Home office minister Mike O'Brien defended the government's white paper proposals to transfer liquor licensing responsibilities from magistrates' courts to local authorities.
Diana Organ, Labour MP for Forest of Dean, said: 'The magistrates bench in Coleford in Forest of Dean is particularly concerned about the issue as magistrates do not believe that the local
authority has the expertise to deal with the matter. Moreover, my local authority in Forest of Dean is concerned about the costs it may incur should such a modernisation take place'.
Mr O'Brien said local authorities had expressed some concern about costs, but the white paper made provision for administrative costs to be met from fees. 'Local residents need some say in the way in which the licensing scheme operates. After due consideration, we took the view that the best way of ensuring that local residents had a say was for their elected representatives to play a key part in making decisions', he said.
The minister added that magistrates would continue to have an important role in the administration of licensing law and, particularly, in imposing penalties and as part of the appeals