HL Deb 19 June 2003 vol 649 cc970-2

64 Schedule 4, page 118, line 2, at end insert—

" An offence under section 1 of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 (c. 29) (false trade description of goods) in circumstances where the goods in question are or include alcohol."

65 Page 119, line 7, at end insert—

"( ) section 107(3) (infringement of copyright by public performance of work etc.);"

66 Page 119, line 19, at end insert—

" An offence under either of the following provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990 (c. 16) in circumstances where the food in question is or includes alcohol—

  1. (a) section 14 (selling food or drink not of the nature, substance or quality demanded);
  2. (b) section 15 (falsely describing or presenting food or drink)."

67 Page 119, line 19, at end insert—

" An offence under section 92(1) or (2) of the Trade Marks Act 1994 (c. 26) (unauthorised use of trade mark. etc. in relation to goods) in circumstances where the goods in question are or include alcohol."

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I beg to move that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 64 to 67. Under the Bill, applicants for personal licences will be required to reveal whether they have been convicted of any relevant offences. Relevant offences are those listed in Schedule 4 to the Bill and include offences under the Bill itself. I have a list of the offences, but I shall spare the House the list, since it is in the Bill.

Under Clause 118, if an applicant has been convicted of one of these relevant offences then the licensing authority will be required to notify the chief officer of police and, if he is satisfied that the granting of the licence would undermine the crime prevention objective, he must issue an objection notice. This would lead to a hearing, unless all parties agreed that a hearing was unnecessary, at which the licensing authority could decide to grant the application, or reject it if it believed that this was necessary to promote the crime prevention objective. Applicants for personal licences will only be required to reveal unspent convictions. When any personal licence holder is convicted of a relevant offence by a court in England and Wales, it will be open to the court to order the forfeiture of the licence or its suspension for up to six months. In deciding whether to order such a forfeiture or suspension. the court will be able to take account of any previous conviction of the licence holder for a relevant offence.

Amendments Nos. 64, 66 and 67 would make the substitution of alternative brands of alcohol, including spirits, one of the relevant offences listed in Schedule 4 to the Bill. "Spirits substitution" as it is commonly known in the industry covers such acts as "tipping" by licensees of alternative cheaper, sometimes bootlegged spirits into branded spirits bottles for resale to the consumer in on-licensed premises. The arguments in support of adding these offences include the fact that it probably costs consumers £20 million a year; that it costs the Exchequer £1 million to £5 million a year; and public health because counterfeit spirits could give rise to serious risks to health. Substitution and counterfeit legislation is enforced by trading standards and environmental health authorities and is prosecuted without apparent consistency under the Food Safety Act 1990, the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and the Trade Marks Act 1994.

The penalty imposed on successful conviction is usually a fine of between £50 and £1,000. Currently a conviction has no impact on the justices' licence to sell alcohol that is held by the offender. There is no official communication between the prosecuting court and the licensing justices. By including these offences as relevant offences the court will now be able to order the forfeiture or suspension for up to six months of the personal licence and will be required to notify the licensing authority.

Amendment No. 65 would make the public performance of a work, knowing that it will infringe copyright, a relevant offence in the list of offences in Schedule 4. During Report stage in this House and in response to concerns, the Government tabled amendments to the Bill which were accepted, and now make certain offences under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 relevant offences for the purpose of the Bill. The offences that were included were chosen to deal with the particular concerns which industry had expressed. However, following further representations from the music industry, the Government believe that the list of copyright offences omits one important provision; namely, Section 107(3) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which provides that: Where copyright is infringed (otherwise than by reception of a broadcast or cable programme)—(a) by the public performance of a literary, dramatic or musical work. or lb) by the playing or showing in public of a sound recording or a film, any person who caused the work to be so performed, played or shown is guilty of an offence if he knew or had reason to believe that copyright would be infringed". This is sometimes considered as a possible cause of action by trading standards officers and the Performing Rights Society—for example, against a pub operator who is knowingly using a juke box supplied and filled with counterfeit CDs. It would help the film industry in actions against pub operators showing pirate films. This would make it clear to the offenders that premises licensed for the provision of regulated entertainment or the supply of alcohol are not easy targets for activities that infringe copyright or performer's rights.

The Government have listened to the industry. Amendment No. 65 underlines how seriously we take the issue of copyright infringement. It will ensure that those who wish to be personal licence holders under the new regime will be subject to scrutiny as a result of committing these offences and should ensure that they are deterred from doing so.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 64 to 67.—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

Baroness Buscombe

My Lords, I rise to support the amendments, particularly those relating to copyright.

On Question, Motion agreed to.