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AMENDMENTS TABLED TO LICENSING (AMENDMENT) (SCOTLAND) BILL

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Government amendments are to be tabled to the Licensing (Scotland) Amendment Bill with the aim of ensuring that lic...
Government amendments are to be tabled to the Licensing (Scotland) Amendment Bill with the aim of ensuring that licensing boards are obliged to attach conditions to liquor licences for premises which are to be used for dance events, and of providing boards with as much flexibility as possible to make conditions which are appropriate to local circumstances.

This was announced by Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth in answer to a parliamentary question yesterday.

Mr Forsyth also said that the bill had benefited greatly from the scrutiny by the special standing committee.

The full text of the parliamentary question and answer are as follows.

Mr Bill Walker (North Tayside): To ask the secretary of state for Scotland, what action he will take following the Scottish Special Standing Committee's consideration of the Licensing (Amendment)(Scotland) Bill and if he will make a statement.

Mr Forsyth:

I welcome the opportunity to congratulate the special standing committee on its work. The Licensing (Amendment)(Scotland) Bill has benefited greatly from the committee's scrutiny.

The special standing committee met on three occasions, in Stirling, Ayr and Inverness, and took evidence from representations of nine bodies, including the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Scotland), the Health Education Board for Scotland, the Scottish Law Society and voluntary organisations involved in the prevention of drug misuse and the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

It also took evidence from academics, doctors and Sheriff Neil Gow QC, who conducted the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the deaths of nine young men and found that their deaths resulted from the consumption of controlled drugs at dance events held at Hangar 13 in Ayr. My hon Friend the Minister of State at The Scottish Office also gave evidence.

The main purpose of the bill, which is to give licensing boards greater power to regulate licensed premises on which dance events are held so that they are made safer for those attending, was generally supported by those who gave evidence. There was also support for the provisions in the bill intended to ensure that licensing boards remain of manageable size following local government re-organisation in Scotland.

In responding to questions from committee members, those giving evidence did, however make a number of criticisms of the form of regulatory arrangements proposed by the Bill. We have given careful consideration to these comments and have decided to bring forward amendments at commons standing committee, with the intention of responding to the suggestions made for improving the bill. The effect of these amendments will ensure that licensing boards are obliged to attach conditions to liquor licences for premises which are to be used for dance events and to provide boards with as much flexibility as possible to make conditions which are appropriate to local circumstances.

The special standing committee arrangements for examining Bills have therefore been valuable in preparing for the entry of the Licensing (Amendment)(Scotland) Bill into Commons standing committee. They have enabled the government to identify possible difficulties in implementing legislative proposals and to prepare amendments for debate at the earliest possible opportunity. They will, I am sure, prove to have been of similar assistance also to all hon members involved in scrutinising the bill at its various stages.

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