PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Special Standing Committee

LICENSING (AMENDMENT) (SCOTLAND) BILL

February 1996

OTHER MEMORANDA AND LETTERS SUBMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE

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1 Special Standing Committee
Licensing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

February 1996

THE FOLLOWING MEMORANDA AND LETTERS WERE SUBMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE

IN ADDITION TO THOSE ALREADY PRINTED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORT OF THE SECOND, THIRD AND FOURTH SITTINGS OF THE COMMITTEE:

Letter from the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, South West Area

Assuming that the opinions requested would be from licensing trade personnel, I met with Messrs. Neil Russell, President, and Stewart Clarkson, Vice President, Ayr and District Licensed Holders Association. Their respective addresses are Neil's Off Sales, Main Street, Prestwick, Ayrshire; and Parkstone Hotel, Ardayre Road, Prestwick, Ayrshire.

The meeting approved the introduction of the Bill, and all three clauses thereof. In regard to the Board setting conditions in Clause 1, the meeting requests that all such conditions set by a board should carry the right of appeal to the Sheriff.

Submission by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association

We are grateful to have the opportunity of making comment on the Licensing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill. The Bill contains proposed legislation on Licensing conditions for raves and Composition of licensing divisions.

We appreciate the situation regarding 'Raves and Young People' is difficult and contentious, but the Bill does appear to give sufficient powers to Licensing Boards to endeavour to counteract some of the operating problems.

Hopefully, Licensing Boards will not follow the pattern which ensued the introduction of Children's Certificates, whereby we have in Scotland a wide variation of patchwork regulations for those wishing to operate such Certificates. Naturally Licensing Boards must be given the powers to make recommendations suitable for their own areas but we do hope these will be drawn up with fairness in mind, and with an attempt to make the conditions realistic and reasonable to operate.

Our principal concern is that 'Raves' taking place outwith regular Licensing Premises, particularly in temporary venues i.e. marquees, should also be brought in line with the same stringent requirements as those to be operated within licensed premises. It would be sad if there was a movement from legitimate purpose-built venues to the aforementioned.

We shall watch the progress of the Bill and any amendments tabled, with keen interest.

2

Submission by Oban and District Licensed Trade Association

I understand that the Scottish Special Standing Committee is considering evidence on the above and I write on behalf of the Oban & District Licensed Trade Association in support of the Bill for the following reasons:—

  • The Bill makes provision for reducing the size of a Licensing Board and mis should allow me new Council to decide upon four Divisional Boards for the new Argyll & Bute Council area.
  • One of these Boards will be based on Helensburgh and will avoid the need for Licensees and their Agents drawn from that area to travel to Dunoon or Rothesay for the four quarterly meetings.
  • A second and third Board will be based in Dunoon/Rothesay and Lochgilphead.
  • A fourth and new Division will be based in Oban avoiding the need for those from Oban, North Argyll and the Islands of Mull, Tiree, Colonsay and Coll to travel to Lochgilphead in Mid Argyll.
  • Under the present Legislation the size of a Board would be too large to allow four Divisional Boards in Argyll to be operated at reasonable cost and with reasonable efficiency.

    It is clearly important that this small Bill is given urgent attention in the hope that it may be given the Royal Assent early in the life of the new Councils—I am sure you will appreciate that the first Licensing Boards under the new Councils will be those in June 1996 and the administrative arrangements for those meetings will require to take place immediately the new Councils take over on 1st April.

    As further evidence of support from the Helensburgh area I enclose a copy of the letter which was written by the Area Manager of Strathclyde Area of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association to the Clerk of the Local Board on 13th December 1995.

    Annexe to Submission by Oban and District Licensed Trade Association:

    Letter from David Morgan, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, to Lorn, Mid Argyll, Kintyre and Islay Divisional Licensing Board

    Cardross, Helensburgh, Rhu, Arrochar Etc. Licensees

    Due to Local Government Reform the above area will move out of Dumbarton into Argyll & Bute.

    At a recent Annual Meeting of Members of the Dumbarton Area of the Stratiiclyde Licensed Trade Association, we discussed a proposal on the possibility, when the New Boards sit next April, consideration may be given to provide a Local Licensing Board within the Helensburgh Area.

    On behalf of our members within the Area, we would strongly back up the proposal mat has already been submitted by the Oban & District Licensed Trade Association, seeking four Boards to cover the 4 separate Districts.

    We would welcome the opportunity of further discussion with you whenever is appropriate.

    We would be grateful mat when decisions are taken about the Area, that you keep us informed, so that the appropriate information can be passed onto our existing members.

    3

    Annexe to Submission by Calton Athletic Recovery Group (col. 36, Second Sitting)

    SCHOOLS QUESTIONNAIRE EVALUATION

    The evaluation is based on one or more visits to ten secondary schools during August and December 1995, which were attended by a total of nine hundred and eighty three pupils.

    On the subject of drugs do you consider yourself to be:
    Poorly informed 8%
    Reasonably informed 68%
    Well informed 23%

    Have you tried drugs? 45% Yes

    % %
    Answering yes Of all pupils
    Have tried drugs once 18 8
    More than once 59 27
    Regularly 23 10

    Other than alcohol, tobacco or medicines prescribed by your Doctor, list which drugs:
    Cannabis 38%
    Speed 16%
    Acid 16%
    Temazepam 10%
    Ecstasy 9%
    Magic Mushrooms 3%
    Valium 2%
    DF's 2%
    Heroin 1%
    Cocaine 1%
    Methadone 1%
    Temgesics 1%

    Have you ever felt pressurised to try drugs because:

    Friends egged you on 20%
    You were at a social occasion 24%
    As an experiment 34%
    To be one of the crowd 13%
    Experiencing personal problems 5%
    Boredom 4%

    Have you ever been offered drugs? 65% Yes

    At what age were you offered?
    Age %
    8 1%
    9 1%
    10 5%
    11 8%
    12 14%
    13 26%
    14 25%
    15 15%
    16 5%

    Have you ever used drugs in school?

    13% of all pupils

    29% of those having tried drugs

    Have the workshops increased your knowledge of the subject:— 88% Yes

    4

    Could you still be easily influenced into taking drugs? 17% Yes

    Did the speakers put across the full message? 98% Yes

    Did the speakers readily listen to your contributions? 98% Yes

    Which workshop had most impact?

    If you use drugs is there a risk they will control your life? 56% Yes 29% No answer

    Do you think that a talk on the dangers of using drugs is more believable when it comes from recovering addicts? 86% Yes

    Did teachers not being present help you to be more honest and open on the subject of drugs? 79% Yes

    Submission by the British Hospitality Association

    The British Hospitality Association represents the hotel, restaurant and catering industry which employs some 2.5 million people nationwide. The Scottish Division of BHA is active and comprises a major component of the tourism sector within Scotland. As such, the Chairman of BHA Scottish Division, Mr. Paul Murray-Smith, expressed disappointment and concern that BHA was not on the list of consultees.

    The BHA Scottish Commmittee welcome a review on this area of the Law and appreciates the non-political nature and concerns of Members of Parliament and the public on the issues raised. The Association does however, perceive a number of practical difficulties in the proposals as currently made. In particular:-

  • A number of Licensing Boards in Scotland (13 out of 56) do not have any bye-laws at the present time and no obligation nor duty is imposed on such Boards to make bye-laws. The making of bye-laws is not easy and is time consuming for any Board.
  • Concern has been expressed by members that the word "event" is not defined and could reasonably be interpreted as relating to events regularly provided in our members establishments, including inter alia, wedding parties, birthday parties, regular functions of every description including music and dancing, discotheques and nightclubs within hotels, and indeed it would appear to encompass all activities involving music and dancing that are or could be carried on at our members establishments.
  • It is felt important that normal activities carried out by our members within licensed premises in terms of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 should be specifically excluded from the provisions of the legislation. The Association, believes that the provisions of Section 38A(3)(d) could easily mean that many Boards will exercise their discretion in an unreasonable manner and a blanket application of unnecessary bye-laws imposing restrictions could and would seriously impede the normal operation on members businesses. In addition there may be significant cost implications for our members and hence the public whom they serve.

    5

    The Bill appears to be directed at licensed premises but it is noted that the majority of raves are normally held outwith licensed premises, and that these may or may not be covered by Public Entertainment Licenses in terms of The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, Section 41. In the event of regulations being introduced it is felt strongly that a core set of regulations should be included in the legislation to ensure consistency and fairness across the whole country even if local Boards have a discretion to add to these to meet particular circumstances of a rave being held in their area. Has consideration been given to the fact that "raves" are fashionable at the present time but could easily be replaced by something similar and that without a definition of event it may be relatively easy for someone to circumvent this type of legislation?

    Concern is also expressed by the Association that the wording of Section 38A (3)(d) effectively condones illegal drug taking, this is perhaps an important principle which should be reconsidered.

    The great majority of the Association members are respectable, responsible licensees, they do not condone the taking of drugs but are concerned about the practical implications for their businesses of the proposals unless suitable exemptions are built into the Legislation.

    We are happy to provide further information or submissions if required.

    Submission by the Scottish Drugs Forum

    Scottish Drugs Forum is a charity with core funding from the Scottish Office. The Forum is a national umbrella organisation with a wide-ranging membership from the drugs field in Scotland. While the Forum's overall goal is to reduce the harm caused by drug use, it has the following aims which are to:-

  • Facilitate the development of a comprehensive range of services to meet the needs of drug users and their families in Scotland.
  • Work towards improving the quality of services to drug users.
  • Provide opportunities to develop and promote common responses to issues of concern.
  • Facilitate the co-ordination of services concerned with problem drug use.
  • Collect and disseminate information of relevance to those concerned with drug problems in Scotland.
  • Represent the interests of those directly affected by drug use at local, regional and national levels.
  • The work of Scottish Drugs Forum deals predominantly with issues around the use of depressant drugs (heroin, methadone, temazepam etc.) and it is this drug use which continues to cause the greatest concern.

    With regard to the proposed Licensing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, SDF was recendy called, along with Crew 2000 and Enhance, to provide oral evidence for the Special Standing Committee. Many of the following issues were raised at this time.

    "Recreational" drug use, (usually non-dependant and relatively un-problematic to the user) has increased significantly in prevalence amongst young people since the late 1980s. Widespread amongst young people from all social classes, "recreational" drug use has found its 6 way into mainstream youth culture, where experimentation with illicit substances is becoming the norm rather than the exception. It is in the light of such increased prevalence of "recreational" drug use, and on the recommendation of me Ministerial Drugs Task Force that this post of National Development Officer (Recreational Drug Use) was created.

    As expressed by a member of the Special Standing Committee in Stirling, the Licensing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, as it stands, offers licensing boards the option to attach conditions to a license as it sees fit. This could potentially result in a lack of uniformity in the interpretation of the Bill, with each board approaching the situation differently. Subsequently, the possibility of introducing uniform mandatory minimum standards was explored. This suggestion is supported by SDF, Crew 2000 and Enhance. The challenge will be to introduce sensible, easily implemented minimum standards which will truly make a difference across Scotland as a whole, whilst allowing room for the flexible implementation of further desirable measures in accordance with circumstances pertaining at any individual venue or event.

    Some may see the curtailing of dance events as synonymous with a reduction in drug taking, whilst believing that the phenomenon of "recreational" drug use is peculiar to the dance music (house, techno, "rave" ...) scene. However, "recreational" drug use is a "youth" phenomenon rather than a "dance" phenomenon and is widespread within other sections of youth culture. If certain youth scenes are singled out as being exclusively associated with drug use, and certain events are prevented from occurring legitimately due to this perceived association, there is a danger that certain parts of youth culture will be driven "underground" thus making intervention more difficult.

    The issues raised in "Guidelines for Good Practice at Dance Events' are relevant to any disco or club, irrespective of the kind of music being played. Particular care must be taken to avoid focusing excessively on "raves". "Raves" constitute only a small part of what is a diverse music scene. Most dance events now take place in discos and night-clubs and are rarely referred to as "raves". All clubs which attract young people are likely to attract drug users. They must all provide as safe and comfortable an environment as possible for their clientele. They must all provide free drinking water, take steps to prevent dangerous overcrowding, address excessive heat, co-operate with the police and take issues around drug use (particularly dealing on the premises) seriously.

    The increase in prevalence of "recreational" drug use amongst young people is a matter of concern. Great care, however, must be taken to ensure that the response to recreational drug use in Scotland to be credible to young people and effective. In order to do this, we believe that an appropriate response must:

  • Acknowledge that the dynamics and nature of "recreational" drug use are essentially different to those of dependant drug use. (Use of the stereotypical image of the "problem drug user" is inappropriate because it has no more relevance to the "recreational" drug user than the stereotype of the "problem drinker" has to the individual who enjoys the occasional drink of alcohol). Furthermore, "recreational" users know from experience they are not likely to die, 7 and overplaying the risk of death unnecessarily alarms parents and lacks credibility amongst the young.
  • Be pragmatic and practical, embracing the principals of harm reduction.
  • Work with and not against youth culture, recognising the value of quality peer-led drugs education.
  • Question the value of using scare tactics and the 'just say no' message which have proved to be ineffective, and in many cases, counter productive.
  • Work with parents to empower them to discuss drug issues more confidently with their children.
  • Offer credible, up to date and accurate drugs education to young people, whilst recognising that there is little evidence to say that education reduces the prevalence of drug use.
  • Drugs education is often limited by a relative lack of knowledge around the effects of certain drugs. Ecstasy, for example, throws up many questions which are as yet unanswerable. In the absence of quality research into the 8 effects of the drug, we are limited as to the quality and quantity of harm reduction information that we are able to provide. Furthermore, it is difficult to provide appropriate information to users who do not really know what they are taking. Being fully conversant in what we know to be the effects of ecstasy is of no use to someone who inadvertently purchases another drug (such as ketamine) which is being sold as genuine ecstasy.

    It is really not possible to discuss the issues around the Licensing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill without looking at the bigger picture of 'recreational' drug use in general, and at possible responses to its' increasing prevalence among the young.

    If the introduction of the Licensing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill results in reducing the prevalence of bad practice in Scottish clubs and discotheques, then it will indeed be most welcome Young people are currently being put at risk by some unscrupulous individuals who curtail water supplies, charge exorbitant prices for bottled water and fail to adequately address the issue of excessive heat.

    For more information please refer to "Guidelines for Good Practice At Dance Events" (Scottish Drugs Forum 1995). A copy is enclosed.