§ 7.9 p.m.
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 Inglewood.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The VISCOUNT HOOD in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Suspension Order]:
Lord LUCAS of CHILWORTH had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 13, after ("committed") insert ("or any other licensed premises within the area of the appropriate licensing authority").
The noble Lord said: As Amendment No. 2 standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Inglewood is in substance
very similar to that which is in my name I do not intend to move my Amendment, with the reservation however that, in the event of the Committee not agreeing with the proposals contained in that Amendment, I have the opportunity to bring the matter to your Lordships on another occasion.
§ 7.10 p.m.
Lord INGLEWOOD moved Amendment No. 2:
Leave out clause 1 and insert the following new clause:—
.—(1) Where a court by or before which a person is convicted of an offence commited on licensed premises is satisfied that in committing that offence he resorted to violence or offered or threatened to resort to violence, the court may, subject to subsection (2) below, make an order (in this Act referred to as an "exclusion order") prohibiting him from entering those premises or any licensed premises within the licensing district where the offence was committed.
(2) An exclusion order may be made either—
- (a) in addition to any sentence which is imposed in respect of the offence for which the person is convicted; or
- (b) notwithstanding the provisions of sections 2, 7 and 13 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973 (cases in which probation orders and absolute and conditional discharges may be made and their effect), in addition to a probation order or an order discharging him absolutely or conditionally but not otherwise; and shall have effect for such period, not less than three months or more than two years, as is specified in the order.
§ The noble Lord said: I think it is the normal experience of Private Members introducing a Bill into one or other House of Parliament that they come to a stage when the experts query their drafting; they say that it is defective, so defective in fact that the adjectives "clear" and "precise" cannot honourably be attached. I think it is better in those cases to respond to the experts, as I have done on this occasion, and hence this long Amendment No. 2. Your Lordships will agree that precision and clarity are always important, and especially so when, as we are doing here, we are creating a new offence.
§ The Amendment needs just a little explanation although in fact it is not much more than a re-wording of Clause 1 as originally printed. First of all, you will see that the words "suspension order" 1236 have been deleted and the words "exclusion order" inserted. I feel sure that that is right because the word "exclusion" appears in the Title to the Bill, and we do not want suspension orders confused in any one's mind with suspended sentences. Secondly, your Lordships will see that an exclusion order can now be made in addition to a probation order. That may well be a suitable occasion to make an exclusion order, and there was doubt in the original drafting whether that was possible. Also at the end of subsection (2)(b) there are words which make it clear from which date an exclusion order is taken to run.
However, there is one difference which is much more important. In the Bill the exclusion order was limited to prohibiting a convicted person from entering the premises on which the offence had been committed. This redraft repeats that power given to the courts and adds a second but permissive power: an exclusion order may be made to apply to any licensed premises within the licensing district where the offence was committed. That seems only common sense. A court in cases like these, whether it is a Crown Court or a magistrates' court, is surely capable of exercising discretion as to whether a sentence excluding a person from licensed premises should more appropriately exclude him from all licensed premises in the licensing district, or the one where the crime was committed. The geography of this country is not uniform. In large towns the situation is entirely different from that in the country. It has been put to me that this punishment by an exclusion order can be made much more uniform as between town and country, small town and big town, by the addition of the words
or to any licensed premises within the licensing district".
These words have the support of the licensed victuallers and also of the managers. Today I have received a telegram which will leave no one in any doubt about their feelings. They say:
Licensed house managers in Britain endorse your very practical Amendment to the Licensing (Exclusion) Bill; signed Shindler, National Secretary".
That could hardly be clearer. The licensed victuallers, too, have confirmed with me that, though they would like wider powers, the Amendment that I am pro-
posing would be acceptable to them. They would have preferred a wider exclusion, but, if I may put it this way, half a pint is better than no beer. Limiting the power of exclusion to one licensed house does not amount to very much. I wonder what the magistrates sitting in court and considering this problem would think. It is not for me to put words into their mouths, but I am sure they would prefer to have the discretion.
§ Now we come to the question of enforcement. It is no good our creating offences, by small Bills any more than by big ones, if we are also creating difficulties of enforcement. There is, of course, the question of identification, but I am told by the licensed victuallers that they do not anticipate any difficulty on that score. In fact, they say they know them all already over quite a wide area, and there are some parts of the country where it is already the practice to draw up an unofficial blacklist. They say that this will be no problem at all compared with some other difficult problems they have to face.
§ We then come to the problem of enforcement, and that is something shared between licensees and police. As I have said, the licensees say they have no problem, and they are the ones who are affected first because they see the excluded person coming into their house. I have taken the trouble to consult police of all ranks in different parts of the country, and I have met no police officer who has over-emphasised the difficulties of this. Some have said there will be problems of identification, especially for a young constable and there could be some confusion between the situation where a police constable is called to aid a licensee evicting a trespasser and where he comes into a licensed house under this Bill to deal with a man who has actually committed a criminal offence, albeit a small one.
§ I went further than this. I will not say where, but I went out not long ago with a very experienced police officer whom I have know for some time. He was in plain clothes, and we went to a large and very rough place. We walked the course, as it were. We did not in fact lay our hands on anyone, but we walked the course, going through all the motions of the licensee and the constable called in under these circumstances. Neither of us 1238 thought that the difficulties were so very great, unless, for example, a police constable had to go into a public house where there were 700 football supporters milling around, when it would be quite impossible for police, short of a big number, to extract the few troublemakers out of a big public bar.
§ I hope, therefore, the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, will not say that the police official view sees problems under the Bill which they would prefer to avoid. We all know that the police are the essence of caution, even more cautious than the Home Office. It is for the noble Lord to assess the weight of their views.
§ I would hope that the police in this case will agree with me that it will not take long, if this Bill becomes law with the Amendments in the form now before us, before this becomes an accepted routine.
§ The present position for police entering licensed premises is extremely vague, and it depends as much on policemanship, if I can use that word, as on simple understood rules of law. This Amendment makes the position of the police clearer, as I said on Second Reading, and hence is to the advantage of the police. This Bill had—and I hope I am in order in referring to this—a very rapid passage through another place, but, as was said on Second Reading, it was right and proper for us to explain then and now what it sets out to do, because we are creating another offence. We have, I am sure, support for the Bill on both sides of both Houses of Parliament. We have support from the licensees. I should like to think that we also have support from the police. With such backing, the Bill can go from this House to the other place and speedily become law. I beg to move.
§ The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Boston of Faversham)
It might be helpful if I were to intervene now and say a word or two about the Government's view of this Amendment. For the most part the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, is unexceptionable in the Government's view, and in many respects it clarifies the power to make an exclusion order. I would join him in the way in which he has commended that particular term to the Committee as being a very helpful one indeed. I should also like to interpose at this juncture a 1239 point which I emphasised in my speech on Second Reading and which is also relevant to this Amendment and this clause; namely, that the Government recognise and share the deep concern of the trade bodies to ensure that their members are protected from violence among customers of licensed premises. The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, has presented his arguments in his customarily attractive way. Therefore, it pains me not to be able to recommend to your Lordships acceptance of all the elements of his Amendment.
As regards the Amendment itself the Government take the view that what it does not do is to take fully into account the position of the licencees themselves. As it is presently drafted, the personal property and trading rights of a licensee could be adversely affected. The imposition of an exclusion order on someone who is a licensee's close acquaintance or even a member of his own family, is possible under the terms of Clause 1, and I believe that that element needs further study with a view to our considering a further Amendment on Report. What we have in mind is the possibility of making a provision for the licensee to have a say in the making of an exclusion order and to apply to the court for it to be terminated if the circumstances since the imposition of the order have changed. That difficulty would, of course, be exacerbated, in my submission by extending the range of establishments to which an exclusion order would apply.
As the sponsors of the Bill will know, the Government have expressed serious reservations about the enforceability of a power to ban people from public houses. I think that that is known. So far as the police arc concerned, I am sorry not to be able to take up immediately, and in the terms in which he expressed them, the comments which the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, made about the police. We also have made some inquiries and I am sorry to say that I am unable to go along with the noble Lord in the way that he has presented their views. The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Metropolitan Police, whom we have consulted, also regard such a power as unnecessary against the background of existing powers which they consider adequate. But, enforceability—and this, I think, is the 1240 point to emphasise as regeards the Amendment—is at the heart of the matter.
The extension proposed, while not going so far as the national coverage provided for in the Bill as introduced in the other place also raises the problem of enforcement. A licensing district can contain a great many licensed premises and the problems of licensees being unable to identify excluded persons are, in our view, considerable and loom large. There can be no enforcement of an exclusion order unless the licensee knows whether a person who enters or who attempts to enter his premises is subject to a ban. A list of names of banned people would be of little use, in our view, and even the addition of photographs would not make the task much easier as there is no certain proof of identity. A licensee would hardly be able, in the normal course of business, to scrutinise each customer or even each customer whom he thought looked suspicious, and check him against his list. A licensee would have to be very confident of his ground to avoid the problems which might follow from mistaken identity.
It is true that the Amendment would allow the courts to be selective in applying the ban, but I submit that we must address ourselves to the question: on what basis could that selection be made? I believe that it would not be prudent to expect the courts to be able to impose a ban related to a range of licensed premises with such precision that its enforceability would not be open to doubt.
There is also the problem that the excluded person would not be likely to know the boundaries of the licensing area or might not know all the public houses included in it. That difficulty could, of course, be solved by the provision of a list of the premises concerned, but it is questionable whether that would overcome the enforcement difficulties.
Therefore, my advice to the Committee is that, in view of the potential difficulties we envisage for licensees, it would be right to have Clause 1 as it stands for the present, in the knowledge that the Government will bring forward an Amendment for consideration on Report. As noble Lords will know, so far as the general view of the Government on this Bill is concerned, it is as indicated on Second Reading, one of neutrality. But, for the 1241 reasons that I have given, I recommend the Committee not to agree to the Amendment as proposed.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I should like to address myself to that part of my noble friend's Amendment which deals with the number of licensed premises to which an exclusion order might apply. I recognise that there is a dilemma, that the original text in another place provided for an exclusion order covering the whole country and that that was considered, for the type of reason that the noble Lord has given, to be impracticable and unenforceable. On the other hand, if the exclusion order can apply only to one public house, then in certain areas it could be hardly any penalty at all. Someone who has been excluded from that public house could simply walk into another one which could be at the other end of the street.
I congratulate my noble friend on piloting the Bill through the House because I think that the principle of the Bill has universal or very widespread approval. In my view, he appears to have found a satisfactory solution between the two extremes. The exclusion order which he proposes in the Amendment may apply within the whole of a licensing district. It does not have to do so: it could be restricted to one public house. However, it could also, if the court decided, apply to all of those within a licensing district.
The noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, has put forward some objections in his immediate reaction to the Amendment of my noble friend. First, he has asked us to consider enforceability and the difficulty of knowing the borders of a licensing district. I agree that persons may not be familiar with them in some areas, or could not be expected to be familiar, but that situation could be provided for, as my noble friend has said, by a list.
I must point out to the Committee that geography plays a part. Perhaps I may turn to the part of the country where I live. In the Highlands of Scotland, it is quite normal for a public house to be the only one for about 20 miles, and if someone is excluded from that it could be a very heavy penalty. In other parts of the country, in cities, towns or built-up areas, 1242 exclusion from one public house could mean very little because there could be several licensed premises within walking distance of the one from which the person has been excluded. But the important point is that the Amendment of my noble friend is permissive. It allows the courts in the different areas to do what they think is fit and appropriate in their areas. For example, where there is difficulty about the boundaries of a licensing area, where there is a multitude of licensed premises and great difficulty in identifying a person who has been excluded, that might be a situation where the court would say that either there should be only one public house covered or the whole licensing area should be covered. Certainly this Amendment allows the court itself to take this decision in its own area. It must be a decision which can be taken by the people on the spot, who would recognise the strength of the kind of difficulties which the noble Lord has put forward.
It appears to me that my noble friend and the Government seem very close to agreement; there does not seem to be very much between them. Therefore, I was glad to hear that the noble Lord was in any case undertaking to table an Amendment on report. Unless my noble friend has a chance to see that Amendment and to consider it when it has been tabled, he cannot tell whether or not it will be satisfactory to him. However, I hope that there can be further discussions before the next stage, because some of this has happened in fairly recent hours, including the telegram, about which my noble friend has informed the Committee. Therefore, I hope that there can be further discussions before the Bill comes before us at the next stage, because I believe that there is ground here for an agreed Amendment in due course.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Lord WILSON of HIGH WRAY
For some years I was the chairman of a licensing Bench, not so far from the residence of the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. Naturally, I was extremely interested when he introduced the Bill. I took the opportunity of discussing it with a senior police officer and with the past chairman of the local branch of the Licensed Victuallers' Association, who was also a licensee. We were all agreed that the noble 1243 Lord's original Bill was practical, but we questioned its usefulness.
We then came to what I think is the main point before your Lordships' Committee—that is, can we extend the ban to licensing areas? The senior police officer I consulted said that in rural areas this could probably be done. He said that there they know most of the awkward customers and the ban could probably be enforced. However, I have no experience of built-up areas—of Merseyside, Humberside, Newcastle, Birmingham or London. It would appear to me to be almost impossible to enforce this ban in these very large areas.
In my particular part of the country, South Cumbria, we get football supporters and others who are jovial and well liquored-up making a disturbance and then departing. Nothing much can be done about it if they have assaulted the landlord or the barmaid, or broken the place up. I can only support what has been said, and agree that this matter requires very serious consideration. Both the police officer and the retired chairman of the Licensed Victuallers' Association thought that, with amendment, existing law could be adapted to cope with the situation.
We must appreciate that a landlord is not obliged to serve anyone. I could go immaculately clad and stone cold sober to the bar at the Savoy or somewhere like that and ask for a pale sherry, and the barman could say, "I will not serve you". He need not say, "I am sorry, I cannot serve you"; he can just say, "I will not serve you". There is nothing I can do about that; I simply have to turn round and walk out. Some time ago I was in the private bar of my local pub—which I visit from time to time in spite of my Quaker ancestry—and I heard a man come in. He spoke with a slight foreign accent, and said, "I want a quarter bottle of whisky and a large cider, please". The landlord looked at him and asked, "How did you come in?" The man replied, "Through that door". So the landlord said, "Right, turn round and go out through that door". An enormous amount depends on the landlord. I sometimes wonder whether the licensed victuallers and the breweries are sufficiently fussy about the class of landlord they elect.
1244 The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, has said that the licensed victuallers are fully in favour of the Bill. However, I believe that there are good landlords and poor landlords, and that even if the Bill becomes law, there will be poor landlords who will continue to serve people who are as we say in the North-west, "on the block". When I was chairman of the local licensing Bench I had to address the licensees at the annual licence session—we used to call it the Brewster Sessions. I said, "If you get the awkward customers —and you all know them in your areas—put them on the block". They sort of agreed, but there were always some licensees who would not agree and who would serve such people.
The licensees have a responsibility which is not reflected in the literature which they have circulated and the telegram which they have sent to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. Therefore, I can only suggest that this matter be considered very carefully indeed from all points of view, particularly from the point of view of whether existing legislation cannot be modified to supply all that is necessary.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Baroness HORNSBY-SMITH
I listened to the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, and sincerely hoped he would say that deep thought had been given and compromise reached by the licensed victuallers, who naturally feel very strongly about this. An immense amount of discussion, consultation and compromise must have taken place in order to bring about a measure which we thought the Government could reasonably accept. However, I have no doubt that the Home Office does not want this Bill and would prefer to keep the status quo.
There have been three successive conferences of licensed victuallers and licensed managers, and each has asked for this Bill. A resolution was passed at the Trades Union Congress asking for terms in a much stronger form than are in the Bill. If we are to believe that those same licensees as reported through the Home Office, are now anxious not to have the Bill or are frightened that they cannot carry out its terms, they must have been quite idiotic for the last three of their 1245 conferences. I simply do believe that the view expressed by the Home Office advisers reflects the views of the licensing trade as a whole, which has to meet these people face to face.
The noble Lord mentioned just now that many licensees are very good at handling awkward customers. But last week I happened to go to a charity function and I ran into an old friend who is himself the owner of a country pub. He asked me how this Bill was getting on. His friend next beside us said, "What are you worried about, George? I have yet to see the drunk you cannot cope with." May I tell your Lordships that George is a fine figure of a man and in his younger days was a very handy amateur boxer. But he came out with the crucial difference. He said, "Oh, yes, if it is only fists I will hold my own with the next man, but if an undersized little runt is coming at me with a broken bottle which he is holding by the neck I cannot grab his shoulders. He has got a six inches to 12 inches longer reach than I have. If I try to grab his shoulders then I have either a face full of glass or have my throat cut."
There have been three years of campaigning at successive conferences. The noble Lord did less than justice to the serious telegram which my noble friend and I received today after a meeting of their executive, which is an acceptance that their total ban is not practical and, as responsible people, they have accepted the compromise. I have no doubt that they genuinely endorse it. We have heard about these reservations. How would they identify? I find Lord Boston's worries about this quite unconvincing. We have a fine police force, and they are not dim-witted.
First, the assailant in a pub is unlikely to be disguised, unlike a bank robber who may wear a balaclava and a mask. Are we to say that you do not chase them because you cannot identify them? Within the pub there will normally he witnesses. If the truculent person is the last person out, there will still be staff there. Frequently they will be personally known to the assailant, and they themselves will know him well, and there will be authentic identification. Eye-witnesses talk around the district. Further, in such serious cases the court proceedings will undoubtedly be reported in the local press. You 1246 could bet your last dollar that they will be well reported in the Morning Advertiser, the publicans' paper, and in the Licensed Victuallers' Journal, and every publican will know.
The cases are not so numerous that listing them will place a burden on the police in the stations in a licensing area. Unlike the noble Lord who has just sat down, I live in a densely populated metropolitan area; in the licensing area of the City of Westminster. Knowing people in another place many years ago, I had to pilot through the Street Offences Bill, the prostitutes Bill. Your Lordships should have seen the card indexes that the police stations had. They included far more habitual prostitutes than will ever appear as violent offenders under this Bill. If we got a dozen in London it would be well above the national average for this type of offence.
I feel strongly about the weight of support of staff and licensees. Remember, this matter was raised by staff members at the TUC conference and it was endorsed. I believe that it should not be virtually destroyed, and no due consideration given to this practical and compromise Amendment. We hear so often about how the Home Office wants to reduce violence. I believe that the Home Office, by refusing what is a practical and fair compromise, will certainly destroy the confidence of that section of the community affected by this Bill that they really mean what they say about reducing this type of savage and mindless violence.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Lord AUCKLAND
We are living in an age of violence. I have no particular interest to declare so far as this Bill is concerned except that I have at least two relatives who are involved in the licensed victuallers' trade. I have consulted them. I have also visited the licensed victuallers' national homes in Buckinghamshire, and have not only discussed measures appertaining to my noble friend's Bill but also seen some photographs of publicans who have been injured not by fisticuffs but by broken bottles, broken glass, and so on. These are particularly nasty injuries. Some have caused partial or total blindness, and many other disabilities.
We have to look at this not only from the point of view of the publicans or that of 1247 the magistrates, but from the consumers' point of view. Most people going into public houses are law-abiding citizens. I imagine that the number of people who commit offences of violence, whether in punch-ups or worse, is very small. But if one gets an epidemic of this sort, no matter how large or how small, there are a number of areas where the publican will obviously lose business. That is very unfair.
I readily accept that enforcement is a problem. My wife is a magistrate and she sits on the local licensing committee. All the public houses in the area of Surrey where I live are frequently inspected. I do not think that there are many cases of violence. If there are, the magistrates deal with them as severely as the law allows. But, as my noble friends have pointed out, the fact is that the present situation is getting intolerable. Violence is increasing, particularly among some of the younger people. One gets motor-cycle gangs going into public houses, particularly at weekends. They are not necessarily under the influence of drink but they behave in a threatening manner which may not necessarily he terrifying to the landlord of the pub, who may be quite a tough character himself, but one has to remember that in some cases the staff may be quite young people and in some cases they may be girls. It is very unfair that they should be subjected to this kind of treatment.
It may be that my noble friend's Amendment is not word perfect, but I think that it is necessary to tighten up the law. The present powers which the magistrates have may be all right so far as a single, local public house is concerned, but, with all their modern technology and techniques, there must be means of identification by the police, and I ask the Minister to look at this matter again to see if the law can be tightened up to deal more strongly with this issue than can be done now.
§ Lord LUCAS of CHILWORTH
I have always thought that modest laws such as those embraced in this Bill were for the protection of society; in this case they are for the protection of those who serve society—landlords and their assistants—and I can find no objection to the suggestions made by my noble friend Lord Inglewood in the Amendment.
1248 If the Government wish to show some concern for the licensee, they must accept the views, limitations and responsibilities which licensees have accepted in endorsing the Bill and the Amendment.
I can see no great difficulty about enforceability because if a ban is put on a hooligan from a football crowd, it is not difficult, I am informed, for the police in the patch to identify him. In fact, it is surprising how often he is identified hovering on the outskirts wanting to get in. I therefore thought the Minister was adopting a soft option on this point. We charge licensees with being able to distinguish an under-aged boy or girl, and I do not know how they do it. They make a challenge and if they are sensible licensees they make it politely and take with a pinch of salt the answer they get, or do something about it.
The number of people who are likely to be excluded will be small. The same challenge, in the knowledge of what the answer should be, can be made by a responsible licensee or his staff. I see no difficulty about that whatever. I see no difficulty in the excluded person being identified in a patch, be it a patch in the Highlands of Scotland which reaches out 20 miles all the way round, in suburbia or in a city. The police forces which look after the various patches are most competent at identifying and registering offenders and potential offenders.
If the area is not enlarged in the way suggested (it might be a geographical area, but the licensing area seems sensible) then, when a person is excluded from one pub—and it is reasonable to suppose he will look for his refreshment somewhere nearby—it is more than likely that adjoining publicans will decide that in no way will they accept in their houses somebody who has had a conviction and is the subject of an exclusion order. They may take the law into their own hands, as it were.
Much has been written and said on television and in the Press about the job of the bouncers, and there is much concern about the bouncer, who is in some respects a part of the private army system. My fear is that, unless we make a law and give our authorised law officers the opportunity to deal with these matters under the cover of the law, we shall get more of this private institution law enforcement, and that cannot be of benefit to anybody. 1249 I was rather disappointed with some of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of High Wray; I hope he will forgive me if I did not hear him aright. He suggested, I believe, that landlords were perhaps not all as they might be. That may he so, and it could be said of almost any profession, but it does not mean that they should not have the full protection of the law. From my conversations with some of them, what has been suggested is what they want. They see no difficulties and if they are asking, as my noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith said on more than one occasion, for the law to be strengthened so they can ensure that their houses are orderly and are places where ordinary people can go to enjoy themselves, the Home Office should, under the provisions of this Bill, find ways of meeting any objections. That is what should he done, rather than looking for ways to reject what, as is quite obvious to noble Lords in Committee tonight and to the House when the matter was discussed on Second Reading, is required. No noble Lord has objected to a tightening up of the law or to this type of provision being made. I therefore hope that before Lord Inglewood decides what to do about the Amendment, the Minister will give further reassurance that positive ways will be found to meet what noble Lords are seeking.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, for the kind remarks he made about me, but I fear I cannot thank him for the arguments he adduced. I thought they were exceedingly weak and I hope that after a good sleep tonight and upon reading tomorrow's Official Report, he will see that all the pressure from all quarters of the Committee has justification. The language noble Lords have used tonight may have been moderate, but there is clearly great strength of feeling that something should be included in the Bill over and above restricting an exclusion order to refer to a licensed house only. What I have tabled seems reasonable to me and to many, but I will not press that against other halfway house solutions that might be put forward.
I did not wholly follow all the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of High Wray, my one-time constituent and twice my opponent at General Elections, though 1250 I think on balance this time he was my supporter. If, as Lord Boston said, he will do his best, between now and Report, to find a new form of words for Clause 1 which makes an effort to come some way towards our point of view, I would respond to him here and now; but if it is a case of rewording the new clause as printed on the Marshalled List, leaving out the words have included about the licensing district, and substituting nothing in its place, then I am sure noble Lords will want to divide on the Report stage. I hope, however, that the Minister will indicate that he wishes to come towards us if he can. I believe we all want to find common ground and that the division between us is not great. I am happy to see Lord Boston nodding in assent.
I should like to refer to what the noble Lord says about the police, and I hope that he will go hack to them and ask them to look more carefully into the advice that they have given him, following what has been said in the debate. It is a well-known argument among police forces, not only in this but in all countries, that on the smaller questions suggestions that come from anyone whom they call a politician must be resisted. When it comes to the professional questions, they are always out for more men and more power, but on the smaller questions they generally say that their powers are adequate.
I said gently in my earlier speech that where a police constable is called to licensed premises where there is someone whom the licensee does not want on the premises, the law is not clear. A solution depends rather on the skill of mature constables, and what one might wish to call "policemanship", such as is practised by long-serving constables, who in this country are becoming rarer and rarer.
I turn to the question of identity. I do not know whether the noble Lord had police advice on this matter, but I wonder whether he was exaggerating the difficulties of identifying the few people likely to he involved. Anyone who has been in a police station at about 10 o'clock at night, when men on night duty are being briefed, will have seen the rogues gallery on the walls of various rooms; and perhaps he goes into the collater's room too and sees lists and rows of photographs of local 1251 villains—far more numerous than excluded persons would ever be under the Bill. Often the sergeant in detailing men for duties at 10 o'clock refers to a lad in the district who has lost his driving licence and has recently been seen driving. He tells the men to look out for him and mentions the registration number and type of vehicle in which he might be seen. He may say that any officer who does not recognise the lad will find his picture on the wall. Such problems of identification are far more complicated than any which could arise under the Bill, and they are being handled—and handled successfully —every day. I put that point to the noble Lord opposite without any fear of contradiction.
The noble Lord, Lord Boston's arguments are not good enough. I believe that the noble Lord is as anxious as we are to find some common ground. I hope that he will tell us now that he does not have a wholly neutral position, but rather shares with us a wish to try to do something against the ever-increasing wave of violence. I should then be prepared to ask the Committee for leave to withdraw the Amendment. However, I must reserve my position and that of my noble friends so that if at a later stage we consider that the acceptable minimum has not been included in the Bill, we can settle the question by testing opinion in the lobby.
§ Lord BOSTON of FAVERSHAM
I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, for that invitation. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and other noble Lords have suggested that there may be a possibility of exploring the position further in order to see whether there is any way of finding common ground. That is a very constructive approach. Clearly, there is in the Committee concern about this problem, and it would be quite wrong of me not to seek to respond in an equally positive way to the suggestion that the noble Lord and other noble Lords have made, to the effect that we can perhaps get our heads together and see whether we can satisfactorily resolve the problem. I should certainly be happy to do that. I bear in mind the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, that if the outcome of further considerations was not thoroughly satisfactory, the matters which are now before the Committee 1252 would presumably have to be put to the test at a subsequent stage. However, I would hope that in responding to the constructive suggestion in an equally positive way it might be possible to find the common ground which we all seek.
If I said earlier that I could not thank the noble Lord for most of his first speech, I can now say that I thank him most warmly for the generous way in which he has just responded to us. I believe that, like us, the noble Lord wants to find a solution to the problem. He has said that he will look into it with us, and in the light of these assurances I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 [Penalty for non-compliance with suspension order]:
§ 8.5 p.m.
moved Amendment No. 3:Page 1, line 15, leave out ("fails to comply with the terms of a suspension order") and insert ("enters any premises in breach of an exclusion order").
The noble Lord said: We come now to Amendments which are much simpler than the one which we have just been discussing, and I do not think that the Committee need take much time in dealing with them. Amendment No. 3 is concerned simply with the language of the matter. It attempts to improve the clarity of the language, because in view of the fact that a breach of an exclusion order constitutes a criminal offence, it is important that there should be no doubt at all as to what in fact constitutes such a breach. In substitution for the words in the Bill,
fails to comply with the terms of a suspension order
we suggest that there should be inserted the words
enters an premises in breach of an exclusion order".
This is quite clear, and I hope that the Amendment will have the support of noble Lords. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.1253
§ 8.7 p.m.
Lord INGLEWOOD moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 1, line 18, leave out from ("both") to end of line 19 and insert—
("(2) The court by which a person is convicted of an offence under subsection (1) above shall consider whether or not the exclusion order should continue in force, and may, if it thinks fit, make an order terminating the exclusion order, but an exclusion order shall not otherwise be affected by a person's conviction for such an offence.")
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment is slightly more complicated than the last one. It removes from the penalty provisions in relation to a breach of an order the alternative of imposing a further suspension order for a period not exceeding two years; and that I believe is wise. If a man who is subject to an exclusion order is prone to break the order it could easily lead to bringing the law into contempt. One order could be followed by another order and then by yet another. It would be much better to have a different penalty —a fine and possibly even a custodial sentence.
§ It is also necessary to provide for what should happen to an existing order if there is a breach; should it be allowed to run its course or should it be terminated? Subsection (2) of the clause enables the court to address itself to this question. If it thinks that it has no further purpose it can end it, or it can allow the order to run its course. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord LUCAS of CHILWORTH
In view of the fact that we are dealing with the amended clause, I believe that I have the opportunity to ask the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, exactly what he meant when he referred earlier to the licensee having some say in the imposition or the termination of an exclusion order. The amended clause gives the courts adequate powers to do a number of things dealing with an exclusion order. I am not quite sure what the Minister meant in his earlier remarks when he referred to exclusion orders and the role that a licensee may play in that matter, and I should like to ask him for a further explanation.
§ Lord BOSTON of FAVERSHAM
I ask the Committee to forgive me for not going into very much detail on this matter because it is the subject of closer examination and so I am not able to give precise details. However, the basic point that we had in mind here is that it would probably be unwise, or might be unwise, for a licensee not to have at least the opportunity to put before the court his own representations while the court was considering the making of an exclusion order, so that they had before them all the circumstances which they may wish to take into account in deciding whether or not, and to what extent, to make that exclusion order. What we had in mind there was really a protection for the licensee, to ensure that at least he had that opportunity to make representations. There may be certain other, slightly more detailed considerations behind this thought, but that was the basic thought. 1 hope that may be of some help to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth.
§ Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ 8.11 p.m.
Lord INGLEWOOD moved Amendment No. 5:
After Clause 2, insert the following new clause:
—(1) In this Act—
licensed premises" means premises in respect of which there is in force a justices' on-licence (within the meaning of section 1 of the Licensing Act 1964); and
licensee" in relation to any licensed premises means the person who holds a justices' on-licence for those premises.
(2) Where a court makes an exclusion order or an order terminating an exclusion order, the clerk of the court, or the appropriate officer of the Crown Court, as the case may be, shall send a copy of the order to the licensee of the premises to which the order relates.
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment, again, is an attempt to make the Bill more clear. It defines "licensed premises", and it seems sensible so to define licensed premises as to leave out off-licences, wine shops and the wine and spirit counters of supermarkets, since the offence of drunkenness with violence is more likely to be committed in those straightforward licensed premises known as a "pub" than they are in a supermarket. It seemed clearer to limit the extent of the Bill in this way, and to define "licensee" to conform.1255
§ The second provision in this Amendment puts an obligation on the clerk of the court or on the appropriate officer of the Crown Court, as the case may be, to send a copy of any exclusion order to the licensee of the premises to which the order relates. That will help over the question of identification, of which I feel, without wishing to be too repetitive, the noble Lord opposite has made rather heavy weather. I beg to move.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
I should like to add my support to the first part of my noble friend's Amendment. By reducing the number of licensed premises to which an exclusion order would apply I think he has assisted the Amendment to come, we hope, which we discussed earlier on Clause 1, because it reduces the number of licensed premises to which an exclusion order would apply within a licensing area. I think most of us are satisfied that the kind of incident to which this Bill would apply is not one which is likely to arise in an off-licence shop or other off-licence premises. We are unlikely to see housewives running amok with broken bottles and attacking the shopkeepers; and I am sure this Amendment is to be welcomed.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 3 [Penalty for non-compliance with further suspension order]:
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?
I should like to propose that Clause 3 be omitted from the Bill because it is no longer necessary. We have agreed in Clause 2 penalties other than extending an exclusion order or making further exclusion orders, because, as we said, a man who breaks one is likely to break others and bring the law into disrepute. In these cases it is very much better to rely on the penalty of a fine such as the offender will notice, or, in extreme cases, on the 1256 custodial sentence for which provision is made. This is in no way a weakening of, of withdrawing from, the position in which we stood when this Bill was originally drafted, but it does seem to be an unnecessary power, bearing in mind the earlier provisions in the Bill.
§ Clause 3 disagreed to.
§ Clause 4 [Short title and extent]:
Lord INGLEWOOD moved Amendment No. 6:
("(2) This Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland.").
The noble Lord said: This makes it look as if we were a bit slack in the original drafting. We had included the words,
This Act shall apply to Scotland".
I am now advised that it applies to Scotland in any case, and that it is not necessary to spell it out as we did. But it is necessary to spell out whether or not we wish the Bill to apply to Northern Ireland; and I submit to your Lordships that for two reasons it would be unwise to attempt to extend this Bill to Northern Ireland. The first is that, because of the unhappy times through which Northern Ireland is now going, I think it is quite inappropriate for us to do any such thing as to cause this Bill to extend across the water to them. Secondly, if one did wish to extend this Bill to Northern Ireland, I think the first step, which has not been taken, would have to be prolonged discussions with the authorities in Northern Ireland to see exactly how they thought it could work, what were its merits and so on. In those circumstances, I hope your Lordships will agree that we should leave out the words which would apply this Bill to Scotland and should insert in their place:
This Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland".
§ I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.
§ House resumed: Bill reported with Amendments.