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Government publish response to the report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003

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Government publish response to the report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 6th November 2017

The Government has responded to the report from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny.

In a lengthy response the Government’s report said:

“While the Government rejects some recommendations and conclusions, there are several recommendations which are a spur to further work, particularly in respect to how the system of licensing can be made to function more effectively and the lessons that can be learned from the planning system. The Government is committed to working with partners, including the Local Government Association, the Institute of Licensing, the licensed trade, and licensing solicitors and barristers, to ensure that the system operates as effectively as possible.

“The Committee’s Report states that the Act requires a ‘radical comprehensive overhaul’, although it was also noted from some evidence sessions that ‘where it works, it works really well’.

“The Government does not intend to be hasty in instigating such an overhaul of the Act. However, there are a significant number of recommendations that the Government agrees will help improve the operation of the Act, for example clarifying points of practice for licensing committees by amending the statutory guidance and looking at the provision of good quality training to licensing committee members.”

View the response

A brief overview of the Government’s more significant proposals:
• In relation to the issue of amalgamating the planning and licensing systems, the Government stated: “Instead of transferring the functions of licensing committees to planning committees, we are focusing on improving training and providing stronger guidance on how licensing hearings should be conducted.

• “The Government notes the Committee’s comments on the appeals process. We do not intend to change the system so that licensing appeals no longer go to magistrates’ courts but lie to the planning inspectorate.”

• On the issue where there are no longer any matters of dispute between the parties but where a sub-committee which believes that a hearing should nevertheless be held, the Government stated: “The Government accepts that it is reasonable for a licensing sub-committee to provide reasons why a hearing should nonetheless be held even where there are no longer any matters of dispute between the parties. This will be included in the section 182 guidance and in the LGA licensing handbook when it is produced.”

• The requirement for applications to be advertised in the newspaper will not be rescinded.

• The Government has said it will not be introducing any new licensing objectives.

• EMRO legislation will not be repealed or varied.

• The Government will not be changing the rules on the 30/70 revenue split for late night levies.

• There will be no substantial changes to the current licensing committee procedures.

• Local authorities will not be granted powers to ban super-strength alcohol across many premises simultaneously.

• Local authorities will not be given new powers to themselves object to TENs.

• The Government will introduce an ‘Agent of Change’ principle in the revised section 182 guidance “to help protect both licensed premises and local residents from consequences arising from any new built development in their nearby vicinity.”

• The Government intends to make no change to the existing fees in the immediate future.

• In relation to a national database for personal licence holder, the Government said: “We consider it would be disproportionately complex, resource intensive and expensive for the Government, local authorities and magistrates’ courts to create and administer a database of all personal licences.”

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