§ 1.24 p.m.
§ Lord Stallard
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Stallard.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD STRABOLGI in the Chair.]
§ Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 8, after ("97A") insert—
("(1) If, in any off-sale premises, or the off-sale part of any other premises with three or more points of sale, the holder of an off-sale licence or his employee or agent completes the sale of alcoholic liquor to any person other than at a point of sale used solely or mainly in respect of alcoholic liquor, he shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) The holder of an off-sale licence or his employee or agent shall take all reasonable steps to satisfy himself that any person buying alcoholic liquor under subsection (1) above is aged 18 or over.").
§ The noble Lady said: With the leave of the Committee, and to save time, I speak also to my Amendments Nos. 4, 22, 26 and 27. Amendment No. 1 offers an alternative to subsection (3), which Amendment No. 4 seeks to delete. Therefore, Amendments Nos. 4, 22, 26 and 27 are consequential on Amendment No. 1.
§ In speaking to these amendments I should like first to emphasise that I entirely support the aims of this Bill, which are to make it as difficult as possible for under-age drinkers to obtain alcohol in supermarkets. I say "as difficult as possible" because nothing will ever make it impossible. There is a way round everything. Even if we all carry identity cards to produce when buying alcohol, there is no way of stopping under-age tipplers from getting an older friend to buy alcohol for them.
§ Having said that, I wholeheartedly support Clause 1(2) as it stands and as far as it goes. However, as I said on Second Reading, I have very grave reservations about Clause 1(3): first, on account of the great inconvenience and annoyance it will cause to the vast majority of shoppers who are over 18 and perfectly entitled to buy anything they please but who would have to queue up twice in order to buy alcohol; and secondly, because subsection (3)(b) creates a new criminal offence—that of wilfully buying or attempting to buy alcoholic liquor without the sale having been authorised. That offence is punishable by a hefty fine and, as an inevitable consequence, the acquisition of a criminal record and all that that entails in regard to one's credit rating, the possibility of obtaining a mortgage, holding a firearms certificate, and so on, in the future.
§ On Second Reading I gave the example of a busy person, possibly a bachelor or working wife, in a hurry, with much on his or her mind—possibly one of your Lordships—who is in a supermarket, picks up a bottle of wine and puts it in the bottom of the trolley. Other items are then piled on top. When the shopper arrives at the till the bottle is suddenly produced. As I understand it, the shopper would be guilty of a criminal offence under Clause 1(3)(b).1073
§ I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, is satisfied that the adverb "wilfully" is an adequate safeguard against the conviction of an innocent shopper who forgets, in the way that I have described, that he or she has a bottle of wine at the bottom of the trolley. However, I am still not satisfied. I can envisage a grey-haired lady in a hurry, and perhaps unaware of the dire penalties she is risking, seeing a long queue at the authorisation point, dashing to the till and saying to the girl, "I am in an awful hurry. You know I am over 18. Can you let me through quickly with this"? She would be committing a criminal offence.
§ One could also take the case of a young boy who had saved up his pocket money to buy a bottle of whisky for his father's birthday, who has told no one of his plans and who is ignorant of the law. He too would be committing a crime, because I have always understood that ignorance of the law is no defence.
§ It has been argued that neither would be charged, but you cannot be sure. I do not think it is right to make laws on the basis that they will not be enforced. Later I shall be proposing in Amendment No. 4 that Clause 1(3) shall be deleted from the Bill. But in my opinion Clause 1(2) is not strong enough on its own and therefore Amendment No. 1, which I am moving, puts the onus of preventing sales of alcohol to minors squarely on the supermarkets by making it an offence for them to sell alcohol to anyone other than in a shop within a shop, as many already do.
§ The noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, said at Second Reading that he had been given to understand that the cost of the authorisation points which subsection (3) would have created would be £13,000 to £14,000 per shop and the cost of making shops within shops would have been significantly more. These figures sound to be widely exaggerated. I believe that some rails and an extra till, which is all that would be necessary, cannot possibly cost anything like that.
§ My remaining Amendments Nos. 22, 26 and 27 are consequential. I like Amendment No. 2 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, even better than mine, for it is a simpler and cheaper way of achieving the same objective. I shall listen with interest to her when she moves it and to the views of other Members of the Committee on both amendments. I beg to move.
§ 1.30 p.m.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
I wish not to follow the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, entirely, but I shall speak to her Amendment No. 1 and, relative to that, my Amendment No. 3. The first proposal before the Committee this afternoon effectively imposes a requirement to use a dedicated check-out or point of sale in a store with over three of these points. Here I find myself in some conflict with the noble Lady. It has been fairly reasonably established by the multiples and the retail trade that the dedication of certain outlets causes a good deal of confusion at certain periods in the shopping week to the store and rather more importantly to the consumer. They do not know where to go. It is incredibly difficult, even in a modern store, to direct consumers to 1074 particular numbers of check-outs when there are perhaps 25 or 30 of them. The practice has been considered by the multiples and rejected.
The second part of the first amendment requires that,The holder of an off-sale licence … shall take all reasonable steps to satisfy himself that any person buying alcoholic liquor under subsection (1) above is aged 18 or over".That simply reiterates the requirement already imposed on those selling alcoholic liquor in terms of Section 68(1) of the 1976 Act. The Committee may recall that I drew the attention of the Chamber to this fact at Second Reading. That section makes it an absolute offence to sell to a person under the age of 18, whereas the proposed amendment appears to introduce the defence of a seller having taken all reasonable steps. Nevertheless, I believe it is a proper and worthy attempt to beef-up this clause.
I suggest that the difficulty lies in the proposed new Section 97B(1)(a) which I suspect we shall come to later. That provides for the authoriser to be reasonably satisfied. I shall return to that at an appropriate time. There is a deficiency in the clause. It is not clearly understood by the promoters of the Bill that premises other than off-sale premises, such as pubs and hotels, can have off-sale departments or provide an off-sale facility which does not fall within the definition of the off-sale part repeated in the Bill and which is derived from Section 119 of the 1976 Act.
I am advised that the off-sale part referred to in the Bill has a particular and significant meaning within the terms of Section 119. It is described as a "term of art". It does not include off-sale departments not designated in terms of that section. So a non-designated off-sale department in a pub or an hotel would not be covered by either the clause or the amendment. The measures are here to include all premises from which alcohol is sold for consumption off the premises; namely, the off-sale.
As a consequence, it will be the holders of a licence, but not an off-licence—which will include public house and hotel licence holders—that have to be brought within the ambit of the Bill. It will not be simply the holder of an off-licence. That is quite complementary to what the noble Lady is seeking to do in subsection (2) of her amendment. I shall be moving Amendment No. 3, which would tighten the loophole. We cannot have people under the age of 18 buying in supermarkets with three points of sale or more and having to be supervised in this way when in fact such supervision does not cover a general licence holder—namely, a publican or an hotel keeper—who also has more than three points of sale. In general I support the noble Lady in the endeavour that she makes in her amendments.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
The noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, has suggested that we consider with Amendment No. 1 Amendment No. 4. which goes a good deal further, as my noble friend has pointed out, in that it will delete Clause 1(3) altogether. Therefore it seems sensible that we should have a debate on the principle of that subsection with this group. I therefore take the opportunity of addressing a few remarks to the Committee in amplification of 1075 what I said at Second Reading in my opposition to Clause 1(3).
Before I do so perhaps I may be permitted to refer to an article that appeared in the Daily Record shortly after the Second Reading debate under the headline "Off Their Trolleys!". The first sentence reads,Three meddling English Tory Peers are plotting to wreck the Bill to curb teeny tipplers in Scotland".The Peers referred to are my noble friend Lady Young, my noble friend Lord Lucas and myself. The article continues with a somewhat scurrilous attack on myself and other noble Lords who find fault with Clause 1(3) of the legislation. One noble Lord opposite suggested to me that perhaps the article was libellous and I might make my fortune. Having read it, I do not propose to waste my time by pursuing the matter through the courts. The editor may sleep quietly at night.
It was a disgracefully inaccurate account of what took place at Second Reading. One entirely supports newspapers which go in for campaigning—juvenile drinking is a highly appropriate subject for it—but to deliver a scathing attack on those who, while supporting the aim, happen to disagree with the method adopted in Clause 1(3) of authorisation before one reaches the check-out point, seems to be the most extraordinary way to win friends and influence people.
I resent the expression "English Peer". My noble friends may speak for themselves. There is no such thing as an English Peer. There is a United Kingdom peerage. I am proud to be a United Kingdom Peer. If the writer of the article had done any homework at all, he would have discovered that I was born in Scotland, of parents and of grandparents all of whom were born in Scotland, that many of my relations live in Scotland today, that I am a frequent visitor to Scotland, that I served in the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders for a period of my life and that I am very proud to count myself a Scot. If it is the view of the author of the article that nobody is entitled to count himself a Scot unless he lives within the circulation area of the Daily Record, I have to disagree.
The article was also hopelessly inadequate and inaccurate when it said under a subheadline "Everyone backs this Bill". It conveniently failed to mention the Scottish Consumer Council which, in a cogent and persuasive statement that was widely quoted by noble Lords during the Second Reading debate, came out strongly against Clause 1(3) of the Bill. Perhaps I may leave the Daily Record there. However, if it thinks that I shall be intimidated by the kind of abusive nonsense which has been written in its pages and that somehow this will frighten me into withdrawing my opposition to Clause 1(3), it has another think coming. I do not suppose that those words will be accurately reported, but we shall wait and see.
I turn now to the amendments and in particular to Amendment No. 4, which would delete Clause 1(3). I have reread the speeches made at Second Reading, although I cannot confess to have read everything written about the Bill. I remain totally 1076 convinced that Clause 1(3) is aimed at the wrong target and that it seeks to achieve its aim in a way which will cause wholly disproportionate inconvenience to the vast majority—probably over 99 per cent.—of those who shop in the larger supermarkets. I remind the Committee that the amendment is aimed at those with three check-out points or more.
I have looked again at the evidence. The Scottish Consumer Council, which ought to know, is fairly specific when it says that, where there is evidence that youngsters buy their drinks at off-licences, it is in fact at the smaller ones, the ones with perhaps one or two check-out points, the small corner shops, which do not have the same high standards as apply to sales in the larger supermarkets. Yet those very shops are excluded by this reference to three or more check-out points. On that ground, therefore, this subsection is misconceived.
My next point again concerns the Daily Record. I was accused, in terms that were intended to invite ridicule and contempt, of making the point that most youngsters are introduced to drinking in the home and that adults will buy drinks which are then consumed by children. There is a good deal of evidence of that. At Second Reading I referred to the ESRC conference which I chaired last year. It was intended to give publicity to a number of university research projects which had been funded by the ESRC into the whole subject of teenage drinking. There were some interesting findings.
I am surprised that, in looking to see what influences youngsters to start drinking, the promoters of the Bill do not take account of the research done at the University of Strathclyde on the impact of television advertising on young drinkers. I found myself wholly convinced by the very circumstantial work that had been done there. Although very small children—I am not quite sure what a teenage tippler is but I refer to 10 to 14 year-olds—look at the advertisements they do not draw the message. However, for those over 14 the messages that are intended to be conveyed by these advertisement have a considerable impact. Lager may be advertised to young adults, but for 14 to 18 year-olds the message comes through clearly that this is what young macho men should be doing and this is the way to get all the girls and to impress your friends. That would be a much better target if one were trying to discover what the influences are.
Where do youngsters start drinking? They start in the home. This was the evidence of the OPCS study to which my noble and learned friend referred when he replied to the Second Reading debate. It was accepted by the committee on drinking and crime among young people, chaired by the noble Baroness, Lady Masham. It did not say where the drink comes from but it was perfectly clear that the great majority of those who drink regularly—once a month or more frequently than once a month—have been supplied with drink from the home. That is a much more difficult problem to address.
If Parliament is right in believing that it is a crime to sell drink to someone under 18, which it is—Clause 1(2) strengthens the law in Scotland on that point—somehow we have got ourselves out 1077 kilter with a larger section of public opinion which does not think that it is an offence at all. Indeed the OPCS study and the noble Baroness's report say that it seems to be becoming an almost accepted part of normal social behaviour. It is to these problems that we should be addressing ourselves and not trying to pick on the larger supermarkets and imposing massive new hassles and procedures on the vast majority of their customers, who are over the age of 18.
It seems to have been suggested—it was certainly suggested by the Second Scottish Standing Committee in another place—that somehow Scotland faces a more serious problem of teenage drinking than the rest of the United Kingdom. That does not seem to be borne out by the facts. Another piece of evidence from the ESRC was research carried out by Professor Ken Roberts of the Department of Sociology of the University of Liverpool. He used the ESRC 16-to-19 research initiative which was begun three years ago and will run to 1991. It is based on representative samples of young people from four areas—Swindon, Sheffield, Liverpool and Kirkcaldy—who are being surveyed in a variety of ways and on a wide range of their activities. Perhaps I may summarise Professor Roberts's research work. The report said:Most of the young people were already using alcohol, at least occasionally, before leaving the statutory school-leaving age. By age 17–18 only 25% were consuming alcohol less than once a month if at all, while 21% were drinking three times a week or more frequently, Males (14%) were more likely to be frequent drinkers than females (9%). Drinking alcohol was far less common among the Kirkcaldy sample than in any of the other areas, but that seemed to be due entirely to the Scottish respondents' generally slower social development".That is entirely in accordance with the findings of the OPCS study as summarised in the report of the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, entitled Young People and Alcohol. If we take the study of 15 year-olds in that report, it appears that they usually have an alcoholic drink at least once a week. In England and Wales the figure for males is 52 per cent. and for females it is 37 per cent. In Scotland the figure for males is 34 per cent. and for females 22 per cent. I have quoted just one age group but the difference is true in respect of all age groups from the age of 13 to 17.
Therefore the suggestion which has been made that somehow the problem is so serious in Scotland that it merits taking this drastic step to interfere with the normal operation of supermarkets and that it is justified seems to me wholly without foundation. If there is a problem of teenage drinking, it is clearly not as serious in Scotland as it is in the rest of the United Kingdom, as is evidenced by these reports.
Moreover, returning to the first point, if there is a problem of teenagers buying drink it is not from the larger supermarkets. I should like to remind the Committee once again that the evidence is perfectly clear. Indeed, it has been quoted by the Scottish Consumer Council: fewer than 1 per cent. of the shoppers at the larger supermarkets are under 18. That figure applies to all purchases: it refers to sweets, teenage magazines, tights or whatever else young people may wish to purchase. One can understand youngsters finding it exciting to do their 1078 shopping in a supermarket where there is such a range of goods. However, less than 1 per cent. of the customers are of that particular age.
What will Clause 1(3) do? It will require separate queues, a separate authorisation point and everyone—that is, the 99 per cent. as well as the 1 per cent.—will have to go through this procedure and will require such authorisation. We may, of course, return to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay, on Second Reading. He said that we do not actually need an authorisation point; it is sufficient that you have an authorisation of some sort. We have yet to hear from any of the promoters as to what form the authorisation will take. For example, will it be a sticky label, a ribbon tied round the item or separate wrapping? Of course, separate wrapping cannot be used because the bar code does not work as you pass it over the checkout point. All this is to be imposed to solve a problem which is manifestly less acute in Scotland than elsewhere and manifestly much less serious in relation to the larger supermarkets than to other outlets.
I remain convinced that Clause 1(3) is misconceived. I am astonished to learn that the Government felt it right to give all the assistance that they did in another place. However, I recognise that, having heard some of the arguments, my noble and learned friend sought to draw back somewhat on Second Reading. I would regard this Committee as woefully failing in its duty to consumers generally were it to allow the legislation to go through.
Perhaps I may conclude on this note. I shall certainly join with those who wish to try to amend the legislation by removing Clause 1(3), or, if we fail in that, at least to remove some of the mischief therein. If the Bill is amended, it has no chance of making the statute book this Session. Is it not much more important to get it right than to do it quickly? Is it not much more important that we should wait for the results of the review of the 1976 Act which the Government have promised to bring forward early in the autumn and then look at the matter comprehensively?
We could look at the result of the survey, the responses to which my noble and learned friend referred on Second Reading and then legislate, having aired the subject as we did on Second Reading and as we have done again today. We would then have a Bill widely agreed by everyone. Based upon the survey, it would tackle what every one agrees is a growing social problem.
No one is keener than I on this matter. Why was I asked to chair the ESRC conference unless it was because, as a former Secretary of State for Health, I had come face to face with some of the problems of teenage drinking. No one is keener than I to see measures taken which will curb a social abuse. However, I am not prepared to sit by and watch misconceived measures put forward which are aimed at the wrong target, which impose quite unacceptable burdens on the vast majority of the population and which will achieve nothing.
When we come to Amendment No. 4, I shall certainly support my noble friend's proposal. I am much less enthusiastic about shops within shops than 1079 the noble Baroness. They could add considerably to costs and cause problems, especially at times of congestion. I believe that Clause 1(2) is absolutely right; but Clause 1(3) really must not be allowed to reach the statute book.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
Perhaps I may briefly intervene. I should first like to back up what my noble friend said about the attack upon him and upon my noble friend Lady Young in the Daily Record. Scotland needs all the friends that it can find among people who know and understand Scotland well. To my certain knowledge, my noble friend Lady Young has spent a great deal of her life since becoming a Peeress interesting herself in the affairs of Scotland, becoming acquainted with them and helping in that respect. I am very sorry that this attack should have been made. In the case of my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding, it was totally untrue to say that he is not a Scot.
I agree with what my noble friend Lord Jenkin said in respect of Clause 1(3). I shall not reiterate the argument. I shall have one further word to say when, as I hope I shall, I move the amendment tabled in my name.
Although the solution of the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, is better than that contained in Clause 1(3)—I think it would suit the customers better and would work better—I do not think that Parliament should tell shops how to do their job or how to arrange their premises unless it is unavoidable. Different arrangements suit different customers in different sets of buildings and in different environments. Therefore, I am rather hoping that the noble Lady, having looked at my rather simpler and different amendment—which would, in fact, do something about larger supermarkets without completely reorganising the shop—may find that it is attractive to her. If so, perhaps she may consider not pressing this amendment.
§ Lord Macaulay of Bragar
I am not sure whether I heard the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, correctly when he talked about research which appeared to compare Liverpool with Kirkcaldy. I do not know whether he said that Kirkcaldy was regarded as the centre of the drinking universe of Scotland. It has various other claims to fame; indeed, it used to be famous for making linoleum, although the people have perhaps given that up now and are turning their attention to drink. While the research may be interesting, to take tile study on one Scottish town the size of Kirkcaldy and draw any inferences from that is really not a wise thing to do, if I may say so. It is only an indication of what might happen in Kirkcaldy.
I agree with what the noble Lord said about television advertising. That matter was discussed on Second Reading. I regard the amount of television advertising which takes place as disgraceful. In my view it should be taken off the screens altogether and the product left to find its own way into the market place without extravagant claims being made for it. As Members of the Committee may recall, I mentioned that little children as young as eight or nine years of age are running about advertising beer. 1080 It is advertised on the front of their favourite team's football jersey which they wear. They do so because members of the team wear the jerseys and because their parents have had to buy these for them.
So far as concerns the opponents of this Bill, I detect a feeling in the Chamber that they will take the opinion of the Committee and divide on one or another of the amendments which have been tabled. That being so, it appears from what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, said that he accepts, if that happens, that that is the end of the Bill.
§ Lord Macaulay of Bragar
In this Session, indeed yes. It would not receive Royal Assent this Session. That would be, to say the least, unfortunate. That is the way the timescale has worked out. The Opposition will oppose the amendments.
We accept that there are other targets for the sale of alcohol which should be hit. The noble Lord,Lord Lucas, made an interesting point about public houses and hotels selling drink. They are not caught by the legislation. The mere fact that other outlets are not caught by the legislation does not mean that it is sensible to kill off the legislation. The legislation can be revised and amended once the Bill is on the statute book.
§ 2 p.m.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
Will the noble and learned Lord give way? I think he has missed the point I made or perhaps I did not make it properly. The point I made was that the pub/hotel with a similar number of outlets to the off-sale part must come within the ambit. We are talking about outlets of a given size. Presumably we define the outlet by the number of points of sale. We cannot say that three or more outlets in somewhere described as a supermarket should be different from the provision in respect of a public house.
§ Lord Macaulay of Bragar
The amendment states:If, in any off-sale premises, or the off-sale part of any other premises with 3 or more points of sale".That does not cover the area indicated by the noble Lord. I accept that there might be a gap in the Bill. The noble Lord raised the matter effectively. Steps can be taken to deal with that gap in later legislation. That is not a reason to kill off the Bill and to start all over again.
A great deal of fuss is being made about what happens and what does not happen in supermarkets. As I said on Second Reading, we are dealing with the sale of a poison. People who provide and the age of people who buy should be severely restricted and controlled. What is to stop a supermarket from putting up notices at points of sale reminding people that according to the statute the sale of alcohol has to be authorised by a person in the premises? There is no difficulty. They can have a large notice where the drink is sold saying, "Please remember to have your alcoholic purchase authorised before taking it to the point of sale." What is the difficulty?
§ Lady Saltoun of Abernethy
If one read every notice that is put up in a supermarket one would never get around the place.
§ Lord Macaulay of Bragar
They do not have clocks in supermarkets, so one never knows the time. It is one of the devices they use to keep people in.
As I said, a great deal of fuss is being made. Let us take a railway station, for example. Before one boards a train there is a notice saying, "Please do not board the train without a ticket". People then go to the ticket office and buy a ticket so that they can show it to an inspector. If they do not have a ticket, they will hide in some part of the train in the hope that they will not be caught. People obey rules when they are introduced.
An example of "wilfully attempting to buy" would be if a person went to the point of sale and someone then said, "You have not had that authorised", and the purchaser ignored that advice and tried to get out without the authorisation. That would be wilful. The word "wilful" exists for a purpose. As stated earlier, we like to believe that common sense is applied to prosecutions in Scotland.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
If the noble Lord is supporting the Bill from the Opposition Front Bench, he owes it to the Committee to try to tell us how it will work. On Second Reading he said that he did not want to get bogged down in the technicalities of the matter. The noble Lord brings great skill to us. He may not know much about supermarkets but he knows a great deal about the law. He must tell the Committee how the provision will work. He cannot slide over it as he has just done.
§ Lord Macaulay of Bragar
As I said on Second Reading, it is not my responsibility to tell supermarkets how to implement the law. No one else is told how to implement the law. The law is on the statute book and people affected by it have to obey it. It is not for me to tell supermarkets how to organise themselves. There is adequate provisions for supermarkets in subsection (2)(a). That is being ignored by the Bill's critics. If a sale is completed at a point of sale used solely or mainly in respect of alcoholic liquor, paragraphs (b) and (c) of subsection (2) do not apply. There is a way out for supermarkets in the Bill as it stands.
I should emphasise that I am speaking in a personal capacity. Although I am speaking from the Front Bench, this is a Private Member's Bill. I shall oppose any attempts to bring the Bill to an end at this stage.
Lord Campbell of Croy
In general, it is a great pity that at this stage of the Bill we should have an issue to discuss without being able to make any change. Over the years I have become familiar with all the problems of Private Member's Bills introduced in another place. I was lucky enough when I was in the other place, in ballots and other ways, to introduce Bills and, with the help of friends in your Lordships' House, to get those Bills through.
Perhaps I may go back nearly 30 years. I was the Scottish Whip responsible for establishing what is 1082 called the Second Scottish Standing Committee which enables Scottish Private Member's Bills to go into a special committee and so avoid waiting in a queue behind all the other United Kingdom Bills. I mention that point because I have every sympathy with Members of another place and Peers who try to introduce Private Member's Bills.
We are placed in a most unsatisfactory position. We know that if any change is made to the Bill (if one word is altered) it cannot go through in this Session because there is no time left next week in the other place for it to consider any suggested changes. I hope that if that should happen the Bill will be taken up in the coming Session. I hope that any arguments about the issue with which we are dealing today will be settled by then and that a Back-Bench Member or a Peer will have priority and will be able to take the Bill through. I wanted to register my view that it is most unsatisfactory that at the Committee stage—the earliest stage at which we are able to consider the detail of a Bill—we should know that we cannot make any change.
I accept the fact that there is an issue in Clause 1(3). I shall say no more about it because it has been described. All noble Lords who have spoken and many people outside the Committee are in favour of the principle and purpose of the Bill—except for this subsection now in issue—and the provisions that it will add to the legislation in Scotland in an attempt to stop teenage drinking.
I listened to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Macaulay. My experience of Private Members' Bills in another place shows that it is not as easy to amend a Bill as he suggested. It is difficult enough to get the original Private Member's Bill through Parliament; but to think that it can be amended within a year or two is asking a great deal. It is not as easy as he suggested.
I understand the point put forward by the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun. However, that we should be in this position at the Committee stage is most unsatisfactory.
§ Lord Monson
I also have reservations about Amendment No. 1 standing in the name of my noble friend Lady Saltoun. I prefer Amendment No. 2 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy. However, there is no doubt that my noble friend has given powerful and cogent reasons for deleting subsection (3), or at least drastically modifying it.
My noble friend highlighted the practical points and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, validly put forward the point that the Bill is aimed at the wrong target. It is the smaller stores which tend to sell alcohol to youngsters. However, the subsection adversely affects individual freedom in a way which is inappropriate in a Private Member's Bill, particularly in one which comes before us immediately before the Summer Recess. I understand that it received virtually no scrutiny in another place.
Surely it is better to have a proper Bill on the statute book later than an imperfect Bill a couple of months sooner. I believe that we should agree to Amendment No. 4 and possibly also to Amendments Nos. 2 and 3.
The Viscount of Falkland
One of the encouraging aspects of the Bill is that a popular daily newspaper in Glasgow has seen fit to create a campaign. I do not read that newspaper, and I do not know how it would describe me. I sympathise entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, because my forebears were given a Scottish Peerage; I come from an entirely English family; and I served in an Irish regiment. I do not know what it would make of that! Nevertheless, it has created a furore about the problem which is most serious in Scotland as it is throughout the United Kingdom.
I sense that from these Benches and from my friends on the Opposition Benches there is a certain party animosity. Of all the subjects that we debate in this House alcohol abuse and its related problems are not party-political matters. It appears that a popular newspaper has seen a problem—that of under-age drinking—which in Scotland is of high profile. It is shown up rather more sharply because of the country in relation to the population. I believe that the Scottish Office has seen a problem and felt that it must do something. Its proposals, certainly those in subsection (3), are not workable.
I agree with the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, that the ideal would be a statutory obligation to have a shop within a shop. That would solve many problems. I also agree with her remarks about identity cards. Nevertheless, there is now a wide availability of drink from supermarkets, especially to young people, and that was not the case 10 or 15 years ago. Statistics produced by the various retail organisations show that in Scotland there is a problem, albeit small. There is a lack of small shops where young people might go to buy alcohol as they do in England. I do not believe that the supermarkets in England are a problem. The steps those supermarkets have taken are admirable. It would be a very unwise under-age drinker who would stand in the queue of a supermarket and try to get away with buying a bottle of whisky. I do not think he would get away with that in the first place, and he would be stupid to try to do so because in London he could go 100 or 200 yards down the street and buy it in a small shop. I agree therefore with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, that this provision is targeted at the wrong people. It is the smaller shops which are the problem. I believe that is the case in Scotland; but in Scotland there are fewer smaller outlets, so I suppose it is natural that the attentions of the Daily Record should be focused on the supermarkets.
I sense that there is a certain animosity in Scotland towards the large supermarkets. I hope there is not any underlying political animosity which stems from an anti big business feeling. I get the feeling that the animosity towards the big supermarket groups as offenders in this area of allowing young people to buy unauthorised alcohol is rather a political reaction. As I said on Second Reading, I do not think the large supermarkets are to blame in this area. I believe they take steps to ensure that staff are properly trained to serve people, and they also take steps to put up notices to make sure that young people realise that this is not the place to try and get away with it. I have seen such notices especially in the London area.
1084 I agree with the contents of the amendment of the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun of Abernethy. I assume she does not intend to press the amendment. It is an interesting alternative, but my own impression about the Bill is that it has been put before us at the wrong time. I do not understand how it got here. It is a most extraordinary Bill. I find myself in a very difficult position because I have sympathy with the underlying aims of the Bill; I have sympathy with the large supermarkets as I think they are the wrong targets, and I also have sympathy for the Government because I think the Government are doing a lot now, together with the universities and voluntary agencies, to deal with this problem. We have never seen a time of greater awareness and greater action in dealing with drinking, and in particular with under-age drinking. I support the amendment of the noble Lady; but I agree almost 100 per cent. with the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin. I feel an additional sympathy with him because of the handling he received from the Daily Record. I have not seen the newspaper concerned, and I only hope that I was not referred to.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
My Lords, I wish to say a few words about this group of amendments. I did not have the opportunity of speaking on Second Reading, but I shall do my best not to make a Second Reading speech.
The first point that I think all of us would accept is that we are, in this country, faced with a major problem of drink abuse. That is true of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Northern Ireland. On that point there can be no disagreement at all. We cannot also minimise the significance of that because, as many are aware, 50 per cent. of the cases of unpremeditated violence that take place in this country are committed when the assailant is under the influence of drink. In 50 per cent. of murder cases the same is true. Therefore no one can, in the light of that, underestimate the significance of the issues we are debating today.
Therefore, there is a strong case for action. I am not talking about any action but action which is well-directed and action that is relevant to the problem we are facing. I am bound to say that I still hope very much that someone will explain to us why it is the supermarkets with three or more outlets that present us with the most significant problem. No effort has been made to put forward a sustainable argument on that issue. All the evidence seems, as the very powerful speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, indicated, to go in exactly the opposite direction.
The principal problem which we face in terms of young people getting access to alcohol is, first, in the home and, secondly, in small shops. I believe that to be the position in England and Wales, and I have not the slightest doubt that it is the position in Scotland. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can believe that by the creation of this bureaucratic arrangement of authorisation points we shall make a major contribution to dealing with teenage drinking in Scotland. It seems to me, as I have indicated, that all the evidence points in exactly the opposite direction.
1085 I hope that we shall argue this matter on a calm, rational basis. The sort of abuse to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, and his colleagues were subjected is quite ridiculous, as was the abuse directed at the Scottish Consumer Council because it had committed the grave offence of coming up with the wrong conclusions. We should be able to debate issues of this kind quietly, rationally and reasonably. Accepting as I do the seriousness of the problem, I do not believe that Clause 1(3) makes any sense whatsoever and I shall certainly vote against it.
§ The Lord Advocate (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie)
It might be appropriate if I say a few words on the amendment of the noble Baroness. I recognise that, if her amendment were to be carried, as a necessary consequence subsection (3) would be deleted.
I have much sympathy with the aims of the noble Baroness. Her amendment would effectively create a shop within a shop for the sale of alcohol, or at least a separate dedicated check-out would be required. Not only would such a course achieve the clear aim of the Bill to close off that channel as a possible source for the intending under-age purchaser, but it might also significantly reduce the impulse buying of alcohol products. That in itself might be desirable but it is a far wider issue than is intended should be encompassed by this Bill.
My immediate purpose in intervening is to say to the noble Baroness, if it is her intention still to press the amendment—and I understood from a hint that she gave that she is more attracted to a later amendment and accordingly may seek to withdraw this amendment—that in a number of senses it is technically deficient. I suspect that she may have had advice from those who are more familiar with English licensing law than Scots. On this side of the Border only specified parts of any particular supermarket are licensed. However, under the 1976 Scottish Act it is the premises themselves which are licensed. The reference in the amendment to:the off-sale part of any other premises with three or more points of sale",would not have any meaning in Scotland. The words "any off-sale premises" in the earlier part of the proposed subsection would cover all supermarkets which sell alcohol, all specialist wine and spirits merchants and all licensed grocers.
As I see it, the importance of the amendment can be stated briefly. When the matter was first considered the best proposal was seen to be to impose a regime of a shop within a shop. That is clearly a very expensive regime to impose on supermarkets. While the noble Baroness quarrels with the indications of cost that I gave her, there is no doubt whatsoever that that regime would be an expensive one. It was in an attempt to avoid the excessive costs of a shop within a shop that the Government and a Member in another place sought by means of subsection (3), to introduce an arrangement which would be less onerous and costly than a shop within a shop arrangement.
I do not propose to discuss Amendment No. 4. While some very powerful and no doubt sincere arguments have already been advanced this afternoon, in essence they are a repitition of 1086 arguments which were put forward at Second Reading. The views of the Government were made known by me at the Second Reading stage, and if we have to deal with subsection (3) in any detail later on this afternoon I can elaborate at that stage. For the present, it may be sufficient if I indicate to the noble Baroness the technical deficiencies of the amendment as I see them.
§ Lord Stallard
I am grateful to those noble Lords who have participated in the debate on the amendment and I wish to deal with some of the points that have been raised. However, before doing that and without getting into the area of the Second Reading debate, as we seemed to be doing at one stage, and repeating what we said at Second Reading, I am bound to say that the point that was perhaps not adequately made during the Second Reading debate, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, has just said, is that the original intentions of the Bill were a shop within a shop.
It was a matter of pressure from without. It is almost the same pressure that is on now from the Retail Consortium and supermarkets, which said—they probably had a point—that that would be almost impossible. They said that they could not envisage such a proposal. The Government, having listened to those criticisms, said to the: promoters of the Bill, "If you insist on this, we cannot support such a Bill, but, if you are prepared to take it away and come back with something like this, we could support it". That is a rough reply to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, as to how the Bill comes here.
The Bill comes here as a result of massive public concern expressed in Scotland by more than 90 district councils and hundreds of individuals who replied to a questionnaire sent out on a completely different aspect of amendments to the licensing Bill. In their replies, they expressed their concern about under-age drinking. That was their main concern, so it was legitimate.
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
I apologise for intervening so early in the noble Lord's speech, but the same point was made at Second Reading. Are we to understand—the results of the survey have not yet been published—that that massive response was to express concern about teenage drinking, or was it a response about teenage purchases of alcohol in larger supermarkets? Which was it? When the noble Lord refers to over 90 district councils, were they all aiming at the large supermarkets in their areas?
§ 2.30 p.m.
§ Lord Stallard
The questionnaire concerned all aspects of under-age drinking—under-age drinking in public, access by under-age people to drinking and lack of supervision of the sale of alcohol. The concern of those people in Scotland covered all aspects. We in England might not like the Scots taking that view. They may be a different community and much more strict in some ways than their English counterparts, but that is what happened. There is sufficient support in the communities in Scotland for such a measure.
1087 The Bill received government support in the other place and massive public support. The noble Lord referred to one newspaper and he took umbrage about the way he was treated. He is not the first politician to have been insulted in a newspaper. That is one of the hazards of the game. That newspaper is not readily available in the Library. I have looked for it. We seldom see it in the Library so many noble Lords will not even have seen the article to which he referred. Perhaps he is worried about the circulation of the Daily Record. Perhaps he is over-anxious, in which case I may have put his mind at rest.
We must consider the best way round the problem. There must be a compromise in a Private Member's Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, is an expert on the matter. I admired his handling of Private Members' legislation in the other place. There must be a certain amount of compromise to obtain the maximum amount of support for a Private Member's Bill. One cannot do better than obtain government support. That is what the Bill has achieved. Have we achieved a good enough compromise? Is the need sufficient to justify going through with it? Does that mean that we should not have any amendments? We all understand the problems of Private Members' legislation in the other place. Time on a Friday runs out every year. As other noble Lords have said, if we amend a Bill it is virtually out of court for this Session.
Then people say, "So what? Why not wait until the amendments come forward and pick it up again next Session?" I find that just a wee bit difficult to take. With regard to the football identity card legislation, we on this side have asked, "Why not wait for the outcome of the Taylor Report before we push for identity cards?" We were absolutely trounced and jumped on by virtually all those who have spoken today and who participated in that debate and voted in it. They were not prepared to wait for the Taylor Report before they pushed ahead with the ID on football supporters.
Only yesterday we asked the Government to wait for the outcome of the reports, surveys and discussions on the disabled and handicapped before anything was done in the social security field in relation to some of the problems there. We were told that there was no need at all to wait for these reports; the matter was being dealt with there and then and that we were out of order. So, when we ask, we get scant response. One cannot say that that is all right and then be asked to wait for some hypothetical date in the future when there will be another report. That is blatantly playing party politics and we are not in that business so far as this Bill is concerned.
Those who promoted the Bill have a commitment to its aims. That commitment is shared by all Members who have spoken on this issue. We ought to rise above some of the points advocated in the amendments. This is not nit-picking but it is not far off it. The amendments are a determined attempt to respond to a campaign that has emerged in your Lordships' House but was not evident in the other place. It is the same Bill with the same procedures. 1088 Everything is the same in this House as in the other place.
I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, that this is not an anti-supermarket or anti-business campaign of any description. We all deal with supermarkets—and some supermarkets we like better than others—and there is no anti-supermarket feeling. However, we cannot dodge the fact that the Retail Consortium and mainly the supermarket members have circulated letters and documents to a great many Members of the Committee—not, I may add, to me until yesterday, when I received the first one. I now have a list of Members to whom they have circulated this material. I do not complain about that. It is normal parliamentary procedure and there is nothing wrong in it, but we know that people are responding to that kind of correspondence and campaign. It is as simple as that. That has caused the uproar, if it is an uproar—certainly it can be called an added interest—in this Chamber which was perhaps absent in the other place.
We have to ask whether we can justify the aims, objectives and methods laid down in this Bill in relation to the problem. We think we can. We believe that the concern is there. With regard to the surveys, I shall not be selective and pick out the items which I like. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, picked out some of the parts that he liked. However, there were parts of the report from the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, which are of particular interest. I shall select one on page 9. It is Table 8. It refers to those aged 15 years who had an alcoholic drink at least once a week and was used to prove that Scotland is not a bad as England. The problem is much worse in England than it is in Scotland. But one could have looked above that item to Table A and to the 15-year olds who say that they have had a proper drink, which is a substantial measure of an alcoholic drink, and the figures are almost the same. The noble Lord did not mention that.
I can say that the noble Lord is being selective, as most of the quoted statistics have been—
§ Lord Jenkin of Roding
My Lords, I am at a slight disadvantage when commenting on that because the official reporters have my copy of the document. However, the table from which I was quoting showed that at every age the figures for Scotland were substantially lower than the figures for England. That was the specific point that I sought to make.
§ Lord Stallard
The noble Lord quoted the 15 year-old age group from the table and I have just repeated what he said. I was listening very carefully. I do not quarrel with that. Those are points in debate. One picks out points that one likes and leaves out other points. However, in this case we have to look at all the points.
In any case, I should not have said that that was an argument against the Bill. Because the problem is not as bad in Scotland as it might be in England may perhaps be an argument for a similar Bill or other measures in England. It is not an argument for saying to the Scots, "Because you do not have as big a problem as we have, you cannot have this legislation. We shall not let you have it because your 1089 problem is not as big as ours". That is not a serious argument at all. That argument did not weigh heavily with me.
Then there was the argument about the wrong target. We are encountering it again. The noble Viscount, Lord Falkland, pointed to some of the concerns raised by the different situation in Scotland. He said that the geography in Scotland was different and the number of supermarkets was different. They are in different localities. It is a completely different set-up from Camden Town, Wandsworth, Brixton or other places in London or generally England. There is a difference and there are sufficient concern and evidence to show that the supermarket is involved as well as all the other outlets.
I have dealt with the points about waiting for further reports. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, also mentioned the Daily Record reports. I do not know whether she has been mentioned in them. They are not very easily accessible here. I would not worry; we have all been mentioned in some report. It happens all the time. As the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, said, we do not take our cue from the papers. We never have done so from any newspaper or any source. I certainly do not. If I believe that a matter is right, I say so—even if the papers agree with me. I shall continue to do so.
I have dealt with the question that the noble Viscount asked about how the Bill came here. It came here in the usual way from another place because of the outcry in Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, mentioned that drink abuse is a major problem in the United Kingdom. We all agree. It is a major problem in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All of us who work in an area connected with social security are extremely worried about the problems and the crime related aspects to alcohol. However, that is an argument for action.
Those who are sponsoring this Bill consider that the Bill is a form of action. We have no better proof of that than the words of the Minister in another place. He said that the Government regard the Bill as a significant part of an overall package of measures. There is a package of measures, including the Bill. Many other things are happening in Scotland in relation to under-age drinking. There are other things in the pipeline for the forthcoming report. It is a package of measures and the Minister in another place was big enough to say so. The Minister also referred to our conviction and that of the Scottish Home and Health Department that the Bill is a useful measure in that context; and they will continue to support it.
As I said at Second Reading, I cannot improve on that. That is as good a recommendation as we can get for passing the Bill unamended in order to do something. I asked about when amendments could be made to the Bill when it becomes an Act, because sometimes events happen very quickly. I was told that the intention is that the new statutory requirements would have permanent effect. They would not have time limits on them. However, any relaxation or limitation would simply encourage the re-emergence of the problem of under-age drinking. But the matter would be kept under review. If the 1090 new measures proved ineffective for whatever reason, they would be modified or repealed as appropriate.
The second clause in the Bill gives the Secretary of State powers to introduce and vary orders and so on. The safeguard is there. The forthcoming legislation is there, by which time this may have been in operation for some while. We shall be able to see what is happening. We shall therefore be able to move specific amendments.
The amendment of the noble Lady, and the consequential amendments, were ruled out at the early stages of consultation with the Government and other supporters—the Retail Consortium and others. The shop within a shop was not a viable alternative. We have accepted that. We do not think it is viable either.
On the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate, who replied adequately, as did my noble friend Lord Macaulay, to the legal aspects that he raised about the off-sales part of any other premises. I had a doubt about the situation in hotels because I am not absolutely au fait with that. But I have no doubts about the pubs or other places which do not have specific off-sales parts. The pub already has controls. The staff who serve behind the bar cannot be under 18, and these restrictions already apply to public houses. Having said that, I hope that the noble Baroness and those who support her will agree to withdraw the amendment.
§ Lady Saltoun of Abernethy
We have had an interesting and useful debate on the amendment. I should like to say a lot of nice things to all those who have spoken in support of it; however, time does not permit. I realise that my amendment is defective and therefore I beg leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 8, after ("97A") insert—
("(1) If, in any off-sale premises, or the off-sale part of any other premises, with 3 or more points of sale, the licence holder, his employee or agent causes or permits a person under 18 to sell alcoholic liquor he shall be guilty of an offence.").
§ The noble Baroness said: I shall also speak to Amendment No. 4. It is absolutely clear from the debate that we have had on the previous amendment that everybody in the Committee agrees that there is a need to strengthen the law to make it less possible for young people to buy alcoholic drinks in shops in Scotland. In my view the proposers have done very well in identifying one source of the problem. The fact is that young people can go into a shop, large or small, and frequently find shop assistants who might be sympathetic. They can put pressure on those often very young assistants to sell them a can of beer or a bottle of wine when no one is looking, both of them thus breaking the law. Some young people persuade older people, but mostly they persuade their contemporaries.
§ For smaller shops Clause 1(2) deals with this strongly and well and it should work. It says that if 1091 a shop assistant is under age, he or she cannot sell alcohol to anybody without first calling over a more senior person to authorise the sale. That is good. We all want to see that on the statute book for Scotland.
§ The promoters of the Bill recognise that the larger supermarkets have a number of check-outs where the assistants are under 18. It would not be easy on a busy Friday afternoon or a Saturday for every young assistant to get every sale checked without causing massive hold-ups for customers. So the promoters, with the Government's help, designed subsection (3), which we have been discussing at great length. I do not know why the Government advised the promoters that this scheme would work. Quite apart from being extremely inconvenient, it is far too easy for young people to dodge the system. As the Scottish Consumer Council has pointed out, if anything, it makes it considerably easier, not more difficult, for a young person to do so.
§ All that a young person under 18 has to do is to get a friend over 18 to take the bottle to the authorisation point to have it stamped and then put it back on the shelf where the under 18 year-old can collect it and go to the check-out to pay for it. Because the young check-out assistant sees it as being authorised, he or she is less rather than more likely to query that young person's age for what is supposedly the second time. On those grounds alone subsection (3) would not work. We owe it to the Scottish public and to the young people to have a far stronger scheme in large supermarkets.
§ My amendment may well be defective. I drafted it myself and did so without consulting the supermarkets. Indeed, I did not consult anybody. It suggests that in supermarkets with three check-outs or more no shop assistants under 18 should sell alcohol at all; at all the check-outs where alcohol is among the goods on the trolley, the check-out assistant must be 18 or over. If a supermarket wants to put under 18 year-olds at one or two check-outs, for example YTS trainees learning the job, those check-outs must be marked only for purchases not including alcohol. That clearly follows.
§ That means that no authorisation scheme is required by law at all either at a separate point or by individuals called to the check-out because no under-l8-year-old assistants will be selling drink. Shops will be able to continue or extend any supervision they want over older assistants, but young assistants will no longer be a problem.
§ When I told the Retail Consortium that I had tabled this amendment, it was not very pleased with me because it would like freedom in larger supermarkets to go on using 18 year-olds on check-outs which sell alcohol. I had to tell them that I was sorry. In small shops that is unavoidable, but I do not believe that in larger shops very young shop assistants should be submitted to that pressure even if they are half protected, as they would be under the Bill's authorisation scheme. They are not fully protected. I want to remove that scheme, and so I have put my name to Amendment No. 4. I want it to be absolutely forbidden for young people to serve on supermarket check-outs in the larger supermarkets.1092
§ On Second Reading I congratulated the promoters on all their hard work, and particularly on the provision for smaller shops in Clause (1)(2). If we do not amend this Bill, as the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, has made plain, it will go on the statute book. It will go on that statute book with a scheme for larger shops which, whatever the noble Lords, Lord Macaulay and Lord Stallard may say, will make it easier and not more difficult for young people to buy drink in those larger supermarkets, and that will greatly inconvenience customers in the process.
§ When in this Chamber we study Bills and identify weaknesses in them, it is our constitutional duty to say so and to tell the House of Commons, the Government and, in the case of private Bills, the promoters, how we consider that the Bill can be improved. It seems to me that it is our duty this afternoon in this Committee to amend the Bill. I accept that that means that it will not go on to the statute book immediately. However, it will be there for picking up in improved form. The ideas and discussions will be there; and I hope that my particular suggestion will also be there if members of the Committee accept it. In the new Session, it can either be incorporated into a private Bill which can come forward in that form, or as part of a government Bill.
§ I should be grateful if the Government can tell us what will be their attitude about that. I am convinced that as yet this Bill is not workable and not strong enough. I hope that if it comes back as part of a government Bill, it will be stronger, If it is not stronger than this Bill, I shall attempt to amend that new Bill to make it stronger because I do not believe that this Bill will work in this form. I beg to move.
§ Lord Stallard
I ask the noble Baroness whether her Amendment No. 2 is in place of the existing Section 97A(2) in the Bill or in addition to it. It seems to me that if that is inserted into the Bill and the rest is left intact, there is a danger of contradiction between the two parts. The noble Baroness amends the second part with her amendment, but then leaves the second part in the Bill. I should like the noble Baroness to clarify whether that is her intention.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
I hope it is clear that my intention is to insert this amendment into subsection (2) before the piece which is already in the Bill, and then, in Amendment No. 4, to remove subsection (3).
§ Lord Fraser of Carmyllie
Perhaps at this point I may respond briefly to the amendment moved by my noble friend. As she made clear, the amendment would require supermarkets, where they have three or more points of sale, never to have someone under the age of 18 at a point of sale where goods including alcohol are to be sold. In other words, all alcohol sales in such supermarkets would be made by an adult. Where there is no provision for the supervision, authorisation or approval by an adult, the sale would have to be made by someone over the age of 18. That would mean from the supermarket's point of view in regard to management that there 1093 could be significant difficulties. However, no doubt my noble friend has considered that and indeed may have received some advice from those concerned in the running of such large stores.
It is a different approach to that which is taken under subsection (3), and it might be argued that in many respects it is a more onerous and difficult one for those who operate supermarkets. However, perhaps I may say to my noble friend, as I said earlier to the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, that I recognise clearly she has a very genuine and real purpose behind this amendment. She is as determined as anyone else that the problem of under-age drinking should be attacked and the purchase of alcohol by youngsters restricted as much as possible.
I do not think it necessary to repeat that, if this amendment is pressed, the Bill falls, whatever may be the particular virtues of the amendment. However, I am happy to undertake that the Government will consider carefully this rather more stringent measure in the context of the intended review and revision of the 1976 Act and, if appropriate, will bring forward suitable amendments in the context of the Government's legislation to which I referred at Second Reading. In the meantime. I suggest that there would be no good reason to prevent this Bill's rather more limited provisions reaching the statute book. However, I appreciate that my noble friend may not be satisfied with the undertaking to deal with it at a later stage.
§ Lord Harris of Greenwich
I note what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate said in the final few sentences of his reply, but I should like to make one or two observations on what happens if this Chamber passes an amendment to this Bill.
I have objected to that line of argument from Ministers of different political persuasions over the years. If we are to take it seriously, it means that this Chamber can never pass any amendment to any Private Member's Bill coming from the House of Commons. I find that wholly unacceptable. The whole purpose of this place is to act as a revising Chamber, and in that situation I very much hope that we will not hear such arguments again from the Government Front Bench.
Lord Campbell of Croy
The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, continued on the point I made earlier but, if I may say so, has not quite understood the point I was making; that the Bill is coming so late to this Chamber. Fortunately, in most cases Private Member's Bills come to this place in time for us to make any necessary changes and there remains time for the Bill in the other place. I want to make that clear. It is because the Bill has come here late that we are in this position.
While I am on my feet, I should like to ask for further elucidation from my noble and learned friend on what he has just said. In another place the Government announced, in reply to a Written Question a few weeks ago—I hope I have translated this correctly—that further legislation on Scottish licensing is likely in the coming Session of Parliament. Governments do not have to and usually 1094 avoid giving an undertaking to bring in a Bill in the next Session, but in this case I believe the wording was quite clear and that there is an undertaking. Perhaps my noble and learned friend can confirm that.
§ Lord Fraser of Carmyllie
My noble friend is too wily a fox in these matters. Indeed, there has not been quite the express undertaking or the lines that he seems to believe. Nevertheless, there has been a clear indication given by the Secretary of State for Scotland that he is reviewing these matters and that he intends to legislate at an appropriate moment.
§ Baroness Seear
The Committee will correct me if I am wrong; but perhaps I may put this point. Is it not true that if this Bill falls because it is thought to be not properly put together and therefore not achieving its object, and if the Government do not produce their own Bill, there is nothing in the world to prevent a noble Lord from launching a Private Member's Bill on precisely the same lines the minute we return after the Recess?
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
I thank all Members of the Committee who have joined in this debate. I particularly thank my noble and learned friend for what was not exactly an undertaking, but an indication that when the Government legislate on this subject they will try to produce a Bill that is stiffer, which will make it more difficult for young people to buy drink in large supermarkets. I am sorry to say to the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, that I do not think it would be proper, in the light of what has been said by several very experienced Members of the Committee, to allow this Bill to go on to the statute book unamended and in such an unsatisfactory condition. The scheme would not work. That is the opinion of everyone except I believe for two Members of the Committee who have spoken and perhaps the Government. I am not sure. I hope that the Committee will support me if I divide the House.
§ 2.57 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 38; Not-Contents, 20.1095
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Addington, L.||Jenkin of Roding, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Killearn, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Bessborough, E.||Longford, E.|
|Blatch, B.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Marley, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Mayhew, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Butterworth, L.||Monson, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Munster, E.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B. [Teller.]||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Cowley, E.||St. Davids, V.|
|Cox, B.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Falkland, V.||Seear, B.|
|Hacking, L.||Somers, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Young, B. [Teller.]|
|Dundee, E.||Peston, L.|
|Fraser of Carmyllie, L.||Phillips, B. [Teller]|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L|
|Henley, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Kirkhiil, L.||Stallard, L. [Teller.]|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Long, V.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Macaulay of Bragar, L.||Young of Dartington, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 3.5 p.m.
§ [Amendment No. 3 not moved.]
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)
I should say that if Amendment No. 4 is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendments Nos. 5 to 21 inclusive because they will have been pre-empted.
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 1, line 14, leave out subsection (3).
§ The noble Lady said: I have already spoken to the amendment at some length. It is an amendment to leave out Clause 1(3) which creates authorisation points and provides that anyone who fails to take alcohol to an authorisation point before going to the till commits an offence. I beg to move.
§ 3.8 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 35; Not-Contents, 22.1096
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Addington, L.||Kagan, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Killearn, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Blatch, B.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Marley, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Mayhew, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Monson, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B. [Teller.]||Munster, E.|
|Colwyn, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Cox, B.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. [Teller.]|
|Hacking, L.||Seear, B.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Somers, L.|
|Jenkin of Roding, L.||Young, B.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Henley, L.|
|Carter, L.||Kirkhiil, L. [Teller.]|
|Dundee, E.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Fraser of Carmyllie, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Long, V.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Macaulay of Bragar, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Stallard, L. [Teller.]|
|Peston, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Phillips, B.||White, B.|
|Pitt of Hampstead, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.||Young of Dartington, L.|
|Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ [Amendments Nos. 5 to 25 not moved.]
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 26:
Page 2, line 21, column 2, at end insert—
|"Selling alcohol other than at a point of sale designated for that purpose.||Yes||Yes||level 3 on the standard scale").|
§ The noble Lady said: This amendment is consequential, as I believe I explained at an earlier stage. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees
If Amendment No. 27 were to be agreed to, I should not be able to call Amendments Nos. 28 and 29. I now call Amendment No. 27.
Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 27:
Page 2, leave out lines 22 to 29.
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment is consequential. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 28 and 29 not moved.]
§ Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.
§ Remaining clause agreed to.
§ House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.