HC Deb 02 December 2003 vol 415 cc40-1W
Mr. Mark Field:

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) when she will next meet representatives of local government to discuss the fee arrangements for the licensing system; [141629]

(2) whether full cost recovery through the Government's designated licence fee structure will include the cost of enforcement and administration of the new licensing regime; [141630]

(3) how her commitment to ensure the costs of the new licensing system are fully covered by fees will be achieved; [141631]

(4) if she will make a statement on the underlying analysis and financial models which provided the basis for the fee structure for the new licensing arrangements; [141632]

(5) what discussions she has had with other Government Departments about the costs of the Licensing Act 2003; [141633]

(6) if she will make a statement on the effect of the full cost of recovery on local authorities under the new licensing arrangements. [141634]

Mr. Caborn:

A regulatory impact assessment setting out our estimates of the fee levels and the underlying analysis was published with the Licensing Bill in November 2002 and placed in the Library of the House. No final decisions have been made about the fees to be prescribed under the Licensing Act 2003, and we are presently considering carefully information and material provided by representatives of local authorities before making those decisions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has met representatives of local authorities to discuss fees, among other things, and my predecessor with responsibility for licensing reform, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), also met representatives on several occasions to discuss these matters. My officials have been discussing fees, among other things, with representatives of local authorities since November 1999. These discussions have now been completed and we hope to announce shortly the fees that the Secretary of State intends to prescribe under the 2003 Act, though we will continue to meet representatives of local authorities to discuss other matters relating to the implementation of the new legislation. We have repeatedly given assurances both in the House and to representatives of local authorities that the fees will be set at a level which permits recovery of the full costs of administration, inspection and enforcement to local authorities associated with the licensing functions under the 2003 Act. The Secretary of State has also agreed with representatives of the local authorities to allow an independent review of the costs of the new licensing regime and the fee levels after the end of the transitional period, and if any changes are necessary, they will be made. All interested Government Departments were involved in discussions with my Department about the preparation of the regulatory impact assessment and my officials have more recently had discussions about fees with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Before making final decisions on the fee levels, we intend to have further discussions with all interested Government Departments.