Licensing Act 2003 (UEFA European Football Championship Licensing Hours) Order 2024 Debate

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Department: Home Office
Friday 24th May 2024

(2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Moved by
Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom
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That the draft Order laid before the House on 8 May be approved.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Sharpe of Epsom) (Con)
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My Lords, this summer the UEFA European Football Championship will take place in Germany. Happily, both the England and Scotland men’s national teams have qualified to take part. Therefore, I am before your Lordships today to propose the extension of licensing hours if either England or Scotland, or indeed both, reach the semi-final on 9 and/or 10 July and the final on 14 July.

The Secretary of State is allowed, under Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003, to make such an order to relax opening hours for licensed premises to mark occasions

“of exceptional international, national, or local significance”.

As I hope your Lordships will agree, the progression of England and Scotland, or both, to the late stages of the competition would represent just such an occasion. Should that happen, people will want to come together in celebration and support of the home nation teams.

The extension will apply to premises licences and club premises certificates in England and Wales, which license the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises. These premises will be allowed to remain open until 1 am without having to notify the licensing authority via a temporary event notice, as would usually be the case. This contingent order only covers sales for consumption on the premises after 11 pm. It does not cover premises that only sell alcohol for consumption off the premises, such as off-licences and supermarkets. Premises that provide late-night refreshment—the supply of hot food or hot drinks to the public between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am—but do not sell alcohol for consumption on the premises will not be covered by the order. Such premises will only be able to provide late-night refreshment until 1 am if their existing licence already permits this.

The Home Office conducted a public consultation, which ran for 12 weeks. Over 80% of respondents agreed with the extension on the three proposed dates and that it would apply to England and Wales. The consultation received responses from numerous trade organisations that were in favour. However, it would be remiss of me not to mention that the police are not in favour of extending licensing hours, given the potential for increased disorder. Police deployments and resources are of course operational matters, but I am sure that forces will, as they have in the past, put in place plans to minimise the risk. It is also worth pointing out that this is a limited two-hour extension to licensing hours, which is a proportionate approach to mark these events.

I will make two further points before concluding. First, because licensing is a devolved matter, if either England or Scotland is successful in reaching either the semi-final or the final, the extension will only apply to licensed venues in England and Wales. Secondly, if neither of the teams reaches the semi-final, normal licensing hours will apply on 9 and 10 July. If either or both teams reach the semi-final, but neither team is in the final, normal licensing hours will apply on 14 July. There will be great interest in the upcoming tournament, which is why we have brought forward this order. Finally, I wish both the England and Scotland teams the very best of luck. I beg to move.

Lord Coaker Portrait Lord Coaker (Lab)
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My Lords, we support the SI. I will make just one suggestion to the Minister—that he make sure that the Prime Minister is fully aware of the contents, to avoid any further embarrassment in the future.

The other point that I would like to make is that I think that the Government are making a proportionate response. It is an important relaxation of licensing laws in very particular circumstances. I join the noble Lord in wishing both England and Scotland all the very best in the tournament in a few weeks’ time.

I also take this opportunity, since this is the last time I will be speaking, to thank the Minister for his co-operation in everything that he has done. I thank former Ministers who are also present, too, for the work that they did, as well as others on other Benches. I very much appreciated that. I am glad that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, is here. I have been very pleased to receive the numerous legal representations and to be informed how that all works, including understanding the difference between “minor” and “more than minor”, if he remembers.

The serious point is that there is much division, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hazarika, said in her excellent maiden speech. There are political differences, but there are also many things that we can provide for the benefit of the country by working together, which is what we all wish to see. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, for the way he has conducted himself with his fellow Ministers. I wonder if he would be so good as to pass that on to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, who before she became Government Chief Whip was also an excellent Minister. It would be remiss of me not to finish with that.

I have greatly appreciated the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Sharpe, has conducted his affairs. He is exemplary of how a government Minister should operate. Many of the Bills he has been involved with have been extremely difficult, and were I to be in his position—you never know—I suspect that others would turn round on me many of the questions that I have asked and I would then appreciate some of the difficulty in delivering a policy that we all agree needs careful attention. With that, I will finish, but I again thank the Minister very much for the way he has conducted himself. I appreciate the way in which he has conducted government business, as I know do my noble friend Lord Ponsonby and other noble Lords who have worked with him.

Lord Addington Portrait Lord Addington (LD)
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My Lords, the measure is very reasonable, and having an extra bit of time for celebration for a major event sets a good precedent. I wish both England and Scotland well—it is the wrong shaped ball for me, but hey, you cannot have everything.

I thank everybody here who has come together around certain issues and causes across the House, throughout the entire Parliament, to achieve things. It has been very valuable. I hope that nobody here gets bitten by a dog when delivering a leaflet.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom Portrait Lord Sharpe of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their support for this Motion, which, as noble Lords have said, is very important. As the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, said, much of the business of the Home Office is difficult, so it gives me pleasure that my last outing basically enables people to get properly on the lash—please drink responsibly. I wish England and Scotland all the best.

I have a few people I want to thank. I thank my noble friend Lord Murray of Blidworth, who did a lot of the heavy lifting, some months ago. His work was very much appreciated by me. I also extend my thanks to noble Lords opposite, and to the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Ponsonby, in particular, who have always dealt with me with great courtesy and respect. Together we have achieved a great deal, particularly in some tricky areas around national security. I extend my thanks to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, who, frankly, saved my bacon on a very tricky Bill, which I have not forgotten; I appreciate it.

On a personal note, I thank my private office at the Home Office, which is very ably led by my private secretary, Mya Eastwood, who is amazing. The Home Office comes in for a lot of criticism on a regular basis, but, like an iceberg, 90% of what happens is below the surface. It is done extremely efficiently by a dedicated bunch of public servants. I hold them in very high regard and think that they do us all a great service in keeping the country safe and keeping many of the things that we rely on as a matter of routine happening, and for that they do not get enough credit. I finish by saying that I wish them all the best, and keep up the good work.

Motion agreed.