HL Deb 26 June 1967 vol 284 cc10-3

[The references are to Bill [220] as first printed for the Commons]

[Nos. 1–6]

Clause 1, page 1, line 6, after ("avoid") insert ("unreasonable")

Clause 1, page 1, line 7, leave out from ("neighbourhood") to ("may") in line 8.

Clause 1, page 1, line 14, leave out from beginning to ("shall") in line 15, and insert— ("In the event of any contravention of a condition imposed by the licensing authority under this section, the keeper of the refreshment house.")

Clause 2, page 1, line 24, after ("renewed") insert ("(including a direction that no condition is to be imposed)")

at end insert— ("(2) Any party to an appeal under subsection (1) of this section may appeal from the decision of the magistrates' court to a court of quarter sessions.")

After Clause 3, insert the following new clause—

Administration of refreshment house licence and duties thereon

(".—(1) Licences under the Refreshment Houses Act 1860 and the duties thereon shall cease to be excise licences and excise duties respectively.

(2) Section 15(2) of the Finance Act 1949 (application of excise code to management by local authorities of duties transferred to them under that section) and section 15(7) of that Act (orders giving effect to the transfer of the duties) shall cease to have effect in relation to licences under the said Act of 1860 and the duties on those licences.

(3) In section 16 of the said Act of 1860 (list or register of licence holders to be kept in each area) for the words from "at the office" onwards there shall be substituted the words "by the licensing authority, and the authority shall whenever required, give to the clerk to the justices for their area or any part of it a copy or extract from the list or register".")


My Lords, with the leave of the House I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons Amendments Nos. 1 to 6 en bloc. The first three of these Amendments concern Clause 1. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that this Bill deals exclusively with places of refreshment which do not sell alcoholic liquor and are open to the public. It does not affect clubs; it does not affect licensed premises in the normal sense.

Clause 1 empowers the licensing authority to fix a closing hour, which is not to be earlier than 11 p.m., if it is satisfied that it is desirable so to do—and I quote the Bill as it left your Lordships' House: in order to avoid disturbance to residents of the neighbourhood and to preserve reasonable enjoyment of the amenities of the neighbourhood… Amendment No. 1 would insert the word "unreasonable" in front of "disturbance" so that the clause would read: in order to avoid unreasonable disturbance to residents of the neighbourhood…. I think that in another place it was felt that the slamming of a single car door might, technically, be held to be a disturbance. That, of course, was not what was intended, and "unreasonable disturbance" is probably a safer definition, though I dislike using the words "reasonable" or "unreasonable" in Acts of Parliament.

The second Amendment would leave out the second part of the phrase that I have quoted—namely, the words: and to preserve reasonable enjoyment of the amenities of the neighbourhood". I slightly regret this, because I am always sorry if a reference to the preservation of amenities is left out of a Bill. I think, however, that there was some feeling among Government supporters in another place that if these words remained in the Bill they might be used as an open invitation to some licensing authorities to close all fried fish shops punctually at 11 o'clock, on the ground that a fried fish shop, by being there at all, did not conduce to the "reasonable enjoyment of the amenities of the neighbourhood". I think I can assure your Lordships that the Bill is not seriously weakened if these words are left out. Indeed, I defended the Bill, on Second Reading and in its later stages, on the ground that it was primarily to stop disturbance and noise that I had brought it forward.

The third Amendment is a drafting one, intended simply to fix the responsibility for any infringement of a condition and to bring the wording more closely into line with the principal Act, which was passed in 1860.

Amendment No. 4, to Clause 2, is really a clarifying Amendment, which puts it beyond doubt that a magistrates' court, on hearing an appeal, would have discretion not only to alter the proposed hour of closing but also to remove that condition entirely.

Amendment No. 5 is an important one. It was suggested in another place that appeal to a magistrates' court might of itself not be sufficient, as in some cases the local magistrates might take a highly parochial view, and that it would therefore be desirable to have a further discretionary appeal to quarter sessions. This is precedented in other similar legislation, and I can see no objection to it whatever.

Finally, Amendment No. 6 inserts a new clause into the Bill. This is of a highly technical character. I understand that if this Bill becomes law the Government intend to consolidate the Refreshment House legislation, which I am sure is desirable, and I am advised that, for technical reasons, it will assist the process of consolidation if this new clause is added to the Bill. What the clause does is to get rid of old statutory requirements, some of them deriving from the 1860 Act, which have become out of date and are no longer applicable. I will gladly seek to explain the technicalities of this new clause to your Lordships, if I am able, but perhaps your Lordships will be prepared to accept it when I say that I cannot conceive it possible that the acceptance of this new clause will make any difference whatever to the practical effect of the Bill upon any member of the public. I beg to move that the House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendments.—(Lord Brooke of Cumnor.)


My Lords, it only remains for me to thank the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, for his clear exposition of the reasons why your Lordships should agree with the Commons in these Amendments. I would confirm what he said with regard to Amendment No. 6. The Government do have in mind introducing a consolidation measure. I commend your Lordships to agree with the noble Lord's Motion. Finally, I should like to congratulate him on having brought this useful Bill to a conclusion.

On Question, Motion agreed to.