will meet the problem for which it is designed, but it is clear from the spirit that has characterised not only the Second Reading debate before the Grand Committee—that was something of an historical first—but this evening's proceedings and the Grand Committee, on which I did not have the privilege to serve.

The Bill comes through proceedings with a considerable good will attached and a strong belief among those who had any responsibility for its passage through the House that it will meet the problem for which it was originally designed. I am happy to support the Bill on Third Reading; the sooner it is enacted, the better.

8.38 pm
Mrs. Adams

I, too, am happy to support the Third Reading. It has been a good Bill, a model of how to pass necessary legislation. By and large, we have been in agreement and we have tried hard to come up with answers where none existed before we began. As my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) said, this is primarily a health and safety Bill. If it saves just one life in Scotland, it will have been a success.

Over the past couple of years, we have all been confronted with worries about young people going to raves and places of great danger. I hope that the Bill has removed that danger, and that from now on young people will be able to spend time dancing without fear of losing their lives.

I know that some have expressed concern about the words "chill out". I am not too worried about chill-out areas—perhaps parents are more worried about them than children are, though. Young people know better what they are than we do: we are just not accustomed to the term. I sometimes think that a chill-out area in the House would not be a bad thing; it might help to pass legislation such as this in good order.

8.40 pm
Mr. Gallie

The term "ice hockey cooler" might also be useful in this context.

I too welcome the passage of the Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) referred to the tragedies that lay behind the Bill, which is what brought me to my feet. Many people thought that the impetus for the Bill came from the tragic events at Hangar 13, where there were three deaths. Sheriff Neil Gow's contribution, in the public hearing on the deaths that he held at Ayr, certainly influenced many people to think about a Bill such as this.

As for Hangar 13, I honestly believe that young people in my constituency would not have been deprived of their dancing facility if the Bill had been on the statute book before hand. It would have provided reasonable guidelines enabling the licensing board to stipulate the conditions for dancing to be allowed at Hangar 13. That would have been valuable indeed. Had there been controls on stewarding, paramedics and supervision inside the dance hall at an earlier stage, the closure might have been prevented.

I welcome the Bill and commend the Minister of State on the manner in which he has taken it through its various stages. I also commend all hon. Members who have participated in the debates.

8.42 pm
Ms Roseanna Cunningham

I too support the Third Reading of the Bill. It is a useful example of legislation arising out of specific circumstances and being designed to deal with them.

It is important to restate the fact that the Bill does not condone drug use. As I am sure all hon. Members agree, we should refute any suggestion that that is what it is designed to do. It is unfortunate that such suggestions have emanated from people such as whose who served on the former Glasgow licensing board. The position that the board adopted flew in the face of reality. The Bill is about dealing with real life—it is important that legislation should do that.

I recall Crew 2000 giving evidence to the Committee about Ecstasy-related deaths, pointing out that most of them resulted from the way the drug was used, not from the drug itself—an important distinction, which is acknowledged in the conditions laid down by the Bill. If it transpires that disparities arise across Scotland, from board to board, I hope that there will be an attempt to monitor and deal with them.

The Bill is a specific one, designed to deal with a specific problem. Were it designed to deal with the wider problem of drug misuse, it would be a very different kind of Bill, because drugs are used far more widely than just in clubs. A recent survey conducted by Britain's top selling teenage magazine, Sugar Magazine, came up with some startling percentages. Members may be surprised to hear that cannabis is used by 40 per cent. of teenagers, 3 per cent. more than use tobacco. It appears that it is more popular among teenagers than tobacco. Neither statistic is to be welcomed, and I certainly hope that the campaign against tobacco will not be won only at the expense of increasing cannabis use. The survey just goes to show that drug taking is now endemic among certain groups of teenagers.

This legislation cannot begin to tackle that problem, but I commend it for achieving what it attempts to do.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.