HOUSE OF COMMONS
Special Standing Committee
LICENSING (AMENDMENT) (SCOTLAND) BILL
OTHER MEMORANDA AND LETTERS SUBMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE
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not later than
Wednesday 21 February 1996
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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:—
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)
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:—|
Have you tried drugs? 45% Yes
|Answering yes||Of all pupils|
|Have tried drugs once||18||8|
|More than once||59||27|
|Other than alcohol, tobacco or medicines prescribed by your Doctor, list which drugs:—|
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%|
Have you ever been offered drugs? 65% Yes
|At what age were you offered?|
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% Yes4
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:-
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:-
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:
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.