HL Deb 15 March 1982 vol 428 cc413-57

4.21 p.m.

Lord Belstead

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Belstead.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Schedule 3 [Sex establishments]:

Earl Grey moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 56, line 5, leave out from ("names") to end of line 6 and insert ("of directors or other persons responsible for its management, and the address to which communication to these persons shall be delivered").

The noble Earl said: I beg to move Amendment No. 25. In moving this amendment I am also declaring an interest as a director of and consultant to a company affected by this schedule to the Bill. The reason for moving the amendment is that objectors are legally protected under Paragraph 9(11) on page 56 whereas the directors have no protection. By allowing their private addresses to be revealed to the local authority there is no restriction allowed in the Bill to prevent that local authority from publicly publishing that information. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Grey, for his explanation of the purpose of the amendment. But I do not think that there are any grounds for believing that the requirement in paragraph 9(3) of Schedule 3, that an application should give the private addresses of the directors of the company concerned, will encourage anything untoward so far as that is concerned. What I mean by that is the following. I think that local authorities will act responsibly and will not make public those private addresses which have been given to them, when there is no need under the schedule to do so. I would point out also that this information will not have to be given in the public notice which an applicant is required to give under paragraph 9(7) of the schedule. I understand from the Metropolitan Police that it is important that private addresses should be given because the police must be able to consider properly whether they should submit observations on the grounds for refusal relating to the suitability of an applicant or those on whose behalf the business would be managed. Therefore, while I understand why the noble Earl has put the amendment before the Committee, I do not think that there is any reason to have any apprehensions that these addresses will be made unnecessarily public and I think that the provision in the Bill to this effect is necessary.

Earl Grey

I thank the noble Minister for what he has said. I shall withdraw the amendment and I may possibly refer to it again at the Report stage. In the meantime, I ask the noble Lord whether he would give an assurance that what he has said regarding the addresses will be given a great deal of consideration. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.25 p.m.

Lord Jacques moved Amendment No. 26:

Page 58, line 10, after ("that") insert ("a sex establishment in the relevant locality is inappropriate or that").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 26. This amendment is an alternative to Amendment No. 31. Both amendments seek to make it clear that a local authority can determine that no sex establishment is appropriate to a given locality. I commend the present amendment to the Committee on the grounds that it is a more elegant draft. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

It is, indeed, the case that this amendment and the Government's Amendment No. 31 are both aimed at precisely the same objective—that is, to make it clear that a licensing authority may form the opinion, on considering an application, that there should be no sex establishments in the locality to which the application relates, and that the application may be refused on that ground.

The noble Lord has said that his amendment is a more elegant draft and I would not wish to contradict the noble Lord in that regard. However, I do think that the noble Lord's amendment has one or two drawbacks. First, it is defective in that it does not cater for the circumstances where there is no existing sex establishment; and the word "is" should really read "would be". But that is a small matter and, of course, it could be put right if the Committee agreed to the noble Lord's amendment which we are now considering.

But, more seriously, the noble Lord's amendment also puts the proposition the wrong way round and gives less certainty in its effect, in that this amendment focuses on "a" sex establishment which, in the context, might mean that it would be inappropriate to have that particular sex establishment in the relevant locality, and not necessarily—as is intended by the Government—that it would be inappropriate in relation to the relevant locality to have any sex establishments there at all. I believe, too, that the Government's amendment emphasises more clearly the obligation on a licensing authority to address itself to the question: What would be the appropriate number of sex establishments in this locality? Finally, I think that there are presentational advantages in an explicit reference to "nil" or to some similar term.

However, I am in the hands of the Committee on this matter. If your Lordships would prefer to tackle the matter through the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, then I shall gladly give an undertaking to bring forward a suitable amendment on Report—because, as I have indicated, I think that the noble Lord's amendment would need a little overhaul—but in line with the effect of the noble Lord's amendment. Otherwise, I would ask your Lordships to agree to Amendment No. 31, when we reach it, because I am sure that the noble Lord and the Government are certainly in agreement that one of the two amendments is needed to be written into the Bill.

Lord Mishcon

From these Benches I wonder if I may beg to differ with my noble friend Lord Jacques—a procedure to which I am unaccustomed and to which I hope to be unaccustomed in the future. However, if my noble friend's phraseology were used—if I may be allowed to add to the arguments of the noble Lord the Minister—I think that the local authority's decision could be challenged on the ground that the wording of the Act reads that it is inappropriate to have a sex establishment in the area. To have that finding, by a responsible local authority acting in a quasi-judicial capacity, may well necessitate the hearing of evidence, the hearing of the local residents and so on, as to whether it is considered to be appropriate or inappropriate. I should have thought that that is the last thing that the local authority would want to have by way of a responsibility. The simple wording of the Bill, which I think achieves the object, is that the local authority has the right to say "Nil, in our area" and, whether or not the local authority regards that as being the end of the matter, it will be the end of the matter. On the other hand, any alternative wording might well mean that the local authority, in the interests of natural justice or whatever, is under a duty to inquire much deeper into the whole question.

Baroness Birk

What we have not yet established and what I think is still a very confusing situation is what, in fact, is meant by "relevant locality". When we ended the first day of the Committee stage last Thursday, we were still very much in the air. The noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and other noble Lords and Baronesses, including myself, had tried to get a definition of "relevant locality It makes a tremendous difference—certainly to me—if "relevant locality" means a district or an area within the whole local authority area, or whether it means the whole local authority area itself. I think that it will be extremely difficult for us to reach a decision, either on my noble friend's amendment or on the Government's amendment, until we have a very clear definition of "relevant locality".

Lord Sandford

I think it would be very helpful if my noble friend could respond to that point at this stage, if he has had sufficient opportunity over the weekend to reflect upon it. I do not think that we need an amendment on this point at this stage. I think that it would be better for all of us to reflect a little further before that. However, it would be helpful to know the position.

In that connection, perhaps I could give the Committee the benefit of consultations that I had on Friday with district councils from five counties, which were assembled not to discuss sex shops but something else. I took the opportunity to ask them about this. I think that we must consider a great many different situations. However, there are perhaps two main groups of district councils. Some of them will want to take a firm and robust approach—such as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has just described—and to set it out with the very first application; namely, that one sex shop is too many in the whole of its area. On the other hand, I think that there will be other authorities which do not want to take quite such a robust view on their own shoulders, but which want to he able to respond clearly, effectively and without a great deal of fuss according to the reaction that they get from their electorate in respect of each particular application.

Therefore, we have two different categories with which to deal. But I think it would be helpful to have, on the face of the Bill, the possibility in respect of area such as we have in respect of numbers at Amendment No. 31; that is, that an authority which wants to take the view that it does not want any sex shops in its whole area, is allowed to do so. I appreciate that there are arguments against making that the main and only possible response. There will be other authorities which will want to define in each particular case the area to which their response applies. However, I think that it would be very useful if my noble friend could respond to the noble Baroness, Lady Birk.

Lord Evans of Claughton

Briefly, I should like to add my support to the plea which the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, have made. Up to now I have not intervened in the debates on sex shops, but a very important distinction ought to be made clear here. Quite apart from the reasons given previously, there are enormous differences in the sizes of some local authorities.

If one says that the local authority is the locality, that might conceivably be appropriate for a small district council of the type which is a member of the association of which the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, is president; but it might be totally inappropriate for the locality to be the description of a local authority in a metropolitan area, which are very large indeed. So for all the reasons given, I think that we should have some guidance from the noble Lord the Minister.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

Before my noble friend rises to give us that which will he helpful and I suspect that I know the lines upon which it will go—I should like to sympathise with the noble Lord, Lord Jacques in the elegance of his amendment, because I think that the Government amendment, No. 31, is a clumsy piece of drafting. On the other hand, it is the specific. I must say that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, although not having his great legal knowledge: it strikes me as the much more certain machinery for achieving what I believe many district councils will wish to achieve. But, of course, on the merits of this debate as a whole, "locality" is a vital factor, and we all wait with bated breath to hear what my noble friend has to say, and hope that he can now clarify the situation, which has become progressively more obscure.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I think that it is very difficult indeed for us to proceed very much further in Committee on this Bill until we know what it is we are really doing. I know that the Minister finds it highly diverting that he does not know the difference between a locality and an area, but before very long he will have to make up his mind which it is.

We have all been thinking over the extraordinary performance that we had last week on this very matter but we wish to be more precise as to that for which we are legislating. Are we distinguishing in any way at all between a locality and an area? If we are, let us know what is the distinction. If a locality is the area of local government, that can be a very large area indeed. I doubt whether any court of law would regard as a locality the area, for example, of a metropolitan district council, such as the one with which I was connected when I was a member of Parliament, where previously there were six separate local authorities—one borough council, four urban districts and one rural district. They now comprise a metropolitan borough council along with, previously, a county borough and another local borough. Is that a locality or is that an area? Under this Bill, is it envisaged that a metropolitan district council can say "Nil is our figure for our area, and that is our locality"? Is that conceivable? Can that stand up to any reasonable interpretation of the words?

I think that the Minister must tell us clearly what it is we are doing. It makes it difficult for us to accept, either the amendment of my noble friend Lord Jacques, or the amendment which will perhaps subsequently be moved by the Minister, Amendment No. 31. If I may say so, it all reflects upon the indecent haste with which Government rushed into this kind of legislation. I am told that complications and difficulties can ensure or that, alternatively, injustices can ensure. We are not an authoritarian state; we are not a clerical state; we are not a community which is imposing its prejudices or its religious beliefs on people or its concept of what is good or bad for them. We are trying to deal fairly with a whole community, with different points of view and different demands in it.

I think that the bias with which may noble Lords approach this Bill is quite deplorable. I think that we must try to hold the balance fairly and squarely between those who want to satisfy a particular demand in the community, whether or not we meet it, and those who object to this kind of trade. However, it really is quite astonishing that we should be dealing with these important matters without knowing the tools that we are to use for the administration of this Bill.

Viscount Ridley

I did not intervene in last week's debate on this subject because there were so many experts present that I did not think it was necessary. I should like to ask the Minister an important question before he replies. I think the noble Lord, Lord Evans, put it correctly. Some of these areas could be very large indeed. The whole of Liverpool could be deprived of the benefit of a sex shop, for instance, if that is so. Does this not mean if we took that attitude, or his answer is that way, that there is a grave danger of these highly lucrative places being driven underground, or becoming clandestine and generally much less satisfactory, and, secondly, of these being driven across a border into a neighbouring, shall we say, more tolerant, authority?

4.41 p.m.

Lord Belstead

May I first pick up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon? I was grateful to the noble Lord for making the criticism he did of Lord Jacques' amendment. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, that Lord Jacques' amendment almost certainly is the more elegant of the two if one compares Amendments No. 26 and 31. There is the difficulty, which it is worth repeating to get it on the record, that it is arguable that the noble Lord's amendment puts the proposition the wrong way round. Focusing on a sex establishment in this context might mean that it would be inappropriate to have that particular establishment in the relevant locality and not necessarily, as is intended, that it would be inappropriate in relation to the relevant locality to have any sex establishments there at all. As I understood it, that was what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, meant by saying that the Government's amendment is the more robust.

I am in the hands of the Committee on this point. If, in a few minutes' time when the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, decides what he wishes to do with Amendment No. 26, your Lordships feel that you would prefer to go down the road of Amendment No. 26, all I would ask is that perhaps it might be for the moment withdrawn, and then the Government would try to come forward with a version that I think needs just a little polishing. I think that Amendment No. 31 has a substantive advantage over Amendment No. 26.

Having said that, may I try to reply to your Lordships who have asked me to define the term "relevant locality"? I fear that my attempts to answer the questions that were put to me on this point the last time we were in Committee perhaps did not throw as much light on the matter as I would have wished. It would be proper first to consider the purpose and intention of paragraph 11(3)(c) of Schedule 3. The thinking behind this provision is that a local authority, on considering an application, should be able to take a view on what would be the appropriate number of sex establishments in the particular locality to which the application relates.

This is clearly distinct from the proposition which was embodied in the earlier amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Nugent and the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, that a local authority should be able to take a decision for the whole of its area whether to have any sex establishments or not. Paragraphs 11(3)(c) and indeed (d)(i) and (ii) enable a local authority to focus attention on the areas surrounding the premises and to consider whether, for example, by reference to its residential character it would be appropriate, or inappropriate, to have any sex establishments in that locality at all.

The word "locality" is not unknown in legislation of this kind. It is employed in a very similar fashion in Schedule 1 to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 in connection with the licensing of betting offices. Nor do I think that the word is particularly difficult to interpret. If one considers any large district or borough, I do not think it would usually be at all difficult for those concerned to identify particular parts which take on a certain local character.

I suggest though that perhaps the most helpful way of looking at this is to think in terms of the area which, when considered sensibly as a whole, could be said to be affected by the presence of a sex establishment in it. The local authority will of course have to take a reasonable view of the matter. If it did not, as I understand it, its decision would be open to question on judicial review. Although, therefore, as I indicated in answer to my noble friend Lord Swinfen, it would be possible in theory for a district or borough council to take the view that the whole of its area should be regarded as the relevant locality, I think it is most unlikely that it could reasonably do so. I ought to have said that on the previous occasion and I must apologise to your Lordships that I did not add that.

Equally, if I may take up a point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, I should be surprised if any local authority took the view that the "relevant locality" meant just the ground plan of the establishment and nothing more. Plainly that would not be in the spirit of the meaning of the word "locality". I am most anxious to point out that the suggestion which has been made that the term "relevant locality" should be replaced by the "local authority area" could be unsatisfactory for a number of reasons, particularly in the case of a large local authority area. It would then be much harder for the local authority to maintain that it would be inappropriate to have a sex establishment anywhere in the whole of the area. At any rate, it would be open to endless argument, and of course to the test of judicial review.

It would also have the undesirable effect of limiting consideration to the particular local authority area in which the premises were going to be situated. "Relevant locality" in an appropriate case could include part of another local authority's area. There would be considerable resentment if an application for the establishment of a sex shop in a somewhat unattractive and depopulated road on the boundary of a district council could not be reviewed on account of the character of a neighbouring residential area because that neighbouring residential area was in the next district council area.

In short, it would be difficult to devise a term which could convey precisely the sense which "locality" is intended to convey. Certainly it would be far less satisfactory to invent some artificial formula, such as the area within a radius of a quarter of a mile from the premises in question. The present term enables a local authority to take a sensible view of what part of the surrounding area should be considered in the context of a particular application. I do not believe that local authorities will find this difficult to operate in practice, and it will leave them with the flexibility which in this particular sort of licensing they ought to have.

The Earl of Longford

May I ask the noble Lord a question for clarification? I am rather depressed by his answer, which seems to leave those who dislike these sex shops in a rather less hopeful position than they were, but I want to be sure that that is so. Does the noble Lord say that it is very unlikely that under these provisions a local authority would be able to say that there should be no sex shops in its area? Is the noble Lord saying that?

Lord Sandford

May I just reinforce—

The Earl of Longford

Can the noble Lord just answer the question, because I should like an answer to this?

Lord Belstead

May I repeat the words that I spoke just now. I said that, although as I indicated in answer last time to my noble friend Lord Swinfen it would be possible in theory for a district or borough council to take the view that the whole of its area should be regarded as the relevant locality, I thought it most unlikely that it could reasonably do so. The reasons why it was most unlikely that it could reasonably do so I deployed in the statement that I have just made. But of course this would ultimately be a matter for the courts to decide.

The Earl of Halsbury

The noble Lord has just said that the argument would be a matter for the courts, but has he forgotten his own amendment, No. 39, which explicitely says it will not be before the courts because there will be no right to appeal?

Lord Belstead

I have not forgotten the Government amendment, No. 39. I do not speak as a lawyer, but I speak having been briefed that of course these decisions by local authorities would always be subject to judicial review.

Lord Sandford

Personally I think that that explanation is helpful. Many district councils will be glad to be left the discretion to define for themselves the locality to which their decision refers. On the other hand, I would put it to the Committee that there are a number of small districts—districts in rural areas—which in deciding an application may be taking a decision in respect of a population a fraction the size of that of a Metropolitan area or some of the larger districts. In those areas it may not be so unreasonable or inappropriate to take the view that their definition of "locality" is the totality of their area.

If my noble friend accepts that point—I fully accept the value of what he was saying about the need for local authorities to take a decision which, so far as possible, avoids judicial review—may I ask if he would consider, not now but between now and the next stage, the possibility of inserting somewhere in this part of the Bill a phrase in respect of the possibility of "locality" being defined as the whole of the area, which corresponds broadly to the terms of Amendment No. 31? If he would be kind enough to assure me that he would consider the point, I should be well satisfied with his explanation so far.

Lord Belstead

I shall of course consider what my noble friend has put to me, but I must consider it in the context of what I have said today.

Baroness Birk

I thank the Minister for the explanation he gave. While it clarified the point to a certain extent, it did not clarify it sufficiently. He said it was possible in theory to take the whole area as the relevant authority, and he did not think authorities would do that. As we know, the legal representatives of authorities cannot refer to Hansard; they must go by the legislation, and as my noble friend Lord Longford rightly pointed out, a right of appeal exists but the provisions which will be most relevant to what we are discussing have been taken away. Judical review is a slow, cumbersome and not very satisfactory process and, like a number of others, I believe that unless the point is spelt out more specifically than is at present the case, it will still be open to a quite large authority to treat itself as a relevant locality.

A number of people feel that, despite their views on sex shops, it is wrong to deny people in a large locality the chance of access to something which is completely legal. The Minister does not seem to have grasped that sufficiently and there still seems to be a certain amount of evasion, as it were, on the point. If the Minister wishes to reconsider the matter between now and Report, that would be a different matter, but the provision is not satisfactory as drafted. If he would say that "relevant" locality did not mean the whole of the local authority area, the position would be plain. In the cases cited by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford—say, a small area, district or village—it seems that that could almost be a relevant locality because it would be quite a small area and all the reasons that could be used against sex shops in a small locality in a bigger area could be deployed. At present the Minister seems to be trying to get the best of all worlds to the point where we do not know where we are.

The Earl of Halsbury

Is it not the case that we have all reserved our positions on this for Report? We seem to be rather going round in circles now. The Minister has promised conversations between now and Report, if I remember his remarks when we met last week, and I suggest that if the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, were now prepared to take a certain course of action, we might proceed to the next amendment.

Lord Jacques

As a layman, I wish to comment on the phrase "relevant locality". We now have bigger district councils and in practically all cases the district would have to be divided up so as to be reasonable in relation to the definition in the schedule. But even when it has been divided up, according to the character of each separate locality, the local authority could decide to say, "Nil, nil, nil" for each one, which would have the same effect as putting them all together and saying "Nil" once. Frankly, therefore, I do not think the Minister has much to look at; if I were him I should leave it where it is. Assuming that we get Amendment No. 39 later—I am assuming that we shall get both Amendments Nos. 31 and 39—then, so far as I am concerned, we shall have got the substance, and having got the substance I shall not argue about drafting. I am happy to leave that to the Government, having ventilated my point of view and, in the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.56 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 27:

Page 58, line 10, after ("that") insert ("having regard to the demand for the time being in the locality for the facilities afforded by sex establishments of the type which are the subject of the application and to the number of such sex establishments for the time being available to meet that demand").

The noble Lord said: We hear a good deal about objections to sex shops. We have heard nothing so far about the demand for them. Why are sex shops where they are and why is it proposed to have more of them?

Noble Lords


Lord Houghton of Sowerby

The simple reason is that there is a demand for them, otherwise they would pack up. When local authorities are given the power to decide on licensing sex shops, are they to take into account any evidence that might be available about the demand for them? Or will they take a high moral line and say, "Nil, nil, nil", and that will be it? Is it local government if it is done that way? Is local government just one grand piece of idiocy, or does it have some sense of responsibility? I do not believe that any local authority worthy of being there will say, "Nil, nil, nil" without some regard to the locality and to what demand the shop might meet, and therefore I suggest there must be something in the Bill about demand.

The time is rapidly coming when you do not have to go to a sex shop at all; it will be brought to your home. I do not know whether noble Lords, in paying attention to social matters, read that eminently readable and useful magazine New Society. If so, they may have seen in an issue as recently as 18th February an article entitled, "The sex lady cometh". It is an account of the representative of a sex shop firm meeting with women on a local council estate and exhibiting their wares and giving an illustration of what they have to offer. It is all in the article and I need not read it out; one-and-a-half pages with a couple of pictures of the sex lady who cometh.

Are we, under this or another Bill, to license pedlars in instruments of sexual activity? Is that the next step in our progress towards the ideal state? I suggest we must have regard to what was said on London Radio some days ago and I quote from an excerpt from the text of the broadcast: If this Bill succeeds in closing sex shops it will not, because of continuing public demand, succeed in stopping the continued supply of the articles they sell". That is obvious in a community in which people are at least free at present to peddle items that would otherwise be sold in sex shops. One must, therefore, consider this as an emerging problem in our society. It is no good bringing to bear the repressive instincts of the Victorian period or, indeed, indifference towards what is going on. This is not wholly a matter of exposing the young to sexual allurements and temptations. The matter is very closely connected with many marriages, and the fact that this kind of activity might now be growing on council estates is an indication that many married women wish to know more about what is offered from a service of this kind. So I think that it must be treated seriously.

Nowhere in the Bill is a local authority under any obligation to consider demand. There is the question of appropriateness to the locality, with a heavy bias towards inappropriateness in people's minds—all of that is in the Bill. But I suggest that we now should ask local authorities, in deciding what is appropriate, and what number of establishments is appropriate, to have some regard to what the shops are offering and to the need or desire that they might meet. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

If the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, were made, it would not I think be difficult for someone wishing to open a sex shop in a particular locality to say that there was some demand for the premises. That might be true, even w here there was already an establishment of this kind in the locality but it was not in as convenient a position as it might be. Of course, where a sex shop already existed on the coming into force of the licensing arrangements, it could no doubt be argued that its existence was evidence of demand and that accordingly, on that ground, the premises ought to be licensed.

A more general objection to the noble Lord's proposal lies in the difficulties which would confront a local authority in attempting to assess demand and the opportunities which would be afforded to those with an interest in doing so to canvass evidence of demand. On those grounds I think the amendment is extremely undesirable, and I hope that it will be rejected.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I should like to add a point in order to comfort the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, who is obviously very anxious about the development of this business and feels that your Lordships are not looking ahead as you should. The schedule looks ahead further than he thinks. If the noble Lord looks at paragraph 2(1), he will see that there is a provision for a stall to be wheeled along into the council estate where the noble Lord wants it. So I must congratulate my noble friend Lord Belstead in looking ahead to this vision of the future which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton wishes to see. If a local authority approved of licensing, it is all here, and the noble Lord could have his wish.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

I would judge that the Minister's answer has been of great encouragement within the Chamber and will be so in the country when it is learnt. Surely the Minister's phrase "highly undesirable" is about as convincing an opposition to the amendment as we could want. I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that the word "demand" in the second line of his amendment refers to demand for facilities. But the noble Lord is sufficiently a man of the world, and has spoken so often on these matters—we listen to him with the greatest respect—to know that in fact the demand is very often by the very strong moneyed interests which are concerned to make money out of lust. For that reason I hope that we shall resist the amendment.

The Earl of Halsbury

In testing the validity of the argument to which we have listened, I suggest to the Members of the Committee that in their minds they make an amendment to it: delete the term "sex shop" throughout and substitute the word "brothel". Would the Committee regard it as a convincing argument?

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, I wish to make clear that I am not wishing to see anything. It is not my concern that there should be more sex shops or that what they sell should be taken into the home, or anything of that kind. I am not concerned with that. I have no interest whatsoever in this subject, except, as I conceive it, fair dealing with people, a sense of justice and a sense of freedom. That is what I am concerned with—and nothing else. Noble Lords will completely misunderstand my purpose if they think that what I am suggesting will happen is something that I wish to see; it is not so. From a personal point of view, I do not care tuppence whether or not there are any sex shops.

We are legislators. We are here in the public interest. We are here to do what we think is right and proper by the varied composition of the public interest that we serve. We are not here just to represent ourselves and to wallow in the confidence that we have in our constituents. We should try to look a little more objectively at the matter. I know that there are difficulties. Everything is so sensitive in regard to this subject. One cannot use the English language without sexual undertones and bias being brought to bear on the subject under discussion.

There was a time when one could not objectively discuss licensed premises. The temperance movement had such a strong bias against drink that it was impossible for public houses, the facilities they offered, and their licensing to be rationally considered by many members of the public. Do I not know it! I lived in the kind of situation where temperance was above everything else—sex was only a minor aspect of life—where the man was drunk and the home resources for the wife and children were being squandered on drink. That was the evil of society at that time. Yet the interests behind the brewing industry, alcoholic drinks, and service to the public triumphed over all the objections of the temperance movement, and local option was difficult to secure anywhere, except in Wales. Most noble Lords are old enough to remember all of that. So I want to make my position clear, because I shall have more to say, with great respect to your Lordships, on other aspects of the matter.

So far as this amendment is concerned, I do not wish to press on your Lordships something which I can see, congenitally speaking, you are unable to accept. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.9 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 28:

Page 58, line 10, after ("of") insert ("such").

The noble Lord said: This amendment relates to another amendment that I moved earlier, in another context. Following a statement by the noble Lord the Minister, I withdrew the earlier amendment. For the moment I shall not pursue the matter further, so this amendment is not moved.

[Amendment No. 28 not moved.]

Lord Nugent of Guildford had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 29:

Page 58, line 18, leave out ("or").

The noble Lord said: I do not propose to move the amendment, but, since the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, also has her name to it, I would not wish it to remain not moved if she wished to go ahead with it.

Baroness Birk

I fear that my name appeared on the amendment by error; my name was attached to the wrong amendment.

[Amendment No. 29 not moved.]

Lord Nugent of Guildford moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 58, line 20, at end insert— ("(iv) to substantial representations by residents or occupiers of premises in the relevant locality.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this amendment in order to say a word of explanation, because I believe that it is in fact not necessary. If noble Lords will look at paragraph 9 of this voluminous schedule, they will see that sub-paragraph (9), on page 56, provides that any person can make an objection to an application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence by giving notice in writing of his objection to the appropriate authority. Then, in sub-paragraph (12), it says: In considering any application for the grant, renewal or transfer of a licence the appropriate authority shall have regard to any observations submitted to them by the chief officer of police and any objections of which notice has been sent to them under sub-paragraph (9) above".

I therefore think that my point is covered, but, as I think other noble Lords will be interested in this point—it is an important one—I will move my amendment so that my noble friend can confirm that this somewhat convoluted explanation between the two sub-paragraphs is in fact as I have explained it. I therefore beg to move my amendment.

Lord Belstead

I really do think that this is covered, as my noble friend suggested in moving the amendment. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that I do not think there is the slightest reason to think that the views of residents will not be heard loud and clear when an application is made for the establishment of a sex shop. Applications will have to be given publicity; that is taken care of in paragraph 9(7) of Schedule 3. Specific provision is indeed made for the lodging of objections; and, of course, paragraph 9(12) of the schedule enjoins the licensing authority to have regard to any objections which it receives.

Furthermore, in considering the ground of objection, the fact that a substantial number of residents have objected to an application would certainly be a factor which the authority could take into account in considering under paragraph 11(3)(c) whether it would be appropriate to have any sex establishments in the relevant locality—or, if your Lordships agree to Amendment No. 31, none at all. So I think no one should be in any doubt about the influence which local opinion will play in the decision-making process. It involves people living locally, who will get proper notice. It involves, indeed, the police; and, of course, ultimately it involves the authority, which I am absolutely certain will take full account of local views.

Lord Sandford

I am grateful to the noble Lord for that explanation. It will be of some reassurance to us, but I am not sure it will be of much help to authorities seeking to operate this legislation, because subparagraphs (9) and (12) do no more than make it clear that a person wanting to object has to state his objection as there laid down, and that, in taking their decision, the local authority have to take that objection into account.

But, when we turn over to page 58 and read down sub-paragraph (3), there we do not see anything as clear as my noble friend's Amendment No. 30 to indicate that among the grounds for their refusal can be, substantial representations by residents or occupiers of premises in the relevant locality". For that reason, that ground flows from sub-paragraphs (9) and (12) but it is not the same as sub-paragraphs (9) and (12).

Nor is it the same as the three particular reasons which the local authority can use for their rejection of an application for the grant or renewal of a licence. It is not the same as the character of the locality; it is not the same as the use to which the premises are put; nor is it the same as the layout, character or conditions. But I should have thought that, as compared with those, the views of the residents in the locality are probably the strongest grounds of all. I should like to see this particular amendment on the face of the Bill. I will not press the matter now if my noble friend wants to withdraw it, but I would ask my noble friend to look at it again.

Lord Belstead

I wonder whether I may say just one more word to the Committee. I will certainly look to see, as a result of what my noble friend Lord Sandford has said, whether there ought to be a reference back from paragraph 11(3)(d) to paragraph 9(9) and (12) to make it clear that the grounds include having regard to the objections which have been made. I will certainly look at that point, but I think it is important for me to add that, when my noble friend says that he would have liked to see this particular amendment written on to the face of the Bill, I really think there would be problems so far as that is concerned—problems which I did not deploy.

Very briefly, I think that the difficulty is that if this amendment were written in we should be in danger of playing a numbers game. By that, I mean that, in equity, representation in support of an application would possibly need to be written into the Bill to balance the objections if we started writing in this sort of amendment. As it is, we are taking great care to lay down criteria on which applications are to be judged. That is in paragraph 11; and I have given an undertaking that I will look at paragraph 11 to see whether some extra mention of objections should be made. But that must be the basis for considering the case for the application.

While, entirely properly, we are providing for objections to the application which will need to advance grounds for objection, and support for which will, I repeat, be a factor which the licensing authority must take into account in reaching a decision, I think it would be a very great pity if we started writing in provisions which almost certainly will be taken as an invitation for people to see who can collect the largest number of signatures. I do not think that that is the way the licensing authority will wish to work. It will wish to look at the grounds for the objections while, of course, taking into account the weight of the objections as well.

Lord Swinfen

I wonder whether my noble friend would let your Lordships know whether he is entirely satisfied that local residents should be advised only by notices in the newspapers. In the areas where sex shops are likely to be established, a large number of the residents are elderly, with poor eyesight. They are not always very well educated, and they will not look at that part of their local newspapers. They are not interested. Surely there should be some better way of advising them that there is the danger of a sex shop coming, so that they themselves know that they have an opportunity to make an objection.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I must thank my noble friend Lord Belstead for his answer to my amendment and his confirmation that my interpretation of the schedule was correct. I do not altogether agree with my noble friend Lord Sandford in his wish to have the presentation different. I very much take the weight of the answer of my noble friend Lord Belstead, and I think it is best for the schedule to stay as it is. I therefore beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 58, line 20, at end insert— ("(4) Nil may be an appropriate number for the purposes of sub-paragraph (3)(c) above").

The noble Lord said: We have referred to this amendment on many occasions. The purpose and effect of it is to provide that the licensing authority may conclude that nil is the appropriate number of sex establishments for the relevant locality under paragraph 11(3)(c). I beg to move.

Lord Sandford

My Lords, I am grateful for this amendment. It fully meets the point that I made at Second Reading.

Lord Mishcon

Will the noble Lord the Minister care to reflect between Committee stage and Report stage upon his previous pronouncement (which disappointed some of us and encouraged others) namely, that it would be rather difficult for local authorities to declare "nil "for the number of sex shops within its area because of the dangers of a judicial review? A judicial review normally takes place when an authority has exercised its judgment without having gone. through a judicial process which it is deemed it ought to have gone through if one looks at a statute. In those circumstances, those of us who would like to see that the authority was not dragged through a judicial review would like to see words such as, "Nil may in the absolute discretion of the authority be an appropriate number for the purposes of sub-paragraph (3)(c)". I am making this intervention only in order that the Minister may consider that aspect before the Report stage.

Lord Evans of Claughton

I am not here to express views favouring a rash of sex shops in every district of the country, and I think that in many respects the line that the Government have taken in allowing decisions about the numbers and so on to be the decision of the local authority is a good one. But the fact is that none of us is seeking to legislate to say that sex shops shall be illegal. We are therefore possibly putting ourselves in a difficulty as far as natural justice is concerned if we say, on the one hand, in Amendment No. 31 that, "nil may be an appropriate number" and then later on, in Amendment No. 39, that there shall be no grounds for appeal against a decision with regard to these matters. One is saying that while sex shops shall not be illegal, we can, if we feel like it, make it impossible for there to be a licensed sex shop and that there is no right of appeal against such a decision. In spite of my distaste for these places, I feel that this would be contrary to natural justice.

5.23 p.m.

Lord Belstead

I will give thought to the words that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has invited the Government to consider might be desirable to add to this amendment if the Committee agrees it. The only thing I think it will be helpful for me to say is that to exclude a judicial review, would be questionable in principle, and as far as my department knows it would be unprecedented in a matter of this sort. That is the advice I have received and I think it only helpful for me to impart it across the Floor of the Committee. I should like to look at what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has said and perhaps the noble Lord will come back before this amendment is decided.

So far as the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Evans, is concerned, when we get to Amendment No. 39, that does not remove the grounds of appeal completely. It removes the ground of appeal on two of the four grounds on which the licensing authority (as paragraph 11(3) is drafted) will be able to consider and reject an application for a sex shop. There is some difference between that and the conclusion which the noble Lord was reaching.

Lord Mishcon

I am sure that the Committee would not wish to be detained by any argument where the noble Lord the Minister is courteous enough to say that he with his advisers will consider it. I did not suggest that words should be put in which exclude a judicial review, but words that would make it more difficult for a judicial review to succeed against the local authority. I said—and these are common words in statutes—that a local authority shall be shown to have an absolute discretion, and therefore it would be only where that absolute discretion is exercised fraudulently or grossly wrongly that the judicial review would succeed against the local authority.

The Earl of Halsbury

I am delighted to have the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, with his wealth of legal experience supporting an argument which strengthens Amendment No. 31. Naturally, the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, and I preferred the structure of our original amendment or we should not have put it down; but I think that it is important not to lose sight of why we are debating this matter. It is that up and down the country local authorities want power to say (in the words of an old wartime song which the older Members of the House will have sung many times: "Anywhere else you can do that there, but you can't do that there 'ere". That is what they want to be able to say. They have asked the Government to give them power to say it. The Government are dubious and the noble Lord is rather acting the part of Byron's heroine, who "vowing she would n'er consent, consented". We are slowly driving him along the path where he does not want to go and I feel he is uncertain in his mind as to whether he is imposing an embargo and trying to pretend that he is not, or not imposing an embargo and trying to pretend that he is. Between now and Report stage perhaps he will come closer to an alignment with what I would like to see. I do not believe we simplify the issue by raising the question of natural justice. There is no lack of natural justice to brothel keepers in saying that we will not legalise brothels in this country. Substitute "brothels" for "sex shop" and test the validity of the argument. Would you believe it in the context of brothel? Then why do you believe it in the context of a sex shop?

Baroness Birk

On an earlier amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Jacques we had a discussion on both amendments and it ended with the Minister undertaking to go back and look at the wording again and particularly at the relevant localities on which a number of us were still unhappy. I hope that what he has said now is going to allow him to go back and rethink without prejudice to what he said on the earlier amendment. He sounded more definite on this one, as to not looking back at it again, than when he was talking about the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Jacques. Many of us felt that he was going to look at the wording to see whether it was in need of clarification.

I think the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, when he makes the analogy between brothel and sex shop is not making a correct analogy. Brothels are illegal in this country; sex shops are not, so one is not comparing like with like. It would be a pity if this fogged the issue. This is not what we are discussing. We are not talking about licensing brothels but licences for sex shops, which are perfectly legal.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

What the Minister said about providing the local authorities with an opportunity of a nil return will give great encouragement. If we leave that tack for a moment, on Amendment 11, when the more clear-cut amendments of the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, were put, it was at that time the Minister first showed his hand in greatest warmth and willingness to accommodate the principle and, at the same time maintaining the delicacy of the problem of freedom. I hope that with a glad heart we shall support him in his amendment because the very words: Nil may be an appropriate number…". are the sort of simple and clear-cut heading in the Daily Mirror which simple people like the Members of this Bench can understand.

As we are dealing with great detail, I hope that we shall give tremendous support to the Minister on Amendment No. 31, yet recognising, as the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has said, that these shops are not illegal though there is a strong desire that they should be given as little encouragement as possible within our tradition of freedom in this country. Amendment No. 31, with Amendment No. 39, gives the main substance of what Amendment No. 11 was originally driving at. I hope that we shall support the Minister.

Lord Monson

I share the disquiet of the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, about Amendment No. 39. However, Amendment No. 31—which is its twin in a way—surely comes into a different category because it seems to me that the number "nil"—if that is not a contradiction in terms—is already implicit in the clause as it stands. Therefore this is no more than a clarifying amendment which it would be illogical to oppose.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I wish to support my noble friend Lady Birk. I thought that the Minister was going to take a more comprehensive look at what he had said about locality in relation to this and the subsequent amendment. We have heard for the first time this afternoon a very important and literal statement made by the Minister on the construction to be placed upon the word "locality". I found a good deal of what he said quite acceptable. If I may say so, it seemed to be the common sense of the matter. But in the Bill we have no guidance other than that the meaning of the word "locality" is that it means the locality of the premises in respect of which the application is being made, which is not really very enlightening. It could be regarded as a little more precise. Some people might think it was too precise.

It is very difficult for us to agree to nil being the number—if nil is a number. I hope that the noble Lord has consulted his right honourable friend the Minister for Education as to whether nil is a number. I thought it was nothing. I did not think that "nothing" was a number, but I do not want to quibble. The right reverend Prelate said a moment ago that he saw some advantage in importing Daily Mirror headlines into our legislation, or words to that effect: "Nil means nil, so what? It is over." I can understand that approach, but it is not always very helpful in legislation.

The serious point is that we are still bothered about locality. The trouble is that we are being bothered about it from two different sides and they have not yet been reconciled, I submit. There are some noble Lords who want "locality" to mean "area", and some—including myself—who do not want "locality" to mean "area", or to give power to decide on nil for an area if that area is far beyond any reasonable interpretation of the word "locality". I feel that the Minister is rushing into agreeing to "nil" when all we have to give us comfort on this—at least from my point of view—is a statement that he read out, which we have not yet seen in print, which is a ministerial opinion and is not necessarily a decision that would be supported by a court of law; yet here we are being asked to legislate in these conditions of uncertainty.

I conclude with a comment on what the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, said about natural justice. There was a time when people were sent to prison for selling contraceptives. There was no natural justice then in relation to trying to put methods of control of fertility into the hands of the women of Britain. If noble Lords care to read the history of birth control, they will see what a sordid, squalid period it was. There are words being uttered now about no natural justice where you are concerned with dirt, obscenity and all the terrible things related to sexual activity. There was a time when the same attitude applied to matters which are now included in the National Health Service. Contraception is available in the National Health Service today. Contrast that with the position 50 or 60 years ago. I think that we want to be careful not to use derogatory terms about a situation when opinions may change later on. However, the main point is: is the Minister going to get us out of this difficulty and give himself a little more time at a later stage in the Bill to get it sorted out and for us to sort it out too?

The Earl of Longford

I venture to think that the great majority of Members of this Committee will be in favour of this amendment. I only hope that the Minister will not be discouraged by the fact that three or four rather fanatical opponents have done most of the speaking.

Lord Davies of Leek

I am not being fanatical, but I wonder whether the Government are sure of the twist into which they are getting themselves regarding

the definition of "local" and "area". My noble friend Lord Houghton is absolutely right. I can remember as a youngster in South Wales when the English pubs over the border were open on a Sunday: miners for 15 miles around were trudging over the mountains to them. Consequently, the Bill will have no control whatsoever.

There is a serious point and I do not think that this Committee is discussing it with seriousness. Were the medical profession brought in to discuss this problem of sex shops and the appliances that they sell? Were the medical association ever brought in? Without sniggering with our hands to our mouths and being dirty minded, have we ever thought of this issue in terms of the paraplegics? Have we ever thought of the constructiveness that is brought into the lives of some people? Consequently, not being a medical man myself, but having discussed this with qualified medical people, I think that the Committee would have gained quite a lot of information if the Government had discussed this matter in depth with organisations that deal with the people who need this kind of attention.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I should like to say a word in support of my noble friend's amendment which will enable local authorities to decide that the number is nil. I see that my noble friend and his department have given a great deal of thought to this aspect. The earlier charge from the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that the Government were proceeding with indecent haste in this matter, is quite unjustified. The noble Lord will well know what a long time the department have taken in producing this particular provision. Nor do I think that the noble Lord's charge that some noble Lords show a deplorable lack of balance in their approach to the Bill is right. I do not know to whom he is referring, but no doubt he knows. On the whole, we shall do better if we take each other in good faith. Now, it being Lent, I shall give up the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, for Lent and I shall not attack him again.

Returning to the main point here, my noble friend Lord Halsbury made the point that if for "sex shops" one reads "brothels" one will not be far out. It is in that kind of context that many local authorities up and down the country see the advent of sex shops in their localities. That is why they are most anxious not to have them.

The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, is shaking her head. Of course, as always, she is right: they are not illegal, they are legal at present. Where the noble Baroness must take a point is that in their activities they are on the edge of illegality all the time. If she cared to walk round Soho, where there are some 100 sex shops now, I should think she would find in every one of them material which breaches the 1959 Act. She will find in about half of them cinemas, which are unlicensed, showing films which breach the 1959 Act so that the Act simply does not exist. She will also find activities which are clearly a front for prostitution. So the fact is that although the selling of sex appliances themselves is not illegal the concomitants that go with it bring a whole range of illegalities. This is the fact. There is an old saying, which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, must know, that those who seek equity must come with clean hands—and, my word!, these sex shops do not. Nevertheless, we are not making them illegal by this and that is why the schedule is drawn up in the way it is. That is why I accepted the arguments put forward that our original amendment on Clause 2 should be dropped. A good point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, that this could be outside the Long Title and unconstitutional. But the mechanics here are drawn in a different way—that the licensing shall operate and the local authorities shall have the option of taking what decision they think is right.

A good deal of the argument that is circulating around on sex shops does not take account of the reality—it really does not—and while we are not here concerned with that, we are concerned with sex shops that are properly conducted, and we hope that when they are licensed they will be properly conducted. But, my word!, a great many of them are not at present. In any event I am delighted that my noble friend is putting forward the amendment in this form. It will enable local authorities who do not want to have them to decide as the applications come up that they do not want them, and that will be in the interests of the localities. I am happy to support him.

Baroness Birk

I had not intended to speak again on this amendment but I really must, in view of what the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, has said. He seems to have forgotten, or not taken into account, what was originally in paragraph 25 of the schedule, which states: Nothing in this Schedule…shall afford a defence to a charge in respect of any offence at common law". It then goes on to deal with the trial of such an offence. That has now been moved further up the schedule in order to make it quite clear that where any activity is subject to criminal proceedings, these will be undertaken. I think we should be clear, whatever our different views. This Bill should not be used as a way of getting round the public law aspects and, in fact, if there are illegal activities undertaken in some sex shops, they should be prosecuted for that under the relevant law. Surely the whole point of the licensing system proposed is that there should be control and that it should be easier to control activities which are outside the range of what sex shops are supppsed to be doing. I find it really quite unacceptable to say that we should do it this way because we believe that some sex shops are breaking other laws and therefore we will try and stop them from appearing for entirely different reasons. That cannot be the right way to go about it, and I should be very surprised if the Minister could support this because, in my opinion, this is quite the wrong approach to law and the wrong approach to this Bill.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

The noble Lord, Lord Nugent, has just referred to the fact that at an earlier stage I suggested that the whole of this discussion was outside the Title of the Bill. I think that is the case, but I have since understood that if we change the nature of the Bill by carrying this amendment the Title will be changed to meet what we have decided. That is a somewhat peculiar procedure, if I may say so, because by taking this action it would seem that one could change the Bill in almost any way and then at a later stage change the Title to fit what has been done. I find that a little odd. I share the unease which was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Evans, over this amendment. I would see nothing wrong in a local authority receiving application after application, and deciding that this application or that application was unsatisfactory or that a particular area should not contain a sex shop of any sort. Those, however, who know the area better—and I defer to the expertise of my noble friend Lord Longford on this matter—tell me that there are sex shops and sex shops, and that it would be reasonable for a local authority to decide that sex shop A is undesirable whereas sex shop B is inoffensive.

The Earl of Longford

Since the noble Lord has mentioned me, I would say that he was referring to the noble Baroness, Lady Ewart-Biggs, and not to myself, because it was the noble Baroness who made that distinction. It was no distinction of mine: so far as I am concerned they are all evil.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

That reassures me to some extent, because I always regard my noble friend as an extremist and he has confirmed once again that that is the right position for him to adopt. Therefore, it seems to me that while any authority would be entitled to say, "So far as we are concerned we will not accept in this area any kind of sex shop" or, "Our area is such that no sex shops are desirable in it", each application should be treated on its merits. It seems to me that what is proposed here is for a blanket decision to be allowed so that we would be enabling local authorities to usurp the powers which rightly rest in these two Chambers here. That is what we are trying to do, and while noble Lords on another issue will try to hamper and interfere with a local authority's activities, in this case they are trying to ensure that local authorities usurp the powers that ought to reside here. For this reason I regard this amendment and what has preceded it as wholly undesirable.

The Earl of Halsbury

The argument that we cannot do what we please because of the Title of the Bill is fallacious. The first Motion that we move in every Committee in this Chamber is that the Title of the Bill be postponed, and that then enfranchises discussion in the Committee in order that we shall not be inhibited by the Title from amending it at our pleasure. If the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, will look at the penultimate amendment, on Page 37, he will see in the Title an amendment proposed by the noble Earl, Lord Grey, as follows: to make provision for the licensing of existing and future sex establishments". Any argument based on the line the noble Lord is putting seems to me to be without effect at all.

Lord Belstead

I am interested that one of the things that this debate on the amendment has shown up is the difference of view between the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury—who earlier said he thought that I, as the Government spokesman for this Bill, was reluctant and was being dragged along in the direction which the noble Earl felt we ought to go—and the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, who accused me of pulling the Com mittee pell-mell down the hill far too fast, so that nobody has time to think and we are going to reach a destination we would not wish to arrive at.

It is just possible, not perhaps for the first time, that the Home Office is somewhere in the middle and taking the right speed and the right course. I am buttressed in that hope by the words spoken by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich and also by the the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and my noble friend Lord Nugent, who in essence said they felt that this amendment was about right. The effect of it is that the licensing authority may conclude that "nil" is the appropriate number of sex establishments for a relevant locality under paragraph 11(3)(c), and I would now ask your Lordships to decide this Question.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

5.50 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby moved Amendment No. 32:

Page 58, line 27, at end insert— ("Provided that no such term condition or restriction shall relate to articles for sale, hire, exchange, loan, display or demonstration or to the extent to which the business may consist of selling, hiring, exchanging, lending or demonstrating such articles.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is in the same terms as an earlier amendment that I moved on the same question of the prescribing of conditions. I withdrew the earlier amendment, which related to another part of the schedule, because I thought I was satisfied with what the Minister had said. Your Lordships will find that in column 380 of the Official Report of the proceedings of 11th March.

But I have since been reading some notes on clauses which were sent to me, which seem to represent the Home Office point of view, and which throw a little more light on what is a sex shop and on the consequences of allowing a local authority absolute discretion in prescribing conditions. The Minister told us this afternoon that, in the case of a licence granted to a fully-fledged sex shop, a licensing authority would be held to be acting ultra vires if it tried to restrict the type of sex articles sold there. But where a licence is granted in respect of premises which may trade only in sex books and magazines, it might be possible for a licensing authority to grant a licence on condition that the relevant trade was restricted to such articles, in order to prevent the premises from turning into a fully-fledged sex shop. Similarly, if a licence is granted to a part-sex shop/part-newsagent, a licensing authority would be within its powers in attempting to maintain a balance between the two sides of the business.

A newsagent who has a magazine side to his shop and may, at the present time, be selling magazines and books which come within the provisions of the Indecent Displays Act, is conducting a perfectly lawful business and is not running a sex shop. But it now seems that a local authority, in deciding on nil, can put out of business a newsagent who already has a magazine business and who is complying with the law on indecent displays. Is this what we are up to? Is a local authority to be able to put people out of business, not because they are running a sex shop within the meaning of most of the things that your Lordships have been thinking about, but because they have premises in which girlie magazines and sex books of one kind or another are being sold, and have been sold for some time, on which the concealment of the Indecent Displays Act has been brought to bear?

Is this kind of shop, which at the present time is selling magazines and sex books of one kind or another and nothing else at all, a sex shop? Apparently, it is envisaged to be a sex shop and it therefore has to apply for a licence and may be told, "No. We have decided nil. You are out of business." This is an intolerable possibility as to how people may be treated. This is why I am very anxious about the right of the local authority to prescribe conditions in their absolute discretion. I feel that this is becoming a wretchedly unsatisfactory Bill, and I believe that we are legislating in a way which many people will regret later, if we do it in this slovenly way. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I am a little disappointed after giving a reply to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, at column 380 of the Official Report for 11th March, on our first day in Committee. The noble Lord said. I am grateful to the noble Lord for his explanation. I think that I may be content with that, but I should like to consider it further". That, of course, left the matter open for the noble Lord to come back. But I did not think that the noble Lord would come back with such a lot of steam and would take two entirely false points.

The two points are these. On the one hand, I said to the noble Lord that I thought it would be possible for a local authority to impose a condition prohibiting an establishment, which had been licensed as a sex shop, then to change its nature by branching out into other forms of trading and, in effect, to become something else. I also said it was the Government's view that, if a licensing authority issued a licence to premises on the basis that the establishment was partly a sex shop and partly something else, the licensing authority should be able to ensure that the premises were not immediately turned into a sex shop alone. To take those two points and to try to turn them into something else, something which is unfair and onerous is, if I may say so, to take two false points.

Lord Somers

May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, one question? He said that he considers it unfair to put out of business a man who is just selling magazines of a certain character. How about the man who sells pornographic material? Is it unfair to put him out of business?

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I shall first deal with the Minister. My only complaint about the Minister is that he really did not read me the whole of his brief I was content with what he said, until I began to read further into the matter and found, to my astonishment that the definition of a "sex shop", which a local authority might decide needs a licence, can go very far down the scale of newsagents and booksellers. How far down the scale will this licensing system go?

We talk about a sex shop with all its sex stimulants, appliances and all the rest of the apparatus of which I know so little, though, apparently, other noble Lords know a great deal more. That is the concept of a sex shop, with the shutters up and with "Sex Shop" painted in gold letters on it. You go inside and a whole astonishing selection of tricks of the trade are open to inspection and sampling, if you wish. As I listened to noble Lords, that is our concept of a sex shop.

But, apparently, some sex shops may be newsagents with magazines. After all, the Indecent Displays Act was intended to remove certain types of publication from the casual inspection of young people and others who might be offended by them. Therefore, under the Indecent Displays Act we said "All this must go into a separate part of the shop and there must be a warning notice that young people under the age of 18 are not admitted." It was intended to enable people to go into the shop without embarrassment, and to enable young people to go into the shop without the temptation of picking up magazines that might have rather seductive covers to them. That is what we did under the Indecent Displays Act and, at the present time, there are shops which are complying with those requirements and which continue to do their lawful business. The sexual publications that they sell are shut away from immediate public access, because people must go into the part reserved for them.

Now I believe, from the description given in the paper that I hold in my hand, that that could be regarded as a sex shop and that it should therefore be within the discretion of the local authority to say "You are a sex shop. We will licence you, but only on condition that you do not sell anything different from what you are selling now". That is the idea. But the Minister did not disclose that in his statement.

In another case, there might be a shop which is wholly given to the selling of sexual magazines of one kind or another. When I am asked about pornography, I want to know what it is. After all, the word "pornography" has been used to denounce all kinds of things over the years, and people have been prosecuted and sent to prison for offences which were quite outrageous in the context of what they were alleged to have done. "Pornography is a term which has almost yet to be defined. What we said is, "Push it behind the screen, whatever it is, and let it be open to inspection only by grown-ups". Such a shop selling material of this kind can be regarded as a sex shop—not as a bookseller but as a sex shop. In those circumstances, a licence apparently could be granted to them on condition that they do not do any more. They do not become a fully fledged sex shop. These are fine distinctions on licensing. As my noble friend Lady Birk said a little while ago, when the licence has been refused, or if the licence has been granted under conditions, then to do other becomes a criminal offence with a right of entry, forcibly if necessary, to see whether the law is being observed.

This is what we are doing in order to cleanse the nation of its desire to know more about sexual activity. Stimulated by newspapers, television, magazines and all the rest, the pressures on young people are enormous in this particular respect, yet when it comes to the point we have this rather miserable attempt to restrict the activities of perfectly lawful enterprises. That is why I criticise the Minister. I am sorry if I appear to be ungrateful to him. I shall not press the amendment because the question of powers to levy conditions may have to be further considered before we part with the Bill. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Robertson of Oakridge moved Amendment No. 33:

Page 58, line 37, leave out head (c).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 33. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 34, 35 and 38. These amendments seek to establish a standard minimum age of 18 for admission to or employment in a sex establishment. As the Bill is now written, in paragraph 12(3)(c) local authorities have the discretion to set a minimum age and to decide what that minimum age should be.

The aim of these amendments is to bring Schedule 3 into line with the Indecent Displays Control Act 1981, which states that no person under the age of 18 may enter that part of a place where indecent material is on display. It is reasonable to suppose that most, if not all, sex establishments at least have the possibility of containing some material that could be deemed to be indecent. While of course any licensee of a sex shop could presumably be prosecuted under the Indecent Displays Control Act if he allowed somebody under the age of 18 to be admitted to a display of indecent material, it would surely be an anomaly if local authorities were to set a lower age limit for admission to a sex establishment in their area.

I do not think that there is any great feeling that the age of admission should be under 18. Indeed, believe it is the practice in most of these establishments, or similar establishments. Therefore it seems right to make 18 a standard age limit for admission to sex shops. Amendment No. 35 says that the conditions of the licence could not be varied in respect of this stipulation and Amendment No. 38 says that there would be no appeal against this stipulation. I beg to move.

Lord Evans of Claughton

I strongly support the amendments put down by the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge. I should have thought that the Government could very readily accept them. They accepted amendments which are far more authoritarian, and even obscurantist, during our earlier Committee stage debate. Whatever one's views about sex shops, however liberal or illiberal one may be about the subject, nobody would want there to be any possible circumstances where children under the age of 18 could be involved, or seen, or employed, or have any part in them. I should have thought, therefore, that these amendments ought to be acceptable to the Government.

Lord Belstead

I should like to accept these amendments. All I would say is that the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Oakridge, is incorporated in four different amendments and that I am advised that his intention might be achieved more concisely by making the matter the subject of a new offence. If the noble Lord would consent to withdraw the amendments, I would give an undertaking that we should bring forward an amendment, or offer to the noble Lord an amendment to move at Report stage which would have exactly the same effect as the noble Lord's intention but which would make the matter the subject of a new offence.

Lord Robertson of Oakridge

I thank the Minister for his reply. Of course I am only too glad to take his advice. On that condition, therefore, I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Nugent of Guildford moved Amendment No. 33A:

Page 59, line 11, at end insert— ("(7) An appropriate Authority may make rules for regulating the conduct of hearings for the purposes of this Schedule.").

The noble Lord said: This is an amendment suggested by the London Boroughs Association and it follows the model in the Greater London Council's Bill. It is the same model as the council used in their code for licensing places of public entertainment: Schedule 12 to the London Government Act 1963. They have found that it is useful to the authority in dealing with applications for licences under these provisions. And it was thought that it would be of assistance to authorities administering the provisions in order that there could be some reasonable regulation of such things as length of hearings, rights or appearance, et cetera. It seems that it is a piece of mechanism which could be convenient and useful to everybody, for then they would know what the situation is. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

It is of course already open to local authorities to make what arrangements they like for regulating their administrative processes. They do not need a formal rule-making power for this process; nor do they need such a power to enable them to publish and circulate whatever arrangements they have decided on. If my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford feels that this really would add a safeguard which would go beyond what I have just said, of course I should be only too ready to consider the amendment. As things stand, though, it seems to me that it would be simply writing into the Bill what is already the case. As my noble friend knows from his long experience of legislation, that is something which draftsmen do not like to do. I wonder whether I could put the matter to my noble friend like that. He might care to have a further word with the local authorities who are concerned with the matter and I might like to have a further word with those who advise me. And perhaps we could together have a further word about it before we reach Report. At the moment, however, I do not think I ought to accept the amendment as it stands.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I thank my noble friend for his sympathetic if not positive reception of my amendment. The fact is, however, that the London boroughs are in the front line when dealing with these matters. When this licensing scheme starts they will have literally hundreds of sex shops to deal with. They feel that they need to have some sort of formal arrangements for licensing applications, if they are to work satisfactorily. Although my noble friend is right, I suppose, in saying that local authorities can make their own arrangements, it is not provided for anywhere on the face of the schedule. Unless my noble friend can point to any provision in the schedule—Heaven knows! it is a long one—I would press him to look at this matter rather seriously, because the people who have suggested that we should consider it are the ones who have experience in these fields and who will have the heat and the burden of the day to bear. While I am not going to press the amendment if my noble friend is prepared to look at it, I do, if I may, particularly urge him to look at it seriously, because there is some weight in it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 34 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)

I have to point out that if Amendment No. 34A is agreed to I shall not be able to put Amendment No. 35, although I understand that Amendment No. 35 is not to be moved anyway.

6.10 p.m.

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 34A:

Page 60, line 1, leave out paragraph 17.

The noble Baroness said: This amendment concerns the variation of licences. Paragraph 17 of the schedule enables the holder of a sex shop licence to apply for a variation in the terms on which the licence is granted. This may well follow an appeal against the imposition of those conditions, which would be time-consuming, expensive and inconvenient for the local authority. Not only would an appeal for a variation in the terms of the licence mean more work for the local authority, but I do not believe it is necessary if licences remain in force for a period of only one year. When the licence holder applies for renewal, he can ask the local authority to vary the terms of licence. This is really an attempt to cut down the paperwork and bureaucracy involved, and as licences are for a period of only one year I would have thought that any variation could have been brought up upon renewal. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I was a little surprised when I saw this amendment on the Marshalled List because I know the views held by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, regarding the undesirability of local authorities having the power to impose a ban on sex shops. I would have thought that this amendment was somewhat draconian. It is entirely usual, in circumstances where a licence is issued subject to certain conditions, to enable a licensee to apply to have a particular condition varied. I am talking here about licensing generally; for example, a similar provision is contained in paragraph 14 of Schedule 1 to this Bill. I believe that in principle it is reasonable for people to come along and ask if they may have a variation to a licence.

I am really in the hands of the Committee on this occasion. I would not wish to appear to be obstructing the noble Baroness if she really feels there is something in this amendment. I had thought of offering to make the variation of licences something on which no appeal could be made, but that would be draconian and I would not like to go down that road. As I understand it, the noble Baroness is really concerned to try and remove any unnecessary administrative work from local authorities, and it is on that ground that the noble Baroness would like this point on variation to receive attention. I wonder if any other Member of your Lordships' Committee feels that this is something that should be looked at seriously? If there is a feeling of support for the amendment, I will certainly take it away and look at it. I should not want to accept it here and now because there is already a pretty standard provision in licensing procedures. But if there is a feeling in your Lordships' Committee that the noble Baroness is right and that I am wrong, I should certainly be happy to take the amendment away and look at it.

Lord Swinfen

Can the noble Lord the Minister say for what term licences would be issued?

Lord Belstead

For just one year, which is a very short period.

Baroness Birk

I do not feel very strongly about this amendment. The noble Lord the Minister is quite right in that it seemed to me that, as the licence is renewable every year and that it would take some time to go through the processing of applying for a variation, no injustice would be done. But if this is the usual form of appealing for a variation, and since I certainly do not wish to be draconian, I am quite happy to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 35 not moved.]

Lord Nugent of Guildford moved Amendment No. 35A:

Page 60, line 15, leave out paragraph 18 and insert—

("18.—(1) Subject to this paragraph, the appropriate authority may charge such fees as they may determine in respect of applications for the grant, renewal, or transfer of a licence under this Schedule.

(2) The appropriate authority may secure that the amount of the fees charged by them under this paragraph in a year, is sufficient to cover the amount of expenditure incurred by the authority in the year by virtue of this Schedule.").

The noble Lord said: This, again, is an amendment suggested by the London Boroughs Association. Its purpose is to ensure as far as possible that the cost of administering this licensing scheme shall be borne by the establishments licensed and that there shall not be any extra cost falling on the ratepayers as a result of the scheme. This affects in particular certain London boroughs. The proposal to amend paragraph 18 is broadly similar to that contained in the GLC Bill, which is taken from Section 15 of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, which no doubt my noble friend Lord Belstead will know. The LBA are anxious that as the schedule is now drawn it could be that only the cost of administering the scheme will be covered. The London boroughs foresee that the costs may go very much further than that. They will have not only to administer the scheme but also to monitor it, and they will incur considerable legal expenses.

I have mentioned already that the Soho area alone contains some 100 sex shops and (although I know this offends the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, I must remind the Committee again) they are bristling with illegalities in terms of both the material they show and the cinemas they operate, which are not licensed. One of the problems is going to be, will they get themselves licensed at all? The local authority will have a pretty arduous job monitoring those establishments which do not get themselves licensed. Obviously the local authority has no intention of maintaining the existing number—there are some 200 sex shops already in Westminster—but will wish to reduce the number, because even to meet the strongest possible demands of humanity, that large number cannot be necessary. Also, of course, sex shops drive out conventional traders. Clearly the London boroughs will wish to take a very strong line, but what will happen to those establishments which do not obtain licences? They will just carry on without licences and, once again, the local authority will have an arduous job monitoring such establishments.

Let us make no mistake about it—sex shop operators are very powerful people, financially speaking. They have large resources of money and they do not mind paying fines of £1,000 or so. They make very large sums of money and can stand large legal expenses. It is most important that local authorities, and especially London local authorities, who have the difficult job of licensing these establishments and of operating the licensing scheme, should be allowed to charge fees which will protect ratepayers from having to pay extra on this account. That is really the purpose behind this amendment; to ensure that the fees charged are adequate to cover all the expenses that local authorities may be obliged to incur in the efficient administration of the licensing scheme. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

Probably to the surprise of the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, and I hope not to his displeasure, I rise to support his amendment. It seems to me that one would want to avoid any of the legitimate costs of administering the licensing scheme and inspections falling on ratepayers. That would be entirely wrong. The fees charged should cover the whole scheme as well as just the clerical and administrative costs of licensing. I take it that there will always be an auditing check, so that any local authority which suddenly got the idea of making a somewhat exorbitant charge would not in fact be allowed to do so. We want to see all the costs covered and ensure that the expense does not fall on the public purse—on the ratepayers.

Lord Belstead

First, may I say that I think there is a difficulty with this amendment, in that the wording of the Bill refers to "reasonable fees"; it has this advantage, in that sub-paragraph (2) of my noble friend's amendment is drafted in terms of the costs and fees for a particular year. I think it would be reasonable, and I think certainly possible under the paragraph as it exists in the Bill, for a local authority to seek to balance its hooks over a longer period taking into account the fluctuations in expenses that may occur. The present provision in the schedule therefore affords a greater degree of flexibility than does the amendment.

With regard to the point on which the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, supported my noble friend's amendment—that it is important to see that the costs are properly met—I would like to take that point away and look at it. I think this is a point which I have not entirely taken on board in thinking about this amendment. Certainly I can assure my noble friend and your Lordships that the Government's intention in the wording of the Bill is that local authorities should be able to recover their costs in full by means of the fees they charge for considering licensing applications. The point which arises is other proper expenses which should be covered as well. I would like to consider this and take advice on this point, if my noble friend would give me time to do that.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I thank my noble friend for his willingness to look at this. I would also like to thank the noble Baroness for supporting it. I feel sure it is right if I have her support. I see the drafting point that my noble friend has referred to about a particular year; that must be wrong. If my noble friend would be good enough to look at the point as a whole, I am very happy to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.23 p.m.

Lord Nugent of Guildford moved Amendment No. 36:

Page 60, line 44, at end insert ("and, if the contravention constituting the offence of which he is guilty is continued after his conviction of the offence, he shall be guilty of a further offence and liable, in respect thereof, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 for each day on which the contravention is so continued.").

The noble Lord said: This is an amendment which seeks to impose a continuing fine in addition to the fine provided for in the Bill, (paragraph 19, subparagraph (3)) of £5,000. This, noble Lords will remember, was discussed by several noble Lords during the Second Reading debate. The point was made that £5,000 is a large sum of money. But we are dealing with a trade which is very lucrative indeed. It may not be enough to deter some of the operators. Certainly—I say it again—the scale on which the law is freely broken in the Soho area is something quite alarming. Naturally one asks the question, why, if all this illegal material is being shown, if all these cinemas are proceeding without being licensed, are they not prosecuted? The answer is that they cannot be raided every day: they are raided so many times a year within the resources of the police force and the resources of the Crown court. There is a two years' delay in the Crown court for offences of this kind. We are dealing with a very difficult scene there. It really is most important that the punishment that the court can give, if an establishment has been convicted, has broken the law, should be enough to deter. At present they certainly are not. A fine of £1,000, which is usually as much as a Crown court gives, is really chicken feed to the operators of these sex shops. Therefore, I have put down this amendment, with my noble friend Lord Halsbury, suggesting a continuing fine of £1,000 a day for each day on which contravention is continued.

I have no doubt that those establishments which are not licensed, or indeed lose their licences, will carry on just the same, as they do now, outside the law. It does not bother them. They know that the police have only got a limited capacity to take action against them. If they are taken to court they get a fine of perhaps £1,000, even if they go to the Crown court, and it is very difficult to get a conviction there. Of course a custodial sentence is another matter, but that very rarely happens and one does not want to see it. If fines are to be the punishment, it really is necessary that they should be sufficient to deter, because if they do not the whole system falls to the ground. We really are dealing with a tough bunch of people. They have very good legal advice and plenty of resources. One of the families—there are only about half a dozen families that operate pretty well the whole lot—told the superintendent with whom I was having a look round that they kept a reserve fund of £1 million for their defence costs and paying fines. They really laugh at fines of £1,000. I really commend to my noble friend that we have got a problem of enforcement.

I am sure the Metropolitan Police will confirm what I am saying, that we are dealing with people making a great deal of money and they do not mind operating outside the law in a variety of ways. We are not going to make the system work unless the penalties are adequate for those who break the law to be punished in a way that they will be deterred. I would ask my noble friend to look at the scale of punishments again. It may be that £5,000 is a hefty sum, but not in this context. I ask him to look at a continuing fine of £1,000 a day, or if he does not like that perhaps put the fine up to £10,000. Something more is needed than what we have here if we are going to make this licensing system work effectively. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

Again, I would like to support the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, in his amendment. I think it is right and proper, and especially in the inflation that we are suffering from today. If there is the possibility of injustice to, say, a small man, the amendment does say a fine not exceeding £1,000, so the maximum is £1,000, but there is a whole range within that. When the Minister replies, I wonder whether he would be kind enough, in regard to the fine not exceeding £5,000 on summary conviction, not the daily fine but the general fine, to say whether he would consider doubling that to £10,000.

Lord Belstead

The maximum fine normally available to the magistrates' courts is currently £1,000, and beyond that figure it is generally the case that trial in the Crown court is made available. We have proposed an exception in the Bill, in Schedule 3, to that normal rule in this instance by providing a much higher fine on summary conviction than is generally available and by restricting the offences to summary proceedings only. I would say at the outset that when my noble friend Lord Nugent refers to the delays that there are in the Crown courts, indeed there are delays also in the magistrates' courts, although things have been getting better as a result of the great efforts being made so far as court administration is concerned by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor. I would ask my noble friend Lord Nugent to look, as I know he will very fairly, at the desirability in these cases of trying to bring cases on reasonably swiftly and therefore choosing the magistrates' courts. If we do that it must have some effect on the level of fines that are going to be asked. Instead of suggesting in the Bill the normal maximum of £1,000 in the magistrates courts, we have set it, in Schedule 3, at £5,000. That is a very considerable difference from the normal maximum fine in the lower courts.

Baroness Birk

Before the noble Lord leaves that point, may I put this. Is it not true that this is really an unwritten principle in the magistrates' courts? In fact, I think there are some other exceptions, certain cases of pollution. It is a custom. Before it was raised to £1,000, I remember when I was first on the Bench it was much lower and then it was raised. I do not think this is a hard and fast rule embedded in any statute at all.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I should like to join in this exchange and remind my noble friend that the noble Baroness, as usual, is right. The limit of fines for oil pollution runs up to £50,000 or £100,000 or something of that nature. Because there is the need to act quickly, the offence must be dealt with in a magistrate's court. If you do not deal with it in that way the chap who has caused the pollution sails away. Similarly, the Inland Revenue magistrates' courts can go for much higher fines. Therefore, there are precedents. I hope that my noble friend will look at the matter again.

Lord Belstead

The case of pollution, of course, which the noble Baroness and my noble friend are putting to me, is an offence which is triable either way. Your Lordships may chorus to me, "Why not make this offence triable either way?" We are then beginning to get into the setting of precedents and it would be possible then to start looking at other offences and saying that they should be triable either way, when they are only summarily triable at the moment. Therefore, at present, we have provided in the Bill that these offences should be triable summarily. There is advantage in them being triable summarily in the fact that they are cases which will be brought on the more swiftly thereby. By putting the maximum at £5,000, it is very much higher than is the norm to be found in magistrates' courts.

In reply to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, all I would say is that I know that she sits as a magistrate and she will know very well from looking down the maximum fines which are suggested in a court list for a normal day that you never see fines higher than £1,000 suggested. Let me go on from there and pick up the point which is made in the amendment that there ought to be a system of daily fines. The principal difficulty with them is that if they are to work satisfactorily—and let me add that the courts have found difficulty in operating daily fines on occasion—they are best confined to continuing offences of omission. These are offences which consist of failure to do something—for example, failing to submit a statement or account. In such a case where the offence continues after conviction there is no difficulty of proof that the offence did actually occur on every day throughout a given period. But with an offence of commission, on the other hand—and it will be seen that the offences in paragraph 19(1) and (2) are cast essentially in terms of offences of commission—it would be necessary to produce evidence relating to each day to establish that the offence was continued, rather than just repeated from time to time throughout the period in question. That being so, and given that further court proceedings are necessary anyway to apply a daily fine, I think that it would be sensible, and indeed more effective, for the prosecution to charge the substantive offence again with the substantive maximum penalty of £5,000 rather than to go back to the court having gathered and produced evidence for each day in a set period.

I know that what I have been saying is to some extent at odds with what my noble friend has said in moving the amendment. However, I should like to add three further points. First, let me remind your Lordships that, of course, it will be necessary to see that the £5,000 maximum fine can be uprated. That was the point made by the noble Baroness when she spoke about inflation. To do that, we intend to ask for power to be included in the Criminal Justice Bill which is not yet before your Lordships' House. Secondly, let me also point out that, in addition to a fine a licence may be revoked under paragraph 16(1)(b) which gives the licensing authority the power to revoke a licence on the ground that the licensee is unsuitable to hold a licence by reason of having committed an offence. So, in addition to the fine, the licence can be removed. Finally, my noble friend Lord Nugent made the point that some people will simply disregard what has happened and go on flouting the law. Where a person persists in keeping a sex shop open without a licence in breach of Schedule 3, even after repeated prosecutions, the council will be able to obtain an injunction against him to make him stop. The sanction for breach of the injunction is, of course, imprisonment.

I do not want to appear dogmatic about the level of £5,000 which we have chosen in the Bill, but I hope that I have shown that I do see difficulties, if this is to remain a summary offence, in going higher than that. I hope, also, that I have perhaps put on record some of the other factors which I think it is important to take into account in debating this amendment.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I thank my noble friend for putting the arguments for the £5,000 level and for putting them so cogently. I understand his point of view. However, all noble Lords know, especially those who sit on the Bench, that courts do not award the maximum fine. They are much more likely to award a fine of £1,000 and that simply cuts no ice in this field. It is the London boroughs suggestion that it should be set at £10,000 rather than £5,000. I put in the variation of a daily fine but perhaps that was not a very good mechanical arrangement—I accept that. However, something higher than £5,000 is needed; of that I feel convinced. I hope that my noble friend will look at the matter again before the Report stage because if he could make sure that the courts would hand out fines of £5,000 every time, then maybe it would begin to have an effect. However, they do not do that, as my noble friend well knows, and that is why the figure needs to be set higher. However, at this point I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

The Earl of Halsbury

Before my noble friend with- draws the amendment, I would ask the noble Lord the Minister to think between now and Report on the following lines. What is special about a day? The noble Lord said that we have to prove that they have done it on every day between two offences. Why not prove it every minute of every day? A day is only a sample. Why do we have to sample them once a day? Why not take a random sample throughout the period. Sampling theories are a very well-known technique, and it is surely time that the law did more that than just give us reasons for not being able to do anything.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.38 p.m.

Lord Nugent of Guildford moved Amendment No. 36A:

Page 62, line 7, leave out ("£200") and insert ("£1,000").

The noble Lord said: This is an amendment to uprate the fine for obstructing an officer in the execution of his duty under these provisions, from £200 to £1,000. Again, this is the London boroughs' suggestion. They make the point that it is very easy for someone running one of these establishments which has been entered by police or by an officer of the local authority —and when they have a good deal of illegality going on there which they wish to cover up—to obstruct the officer. He cannot see the evidence and so they have a chance of getting away with it, and they will be fined only the lesser sum. That is the point. It is a perfectly sound and practical point. if the penalty for obstruction is put at £1,000, it will perhaps reduce the danger of that type of tactic being, followed. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I must say that I am becoming a little uneasy at the desire to increase these penalties and I say that for the following reason. I think that it is worth my just reminding the Committee that the Government have taken—and your Lordships have been good enough to recognise it—quite a firm line so far as some of the substantive provisions of Schedule 3 are concerned, in order to make it possible for local authorities to take a firm line in considering the desirability or the undesirability of the establishment of sex shops.

But, having said that, I think that one must look at the levels of fines in respect of other forms of licensing. The fact is that the penalty of £200 is the standard penalty for an offence of this kind. Indeed, one has only to look at Schedule 1 paragraph 12(5) of the Bill to find £200 as the penalty for preventing powers of entry in the context of the licensing of public entertainments. To stand in the way of someone empowered to enter, when a person has something to hide as regards the safety of the public in licensing public entertainments, could be a very grave offence indeed. So I simply say to your Lordships that to start to pull out these particular offences and to say that the amounts of fines should be infinitely higher, is something that should give us cause to hestitate.

I would also point out that any such obstruction of the police or licensing authority in respect of licensed premises would be a matter which the licensing authority would clearly take into account in considering an application for the renewal of a licence. I think it is right that we take into account that point as well. I shall certainly look at this and ask for advice on it, but it is the responsibility of the Government department concerned to look at the level of other financial penalties when proposing financial penalties in legislation. That is what we have done in this particular case, and it is for that reason that I ask your Lordships to hesitate.

Baroness Birk

I should like to ask the Minister something. I understand that in the GLC Bill dealing with the same provisions, the fine is £500. I do not see why it should be less in this Bill than it is in the GLC Bill. As I understand it, in the Criminal Justice Bill, the fine for obstructing officials in food and drugs is as high as £1,000. So I am rather mystified as to why the Government are sticking to £200 on this.

Lord Belstead

The GLC Bill is a Bill relating only to London and, of course, this Bill relates to the whole country. But I shall most certainly look at this again. I would ask your Lordships, for your part, to look at the arguments which I have also put forward. I do not think that these cases are always absolutely cut and dried. If the amendment is withdrawn, I shall certainly look at it and take further advice.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

I must thank my noble friend for his willingness to look at it, but the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, are, of course, correct. There are precedents. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.43 p.m.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 37:

Page 62, line 9, leave out ("sub-paragraph (2)") and insert ("sub-paragraphs (2) and (2A)").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 37 and, if I may, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 39. The purpose of these two amendments, as will be clear, is to provide that there shall be no right of appeal against the refusal of an application for the grant or renewal of a licence where that refusal is based on either of the grounds set out in paragraph 11 (3)(c) or (d).

As I am sure your Lordships are aware, concern was expressed in another place that the local authority's judgment in such matters as the appropriate number of sex establishments for a particular locality and as to the character of the locality would be at risk of being overturned by the courts on appeal. It was argued that these were matters which, in view of their essentially local character, should be determined by the local authority and not ultimately by the Crown Court, which would be less familiar with local circumstances.

We have considered this matter very carefully and we take the view that in this instance it would be right to make the local authority's judgment final. A distinction can be drawn, we believe, between these grounds and questions as to whether the applicant is unsuitable to hold a licence, which should be capable of being reconsidered fully on appeal. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

As we are taking these amendments together, I think that I had better speak to this because, in accepting one, I am practically accepting the other amendment. I am afraid that I cannot make any apology for once again speaking on this particular subject, but it is of a grave importance which goes quite beyond the question of sex shops, so we should be careful before we just let it slide through.

This is a question of taking away the right of appeal. The fact that it is also tied up with the "nil" provision —which the Government are seriously contemplating, to put it at its lowest—makes the whole thing even more restrictive. The Minister said that the courts would probably overturn, or might overturn, the local authority on appeal. If we follow that dictum about almost anything else we can think of, we are really saying that we will not risk taking something to a court in case the verdict which the court gives is one that we do not like. I must confess—and I do not like saying this to the Minister—that I find this quite monstrous. It seems to me completely contrary to British justice and to natural justice. I think it is something about which we should hesitate a long time before we allow it to go through.

On an earlier amendment the Minister said that there was, of course, the right to appeal on the question of the person getting the licence. That is very good as far as it goes. But these two paragraphs, which deal with the number of sex establishments in an area and which say: or exceeds the number which the local authority consider is appropriate for that locality; (d) that the grant or renewal of the licence would be inappropriate, having regard—

  1. (i) to the character of the relevant locality; or
  2. (ii) to the use to which any premises in the vicinity are put; or
  3. (iii) to the layout, character or condition of the premises, vehicle or stall, in respect of which the application is made",
seem to me to be absolutely right and proper grounds on which an appeal could be brought and taken to the courts. If the Minister is saying "We cannot trust the courts"—and in this case presumably in the first instance it would be the magistrates' courts—let him come out and say so; let him say that he does not trust the courts to behave fairly in a matter like this.

If we let this go through in this way, we shall do something which goes far wider than whether or not one is concerned with or wants to have sex shops in an area. I think that that is quite irrelevant to the far more important principles that underline the amendment which the Minister has moved. This is something which I hope other noble Lords, even if they hold quite varying views on whether or not there should be sex shops will appreciate and on which they will support me.

Lord Evans of Claughton

I must say that I wholeheartedly endorse every word that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, has said. This appears to me to be saying that local authorities might well make a decision which is totally contrary to natural justice—and I promise the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, that I shall not mention the word again, if he does not mention the word "brothels"—and because of that and because it is desired in the immediate neighbourhood, we shall not allow them to appeal to some other tribunal so that justice can be done.

It seems to me that the result would be that where we have a local authority that might decide to behave, shall we say, on more puritan grounds and not allow a sex shop in any part of its district, we might find that the district next to it, perhaps being a little less puritan, would find itself with a whole conglomeration of sex shops. We might find that if there is a whole cluster of local authorities that take an anti-sex-shop view—and this is the most serious part—this particular trade (which, as I have said a number of times, I personally find distasteful) would be driven underground. As the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, said during an earlier debate, I should have thought that that would perhaps be the most serious and dangerous situation that could arise. It seems to me that we are really taking extreme steps here.

I appreciate and understand the views of noble Lords who, over a great number of debates in the last two days, find the whole concept evil, but we are going too far down the road of authoritarianism in this respect. Why do we not impose the same kind of rules about licensing of public houses? Why do we not apply the same kind of rules about licensing betting shops, and so on? Although I do not like the concept of sex shops, although I do not like the idea at all, I feel that by taking this step we would go too far and we might be creating a much worse situation than the one we are trying to cure.

The Earl of Halsbury

I support the amendment and I hope the noble Minister will stick to his guns. There is a great deal of loose thinking involved in what we have been debating. We are using such concepts as "natural justice" out of their normal field of application. Natural justice, I have always been taught, is a relatively narrow concept. It deals with such matters as the injustice of retrospective legislation, or the injustice of not allowing a person to know what he is being accused of. It has nothing whatever to do with whether you are allowed to have your own way or not. There is no natural justice involved in altering the law so that what was once permissible is no longer permitted. What would be contrary to natural justice would be making the penalty for it retrospective.

I feel that there is another matter on which we are in danger of becoming rather loose in our thinking, and that is the jurisdiction of the courts. To say that the courts have not got jurisdiction, or are not going to be given jurisdiction, is not a criticism of them. It is merely saying that in a particular context they are not there for that purpose. It is quite common in a court for the judge to ask learned counsel, "Have I jurisdiction in this matter?" and learned counsel will adduce the arguments as to why he has, or has not, got jurisdiction in this matter.

On the simple question of, "We don't like you. We don't want you", there is no question of justice or injustice here. It is just a gut feeling that people have, and Parliament is now being asked to say that we will make a law which enables them to give effect to their feelings of, "We do not want these activities here". Many of us would like to make them criminal offences. The great difficulty is that the permissive character of our society and the techincal breakdown of law have made it impossible for us to go about it in that way. We are going about it in a compromise way, and I believe that the type of compromise which the Government have chosen in this instance will be effective and that we should support the amendment accordingly.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

It seems to me that the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, is coming close to saying "If I dislike a thing, then its prohibition is just. But if I like it, then its prohibition would be unjust." What he said came close to saying that. Furthermore, what he is going further to say is, "The appeal against what I dislike is something that I will not support. But if a thing is in order as far as I am concerned, then it is all right not merely to let it go on but to appeal against any decision against it".

Therefore, we are moving into a situation, as I said on an earlier point, in which not only are we devolving upon local authorities a decision which ought to be made in this House, but having devolved that decision on the local authorities, we are then saying, "There shall be no appeal against the local authorities' decision". This is a very undesirable thing, and I am wholly opposed to it.

The Earl of Halsbury

How can you appeal against my not liking suet pudding? What is there to appeal about? I just do not like it. Vox populi, vox dei. Presumably, according to the idealogy of most popular parties, the local governments are the representatives of their electors, and if their electors do not want a mischief in the district, why should they not say, "out"? It is as simple as that. It is not what I like; it is what the presumptive electors of a whole district do not want. London is a permissive and rather mongrel slum increasingly, but the provinces are perfectly prepared to set London a good example and say, "But, we don't want it". Why should we not let them?

Lord Jacques

At the third attempt I think I am entitled to speak now. I would remind the Committee that over the years Parliament has taken the view that the environment is so important to the community that environmental decisions as to the use of land and buildings should be made only by people who are elected, and not by the courts. In other words, a political decision rather than a judicial decision. You have it obviously in planning. If an application is made for a particular use of land and buildings, it has to be made to the planning authority which consists of elected councillors. If, in the final analysis, there is an appeal, that appeal is decided by the Secretary of State in the elected Government. It never goes to court.

Parliament in its wisdom has decided that the use of land and buildings affecting the environment is a political decision and not a judicial decision. I therefore think that in principle the Government are right in this amendment. They are right in saying that the question of the suitability of the person shall go to the court. That is a judicial matter and it should quite properly go to the court. But the environmental matter should not go to the court.

That brings me to my last point. All right, it does not go to the court, but should the applicant be left without any appeal? That is another question. I would say that either the amendment should stand as it is, that there should be no appeal on the environmental question because it should be a political decision, or alternatively if there is going to be any move by the Government at all it should consider as a possibility that the appeal should be an appeal in writing to the Minister. No hearing, just an appeal in writing to the Minister, which is often done. If there has to be an appeal it should be a political appeal and it should be an appeal in writing to the Minister.

Lord Wigoder

Over the last two or three minutes I have developed something of a guilt complex about my addiction to suet pudding. I would, if I may, only invite the noble Lord to comment on this matter—some people dislike sex shops, and it is quite understandable that they should. Some dislike betting shops. Some dislike public houses. There are many people who regard one or the other, or all three, as being social evils of one sort or another. But they all are in fact recognised as being legal in certain circumstances.

When I look at the conditions, the criteria, which are set out in paragraph 11(3)(c) and (d) of Schedule 3, the number of establishments, whether it is appropriate for the locality, the regard to the character of the locality, the use to which the premises are put, and the layout, character or condition of the premises, and so forth, it seems to me to be not by any means dissimilar to the sort of issues that are considered by the local justices when they are considering applications for betting shops, or for public house licences.

I think that no one has ever complained that the local justices are out of touch with public opinion in their locality when they deal with issues of that sort. No one has ever before suggested, I think, that the local authority is a better tribunal for deciding those issues than the local magistrates. I agree with those such as the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and my noble friend Lord Evans, that this is going down a rather dangerous path to say that not only shall the decision be that of the local authority but that there shall, on these issues, which are justiciable issues, be no appeal whatever to the courts.

Lord Monson

I entirely agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and the Liberal Benches. Certainly so far as existing establishments are concerned. Establishments which are opened after the coming into force of this Act, or indeed after the beginning of 1982 when it was already known, or suspected, that the law would be tightened up, are perhaps a different matter. We are after all talking about the closing down of what are perfectly lawful businesses and, in some cases, the loss of people's livelihoods.

We tend in both Houses of Parliament, and most particularly in another place, to be circumspect when talking about these matters, partly because of a natural reticence and partly because of a natural fear of being misquoted, or quoted out of context, in one of the less responsible publications. As a revising Chamber, we surely have a duty to face the issues squarely.

There are two opposite and sincerely held views about the practical consequences of sex shops. The view of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, and others—I hope I am not summarising them unfairly—is that sex shops engender abnormal appetites in their customers that were not previously present; and if their guess is correct then it is a very serious matter. My view, and I think that of certain other noble Lords, is that a certain percentage of people in this country, or in any other, already possess abnormal appetites (abnormal either in intensity or orientation) and that the one good thing about sex shops—just like prostitution, to which the same arguments apply—is that they enable those desires to be satisfied relatively harmlessly. If I am right in my guess, it stands to reason that innocent women and children alone in their homes, walking down an unlit street at night or walking through woods, will be less at risk than would be the case if all these establishments were abolished. After all, rape and indecent assault are surely a far greater social nuisance than any minor irritation caused by the existence of sex shops.

The vital question is, who is right? Sex shops have been in existence for many years and I think one can take it that if the medical advisers to successive Governments had endorsed the fears of the noble Lord, Lord Nugent, and others, sex shops would have been outlawed outright many years ago, and rightly so. The fact that they have not been outlawed suggests that the expert consensus is that they are not, on balance, harmful, however aesthetically distasteful they undoubtedly are. That being so I contend that people should not be driven out of what is a lawful business without the fullest right of appeal.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

I wish to put a slightly different point of view about the amendment, which I regard as a most reprehensible amendment. The Committee should decline to pass an amendment which proscribes the liberty of the subject without the sanction of the House of Commons. The other place did not debate this issue. The last amendment and this one dealing with the liberty of the subject was merely a sop thrown out by the Minister on Report of the Bill in another place without any debate on the detail of the matter, and that is wrong constitutionally. Your Lordships should be the champions, the custodians, of the liberty of the subject and should not send a Bill to the House of Commons with things in it which the other place has never dealt with. In those circumstances, the Committee should reject the amendment and have it debated where it really belongs, which is in the House of Commons.

Lord Swinfen

Am I not right in thinking that as the Bill will have been amended by your Lordships' House, when it returns to another place they will then have an opportunity of discussing the point?

Lord Belstead

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Swinfen for reminding us of that, and I would add to what he said that the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, is not correct in his assertion that this point was not looked at in the House of Commons. It was precisely pressure there, to the effect that allowing an appeal to the courts in betting cases had resulted in an undesirable proliferation of betting shops, that led to the Government undertaking in another place—and I repeated the undertaking on Second Reading—that we would look at the matter again. That is why we are bringing this amendment forward. The substantial amendment is No. 39, to which No. 37 is a paving amendment.

A good deal has been said in this short debate about the amendment being in breach of natural justice, and of course I respect the views expressed by noble Lords about that. I should, however, make it clear that the absence of a right of appeal against refusal on the grounds set out in paragraph 11(3)(c) and (d)—what the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, called the environmental grounds—would not affect the ability of an applicant to apply to the High Court, with leave, for judicial review. That would provide a safeguard in a case where it was felt that the local authority had not considered the application properly; for example, in not following the procedure specified in the schedule or by taking irrelevant considerations into account. I believe, as I said when we were discussing the amendments tabled to Clause 2 by my noble friend Lord Nugent and the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, that the present amendments will ensure that local authorities have a substantial say in whether there should be any sex establishments at all and, if so, how many there should be and where they should be situated. That is certainly the wish of the Government and I hope that we shall find that it is the wish of the majority of your Lordships.

Lord Wigoder

Would the Minister agree that an application for judicial review would not be available if the local authority had gone wrong on the merits?

Lord Belstead

I am not as conversant with Order No. 53 as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder. My understanding has always been that judicial review allows a case to be brought on swiftly and leaves a considerable amount of discretion to the court. Broadly speaking, I believe that what the noble Lord says is the case.

Baroness Birk

I found the Minister's reply extremely unsatisfactory. He said that because of the proliferation of betting shops, we want to make absolutely certain that no court will be able to give the go-ahead to an application for a sex shop which has been turned down by the local authority. He was answering obliguely, not directly, my question as to whether there was confidence in the courts. The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, was right to say that magistrates' courts have for long been handling applications for betting shops and public houses. We should add that, so far as betting shops are concerned, under the Gaming Act there is a gaming board to which magistrates, licensing authorities and so on can refer.

In this case we have no protection whatever. I am here talking not about natural justice but British justice, to which I referred when I spoke immediately after the amendment had been moved. We are talking about taking away a right of appeal, and the Minister more or less said that it was being taken away because it was thought that too many applications might get through the net. I repeat, magistrates are an assortment of people with differing views. They will have differing views on the merits or otherwise of sex shops and, when such applications come before them, they will be looking at the criteria and merits of each case. This is such an important matter that we cannot allow it to go through in its present form, and we must therefore divide the Committee.

7.8 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 37) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 87; Not-Contents, 48.

Ampthill, L. Kinnoull, E.
Auckland, L. Lane-Fox, B.
Avon, E. Lauderdale, E.
Barrington, V. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Bellwin, L. Long, V.
Beloff, L. Loudoun, C.
Belstead, L. Lyell, L.
Bolton, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Mancroft, L.
Bridgeman, V. Mansfield, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Marley, L.
Cathcart, E. Mersey, V.
Coleraine, L. Milverton, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Cork and Orrery, E. Mottistone, L.
Cottesloe, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Crathorne, L. Newall, L.
Croft, L. Noel-Baker, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Northchurch, B.
Denham, L. [Teller] Nugent of Guildford, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Dundee, E. Pender, L.
Eldon, E. Platt of Writtle, B.
Ellenborough, L. Rankeillour, L.
Elles, B. Redesdale, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Renton, L.
Elton, L. Ridley, V.
Fortescue, E. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Romney, E.
Gainford, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Gainsborough, E. St. Just, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Saltoun, Ly.
Glanusk, L. Sandford, L.
Glenarthur, L. Sandys, L. [Teller]
Halsbury, E. Stradbroke, E.
Harvington, L. Swinfen, L.
Hatherton, L. Terrington, L.
Henley, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Holderness, L. Tranmire, L.
Inglewood, L. Trefgarne, L.
Killearn, L. Trumpington, B.
Kilmany, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Kinloss,, Ly. Windlesham, L.
Kinnaird, L.
Ailesbury, M. Evans of Claughton, L.
Airedale, L. Ewart-Biggs, B.
Aylestone, L. Fisher of Rednal, B.
Bacon, B. Foot, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gladwyn, L.
Birk, B. Greenway, L.
Bishopston, L. Grey, E.
Broadbridge, L. Hampton, L.
Brockway, L. Hooson, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
Collison, L. Irving of Dartford, L.
Craigavon, V. Jeger, B.
David, B. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Davies of Leek, L. John-Mackie, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Lovell-Davis, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
McCarthy, L. Tordoff, L.
Mishcon, L. Tweeddale, M.
Monson, L. Underhill, L.
Peart, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Phillips, B. Whaddon, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Wigoder, L. [Teller]
[Teller] Willis, L.
Spens, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Stedman, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

7.17 p.m.

[Amendment No. 38 not moved.]

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 39:

Page 62, line 32, at end insert—

("(2A) An applicant whose application for the grant or renewal of a licence is refused on either ground specified in paragraph 11(2)(c) or (d) above shall not have the right to appeal under this paragraph.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Denham

I think that this is probably a convenient moment to adjourn for dinner. Subject to the intervening business, may I say that the Committee will resume on this Bill at 8 p.m. Therefore, I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.