Licensing Act

Mark made the following interventions in a debate on the Licensing Act:

Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster, Conservative)

I apologise for intervening so early, but having sat on the Bill’s Standing Committee, and as the legislation affects central London, where there are many licensed premises, I must say that we had significant objections to what it was trying to achieve in the first place. We wanted to see streamlining and cost-effectiveness, but our biggest concern at the time was that the legislation had not been properly thought through and that unfortunately it was driven more by the objective of obtaining large moneys for the Labour Government from the large-scale alcohol and entertainment industry.

Anne Begg (Aberdeen South, Labour)

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that he is making an intervention, so he should keep it short and make his point briefly.

Mark Field

I shall, Miss Begg, and I take your point, although I believe there are another 147 minutes to go. My point is that many of us had grave concerns about the legislation, and I am afraid that they have been borne out, as the Committee’s excellent report shows.

Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster, Conservative)

At the time, much of the publicity about the legislation focused on 24-hour drinking, and my hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that there has not been an explosion in 24-hour drinking and that most licensed premises have not gone down that route, but does he agree that the bigger concern, which has been borne out in the five years since the legislation came into force, relates to the rights of local residents? In areas that may not have had many licensed premises before, residents’ interests have been put in a much more secondary position than under the old regime, when licensees had to go to a magistrates court for licensed premises permission.

John Whittingdale (Maldon & East Chelmsford, Conservative)

As I said, I have spoken in the past to the local residents my hon. Friend represents and I recognise that they have particular concerns, which I fully appreciate. It would be worrying if the legislation has made it more difficult for them to register those concerns.