HC Deb 05 December 1989 vol 163 c171W
Mr. Andy Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he proposes should be taken to deal with the problems caused by illegal acid house parties.

Mr. Waddington

The law needs to be strengthened to punish more effectively the organisers of such events. It is already an offence to provide music and dancing as a public entertainment or, if the relevant statutory provision has been adopted by the local authority, at a private entertainment promoted for private gain without a licence obtained in advance from the local authority, or in breach of any terms, conditions or restrictions to which such a licence is subject. But the penalties for these offences are so light in comparison to the profits to be made from acid house parties that the organisers can afford to ignore the law.

I have therefore concluded that magistrates should in future be empowered to impose fines of up to £20,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both, on people convicted of these offences. This will require changes to the London Government Act 1963, the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 and the Private Places of Entertainment (Licensing) Act 1967. In addition, my right hon. Friend intends to give magistrates power to order the confiscation of profits made by those convicted of organising illegal parties or allowing their land or premises to be used for them.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is today announcing the forthcoming provision of guidance to local authorities to tackle effectively the problem of noise nuisance at such events.