HL Deb 15 March 1982 vol 428 cc463-510

House again in Committee on Schedule 3.

Lord Jacques moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 64, line 5, after ("considering") insert ("whether any and if so").

The noble Lord said: As it stands, sub-paragraph (4) of paragraph 24 suggests that, if in any locality there are several existing premises for which licence applications are made, at least one must be granted. On 3rd February in the other place, at columns 336–7 of the Official Report, the Minister made the point that existing premises would have no right to a licence, but would have preference over new applicants. This amendment gives effect to what is apparently intended. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I am not sure that this quite gives effect to what, on behalf of the Government, I was saying was our objective. The effect of the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, would be that a licensing authority would have to give preference to these premises in the actual process of considering applications. I think that the amendment is misconceived, because paragraph 24 of Schedule 3 does not come into play unless the licensing authority is intending to approve some applications. It is unnecessary, therefore, to provide by implication, as the amendment does, that it may decide to approve none. As a result of agreeing with Amendment No. 31, which the Committee has done, I think we have provided that a licensing authority may conclude that nil is the appropriate number of sex establishments in a particular locality. But it is wholly undesirable, in any case, to imply that existing premises should not have to be judged by the same standards as would be applied to future premises. It would be a result of this amendment that a licensing authority would be under an obligation to issue a licence to an existing business when on strict merits it might not do so. I am absolutely certain that that is not the result which the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, wishes to bring about. I think that my interpretation of the words which the noble Lord wants to insert into the Bill is the correct one. I wonder whether the noble Lord would like to have a look at what I have said, because, if I am right in my interpretation, then I think the effect of his amendment would be one which he would not want to achieve.

Lord Jacques

Is the Minister stating that the objective which I am seeking can be attained without this amendment, because of Amendments Nos. 31 and 39?

Lord Belstead

Yes, I am suggesting that these words are not necessary.

Lord Jacques

In that case, I will study what the Minister has said and, if necessary, come back at Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 41:

Page 64, leave out lines 16 to 22.

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 14, which I moved on the first day of Committee. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 42:

Page 64, line 22, at end insert—

("Commencement of Schedule.

.—(1) So far as it relates to sex cinemas, this Schedule shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may he order made by statutory instrument appoint, and accordingly, until the day so appointed, this Schedule shall have effect—

  1. (a) with the omission—
    1. (i) of paragraph 2 above; and
    2. (ii) of paragraph 12(3)(e) above;
  2. (b) as if any reference to a sex establishment were a reference only to a sex shop; and
  3. 466
  4. (c) as if for paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph 12(2) above there were substituted the words "for different kinds of sex shops".

(2) Subject to sub-paragraph (1) above, this Schedule shall come into force on the day on which this Act is passed.

(3) Where, in relation to any area, the day appointed under sub-paragraph (1) above falls after the day specified in a resolution passed under section 2 above as the day upon which this Schedule is to come into force in that area, the day so appointed shall, for the purposes of paragraphs 23 and 24 above, be the appointed day in relation to sex cinemas in the area.").

The noble Lord said: Your Lordships will no doubt recall that the Government have said at each stage of the Bill, from the time when this matter was first raised at Committee stage in another place, that they would wish to reconsider whether the proposed controls in Schedule 3 should apply to cinemas. The Greater London Bill, on which Schedule 3 is broadly based, was prepared before my honourable friend the Member for Fareham, Mr. Peter Lloyd, introduced his Cinematograph Bill into another place. The provisions relating to sex cinemas in the present schedule are directed at the same establishments as the main proposal in that Private Member's Bill. These are the so-called cinema "clubs", which are to be found in considerable numbers in central London and, to a lesser extent, in other large cities and towns.

These premises, by masquerading as clubs, are able to take advantage of an exemption in the Cinematograph Act 1952, which enables them to avoid having to comply with the film censorship and safety requirements which apply to other commercial cinemas. As a result, these premises are able to show films of a kind which would not receive a certificate from the British Board of Film Censors. The main purpose of the Bill in another place is to end that, and it is proposed that the present exemptions from cinematograph licensing should be qualified by a new test of whether an exhibition is "promoted for private gain". That is the test in Mr. Lloyd's Bill. Thus the commercial cinema clubs would require a cinematograph licence, and the cinema licensing authority would be able to impose the usual film censorship requirements.

The Government, who are actively supporting my honourable friend's Bill, believe that it provides the most satisfactory and most logical method of tackling that practice. These premises are—to use the words of this schedule—sex cinemas only because they are able to avoid cinematograph licensing. If that is remedied, then there would be no need to subject these premises to a further licensing system, any more than in the case of ordinary commercial cinemas. Indeed, paragraph 2(2)(a) of the schedule ensures that this would not happen, since there is an automatic exemption for premises which have a cinematograph licence.

As your Lordships will appreciate, the argument that I have just been advancing would tend to support the conclusion that the reference to sex cinemas in the present Bill should be deleted altogether, rather than, as we propose in the amendment, retained and brought into force on a different date from the provisions relating to sex shops. We have, however, discussed this matter with representatives of local authority associations and we are persuaded that there ought to be the provision of a long-stop. We cannot, of course, say with certainty how the courts are likely to interpret the provisions of the Cinematograph Bill in another place—assuming that it becomes law—in respect of the promotion of exhibitions for private gain. We have no reason to think that the Bill in another place will not prove wholly satisfactory as a means of dealing with bogus clubs, if it becomes law. It is conceivable, however, that exhibitions might be given in other circumstances which might not so clearly fall within the scope of that Bill and which could, if necessary, be dealt with under the provisions in the schedule to the present Bill, which deal with sex cinemas.

If I may give one example of what I mean, you could have the practice of showing a video-cassette free of charge at the back of a sex shop, supposedly with a view to the sale of the cassette. Our view is that this would be caught by the Cinematograph Bill. But the sex cinema provisions in this Bill would act as a safety net. If such a circumstance arose, Schedule 3 would obviously be useful. Even if, in the light of experience, the provisions proved wholly redundant in practice their retention would cause no harm.

Accordingly, the Government are proposing that the sex cinema provisions should remain in the Bill, subject to making suitable provision, which is the purpose of the Government's amendment, to ensure that no difficulties are caused by the overlapping of this Bill and Mr. Peter Lloyd's Private Member's Bill, if it becomes law. It would be nonsensical if, as a result of the present Bill coming into force before the Cinematograph Bill, local authorities had to spend time considering applications for sex cinema licences if the premises concerned were to become subject only a few months later to cinematograph licensing which would then exempt them from the sex cinema licensing provisions.

The proposed new paragraph avoids this difficulty by providing that the sex cinema provision of the schedule shall be brought into force by order. The intention of my right honourable friend the Home Secretary would be that the operative date for these provisions would be the date of the coming into force of the Cinematograph Bill. This might be expected to be in October or November. If of course the Cinematograph Bill failed to reach the statute book, the provisions of this schedule would be brought into force at the earliest possible date. I should emphasise that none of this affects the arrangements in respect of sex shops. In respect of these premises, the schedule will come into force on Royal Assent.

It may just be helpful to add that the technical provisions in sub-paragraph (1)(a)(b) and (c) and in sub-paragraph (3) of the new paragraph simply ensure that the necessary alterations are made to the schedule to allow for the period between the coming into force respectively of the sex shop and sex cinema provisions. I apologise for that long explanation, but I think several of your Lordships have been wondering exactly what provision is to be made so far as sex cinemas are concerned now that this Private Member's Bill is coming from another place. I hope that my explanation has clarified the Government's thinking on this matter. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

I thank the Minister for that very clear exposition of this amendment, but I have a certain number of doubts about it. I am worried about it because it would create two systems of licensing, not always within the same authority. This will provide a series of potential loopholes for the industry to exploit. The cinema legislation will essentially be about the safety of cinema premises. I should have thought that the members of this Committee would agree that the appropriate place for the control of sex cinemas is in the legislation on sex shops because it is one of the sex establishments, as defined in the Bill. There have been problems with the dual licensing of such premises as licensed clubs, and we should not want those problems to be introduced here.

The proposed powers of this miscellaneous provisions Bill are concerned with different matters: primarily the numbers and the suitability of the location of sex establishments within a local authority's area. Because of this, the London Boroughs Association is seriously concerned that if sex cinemas are not included within the Bill which we are discussing tonight several consequences will follow.

First, in Greater London as opposed to the rest of the country no one authority will have an overview of the numbers of sex establishments in its area. One of the principal matters which have been discussed at great length this evening (and also last Thursday) is the whole system of control by licensing. Clearly this is of particular interest to an area like Westminster where in Soho there is a heavy concentration of sex establishments within a confined area. More often than not, you get several kinds of sex establishments occupying one building. There is the multiple building with a sex shop, a sex cinema and even one of these sex encounter places, which many of us learned about the other day for the first time. In the rest of the country, although the district council will be the licensing authority under both the miscellaneous provisions and the Cinematograph Acts, when they are passed, because of the different matters with which those two systems are concerned the view has been expressed by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities that there could be difficulty within authorities for the same reason.

The separation of licensing controls in Greater London between the borough and the Greater London Council provides a loophole which is almost certain to be exploited by those involved with the industry. The loophole is that proprietors will seek to justify the use of video booths on the basis that they are for previewing cassettes which are available for sale in the sex shop below. Thus, these will escape the need to be licensed under the Cinematograph Bill. I do not think that this is so important a consideration as the last one: that because of the separation of the two, the licensing authority for sex shops will be unable to have regard to the number of sex cinemas already operating in its area when considering whether to grant the particular sex shop licence. As noble Lords who have taken part in the debate up to now have been very concerned about the number of sex establishments in the area, it seems to me that it will be counter-productive to what is intended.

It may be that the Minister will say that the provisions of the miscellaneous provisions Bill as drafted will in any event exclude premises licensed under the Cinematograph Bill. If therefore the present Bill to which the Minister referred became law, such premises would be outside the scope of the miscellaneous provisions Bill. That may be so, but it is not beyond the efforts of the parliamentary draftsmen to make sure that this point is picked up in the drafting of the Bill. It is for these reasons that I have a number of doubts about what is being done about this at the present time.

8.17 p.m.

Lord Belstead

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for picking up these points. I know that my explanation was long and not entirely easy to follow. It enables me, much more briefly, to make two or three main points. First, the whole point of the Cinematograph Bill, the Private Member's Bill which Mr. Lloyd in another place is promoting, would be to make these bogus cinema clubs subject to an existing, well-established licensing system which gives the cinema licensing authority—the district councils and in London the Greater London Council—complete control over what may be shown. Cinema licensing enables the licensing authorities which I have just mentioned to control the films exhibited. A sex cinema could be a sex cinema only if the cinema licensing authority allowed it to be. The logical course therefore is to control cinemas by means of cinematograph licensing, and it is with this Bill coming along from the House of Commons that the opportunity for that to be done presents itself.

That makes it sound as though one should say: Why do the Government consider that there should be any of the provisions in Schedule 3 to deal with sex cinemas? Why not do away with them? However, the local authority associations wish to retain the sex cinema provisions in this Bill, even though they are likely to be largely redundant. Their main concern, as I tried to explain, is that the Cinematograph Bill may not catch exhibitions of films or cassettes which it is claimed are not being promoted for private gain, which is the test being introduced by Mr. Lloyd's Bill: in particular why an exhibition is said to be given as a free service for customers attending the premises concerned. That is the reason why we are keeping in being the sex cinema provisions in Schedule 3.

The final point I would make is that having decided that the sex cinema provisions in Schedule 3 should be retained, it is a question of how you interleave them with the coming into effect of the Cinematograph Bill from another place, if and when that Bill becomes law. We are most anxious to avoid putting local authorities in the position of having to consider applications under Schedule 3 in respect of cinemas when those premises would become subject to cinema licensing a few months later after Mr. Lloyd's Bill comes into effect.

For that reason we have an order-making power which we intend to use, as I explained, to bring the sex cinema provisions of Schedule 3 into effect simultaneously with Mr. Lloyd's Cinematograph Bill. I have explained briefly what the Government are after in moving this amendment, and I hope that the apprehensions felt by the noble Baroness may perhaps have been stilled somewhat.

Baroness Birk

While I thank the noble Lord the Minister for that explanation, I am still concerned that there will be two types of licences running side by side. When talking about cinemas—and I am a governor of the British Film Institute—one does not think of sex cinemas as being part of the film industry; one thinks of them as being part of sex establishments. It seems to me that it would be better to keep them that way and avoid the duplication which concerns many people. I will not take this matter any further tonight; I will read carefully what the noble Lord the Minister has said, and if he has any further points to make, perhaps he will write to me and I may then consider whether I wish to do anything more at Report stage.

Lord Belstead


Lord Northfield

The noble Lord the Minister said that, in the case of an alleged abuse, the Private Member's Bill now in another place will introduce the test of showing for gain. Will this not simply lead bogus clubs into another subterfuge; will they not become more like real clubs, in which case the control will fail because the clubs will find ways of disguising their profits and will make people join for no apparent profit-making motive? There will be no control, and does this not reinforce the point made by my noble friend, that a different type of control is needed?

Lord Belstead

With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, this reinforces the local authorities' argument that we ought not to jettison the sex cinema provisions of Schedule 3. This amendment does not do that; it does not jettison the sex cinema provisions of Schedule 3. We are going to keep them on ice with an order-making power so that on the same day that the Cinematograph Bill passes into law these provisions relating to sex cinemas in Schedule 3 will be brought into effect, at exactly the same time. If by any chance Mr. Lloyd's Bill flounders in either House, then the sex cinema provisions of Schedule 3 would come into effect at the same time as the rest of this Bill.

Baroness David

It does seem to me rather a pity that we have to put up with all these antics because we have these two Bills going through at the same time. Can the noble Lord the Minister tell us when we may expect Mr. Lloyd's Bill to arrive in this House, and when the whole thing is likely to come to fruition?

Lord Belstead

I believe it is about to reach Report stage in another place. I meant, if I did not say it, that if all goes well the Bill will become law at the end of the parliamentary session, in October or November. But, as your Lordships' Committee will know, if a Private Member's Bill has a fair wind, it can become law earlier than that.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Schedule 4 [Street Trading]:

Baroness Fisher of Rednal moved Amendment No. 43:

Page 65, line 5, leave out head (a).

The noble Baroness said: What we are asking in this amendment is that the sub-paragraph (2)(a) be deleted entirely. This will have the effect that certified pedlars will have to obtain licences or consents under the provisions of the district local authorities, where the provisions are adopted. It has been drawn to my attention, and experience has shown, that many street traders obtain a pedlar's certificate as a type of "protection" document which they can show the police on demand, as some form of authority for standing in the street and trading. If these exemptions for pedlars remain in the provisions, we can see the provisions regarding street trading quickly becoming worthless. There is nothing to stop the certified pedlar who wishes to operate in the streets or areas designated for street trading obtaining licences as a street trader as well as a pedlar. This is accepted practice and, from the information I have received, there do not seem to be any difficulties or complaints about such a procedure. I wish to stress that it is not the intention behind the amendment to call for the repeal of the Pedlars Act. We are only asking for this amendment in conjunction with street trading. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I do not believe that this amendment is necessary. The purpose of paragraph 2(2)(a) is to enable a bona fide pedlar acting as such to trade in a designated street. Otherwise, he would have to obtain both a pedlar's certificate and a licence or consent to do so. The Pedlars Act 1871 defines a pedlar broadly, as a person who goes from town to town or to other men's houses selling goods or offering for sale his skill in handicraft. In other words, he is an itinerant vendor of goods or services who solicits custom from members of the public. Whether a person is acting as a pedlar is a question of fact which the courts could determine.

If a person who already holds a pedlar's certificate sets up a stall in the street he is not peddling and he will require a licence or consent in a designated street. If he walks up and down in a designated street selling goods to passers by, he will need a licence or consent, as appropriate, in addition to his pedlar's certificate. But, if this amendment were accepted, it would mean that any holder of a pedlar's certificate would need to obtain a licence or consent to peddle from door to door in a designated street. Because, by definition, a pedlar is an itinerant trader who is unlikely to know precisely where he will be at any time, it seems to us that it would be both onerous and expensive, if not wholly impracticable, for a pedlar to obtain the necessary consents or licences to conduct his business. It is for those reasons that I believe this amendment is unnecessary. I believe it would prove very onerous to bona fide pedlars and it is on those grounds that I hope the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

While I thank the noble Lord the Minister for that reply, it has been found extremely difficult to prosecute under the legislation in respect of the pedlar's certificate. Local authorities have experienced the greatest difficulty because the definition of movement normally allows the pedlar to operate as a street trader; because of the very fact that he walks ten, fifteen or twenty yards away from his stall. It is therefore extremely difficult for local authorities to bring a successful prosecution. I wish to reiterate that there was no suggestion of abolishing the certificate granted under the 1871 Act. Under the designation "street trader" there is normally no opportunity to peddle in the strict sense of the word, and it is for that reason that I moved the amendment. However, I will read what the Minister has said and, if I feel that I need to bring this matter up again, I will do so at Report stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 65, line 8, leave out ("held under a grant or presumed grant or") and insert ("the right to hold which was acquired by virtue of a grant (including a presumed grant) or acquired or established by virtue of").

The noble Lord said: This is a drafting amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Birk moved Amendments No. 44A:

Page 65, leave out line 29 and insert— ("(i) exceed two metres in its vertical, or one metre in any horizontal, dimension;").

The noble Baroness said: This is a very tiny little amendment which I hope the Minister will find it possible to accept. Schedule 4 contains provisions for the regulation of street trading. News vendors are exempted under paragraph 1(2) provided they meet the requirements of paragraph 1(3), which in sub-paragraph (b) deals with the maximum measurement of permitted newspaper stall. In the view of the newspaper society which represents the news vendors, the maximum height permitted is too low. In a number of recent Private Bills containing provisions about street trading in specific areas they have successfully pressed for amendments to enable news vendors to have stalls 2 metres high, as opposed to the 1 metre referred to in the Bill at the moment, so as to protect themselves from the bad weather. It does seem a simple little thing, and if it helps the welfare of people standing out in the awful weather that we experience in this country I think it is something that could be agreed to without great difficulty. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

To allow a newspaper stall which is 2 metres high instead of 1 metre would appeal to someone like myself very much indeed. I have great pleasure in accepting the intention of the amendment. Perhaps I can make the point that we must consult the local authority associations. On each of the provisions in the Bill we have endeavoured to do this. I am certain that there will not be any objections. If we are satisfied that the local authority associations have no objections, I give an absolute undertaking to introduce a suitable amendment on Report or to offer one to the noble Baroness. I am sure the noble Baroness will not mind if we also look at the drafting. I hope she will find that a suitable reply.

Baroness Birk

I thank the noble Lord very much indeed; I think it is a more than suitable reply. I think the noble Lord will find that this is present in the Derbyshire Bill. I do not imagine that he will find much argument from the local authority associations. Of course, I accept that the question of drafting remains with the Government. It is the substance I am concerned with. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.34 p.m.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal moved Amendment No. 45:

Page 73, line 3, after ("may") insert ("not").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment I think that what we have before us is a wide loophole in the provision, which in my view is most undesirable. One has to be concerned that paragraph 8 as presently drafted enables a large number of people to carry out street trading purporting to be employed by other licensed or consent holders, and this makes the whole matter of enforcement extremely difficult. While I would acknowledge that there might be some justification for a licensed trader who is operating from a single stall or a static position to have an assistant, careful wording is necessary so that the licensed trader is not abusing any provision by employing such persons, because he could quite easily abuse the provisions and his licence of consent by operating a number of stalls adjacent to the one that he is licensed for, with assistants on the others under the pretence that they are all assisting him in his trading. I think it would be safer in the definition to require that all those engaged in street trading be licensed holders or consent holders as appropriate. Therefore, our amendment is drafted to make it quite clear that a licence or consent holder may not employ assistants without a further licence or consent being required. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

The noble Baroness expresses apprehension that the licensing controls may be misused; indeed, that a trader may use a licence to trade in a way that the licence does not allow. I wonder whether I could remind the Committee of the controls provided by the licensing system in this schedule. The licensing authority must specify in the licence the street in which, the days on which, and times between which, the licence holder may trade and the type of articles he may display for sale. In addition, the licensing authority may stipulate precisely where in the street his stall may be placed and how large it may be. It has power to require an applicant for a licence to submit two photographs of himself with his application. I really do not think under those circumstances it would be possible for a supposed assistant to set up a stall in another part of the market, for instance, or to trade at the wrong time or in the wrong goods, without the licensing authority being able to distinguish him from the licence holder.

It really does not alter the balance of trade in the market, or the space taken up by one licence holder, or the amount of refuse to be collected, if the licence holder has no assistant or one assistant or two. Nor does it affect the balance of trade in the consent street if the consent holder has assistants. I hope perhaps, for those reasons, the noble Baroness may agree that the intentions of the Government are in fact exactly the same as her own, which is to see that the eontrols are abided by.

Baroness Birk

Before my noble friend decides what to do, may I ask the noble Lord why in a previous list of amendments, which we had before us last Thursday, there is exactly the same amendment tabled by the Minister? Has he changed his mind in the meantime?

Lord Belstead

That was a printing error, and I was full of hope that it would remain because when we reached the amendment I was going to say, "Not moved".

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

Having listened to what the Minister has said, I am not really satisfied with that reply. Anybody who has any knowledge of street trading and market streets will know that they are always the biggest bone of contention to any local authority; they are always subject to fracas about who gets their first and whose position is best. They are not the places of harmony that the Minister seeks to explain to us. The very fact that the holder of the street trading licence or consent may employ any other person to assist him leaves the situation wide open for the person who gets there first to set up two stalls very close together. It makes the job of the licence holders extremely difficult when the fracas starts. Having listened to what the Minister has said, I am not happy. I will read what he has said, but I shall most likely raise it again on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [Closing hours for take-away food shops]:

Lord Evans of Claughton moved Amendment No. 45A:

Page 3, line 10, at beginning insert ("Subject to section 5(1) below").

The noble Lord said: The first amendment of this group, No. 45A, is in fact a purely technical amendment which I hope will be acceptable to the Government. I would like, however, to speak to the next two amendments, which are substantial. Perhaps I may inquire whether the noble Lord the Minister agrees with me that No. 45A is a purely technical amendment and a great improvement on the previous drafting?

Lord Belstead

I agree entirely that it is a technical amendment. I disagree totally that it is an improvement.

Lord Evans of Claughton

In that case, with the permission of the Committee, I shall speak to Amendments Nos. 45A and 45B. I am sure that in years to come the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, will regret the hasty remark he has just made. I have put down these amendments about the control of refreshment premises not to challenge the Government's proposals to license and control the opening hours of refreshment premises—I think that it is a good thing that that should be in the control of local authorities—nor, indeed to challenge the compromise that I understand has been reached in another place about the earliest hour to be specified for closure of premises serving take-away food. The Bill originally proposed that it should be 11 p.m. and the Take-Away and Fast Food Federation—I feel much more at home talking about food than about sex—and other bodies wanted, and would still prefer, to have 1 a.m.

It is a fact that most business in these kinds of premises is done between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. However, I think that it would be wrong to challenge the compromise reached after some discussion and in any event I take the view, which I expressed on Second Reading, that the local authorities are the best qualified to make the judgments when fixing the licensing hours for the opening of these premises.

None the less, I do not think that anyone in your Lordships' Committee would challenge the concept that take-away and fast food shopkeepers and tenants fulfil a very considerable need. They are generally very hardworking; they are enterprising and they are independent. I should have thought that they had all those qualities of the small trader, the small entrepreneur, to which this Government pay frequent lip service.

My amendments, therefore, seek to simplify the procedure and give some protection to those traders and ensure that they enjoy—and these are words which I apologise for using once again—the benefits of natural justice in defending their livelihoods. They are amendments which I would have thought—indeed, which I would have hoped—would commend themselves to your Lordships' Committee. As I have said already, the first amendment, No. 45A, is purely a matter of technical accuracy.

The second amendment, No. 45B, which I think it would probably be helpful to deal with at the same time, substitutes for the word "desirable" the word "necessary" to provide, in my view, a more rigorous and searching test of the circumstances in which a closing order can be made by a local authority. My reasons for doing that are twofold. First, my own experience, and I think the experience of people in the trade when dealing generally with the licensing duties of local authorities, is that local authorities are, broadly, not sufficiently careful of the circumstances in which this sort of power is exercised. I understand that the present wording is the same as that in the Late Night Refreshment Houses Act 1969, and from the experience of that Act it would cause considerable alarm and concern if it were imported into this Bill. Because of my second reason the courts are more reluctant to submit to judicial review decisions which contain a substantial element of policy, the substitution of the words I suggest would make the exercise of the powers contemplated more capable of judicial review. We discussed the grounds earlier today. These people are protecting their livelihood and performing a useful function and I should have thought that we would have gone to a lot of trouble to give every opportunity to the proprietors and tenants of take-away food shops to ensure that they do not suffer injustice and possibly loss of trade, and even bankruptcy, by a decision reached without a proper opportunity for judicial review of that decision. Therefore, although the first amendment standing in my name is a technical amendment, I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

The reason why I disagreed with the noble Lord about the merits of his first amendment, No. 45A, is that in this and, indeed, in succeeding amendments, the noble Lord, Lord Evans, is endeavouring to bring the wording of Clause 5 into Clause 4. I am advised that this is unnecessary.

Clause 4 sets out the general power for district councils to make closing orders. Clause 5 sets out the procedure and provides for appeal. I am advised that there is no need for the two clauses to be amalgamated.

I should like to deal first with the second of the noble Lord's two amendments—namely, Amendment No. 45B. This again is an attempt to run Clause 5 into Clause 4. The wording of Clause 4 in this respect follows the formula set out in Section 7 of the Late Night Refreshment Houses Act 1969 which empowers a district council to restrict the late night opening of a licensed refreshment house by means of a condition to the licence.

We have no evidence that the use of the word "desirable" has caused any difficulty in the interpretation of the 1969 Act. We are unconvinced that this amendment will achieve the effect that the noble Lord desires. For the sake of uniformity—which I think is not an unreasonable thing to want so far as drafting is concerned—we would prefer the word "desirable" to be retained. However, it does occur to me, looking at the second amendment, that the noble Lord is actually doing that because he is cutting the words, take all relevant circumstances into consideration", out of Clause 5 by an amendment which he has yet to move—Amendment No. 45F. That, of course, is a matter for the noble Lord. But if that amendment is not made then I really do not see the slightest need to start importing words from the next clause into this clause. In saying that I do not think that the Government's objectives and the noble Lord's objectives differ, because what in essence we are saying is that the words which the noble Lord is trying to transpose in Amendment No. 45B are there on the face of the Bill, but they are in Clause 5 and not in Clause 4.

Lord Evans of Claughton

The advice which I have is that the retention of "desirable", which is the wording in the 1969 Act, has caused difficulty and that that is the experience of people who have had to deal with it. I do not think, with respect, that the Minister has dealt with what I think is the substantive point of the second amendment—namely, that the word "desirable" makes it much more difficult for the decision of the local authority to be reviewed. This is what really worries me. We are dealing here not with very big multi-organisations, but with small businesses which may very often be losing their livelihoods, or part of their livelihoods, because they have not been able to have an adequate opportunity to put forward their views at a judicial review of the refusal of the local authority to grant them a licence, let us say, after 12 midnight to I a.m. or for whatever period they particularly want it.

If I may say so—without, I hope, causing unforgivable anger—it is a rather inconvenient procedure that the Government have adopted, because they tend to dodge about with their definitions between Clauses 4 and 5, and one finds it very difficult to find the definitions for the parts of the Bill scattered in the different subsections of Clause 4. I should have thought that as a matter of drafting this could have been made tidier. Possibly one of the reasons why I am having difficulty, and why members of the organisations which have been discussing this with me have been having difficulty, is that they are not clear in their minds as to what will occur if this Bill, as at present drawn, becomes law.

I should have thought that possibly there is need for some tidying up of the drafting, which may resolve my problem. Possibly at this stage it may be as well if I ask to be given leave to withdraw this amendment so that the matter can be looked at again because, as a lawyer, I find it very difficult. The people advising me, who are also lawyers, are finding that there are many confusions in this. Life is difficult enough for the small traders of the type we are discussing without them having to spend a great deal of their time taking legal advice as to what their standing is and what their chances are of having a licence refused. Therefore, I think that the best course will be to withdraw the amendment at this moment and to consider the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 45B not moved.]

8.51 p.m.

Lord Evans of Claughton moved Amendment No.45C:

Page 3, line 31, at end insert ("and shall be such as are reasonable having regard to all relevant circumstances").

The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to insert at the end the words: and shall be such as are reasonable having regard to all relevant circumstances". I propose that your Lordships' Committee might accept these words, again, on the ground—and I am getting quite embarrassed about this—of natural justice in order to ensure that a closing order cannot automatically be made for the maximum period—namely, from midnight to 5 a.m. It reflects the concern of very many traders that local authorities might exercise their powers, not in a discerning way, looking at each takeaway food shop individually on its merits, but making their decision on a blanket basis without any discrimination between one premises in one area and other premises in another area, and without considering the level of complaints that they have had or the quality of the management of these premises. It is to this end that I move Amendment No. 45C. I beg to move.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

Very briefly, I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, in, as I see it, this procedural safeguard. One must remember that often these take-away foodshops are a one-man business, with someone working 12 to 14 hours a day. He does not really have time to protect himself, find out about it all and take the council to court. So I think that he needs things to be made very plain.

On the other side, one must hope that the needs of the many will not be undermined by the complaints of the few. There is very great proof that these shops are used and needed by very many sections of the community. Not only are they used and needed by people working irregular hours, but, as I said on Second Reading, for a great many young people it seems a marvellously harmless occupation to go to the takeaway food shop; many hardworking mothers send their children out to collect their supper for a very small return. As I say, I hope that the needs of the many will not be undermined by the complaints of the few. Therefore, I should like to support the noble Lord in his efforts to safeguard these small food shop keepers in their efforts to keep their businesses going.

Baroness David

I am sorry to bring a perhaps discordant note from this side of the Committee, but I am rather worried about this. Having represented an area in Cambridge where there are a great many take-away food shops and living very close to an area where there are still a great many food shops, I think that it is necessary to have some control. Although some may be one-man businesses and so on, I think that there are also some chains. When I look at the glossy brochure which has been provided with briefing for these amendments, I am just a tiny bit suspicious about this. So I shall wait to hear what the Minister has to say. But for the moment I am not at all sure that I shall be supporting the noble Lord, Lord Evans, in his amendment.

Lord Belstead

Perhaps it would be worth my saying this very briefly. Speaking personally and also speaking from this Dispatch Box, I have nothing but goodwill for those who provide late night refreshments. I, personally, have been the beneficiary of late night food shops on many occasions, in various different ways. The Government have tried to make it clear that they have no antipathy towards these shops by relaxing the suggestions which were made in another place for the closing procedure, which, of course, again, I should like to underline is discretionary and can only be brought into effect if people living in the neighbourhood complain on the specific ground of disturbance.

I do not like the words "closing order" because it sounds as though something is being closed. In fact, it means that at the earliest time of midnight—and that is the earliest—a rule may be made that a late night food shop shall be closed. It would not necessarily have to be the same hour on all days of the week; it could be at different times, and it might be that such an order would not be made at all. In many areas such orders might not be made. It is right that the Government should make clear their attitude at the start of the Bill. With respect, I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Evans, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ewart-Biggs, were rather speaking as though an order would not have regard to "all relevant circumstances". Those words, in essence, are there on the face of the Bill in Clause 5, when we come to the procedure. Unless someone moves an amendment to take them away, those words are there for all to see.

When the noble Lord, Lord Evans, spoke about natural justice, although, of course, judicial review would be available in these cases, surely it is more realistic to look at the right of appeal on the merits to a magistrates' court and thence to a Crown court, and all of that is in Clause 5.

Therefore, I say to the Committee, let us not talk as though those words were not on the face of the Bill—that is, of course, unless Amendment No. 45F, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Evans, is agreed to. The difficulty about the debate that we are having is that the noble Lord, Lord Evans, has tabled Amendment No. 45F, which we have not yet reached, and, for reasons which will become apparent when the noble Lord moves the amendment, he proposes, in fact, to cut these words out of the Bill. I suggest that we ought to keep those words, which show that the procedure will be absolutely fair, where they are when we come to the correct clause for dealing with procedure and appeals which is Clause 5.

Lord Evans of Claughton

I do not seek to debate the matter in general. I am trying to suggest to your Lordships—which perversely you refuse to see—that, in making a decision about whether people shall have a licence for the period between 12 midnight and 5 a.m., it would be preferable that it was seen that they had it at the point in Clause 4. However, if the noble Lord the Minister is assuring me—as I believe he is—that, in fact, no such position would arise with regard to the licence-holders, unless all the relevant circumstances had been taken into account—and I think that is the assurance he gave me?—

Lord Belstead

Yes, indeed.

Lord Evans of Claughton

In that case, I am willing to withdraw the amendment, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Evans of Claughton moved Amendment No. 45D:

Page 4, line 5, leave out ("3") and insert ("2").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 45D, two years has been substituted here instead of three years as the period when the closing order shall cease to have effect. If a closing order is, as envisaged by the Bill, made for three years, there will inevitably be a rush of applications for variation orders which would create a huge burden on the courts and the local authorities. I am convinced that such variation orders will be sought if licensees do not get the kind of hours they are seeking to remain open to serve their customers.

Under the comparatively recent Greater London Council Act 1968 one year was the time inserted, and this seems from the advice I have received to have received widespread support from local authorities in that area, providing in effect, as it does, an annual review of the restrictions, so that people who have the problems that the noble Baroness, Lady David, mentioned will have an opportunity annually of challenging the licences of premises.

The amendment that I have put down provides for two years, because this clause seeks to make it three years before the matter is reviewed. The Greater London Council Act makes it one year. The preferred length of time from the traders' point of view would be one year, but as a compromise and in order perhaps to retain the benefits of a review not annually but every two years, and to get rid of the serious danger of the clogging of the machinery by continual applications for variation orders, I would suggest that two years might be a suitable compromise in this case. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

In proposing that closing orders should remain in force for a finite period we think it right that the continuing need for a closing order should be reviewed from time to time. We consider that three years is a reasonable period for an order to lapse unless renewed, given that in most cases the circumstances which give rise to the need for a closing order are unlikely to change substantially during that time. Of course, if they do, then, as the noble Lord has said, it will be open to the keeper of the premises to apply for a variation order.

The opposition of the Government to this amendment is based mainly on the need to reduce the administrative burden on councils in remaking orders. The noble Lord said that he feels it would work in the opposite direction; that in fact by having the three-year period there would be a rush for variation orders. I should like to think about this if the noble Lord would agree to withdraw the amendment. I cannot give any commitment, but I think it would be churlish not to say that we will consider the argument that the noble Lord has put forward, and that indeed I would be prepared to do.

Lord Evans of Claughton

I thank the noble Lord for his consideration. I know that there is no commitment, and on that basis I will willingly, with leave, withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Evans of Claughton moved Amendment No. 45E

Page 4, line 14, at end insert ("or if that person is employed by a body corporate means that body").

The noble Lord said: I rise with enormous confidence to move this amendment because I am sure that the noble Lord the Minister cannot find any reason to oppose this, since all one is seeking in this amendment is to add the words: or if that person is employed by a body corporate means that body". I am sure your Lordships will be aware that if a company controls premises, very often take-away food premises, the company should receive notification of a proposed closing order and would themselves, as a company and as the owners, be able to make application for variation orders or revocation. As at present drafted, the clause requires that the person who has the conduct or management of the premises would be the person who receives notices and who takes the actions to which I referred.

This may mean from one's experience, and I am sure from an objective view of what does happen in day-to-day management of premises of this kind, that a notice which is received by a manager may very well and very often be never received by the company which would make the appeals, or make the applications, and which is the one really responsible. Therefore, in many cases a perfectly valid opportunity of seeking a licence or a variation order, whatever the owner wishes to do, would not be possible for him because he would never receive the notice. Therefore, I would have thought that this was a reasonable amendment to ensure that if the premises are controlled by a limited company then it is the company that should receive the notices. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I am glad that the noble Lord has moved this amendment because it is important that I should have the opportunity to clarify the wording of the Bill at this particular line. I am advised that the amendment is unnecessary for these reasons. By virtue of the Interpretation Act 1978 the word "person" in the definition of "the keeper" in Clause 4(10) already includes a body corporate. Secondly, where a body corporate controls a take-away food shop through a manager it is the body corporate and not the manager who would be the keeper, and therefore, for example, would be able to make representations and appeal to the courts. I hope that that assurance in fact clarifies the apprehensions that the noble Lord has, and that maybe it will enable the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Evans of Claughton

Yes, indeed. I am glad, and I know that others will be glad, to hear that, and that the people who will now receive notices will, under the terms of the Interpretation Act, always be a limited company if such is the owner of the premises. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?

9.8 p.m.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

I wish to make a few remarks about the clause as a whole, and I should preface them by saying that like, it appears, every other Member of this Committee, I patronise fast food shops. It is interesting to see the notable rush there is to pay patronage to fast food shops after dinner compared with the shops we were considering immediately before dinner. Maybe it is the relative weight which a Committee comprised of the average age of noble Lords puts on the sins of lust and gluttony.

I wish to comment on the compromise which has been reached on the minimum hours of closing, the earliest hour at which closure should be made. Obviously, if we are having to make a choice between 11, 12 and 1 o'clock, another place has been wise to go for the compromise in the middle, and that seems reasonable. This is a moment, however, at which briefly to protest at the fact that we have to make such decisions at all. It is a sign of the lack of commitment to local government in this country now—and growing worse, I fear, all the time—that we take more and more things away from local government and decide them for them, even down to the earliest hours at which fast food shops have to close. It is ridiculous. We should trust local government to make up their own minds on that kind of matter.

Probably if we took a very sensible step—a step to which my party is committed—which is the abolition of the ultra vires rule as regards local government, we should find that nine-tenths of the Bill, on which we are spending a great deal of time, would be unnecessary. It is important that we should devolve as much power as possible to the people on the spot so that they may make up their own minds about what should happen to petty regulations, and it is a great pity that we ever wrote those sort of hours into the Bill.

Lord Belstead

Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, was not in his place on Second Reading, otherwise he would be aware that this has nothing to do with taking away power from local government. On the contrary, the whole Bill is produced with the support of the local authority associations to prevent the need for the associations having to produce their own local government measures when their private legislation falls as a result of the Local Government Act 1972. At the same time, incidentally, it will mean that the parliamentary timetable in both Houses will have less to deal with in the form of private legislation. I would also point out that Clause 4 is discretionary; so if a local authority does not wish to adopt the clause, it has no need to do so.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

The Minister misunderstood me. I did not for a moment say that we were taking away powers from local authorities, and I know perfectly well what the Bill is designed to do. The real trouble is that it is designed to give local authorities powers which should be theirs by natural right already. What is needed is not a Bill to give them this power and that Bill to give them that power as we think it up year by year as a new problem comes up, be it sex shops this year and fried fish shops the year after, or whatever may happen to arise. We should have a basic devolution Bill with basic devolution powers so that local government really have powers to organise their own matters. I assure the Minister I am under no apprehensions as to what the Bill is about.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Closing orders etc.—procedure and appeals]:

Lord Evans of Claughton moved Amendment No. 45F:

Page 4, line 20, leave out from ("shall") to ("order") in line 31 and insert ("not (except on application by the keeper) make either a closing order or a variation").

The noble Lord said: I think it would be convenient if I spoke at the same time to Amendments Nos. 45G, 45H, 45J, 45K and 45L. Basically the amendments that I am seeking to make and the words that I am seeking to insert in Amendments Nos. 45F and 45G are designed to ensure that the names and addresses of complainants are obtained as a matter of record and would be available in determining three questions: first, whether complaints have been made at all, since, as those of us in local government know, over the years there have been cases when trumped-up complaints have been made—it might shock your Lordships to hear that, but it has happened; secondly, whether complainants are residents in the neighbourhood of the premises to which the order, if made, would relate; and thirdly, what exactly the complaint is and whether it is sufficiently serious to justfy making a closing order.

There can be a kind of general stirring up of objections and, as Members of the Committee will know, people will sign almost any petition very often in their own name, but quite frequently by using names such as the "Duke of Wellington", the "Archbishop of Canterbury" and other names of that nature. If one has been in local government for any length of time, one looks upon petitions with a pinch of salt, unless they set out the names and addresses of petitioners and state the nature of the complaint being made.

Amendment No. 45J seeks to close what I am advised would appear to be a loophole which could adversely affect a keeper of take-away food premises. By minutely altering the hours during which a closing order is in force, in favour of the keeper of such premises, a district council could have obtained a variation order which would automatically have extended the existing closing order for a further three-year period over and above the original period, making perhaps five or six years before the closing order was reviewed. For instance, the original closing order may have required a keeper to close his premises at 12.30 a.m. and there may then be made a variation without his request to 12.35 a.m. This may seem to the Committee a quibbling amendment but nevertheless when people's livelihoods are in issue it is important that the noble Lord the Minister should look at this question again to reassure me that there is not such a loophole, or, if he concedes that there is, he should either accept the amendment that I propose (Amendment No. 45J) or perhaps suggest something that is more preferable.

With regard to Amendment No. 45K, the proposed words are inserted to enable the keeper to know the nature and details of the case that is made against him. The registration procedures of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1967 provided for the practice whereby copies of the written statements of objectors to registration are required to be served on the equivalent to the keeper of the premises. I beg to move Amendment No. 45F, with which I have coupled Amendments Nos. 45G, 45H, 45J and 45K.

Lord Belstead

As I understand the noble Lord, this group of amendments is designed, first, to close what he perceives to be a loophole. I think the noble Lord considers that if Clause 5(1) is enacted as it stands at present, a district council may seek to extend the validity of closing orders by the making of a variation order which minutely alters the hours during which the closing order was in force in favour of the keeper. I really cannot see what councils would gain from acting in that way. If they were to do so, it would still be open to the keeper of the premises to apply for an even more favourable variation, or for a complete revocation of the closing order, and to appeal to the court if his application were not granted. If the court considered that the hours specified in the order were not justified, it could instruct the council to vary the hours.

What I am trying to emphasise is that there is no loophole here which can be exploited by a council wishing to prevent a keeper from having access to the courts. With the additional safeguards which the Government have inserted in the Bill and strengthened on Report in another place, we think that the operators of take-away foodshops have been given very good remedies to protect their livelihoods. On the other hand, it occurs to me that if Amendment No. 45F were made, we would have the really rather extraordinary situation of there being no opportunity for local residents to ask for a variation order at all.

With regard to the giving of names and addresses and details (which also comes within this group of amendments) the provision that complaints from residents in the neighbourhood have to be made was intended when it was inserted in another place to prevent a council from deciding, for instance, to make an order in the absence of any complaints. The complaints provision is intended simply to trigger off the procedure. But the complaints have to be made; otherwise there is no question of a closing order even being considered. Then the council is still required to take into consideration all the relevant circumstances, including the representations made by the keeper of the premises.

The reason why in Clause 5(5) we have made provision that a council shall not reveal to the keeper the names and addresses of the complainants unless they have given their consent, is to protect them from possible harassment, which might happen if they lived in property owned by the proprietor of the shop concerned. I think that the Committee will agree that these people, too, are entitled to the protection which the Bill seeks to afford the public, and that is the reason why the Government feel that they could not accept the deletion of subsection (5) of Clause 5, which is one of the things which would occur by way of this group of amendments.

I should point out that under Clause 5(2)(b)(i) the council must when giving the keeper notice that it is proposing to make a closing order, give him its reasons for seeking to make the order. So it cannot be said that the keeper will not know the case against him, and, of course, as the Bill shows, he can then make representations. I hope that it does not sound unfair or as if it is looking at the matter from only one side. I think it is an equitable way of looking at it. If I may come back to the original and first amendment, I do not think there is a loophole there, in Amendment No. 45F, for the councils to behave in a way which the noble Lord rather feared. If they did, then they would be subject to instruction by the courts.

Lord Evans of Claughton

That assurance with regard to the first amendment is very valuable and, I am sure, will give much relief to many of the proprietors of the premises that we are discussing this evening. However, I am genuinely very concerned about the business of complaints and signatures. I have been in local government for a quarter of a century, and I know that very many of the petitions and very many of the names that one sees on the petitions, very many of the signatories to petitions, are not deliberately inaccurate, but people will say almost anything, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, knows.

I have a genuine concern. It is fair enough in the cut and thrust of politics, because you do a petition and I do a petition and if I get more signatories then I get elected and you do not. But here we are dealing with people whose livelihoods are at stake, and I have a genuine concern about them and about the validity and accuracy of petitions that are received by local authorities. However, having made that cri de coeur I will withdraw the amendment and consider the position with regard to it. With your Lordships' permission, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 45G, 45H, 45J and 45K not moved.]

Lord Evans of Claughton moved Amendment No. 45L:

Page 5, line 3, at end insert ("by way of hearing before a committee or sub-committee of the district council appointed for such purpose").

The noble Lord said: I move this amendment, again, becaues my own experience in local government convinces me that this is an important protection for the proprietors or keepers of these premises. It is, I think, of the utmost importance that the keeper of the premises subject to a licensing application be given the right to be heard by a body he can identify and which will decide whether or not to make a closing order. Without this right there is a danger that points will be before the district council on which they are unable to satisfy themselves or on which they could satisfy themselves only at the expense of cumbersome correspondence.

It therefore seems to me that it would be only fair that where a decision is being made of the kind of importance to the livelihood of a small trader as I have underlined this evening, then he, she or it should at least know that there was going to be a hearing before either a committee or a sub-committee of the local authority which was making the decision. That seems to me to be a matter of justice, to be a matter of equity and fairness, so that the person can know that the points in his own favour will be heard in a place where he can make them himself, where he can reply to criticisms and where he can have a proper and fair hearing. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

I accept that Amendment 45L would bring the Bill into line with the Greater London Council Act. While I agree that many proprietors might wish to make their representations orally, others might prefer to make them in writing. I shall have to answer the noble Lord in this way. I have had to say once before this evening that I shall take something away and consult with the local authorities. On this occasion if I were to be able to come anywhere near meeting the noble Lord I should have a word with the local authorities about it. They might find it onerous if they were to hear before a sub-committee a large number of oral representations when those representations could have been made in writing. The noble Lord may say that that is all very well, but will the Government simply do exactly what the local authorities want? My answer to that is, yes, almost certainly. We would attach very great weight to what the local authorities said. If, at the end of the day, I could not come any distance towards meeting the noble Lord, then I should have to say so and he would have to consider his position. I am sorry I cannot go further.

Lord Evans of Claughton

I am grateful to the noble Lord for seeking to be as accommodating as he can. I can assure the noble Lord that there are already procedures, not in this particular esoteric area of human activity, where sub-committees or committees of councils meet interested or concerned parties. One has only to think of the field of education where there are meetings night after night about the individual problems of parents. I am the first to concede that the problems of parents and their children's education are important; but so, too, are the problems of people's livelihoods.

As the noble Lord has said, it is precedented in the Greater London Council Act. Also if one believes in open government, and that the ordinary individual has the right of access to people making decisions about his life and the right to challenge those decisions —which one really cannot do effectively in writing—then people ought to be given that right. I am prepared to believe that some local authorities do not want this provision because it is time-consuming and a nuisance. But so many of the activities of democracy are annoying and time-consuming. I can imagine some more obscurantist councils might take that view. When the noble Lord the Minister discusses it with them, I hope that he may come up with some remedy along the lines that I have suggested. But if he cannot do so, then I reserve my right to bring the matter forward again. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 45M to 45ZB not moved.]

Clause 5, agreed to.

Clause 6, agreed to.

Lord Underhill moved Amendment No. 46:

After Clause 6, insert the following new clause:

("Litter Act 1958: display of notices. 1958 c. 34.

. A district council may make an order under this section requiring the keeper of premises to which this Part of this Act refers to display prominently a notice in a form prescribed by the district council drawing attention to the provisions of the Litter Act 1958.").

The noble Lord said: This new clause continues the consideration of Part IV of the Bill relating to take-away food shops. The amendment, which has been supported by the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, relates to an issue that I raised on Second Reading. This part of the Bill proposes a measure of control where nuisance may be caused by these establishments. I echo what has been said by a number of noble Lords. This is not an attack on these establishments; they serve a valuable purpose. But there is another nuisance created and that is the amount of litter that is left as a result of customers using take-away food shops. This is particularly so with fish and chip and chinese food take-away wrappings. In most cases the establishment is not to blame; it is the customers who are to blame. Often this particular nuisance is created not outside the establishment but some distance away as people proceed on their way. Other noble Lords may have had the same experience as myself, that often a disgraceful amount of litter is left in roads outside take-away shops and litter is thrown into private front gardens.

The proposal is a simple one: it should be mandatory that take-away food shops should display prominently a notice in terms which the distirct council would prescribe drawing attention to the provisions of the Litter Act 1958. I believe that this would be helpful, even though I appreciate that it is a very limited proposal. Although I think that the amendment will be helpful, I am also putting it forward—and I am certain that the noble Lord, Lord Evans, supports me—to ascertain what more the Government may suggest should be done in this respect.

The Litter Act 1958 by itself seems to be of little value. People either do not seem to be aware of the offence of depositing litter or they do not worry about it because there seem to be very few prosecutions. I referred to one area in my speech at Second Reading. That occurred within 50 yards of a police station which is regularly manned. Therefore, there seems very little prosecution arising from the 1958 Act; yet in my estimation the penalty, which I believe is still not exceeding £10, is a deterrent—at least it would be to me.

I have considered making an addition to the amendment: the provision of adequate litter receptacles. But councils already have the provision for fixing litter receptacles on highways. Moreover, merely to put a receptacle outside the food shop will not solve the problem. As I have mentioned already, this nuisance is often created some distance away from the food shops. It is a definite problem, one which needs to be looked at, and I hope that the Minister will feel that he can support this amendment. In addition I hope that he may give some further indication of steps that might be taken to deal with this considerable nuisance, which I emphasise is not primarily that of the take-away food shops but of the customers who use these establishments. I beg to move.

Lord Evans of Claughton

May I briefly say how much I support the initiative taken by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill. Like him, I underline that it is not the take-away food shops and the fish and chip shops that cause the trouble. I suppose they create the litter, but the national organisations of these take-away food shops have gone to a lot of trouble to try to encourage the removal of litter. They realise that one of the main arguments that people will use against them when they seek to renew licences is the nuisance caused by the deposit of litter and the damage done to people's gardens and the general "flavour" that is left in an area. People often leave these places in a disgusting state, particularly at weekends. We all have knowledge of this from the areas in which we live.

I think that this is really to do with enforcement, as the noble Lord said. In Singapore I gather there is imposed a fine of £100 or imprisonment for these offences. Therefore, there is very little litter about. In Austria there is very little litter because the provisions are enforced. Here, there are great difficulties because the police are understandably going to say, "Give us a choice between stopping litter louts and someone committing grievous bodily harm and we have to deal with the latter". But I think it would be useful to have an assurance from the Government that on the broadest possible front of the litter problem, not just concerning that created by take-away foods, they will be willing to encourage initiatives. One of the first indications that one has returned to the United Kingdom is that there is litter everywhere, and any group of organisation which could give positive advice on how this bad reputation can be got rid of deserves considerable praise. I shall look forward with interest to what the Minister has to say.

Lord Belstead

The noble Lords, Lord Underhill and Lord Evans, have described how bad this problem can be. May I say that I agree with them. It is today a very real problem in this country and of course the difficulty is that we probably do not have a realistic fining system under the Litter Act 1958 for anyone guilty of strewing litter in a public place. But I do not know that we necessarily have parliamentary agreement that the maximum fine should be increased.

Apart from the question of whether the public are likely to respond to notices drawing this to their attention, the noble Lords' amendment is defective in that it does not provide for any sanction against a failure to display the notice prominently. This is more than just a nit-picking criticism; there really is a difficulty here. If one puts a sanction in, probably the Committee, or indeed the noble Lord, Lord Evans, would not be quite so keen on requiring those who run take-away food shops to display a notice because, as we have been saying, the litter is not their fault. Maybe they generate in their shops what is littered around outside, but the fact that litter is distributed near their shops is not their fault, and to make them display a notice and to put a sanction in would be something that we would have to think about very seriously. If we do not put a sanction in, as the amendment is drafted now, one has to say that the amendment is defective.

I have been asked whether the Government have got anything to say which is constructive. I think that this is a problem which should be tackled effectively by the provision of litter bins in the immediate vicinity of takeaway food shops, and of course that means co-operation between the local authorities and the shops themselves. That is the road down which we would seek to go and down which we ought to go, rather than picking out take-away food shops especially for this treatment.

Baroness Birk

I have listened carefully to what the Minister said and f can see his point about the sanctions regarding the amendment moved by my noble friend. But it seems to me that we have to start somewhere, and if all the time we brush these things away like this until we reach absolute perfection, we shall not get any improvement at all. I would have thought that one way of tackling this problem would be to try to impress on the district councils that they can make orders, or even to try to persuade the keepers of premises to display these boards; to come along with a design, as I did once when I was in charge of the Royal parks, which is attractive and eye catching, so that people will look at it even before they know what it is about.

The other point referred to the fact that the maximum fines at the moment are too low. I should have thought in that case that either my noble friend or the Minister surely could come forward with an increase in the fines. I am rather unhappy that something is generally agreed to be a nuisance, and we all sit back and say, "There is nothing we can do about it". I feel there is something we should try to do about this because it is a menace; and, since the keepers of the premises are also responsible for their behaviour to the local community. I am not sure, without thinking it through very carefully, that the argument that there should be no sanctions really holds water.

This question must be looked at very much more closely. Rather than turn down the amendment, I should like to hear the Minister say what he can come back with, or that he will give my noble friend a chance to come back with something else on Report. We want to see whether this problem can be tackled in some way, with everybody thinking about a solution.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

I should like to support this amendment very strongly, and I suggest that one should do more than just produce a few receptacles. We could follow the example of the Kentucky Fried Chicken people, who sponsored the Keep Britain Tidy awards. Following that, there was the Operation Clean-up, which was an Easter spring clean by the Scout movement. So I wonder whether there should be some greater initiative, which could be followed by others.

Lord Belstead

I ought to thank noble Lords for what they have said, because their intentions, and the intentions of the Government, are the same; that is, to try to remove the very considerable amounts of litter which are to be found in this country. But as the impression may have been gained, despite my words earlier, that the Government are not as sympathetic as they should be towards take-away food shops, I must seize this opportunity to say that I am concerned about picking out take-away food shops and saying that, in some ways, they should be dealt with because of litter. Litter is to be found near to all kinds of public buildings, and it is not the fault of those buildings. It is also not the fault of the cinemas or the shops, out of which people bring things which are wrapped. It is the fault of all of us, for throwing things on the ground in the street.

I therefore come back to the difficulty. To lay a duty on these shops to put up a notice, and then to add some sanction—which we would have to do—would be putting take-away food shops in a position where they could reasonably say that they were being picked on for what is a public nuisance. I would ask your Lordships to think carefully about that, before agreeing to go further with this solution.

Lord Underhill

One could open up the whole question of the litter problem which, as the noble Lord, Lord Evans of Claughton, said, is a disgraceful one in this country. But this gives an opportunity of trying to do something. While I can appreciate what the Minister said about picking on one set of establishments, everyone must agree that the development of these take-away food shops has added to the problem, and created a very severe problem in areas where there are a number of these places. All noble Lords will have experience of this.

I am prepared to accept what the noble Lord said about my amendment being defective, and I am always prepared to give up my amendment, so that the Government can bring forward one of their own. I also appreciate what he said about the need for a sanction. But if we have a problem, what are we to do about it? Are we merely to shrug our shoulders and say that this is picking on these people? If the Government will say that they will tackle the whole question of litter being deposited—chocolate wrappings, cigarette packets being thrown out of cars and ice-cream cartons being thrown on the pavements—we can leave it to them to do something, and to discuss the matter with the local authority associations. Merely suggesting the fixing of receptacles nearby will not solve the problem. I thought I made that clear in my opening remarks today and on Second Reading.

To have a large receptacle within five or 10 yards of a take-away food shop, will not solve the problem. People do not stand in the main highway eating their Chinese take-away food or their fish and chips. Many noble Lords have enjoyed fish and chips out of a paper. They taste better that way than in any other way. Furthermore, you do not eat your fish and chips standing outside the shop. You walk along the road and drop the paper around. That is the problem with which we are faced. I suggest that if a certain group supply materials which cause a nuisance—which is not their fault—then the least we can do is to dry to draw the public's attention to it. It may be that it is lack of education in schools or lack of parental direction. We have a problem. I believe that the Government are shrugging their shoulders and saying, "What can we do? We can do nothing". I should like the Government to take the matter away, look at it and perhaps discuss the general litter question with the local authority associations. This is a major problem which we could tackle. Therefore, I hope that the Government will think again about it (in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment) and I myself will think again about it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 agreed to.

9.46 p.m.

Viscount Ridley moved Amendment No. 47:

After Clause 7, insert the following new clause:

("Regulation of Schools and Colleges.



A Local Education Authority may, with reference to any school or county college maintained by the authority, make byelaws for the regulation thereof, and of the days and times of admission thereto, and for the preservation or order and prevention of nuisances therein, and may by such byelaws impose penalties recoverable summarily for the infringement thereof and provide for the removal of any person infringing any byelaw by any designated employee of the authority or Police Constable.

The confirming authority in relation to byelaws made under this section shall be the Secretary of State.").

The noble Viscount said: I beg to move Amendment No. 47. The purpose of my new clause is as follows. Many local education authorities have for years actively pursued a policy of ensuring that school premises are widely used for community purposes outside school hours. This derives from the very good wish that public premises should not be confined to limited uses but should be used far more widely within the community. The opening up of school premises and playing fields has also been accompanied recently by the siting of such things as leisure centres and youth clubs on school sites. Similarly, community colleges are often so sited. And on occasion libraries also share a school or college site.

I am sure the Committee will think that the use of such premises by the public generally is very much to be welcomed and encouraged. But although the vast majority of people who make use of such facilities do act absolutely properly and enjoy them to the full, there is, sadly, always has been, and I fear may always he, an element—a minority, indeed—who will misuse the facilities which have been provided by the authority. There are reports of activities such as the riding of horses, although that in itself may not be dangerous (and in Cheltenham Week to come I should not condemn it) the playing of golf, the walking of dogs, with the hygiene aspect in the case of school playing fields to be considered, and the riding of motor bikes by teenagers which become very much a source of nuisance and danger to the other users and to the management. There have been reports of serious accidents at educational establishments because of such activities.

For local education authorities to be able to police such premises would, I think, be quite out of question on grounds of cost. Most of this activity naturally happens at weekends and during school holidays and it would be wrong to embark on any further public expenditure in this field. However—I speak on behalf, as always, of the Association of County Councils—it is felt that the system of by-laws which this clause would allow would give power to authorities to produce them, where these things were happening, and would be very helpful.

The point is that the existence of such a power to make by-laws would I believe have the effect of encouraging the use of such premises and of encouraging education authorities to open them yet further for the use of the public. I remember how frequently school children, denied the use of facilities during the long summer holidays, longed to get over the school fence if only to play a game of football. However, it was always forbidden because it was thought that the damage would be beyond repair. I believe that hitherto the Home Office have taken the view that it is not possible to make by-laws of the nature and the scope which has been required under Section 235 of the Local Government Act 1972, but no other legislative provision seems to be known whereby such by-laws could be made. Therefore we seek to introduce this clause which would allow the early introduction of such enabling legislation.

I suggest that this enabling legislation should follow the pattern of the Open Spaces Act 1906. I am sure your Lordships will be fully aware of Section 15 of that Act. It allows for a very similar precedent which has been created dealing with open spaces. At this late hour I have no intention of wearying your Lordships with the type of by-laws which might be needed. They include such things as prohibition of the bringing on to the site of sheep or goats and the use of obscene language on a school playing field. Whether that is prohibitable by by-laws I am not sure, but there are other more serious problems, such as dogs. I shall not waste your Lordships' time by reading them out. I believe very strongly that such powers are badly needed and that such by-laws could be inoffensively given by the Government during the course of the Bill. I am convinced of the need that they should be granted. I am quite certain that your Lordships will have noticed the final part of my amendment, which gives the Secretary of State power to confirm or otherwise these by-laws. There is no intention that they should be restrictive and deny the public the proper and full access to the playing fields in school grounds which we so very much desire. I beg to move.

Baroness David

I have a lot of sympathy for this new clause proposed by the noble Viscount, particularly as he prefaced his remarks by saying how much he wants school premises and playing fields to be used by the public. I am sure we would all agree with that. I also know what damage can be done. A school of which I am a governor has what I believe must be the only hill in Cambridge. During the snowy weather in December a lot of tobogganning went on. The goal posts were damaged and the whole place was chewed up. Games had to be stopped for a considerable time. So I do understand what the noble Viscount is getting at. I just wonder whether it is going to be a little restrictive. I shall listen with interest to what the noble Lord the Minister has to say. In general, we have a lot of sympathy with this proposed new clause.

Lord Evans of Claughton

This is a very interesting and useful amendment. I find it particularly attractive as it is precedented by the Open Spaces Act 1906, which was a fine piece of Liberal legislation which has stood the test of time. The present-day circumstances of the use of schools for community purposes is a novel situation compared with a few years ago. Extending the use of school premises for community purposes is to be very much welcomed, not only in development areas but in all parts of the country. It is a pity that the very fine work being done in community schools for adults, elderly people and children is from time to time damaged by abuse of these premises. There have been a number of fairly serious accidents involving personal injury because people insisted on riding horses across playing fields in the part of the country where I live. That is quite apart from the damage they did to the cricket square. As the noble Viscount has said, there are also people who insist on playing golf. There are also some idiots who drive very loud motor bikes all over playing fields. If the Government can give some indication that legislation such as this might possibly be included in the Bill, and that there is some hope of its being enforced, it would serve very much the growing need for the use of schools and similar premises on a broad community basis.

Lord Belstead

I have sympathy with the intention behind the clause because anything that can be done further to promote the dual use or joint use of school premises and other local authority premises is desirable. However, the amendment does not distinguish between the regulation of the premises for school use and for the general public. As drafted, the by-law making powers would apply to the use of the school premises by pupils during school hours. I believe this would be unacceptable from an educational point of view. In addition, some provision would have to be made in an amendment such as this for voluntary schools.

The point that surprises me, given that all noble Lords who have spoken to this amendment have a long knowledge of local government, is that I thought (but I may be wrong) that local authorities had the necessary power. I am advised that in most cases where premises are freely open to the public, the public are admitted as licensees and that except where they have a general right of entry (which does not apply to educational premises) the public can be made subject to such conditions as are drawn to their attention by a notice on entry. That is the sort of thing that the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, was persuading me was the right policy on the last amendment. Where a charge is made on entry, a local authority can in addition impose as contractual conditions rules that might otherwise be included in by-laws.

It is always open to any authority to make rules of management regulating the conduct of members of the public entering various types of local authority premises. I should have thought, therefore, that there was nothing between the Government and my noble friend Lord Ridley except that these powers are there for the local authority to use anyway without the amendment. If I am not right in this, then of course I will be prepared to look at the amendment again, but I am advised that as it stands the amendment is not necessary.

Viscount Ridley

I am grateful for the support of noble Lords opposite, and I am sorry I did not give the credit for the Open Spaces Act 1906 to the noble Lord, Lord Evans; I had not realised that he was part of the process in those days. I thank my noble friend the Minister for his courtesy. I am advised that he is wrong and I am right, and that there is no power to make such by-laws, but I happily withdraw the amendment on his undertaking that he will be prepared to look at it again if he is right and I am wrong, which is equally possible. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 [Consultation between authorities]:

9.57 p.m.

Viscount Ridleyhad given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 48:

Page 8, line 1, after ("had") insert ("by them to any observations submitted to them by the fire authority and").

The noble Viscount said: In the interests of brevity at this late hour, I have no intention of moving Amendments Nos. 48 to 55 inclusive. The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, produced an unanswerable case to them in Amendment No. 1. I think they are utterly trivial.

[Amendments Nos. 48 to 55 not moved.]

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.

Viscount Ridley moved Amendment No. 56:

After Clause 10, insert the following new clause:

("Licensing of auto-diallers.

Licensing of fire alarm systems

.—(1) This section applies to a fire alarm system connected to the telecommunication system of the Post Office through a device commonly known as an auto-dialler which, in the event of an alarm, connects without manual intervention to the emergency network of that system of the Post Office.

(2) No person shall install a fire alarm system to which this section applies otherwise than in accordance with a licence issued by a tire authority under the following provisions of this section.

(3) A person requiring the grant of a licence under this section shall make application to a fire authority in such form as the tire authority may prescribe (a copy of which form shall be supplied by the fire authority to any person on demand) and shall be accompanied by—

  1. (a) such particulars of the intended system as the fire authority may require; and
  2. (b) the payment of such reasonable fee as the fire authority may determine.

(4) A fire authority may, on the application of any person, grant to him a licence under this section on such terms and conditions as may be specified including, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing—

  1. (a) such modifications of the intended system particulars of which have been submitted to them as they may require;
  2. (b) the right of the fire authority to impose a financial penalty (not exceeding £200 on any occasion) if the fire alarm system causes false alarms to be transmitted;
  3. (c) the right of the authority to cause the licensee to disconnect the alarm system, if they are of the opinion that the number of false alarms given by it are excessive.

(5) If any person contravenes subsection (2) above he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200.").

The noble Viscount said: This amendment I regard as more important than the others. The clause which I seek to introduce would enable a fire authority to be aware of the intention to introduce an automatic system and thus provide an opportunity for it to examine the proposal and the message to be transmitted. I speak here about a relatively new form of fire alarm system developed since the advent of the microchip. For a relatively small sum—I believe, much the same figure as an ordinary Ansaphone can be obtained for, somewhere in the order of £200—a purchaser can buy an auto-dialler which on being activated by a sensor on the premises to be protected against fire automatically dials 999 and transmits a recorded message through the Post Office telephone lines to the fire brigade.

Up till recently the form of fire alarm most commonly used in this type of appliance was directly connected through private lines to the fire brigade. The fire brigade entered into an agreement with the property owner. This agreement provided for the payment of a penalty, approximately £50 at the moment, in the event of the equipment malfunctioning—I apologise for that American word, but it does say what I mean—and raising a false alarm. Auto-diallers contact the fire brigade through the Post Office telephone system. There is therefore no agreement with the fire brigade and no power to enforce any penalty for false alarms.

Because of the relative cheapness of the equipment, it is expected, shortly, that large numbers of such auto-dialler fire alarms will be installed, and fire authorities are very worried indeed about the possibly substantial increase in the number of false alarms. I need not waste your Lordships' time explaining what a false alarm means to a fire brigade, having to turn out in the middle of the night, and the cost of it. It seems to be quite inconsistent to concede the introduction of any automatic device, capable of installation by almost anybody with no more than a basic knowledge, and not to propose some form of control over such equipment if it causes nuisance to a fire brigade. There is a great possibility—no doubt I might even be tempted to have a go myself—that many installations will be made by do-it-yourself enthusiasts and people not belonging to any trade association and having no real knowledge of how to install these things.

I understand that no less than 27 county councils, who are fire authorities, very much requested that we should seek this new clause. Surveys some years ago showed that 10 per cent. of false alarms emanate already from auto-diallers and this is probably already a low estimate in view of the great increase in the number of such installations which have taken place. The Home Office itself has shown that the ratio of false alarms to genuine fire calls given by automatic systems of any type has been shown to be 11:1. I would just add that Kent County Council, one of the major fire authorities in this country, had a new clause of this nature in its own county council Bill and it withdrew it on the understanding that, although it had ample evidence of need for such a clause, it would be included in this Bill.

It is impossible to stress what the expense and worry to fire brigades would be if this clause is not introduced and the Bill is not so amended. Although I fully accept that a clause of such length may well be defective in drafting, I very much hope that the Government will give great sympathy to this very important matter. I beg to move.

Lord Underhill

As one who was a member of the National Fire Service for five years, I know only too well what happens with a false alarm turnout. Generally I would support the new clause moved by the noble Viscount, but there is one question that I should like to raise. I am very pleased that on a previous issue I supported the right of an appeal, even though it was on a subject about which I had a very emotional disagreement and I thought that it might come back if I did not do so. We notice that, under subsection (5), on summary conviction a person can be fined up to £200 if he installs this system without a licence being given by the fire authority. I notice under subsection (4)(b) that in the event of a false alarm being transmitted, the fire authority can impose a penalty not exceeding £200. It would seem that, even where a man has gone through the right procedure and has been given a licence by the fire authority, and even though the false alarm might not be his responsibility, there is no right of appeal. I wonder whether that is a defect which might not be put right?

Lord Belstead

My noble friend Lord Ridley has drawn attention to the serious results of false alarms and, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has confirmed this point. It is expensive and possibly dangerous when an appliance goes off on a false alarm and assistance is not available in case a genuine alarm comes. Therefore, the Government have a great deal of sympathy with the purpose underlying the new clause.

Coming immediately to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, I think that the power to the fire authority to include in a licence a condition reserving to itself the right to impose a financial penalty, not exceeding £200 on any occasion, if the fire alarm system causes false alarms to be transmitted, gives rise to objection. This provision would breach the important principles set out in Section 3(4) of the Fire Services Act 1947 that a fire authority shall not make any charge for fire-fighting services rendered by the authority. If charges in the form of penalties were regularly imposed on those whose equipment generated a false alarm call, the likely consequence would be to discourage persons from installing or using automatic fire detection equipment in their property. Surely that is not what we want to do? Anyway, as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has said, what happens if the fire alarm goes off and it is not the fault of the owner of the alarm? What happens if somebody either inadvertently, or maybe maliciously, puts a lighted cigarette very near to where the alarm is positioned and the alarm works on a heat principle and goes off? Is the person who owns the alarm subject to a £200 fine? I do not think that this particular provision is right.

The other point which is difficult is that as a matter of fact the automatic fire detection alarm systems linked to auto-diallers represent only a small proportion, albeit an increasing proportion, of the automatic systems in use. Other systems, as I am sure my noble friend will be aware, are connected to fire brigades by direct private lines or are connected to central alarm receiving stations operated commercially by the equipment manufacturers which then forward the calls to the fire brigade. Any attempt to control the installation of auto-diallers would therefore involve tackling only part of the problem. My noble friend Lord Ridley may say that it is all very well being so negative, but is there nothing constructive which I can say in reply to the amendment.

There are two particular matters which I should like to take the opportunity to mention. First, the Government are now participating in discussions with manufacturers of fire protection equipment, and insurance and consumer interests, about the possibility of establishing a national approvals authority for fire protection equipment and for services such as installation and maintenance. This authority would help to ensure that a consistently acceptable standard of equipment and services was applied in the United Kingdom, and should help to generate greater confidence in the reliability of detection equipment.

Secondly, the British Standards Institution has recently issued a series of standards relating to automatic fire detection and alarm equipment. These standards provide, for the first time, authoritative guidance on all aspects of automatic fire detection equipment, its installation and maintenance. The existence of this range of standards, to which fire brigades will have regard when advising occupiers, should help improve the general quality of the equipment and thereby lead to a reduction in the false alarm rate.

On a personal note, on the Home Secretary's behalf, I am involved with the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council, where I know different sub-committees of the council are, from time to time, concerned with this worrying aspect of the giving of false alarms. I also had the good fortune to be with the British Fire Protection Systems Association when they, in fact, launched their idea of a national approvals authority. I only say this because I would ask my noble friend if he would consider withdrawing the amendment and letting this now proceed by voluntary means. I think that real attempts are being made to try to see, through better installation standards, better maintenance and better overall standards nationally, that this level of false alarms is reduced. I believe that if we can proceed by voluntary means, we shall certainly get somewhere.

Lord Tordoff

Before the Minister sits down, does this extend into the area of burglar alarms? It seems to me that this might well be the next technological breakthrough and that, in fact, burglar alarms, instead of going off in the middle of the night and keeping the whole neighbourhood awake for the entire weekend, might be geared into this sort of system with the sort of constraints and provisos about which the Minister is talking.

Lord Belstead

There are two points that I should like to make in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. On burglar alarms, I should be very chary, if we could possibly avoid it, of doing anything to prevent people installing alarms, although, as we know, from time to time the police take a view about the number of times they will accept false alarms and then they start saying to people who have burglar alarms, "Sorry, you have had too many; we shall in fact cut you off". I find that quite understandable, but it is a conclusion which is to be regretted because, in the interests of crime prevention as well as in the interests of fire prevention, we want to encourage people to have alarms and not, if possible, to cut them off.

Secondly, if we are doing the same sort of thing for burglar alarms and putting in a fining provision, once again I think that we should start to run up against the difficulty of the desirability of enabling the police force to levy fines for false alarms going off in people's homes. Therefore, there are those two considerations which would have to be considered with burglar alarms as with fire alarms.

Viscount Ridley

I entirely accept the point made under subsection 4(b), that the right of the fire authority to impose a penalty is probably wrong, and, on that ground, I am quite prepared to withdraw the amendment. But I am not so happy about the Minister's further reply about the question of committees sitting on this matter, discussing with the fire brigade safety advisory officers and so forth. I do not think the people who are to install these things have any idea that any of these committees exist. They will go into a DIY shop in a suburb somewhere, buy one of these things made in Japan or Hong Kong and fit it to the telephone without anyone knowing. This could be an extremely expensive and laborious business to everybody. I beg the noble Lord to allow me to introduce this clause again, hoping that he will be slightly more friendly towards it if I take out subsection 4(b), which I am quite happy to do; because I think that this is a problem that will cause major expense to fire authorities and must be licensed in one way or another. I am quite happy to enter into discussions or in any way to look at the matter again. But I think he has brushed it aside and he assumes that people will take note of whatever the Home Office is always doing, whereas I do not think they will. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment with that warning.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Application of Part VIII]:

On Question, Whether Clause 13 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Underhill

At Second Reading I urged that the provisions of this part of the Bill should be made mandatory and not permissive as is proposed. The point I then made was that many provisions in this Bill relate to nuisances and the way to effectively control nuisances. In those cases the provisions are permissive. But I suggest that in this particular part of the Bill dealing with acupuncture, ear-piercing, and tattooing, these are not nuisances. They are in effect a health hazard, and I should appreciate the comments of persons who are much more learned in this on the medical side.

The department has stressed that these practices could, if carried out in unhygienic conditions, lead to hepatitis. In 1980 I served on a committee on the South Yorkshire Bill in which that authority sought power to register these establishments in order that they could inspect the condition of the establishments. In the consideration of that Bill a lot of attention was given to this question, and reference was made to the outbreak of hepatitis in Birmingham in 1977 which was caused by the use of unsterilised acupuncture needles, and which led to the West Midlands authority including a similar power of registration in its local Bill.

I refrained from tabling an amendment because I recognised that West Midlands, South Yorkshire, and perhaps some other authorities already have this provision, or something akin to it, in their local Acts and I have no desire to worsen their position. I shall listen with great interest to the Minister's comments on my observations, and I would appreciate if some information could be given to your Lordships as to the number of authorities which have this provision, because this may affect what course of action one might wish to take on Report stage. It appears to me that this is not a nuisance we are dealing with; it is something which is very much a health hazard to which we ought to pay serious attention.

Lord Belstead

I have not got the numbers of local authorities who have taken this power, but the noble Lord has put his finger on the problem. If we make this mandatory then we do away with the powers which have been taken by some local authorities—I think South Yorkshire was the first to take the powers—and say that instead of their own local powers they must take the powers which are set out in this part of the Bill.

Where we have been able to avoid doing that in this Bill we have always done so, because we have felt that the Bill ought to be adoptive. Having said that, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, that the objective of this part of the Bill is cleanliness, hygiene, and good practice, and I feel sure that local authorities will adopt the provisions in this part of the Bill. The noble Lord will want from me the numbers of local authorities which have taken powers of this kind. I would undertake to let the noble Lord know as quickly as possible by letter.

The Earl of Halsbury

I think the noble Lord will find them in Amendment No. 59 which stands in my name.

Lord Underhill

If, as the noble Earl says, this is the number of authorities, it is extremely limited, which means that there is more force then in the point I raised on clause stand part. Either this should be made mandatory or there must be a determined effort to advise authorities to proceed in this way. Authorities will not know where the establishments are unless there is some compulsory power to make them register, and I doubt whether the department will know precisely how many such establishments there are throughout the country. If the only ones who have adopted it are those listed here, it suggests we have a very long way to go to avoid the possibility of another outbreak as there was in Birmingham in 1977.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 [Acupuncture]:

10.15 p.m.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 57:

Page 15, line 14, at end insert ("but do not include information about individual people to whom the applicant has given treatment").

The noble Lord said: This amendment has been requested by the principal acupuncturist organisations, who are understandably and correctly anxious to preserve the confidentiality of their clinical records. The Government consider the request reasonable, as the registration of acupuncturists which Part VIII of the Bill enables local authorities to require is for the purposes of ensuring hygienic practice and, properly, not for the purposes of ascertaining which persons seek acupuncture treatment and for what reasons. It is to meet that, we believe, reasonable apprehension of the acupuncturist organisations that I move the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Halsbury moved Amendments Nos. 58 and 59:

Page 15, line 28, after ("dentist") insert ("or a person who is registered by any board established under the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960");

line 30, at end insert—

("(9) Each of the enactments mentioned in subsection (10) below shall have effect as if after "1957" there were inserted the words "or a person registered by any board established under the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960".

(10) The enactments referred to in subsection (9) above are—

  1. (a) section 24(4) of the West Midlands County Council Act 1980;
  2. (b) section 22(4) of the South Yorkshire Act 1980;
  3. (c) section 32(4) of the Greater Manchester Act 1981;
  4. (d) section 19(5) of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1981;
  5. (e) section 20(9) of the County of Kent Act 1981;
  6. (f) section 27(4) of the East Sussex Act 1981.").

The noble Earl said: This is a rather involved-looking series of amendments and I will try to explain how it all fits together with the prior legislation that has been talked about, of which noble Lords will see a list in Amendment No. 59 under subsection (10). The various groupings in the medical profession—doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives and so-called paramedicals—have all been set up by Acts of Parliament at one time or another, and the usage of their titles is to some extent protected, not always uniformly or to the same extent. The professions supplementary to medicine are set up by their own Act, and they are chiropodists, dieticians, medical laboratory technicians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists—in whom my noble friend Lady Masham of Ilton would wish to declare an interest as their national president—radio therapists and remedial gymnasts. All those people are entitled to partial protection for the titles by which they go. Anybody can call himself a physiotherapist, but the names, "state registered physiotherapist" and, "Chartered physiotherapist" are protected.

Those professionals, as opposed to amateurs—any amateur physiotherapist can of course set himself up as an acupuncturist—have very much higher standards of professional qualifications than anybody who is likely to call himself an acupuncturist—which is a piece of Oriental folk medicine whose precise relevance to biochemistry and physiology is by no means well understood or even accepted by those who are a great deal better informed than I am in these matters. The professions supplementary to medicine operate at far higher standards than anything laid down by acupuncturists, and therefore it is appropriate that if we are to say that the provisions of the Bill for the supervision of acupuncturists do not apply to doctors and dentists, it would be reasonable to extend the provision to state registered nurses and the professions supplementary to medicine, and that is what the amendments do.

Typical of the list of other legislation that has been referred to is the South Yorkshire Act, Section 22(1) of which recites: As from the appointed day in any district a person shall not in that district carry on…the practice of acupuncture", et cetera. Subsection (4) states: Nothing in this section shall extend to the practice of acupuncture…by or under the supervision", of a person who is a registered medical practitioner or a dentist registered under the Dentists Act 1957. The intention of the amendment is to insert at that point the words: or a person who is registered by any board established under the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960". I hope that that is a reasonably clear exposition of what the amendment attempts to achieve.

It seems to me wrong that people such as physiotherapists, who practise to the very highest standards, should be put under the same kind of discipline as amateurs, when they are themselves under the discipline of a chartered body, which is all laid down in the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act 1960. Schedule 2 to that Act lays down the procedures for investigation and disciplinary committees and so on of that profession, and these are all to so much higher standards than anything that is contemplated in the legislation that it seems reasonable that the chartered physiotherapists and the state registered physiotherapists should be relieved from this form of inspection, just as doctors and dentists are. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

I am a little worried about this amendment. I shall not go into the merits of the exemptions which the noble Earl spelt out—there appears to be some merit in them—but what worries me is the apparent lack of consultation with local authorities before bringing forward these repeals. I see from the list included in the amendment that the Acts were all passed in 1980 or 1981; in other words, they have been very recently effected. The Acts were passed after full hearings before committees of both Houses, and I am worried that the powers should now be suddenly swept away in this fashion without consultation with the authorities concerned. I do not know whether there has been consultation with the local authority associations. This point has been raised on one or two other amendments that we have discussed during the passage of the Bill, and it is this aspect that I and some of my noble friends find rather worrying.

Lord Airedale

I should like very strongly to support the amendment moved by the noble Earl, and I think that the qualms of the noble Baroness are not really necessary since, as the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, has just pointed out in criticism, the clause is only permissive and, if the local authorities concerned which have not been consulted do not like it, they do not have to adopt it. That probably explains why there might not have been the consultation that the noble Baroness would have liked to see.

Returning to Amendment No. 58 (the first of the two amendments), I would point out that the clause is mandatory upon the local authority which adopts it. Subsection (3) states: on application for registration…a local authority shall register the applicant and the premises where he desires to practise and shall issue to the applicant a certificate of registration". The only concern is that which is referred to in subsection (7); namely, the cleanliness of premises, persons and instruments. As the noble Earl has implied, I should have thought that anyone who is entitled to call himself or herself "state registered" could safely be assumed to be well trained in the cleanliness of himself or herself, the premises, and the instruments.

I do not think there is any money in this for the benefit of hard-pressed ratepayers, because I suppose that the registration fee will be set only at a level which will pay the administrative cost of running the scheme—I think that is the general practice—and I think it will be quite unnecessary to require these state registered people to register under this clause purely for the sake of ensuring that their premises, and so on, are kept clean and hygienic. I very much hope that the Committee will accept that they should be put alongside the doctors and dentists and trusted to maintain hygiene and cleanliness, and not be required to register.

Lord Belstead

The exemption of doctors and dentists from the application of Clause 14 reflects the Government's recognition that acupuncture now has an accepted place in medical practice and as a form of anaesthesia in dentistry. But, although the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, made a characteristically strong case for this amendment and has been supported by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, the fact of the matter is that the same cannot be said of the practices of members of the professions supplementary to medicine, none of whose controlling bodies as yet recognise acupuncture as a part of the practices of the professions for which their state registered members are trained—and that is the distinction in this particular case of acupuncture between the professions supplementary to medicine and the exemption of doctors and dentists.

If physiotherapists—or chiropodists, occupational therapists or, indeed, nurses and members of other para-medical professions registered under Acts other than the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Act—practise acupuncture privately, then they do so, of course, as common law practitioners, just as do all the other acupuncturists who have no state registered profession.

I do not think that really I need to say very much more to reveal why, therefore, I feel I must resist the amendment. Of course I accept that members of the professions supplementary to medicine who also practise acupuncture are likely to practise it hygienically, but, then, so are the majority of the common law practitioners who do not also have a state registered profession. I think the point I have to come back to is that if we are to write these professions into the Bill as an exemption we would expect them to have acupuncture as an accepted place in their practices, and I am advised that none of the controlling bodies of these professions has yet recognised acupuncture as a part of the practices of the professions for which their state registered members are trained.

Lord Airedale

I do not understand this at all. How does the Minister's argument overcome the fact that the issue of the licence by the local authority is mandatory under subsection (3)? That subsection says that the local authority, on application, "shall" register the applicant. They cannot say, "Your particular medical field does not practise acupuncture and, therefore, we are not going to issue you a licence". He will say to them, "Under subsection (3) you have to; it is mandatory upon you". I do not understand the Minister's argument at all.

Lord Belstead

The argument is simple. The exemptions are for medicine and for dentistry, and for no others.

The Earl of Halsbury

Can the noble Lord tell me, is there any consultant acupuncturist practising on the National Health Service in any of our hospitals?

Lord Belstead

I have no idea of the answer to that particular question.

The Earl of Halsbury

If the noble Lord's argument is based on the fact that acupuncture is recognised by the profession, I would have thought that in that case there would be consultant acupuncturists in our hospitals the heads of acupunctural firms, and so on, But I have never heard of one. It is not as if the argument of the noble Lord as to the physiotherapists and their not being inspected, applied. Consultant physiotherapists—in private practice, that is—are subject to inspection and investigation by their own chartered bodies. I do not follow the noble Lord's argument. I am at one with the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, at this stage.

On Question, amendment negatived.

[Amendment No. 59 not moved.]

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Tattooing, ear-piercing and electrolysis]:

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 60:

Page 15, line 34, leave out ("or").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 60 perhaps I may speak also to Amendment No. 61. This is to ensure that ultraviolet tanning equipment for public use on a commercial basis is brought within the provisions for registration by local authorities of premises where acupuncture or tattooing, ear-piercing or electrolysis is carried out. This has been requested by many people and a number of doctors have written to Members of another place and some to Members of this House saying how important it is that there should be control of something which is gaining in popularity and which numbers of people are patronising nowadays.

There is a danger of infection to the operators themselves if adequate precautions are not taken, and unless the standards of performance and equipment are satisfactory there can be a danger to the health of those who are at the receiving end. Although the skin is not pierced in the case of ultraviolet rays, as it is in the other activities which are registered, the skin can be burned and require medical treatment. People are substantially unclothed under the rays and lie on couches or reclining chairs which themselves need to be kept clean. Although the registration is of the premises rather than of the personnel, the fact that these places would have to be registered would, I think, also improve the standards of some of them and of the operators. I beg to move.

Lord Belstead

As the noble Baroness indicated in her speech, the possible health hazards from exposure to ultraviolet radiation are different from acupuncture because the processes are different. The information I have is that the Health and Safety Executive have made an approach to the local authority organisations as to whether some form of registration would be useful so far as ultraviolet tanning is concerned and they hope to have discussions on the matter. As ultraviolet tanning and acupuncture are different processes and the dangers from them are of different kinds, I do not think that one can take acupuncture as being an example in trying to put this amendment into the Bill. I wonder whether the noble Baroness will agree that the thing to do is to await the outcome of the Health and Safety Executive approach to the local authority organisations, which may lead to registration for ultraviolet tanners but this will depend on the outcome of those discussions.

Baroness Birk

Is the Minister able to say whether we shall get a result from those deliberations before this Bill becomes a statute?

Lord Belstead

I am afraid that I cannot promise that.

Baroness Birk

We do not want another little Bill. Perhaps as the matter has now been raised by way of an amendment the Minister may possibly nudge them on a little. It is quite a small point and this is the place in the Bill for it. It is better than making orders or amending later.

Lord Belstead

Perhaps this is something on which I should write to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Birk

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 61 not moved.]

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 62:

Page 16, line 18, at end insert ("but do not include information about individual people whom the applicant has tattooed or given electrolysis or whose ears he has pierced").

The noble Lord said: This is the same in its effect as Amendment No. 57, to which I have already spoken. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 16 [Provisions supplementary to sections 14 and 15]:

10.36 p.m.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 63:

Page 17, line 1, before ("section") insert ("under").

The noble Lord said: This is a drafting amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 17 [Power to enter premises (acupuncture, etc.)]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 64:

Page 18, line 22, leave out ("or that the occupier is temporarily absent").

The noble Lord said: Since some registered acupuncturists, tattooists, ear-piercers and electrolysists are likely to have premises which are part of and accessible only through their homes, it has been pointed out that it would be undesirable if local authority officers were to be granted warrants to enter such premises only on the grounds that the occupiers were temporarily absent from them. The Government have accepted that these representations are reasonable and have decided that they ought to be acceded to. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 65:

Page 18, line 30, leave out ("or that the occupier is temporarily absent").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Clause 19 [Sale of food from stalls and containers—provision for registration]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 66:

Page 19, line 20, leave out from ("shall") to ("unless") in line 21 and insert ("hawk food").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 66 and speak to Amendments Nos. 67 and 70. These amendments do not affect the scope of Clause 19 which continues to require any person, with certain specified exemptions, who operates as a mobile food trader or trades in food at a single position in the open air to be registered with the local authority. It is considered that this type of food trading, which may be carried on regularly or only intermittently, is more precisely described by terms "hawk food" or "food hawking", and an appropriate amendment of the Part to the Bill and side-headings to the clauses would be made if the Committee agrees to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 67:

Page 19, line 25, leave out from first ("for") to ("unless") in line 26 and insert ("hawking").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 68:

Page 19, line 26, at end insert—

("( ) Subsection (1) above applies to a person who hawks food as an assistant to a person registered under this section unless—

  1. (a) he is normally supervised when so doing; or
  2. (b) he assists only as a temporary replacement.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 68 and speak to Amendments Nos. 78, 79, 80 and 81. Paragraph (g) of subsection (9) as printed provided partial exemption from the need to be registered under Clause 19 for an assistant to an authorised street trader who is himself exempted by paragraph (e) of subsection (9). These amendments simply extend the exemption afforded to the assistant to coincide with that already given to an authorised street trader. I realise that this is a subject on which the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, or the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, and I did not wholly agree: whether street traders should be allowed to have assistants without having an extra licence. As things stand at the moment, the Committee agreed that an extra licence was not necessary. Therefore, I think that it is reasonable for me to move the amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Birk

Is it necessary to perpetuate for all of history and the future the term "hawk food" and "food hawking"? Could not the Home Office, the Minister or somebody with a nice, creative mind think out another phrase which falls more easily on our ears and to our eyes than "hawk food" or "food hawking"?

Lord Belstead

I think we have just thought it up, and that it is rather a good one. I do not think at this hour in the evening I can be any more creative.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 69:

Page 19, line 40, leave out from ("with") to end of line 41 and insert ("food hawking").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 69 and would ask your Lordships' permission to speak to Amendments Nos. 72, 76, 82, 83, 84 and 86. These amendments make minor technical changes consequent upon previous amendments or for drafting improvements. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 70:

Page 20, line 7, at end insert—

("( ) For the purposes of this section a person hawks food if for private gain

  1. (a) he goes from place to place selling food or offering or exposing food for sale; or
  2. (b)he sells food in the open air or offers or exposes food for sale in the open air,

unless he does so—

  1. (i) as part of, or as an activity ancillary to, a trade or business carried on by him or some other person on identifiable property; or
  2. (ii) he falls within subsection (9) below.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential upon Amendment No. 66. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 71:

Page 20, leave out lines 10 to 12.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 71 and would speak also to Amendments Nos. 75 and 77. The amendments are concerned with certain of the exemptions from Clause 19 listed in subsection (9). The exemptions provided for by paragraphs (a)(i), (a)(ii), (a)(iv) and (c) of Clause 19(9) are no longer necessary. In the context of the newly amended subsection (9) and the definition of "food hawker" in the new subsection provided by Amendment No. 70, the sale or offer or exposure of food for sale dealt with in those four paragraphs does not need specific exemption. It is with that that these amendments are dealing. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 20, line 13, leave out ("held under a grant or presumed grant or") and insert ("the right to hold which was acquired by virtue of a grant (including a presumed grant) or acquired or established by virtue of").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 69. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 73:

Page 20, line 14, after ("order") insert— ("( ) at a notified temporary market;").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 73 and would speak also to Amendments Nos. 74 and 85. The Government undertook in another place to consider the implications of a proposed amendment to Clause 9 which would have the effect of exempting the sale of food at a pleasure fair within the meaning of the Public Health Act 1961.

By-laws made by a number of local authorities under powers provided by the relevant section of the 1961 Act require the operator to notify the local authority in advance of the pleasure fair taking place. The Government accept that it is unnecessary, for the purposes of identifying food hawkers at the pleasure fair, to require them to be registered under Clause 19, provided that the pleasure fair has been notified to the local authority in compliance with the by-laws.

In the light of this, the Government have further considered the position of food hawkers at temporary markets within the meaning of Clause 32 of this Bill, which requires the holding of a temporary market to be advised in advance. The Government have concluded that both situations are comparable and justify exemptions, and the amendments proposed provide exemptions both in pleasure fairs and in temporary markets. Accordingly, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 74:

Page 20, line 14, at end insert— ("( ) at a notified pleasure fair; or").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 73. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 75:

Page 20, line 15, leave out sub-paragraph (iv).

The noble Lord said: This is consequential on Amendment No. 71. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 76:

Page 20, line 22, at end insert ("or").

The noble Lord said: This is consequential on Amendment No. 69. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 77:

Page 20, line 23, leave out paragraph (c).

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 71. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendments Nos. 78 to 81:

Page 20, line 28, leave out ("by any person"). line 30, leave out ("who have authorised him") and insert ("by a person whom the local authority have authorised"). line 34, after ("sale)") insert ("or by a person acting as an assistant to a person so authorised"). line 37, leave out from ("above") to end of line 42.

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 78 to 81 are consequential on Amendment No. 68. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 82:

Page 20, line 42, at end insert— ("or (b) to the sale or offer or exposure for sale of food in containers of such materials and so closed as to exclude all risks of contamination.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 69. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendments Nos. 83 and 84:

Page 20, leave out lines 44 and 45.

Page 21, line 8, leave out from ("drugs") to end of line 11.

The noble Lord said: These amendments are consequential on Amendment No. 69. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 85:

Page 21, line 11, at end insert— (""notified pleasure fair" means a pleasure fair, as defined in subsection (2)(a) of section 75 of the Public Health Act 1961, notice of which has been given to the local authority in accordance with byelaws under that section; notified temporary market" means a temporary market, as defined in subsection (6) of section 32 below, notice of which has been given to the local authority in accordance with subsection (2) of that section;").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 73. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 86:

Page 21, leave out lines 12 to 16.

The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 69. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 20 agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Highway amenities]:

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 87:

Page 77, line 24, leave out ("to use it").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 87, I would speak also to Amendment No. 88. These are drafting amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Belstead moved Amendment No. 88:

Page 78, line 41, leave out ("to use it").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Denham

I think that this is probably a convenient moment to break. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.