Posted: Monday, 24 May 2010 @ 10:21
After much speculation that the brief for licensing will be passed from the Department for Culture Media and Sport to the Home Office, there has obviously been a change of mind as the news confirms that the responsibility for licensing will remain with the DCMS.
The new Minister for licensing is John Penrose, who holds the brief for tourism and heritage, and is also the Minister for gambling. He will have to battle with the Home Office who will lead the government's much publicised tough stance on drink issues. I suspect that the government recognised that it would be appropriate to have some balance to protect the trade from an over zealous Home Office. The Home Secretary Teresa May has confirmed that there will be a "complete review" of the Licensing Act. The government's plans are for:
- a ban on the sale of alcohol below cost price, whatever that will mean
- more power for the licensing authorities and police to revoke licences
- doubling the maximum fine for sale of alcohol to children to £20,000
- allowing licensing authorities and police to "shut down permanently" any premises persistently selling alcohol to children
- allowing licensing authorities to charge more for late-night licences to pay for extra policing during the late hours
It will be interesting to see the detail of these proposals. There are already very strong powers to revoke a Premises Licence for selling alcohol to children. There is a real risk that the government are window dressing yet again for the sake of tabloid headlines. Simply providing greater funding to enforcement agencies would address the issue. There are adequate laws already, they are just not enforced. We don't need more red tape. In fact it would be better to remove the duplication introduced by the last government who were guilty of knee jerk response to every adverse headline from the Daily Mail.
Licensing Law Specialist
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