§ 90A.—(1) A wholesaler or his employee or agent who barters, sells, or exposes or offers for sale alcoholic liquor shall be guilty of an offence unless—
- (a) he does so from premises which are used exclusively for wholesale trading (whether solely of alcoholic liquor or not); or
- (b) he does so from licensed premises, a licensed canteen or a registered club during the hours in respect of which it is lawful to sell alcohol by retail from or in these premises, that canteen or that club.
§ (2) A wholesaler or his employee or agent who sells alcoholic liquor to a person under 18 shall be guilty of an offence.
§ (3) A wholesaler or his employee or agent who causes or permits a person under 18 to sell alcoholic liquor without that sale having been specifically approved by a person of or over 18 shall be guilty of an offence.
|"Section 90A(1)||Dealing wholesale other than from permitted premises||Yes||—||level 5 on the standard scale|
|Section 90A(2)||Wholesaler selling liquor to person under 18||Yes||—||level 3 on the standard scale|
|Section 90A(3)||Wholesaler permitting person under 18 to sell alcohol without approval||Yes||—||level 1 on the standard scale".'|
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
The new clause seeks to remedy an anomaly that has arisen in the control of the wholesale of alcohol. The Finance Act 1981 removed the excise licence requirements for wholesalers of alcohol and repealed the provisions contained in section 94 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 with the effect that wholesalers of alcohol are no longer subject to any controls. Thus, anyone can call himself a wholesaler and sell alcohol in quantity without requiring a licence. The licensed trade, licensing profits and the police have expressed concern about the present position.
We have consulted wholesale and retail interests, the Law Society and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the possibility of introducing appropriate controls, including restrictions on the sale of alcohol to and by persons under 18. All those who responded agreed that there should be controls over wholesale of alcoholic liquor.
We have, however, no wish to impose unnecessary restraints on the great majority of entirely respectable wholesale operations, but we recognise that the present statutory provision leaves it open to people to deal in wholesale of alcohol from unsuitable premises, such as garages, or to existing licencees to circumvent the restrictions of their licences—for example, by trading in wholesale quantities on Sundays. In Committee there was unanimous opposition to our proposal that off-licences be permitted to open on Sundays, and we therefore consider it right that we should close the loophole which permits wholesale on Sunday under existing statute.
The new clause creates an offence for a wholesaler, his employee or agent to barter, sell, expose or offer for sale alcoholic liquor unless he does so from premises exclusively used for wholesale trading or from licensed premises, a licensed canteen or a registered club during the hours when it is lawful to sell alcohol by retail in these premises, that canteen or club.
§ (4) Section 67 of this Act (penalties for offences) shall apply in respect of offences under this section as if references in that section to a licence-holder were references to a wholesaler.
§ (5) Section 71 of this Act (defence of due diligence) shall apply to any person charged with an offence under this section as if the reference in that section to a licence-holder were a reference to a wholesaler.
(6) In this section,
licence-holder" includes the holder of a licence under Part III of this Act; and
wholesale" and "wholesaler", insofar as they relate to the sale of alcoholic liquor, have the meaning given in section 4(1) of the Alcoholic Liquor Duties Act 1979 in relation to dealing in alcoholic liquor.".
§ (2) In Schedule 5 to that Act, after the entry relating to section 90(c) there shall be inserted—
§ —[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]
§ The new clause makes provision in subsections (2) and (3) for it to be an offence for a wholesaler, his employee or agent to sell alcohol to anyone under 18, or to permit the sale of alcohol by anyone under 18 without the sale being specifically approved by someone over 18. Subsection (4) applies the penalty provisions in section 67 of the 1976 Act, which apply to a licence holder, to a wholesaler, and subsection (5) applies to a wholesaler the defence of due diligence provisions in section 71 which applies to a licence holder. Subsection (6) defines the terms "licence holder", "wholesale" and "wholesaler" which appear in the new clause. Sub-paragraph (2) inserts into schedule 5 of the 1976 Act, which lists the penalties for offences against the provisions of the 1976 Act, the new penalties contained in subsections (1), (2) and (3) of the new clause.
§ Mr. Wilson
This is an astute and well drafted clause, as one would expect of the Minister, and we wholly support it.
§ Mr. Allan Stewart
I warmly congratulate the Minister. An important loophole has been closed. There was a real problem of abuse, and I hope that the House will agree to the new clause.
§ Mr. McAllion
As the Minister said, the new clause makes it an offence to sell alcohol to people under 18 in certain designated places. It also makes it an offence for someone under 18 to sell alcohol in such places, but it does not make it an offence for such a person to consume alcohol in these places.
As the Minister knows, Dundee district council has instigated a campaign against under-age drinking and has pioneered new byelaws under which it prohibits the consumption of alcohol in designated public places. The council is campaigning for the Government to legislate to make it an offence for under 18-year-olds to consume alcohol in public places. Will the Government listen sympathetically to the council's request and look for the earliest possible opportunity to introduce such legislation?
§ Mr. Harry Ewing
I thank the Minister for his sensible decision to withdraw new clause 13. New clause 14 makes 1145 much more sense, closing, as it does, the Sunday loophole to which the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) referred.
The measure relates primarily to cash-and-carry establishments between Monday and Saturday. I reiterate what I said in Committee about the wholesale selling of alcohol and the retail selling of alcohol by or to persons under 18 years of age. We shall solve the problem only when we introduce provisions that make it compulsory for supermarkets and cash-and-carries to sell alcohol separately from all other goods. People purchasing alcohol should be served separately: the people on the check-outs are far too busy to see whether the person passing through the check-out is over or under 18. I would not blame them if an offence were committed, because they are under tremendous pressure. We should do the same with alcohol as we do with tobacco. One cannot select one's own tobacco; one must be served with cigarettes and tobacco in a supermarket or wholesale outlet. We should deal with the under-18 problem more firmly.
§ 9 pm
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
There are three trial schemes for experimental byelaws operating in Scotland now. In the light of the success or failure of the schemes, which will be reviewed in due course, we shall consider taking the matter further.
I give way to the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), as I know that he is interested in this matter.
§ Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)
I hope that the Minister will agree that I have not taken up too much of his, the Committee's or the House's time during consideration of the Bill. The Minister was kind enough to give me an interview when I was making representations on behalf of Monklands and Strathkelvin district councils, both of which were interested in the scheme and would have liked to have been the subject of the experiment.
The Minister has said that, in the three districts where the experiment is taking place, developments are being monitored. He presumably hopes that he will soon be able to make a decision on its success or otherwise. How soon can we look forward to that? Even at this stage, is he in a position to say whether the exercise has been productive or otherwise?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
It will be a few months before I am in a position to say that. However, I shall look into the matter and write to the hon. Gentleman, because I know that he is very interested. The nearest of the schemes is in Motherwell, which is not far from his own constituency.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time and added to the Bill.