Government announces no hasty overhaul of the Licensing Act 2003

As we have previously reported, in April 2017 the House of Lords Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 published a report setting out its findings from its post-legislative scrutiny of the Act. That report included over 70 far-reaching conclusions and recommendations.

The Government has now published its response to the report. That response can be accessed here and downloaded below.

Insofar as further action is concerned, the Government makes it clear that it has no intention to be hasty in instigating a “radical comprehensive overhaul” of the Licensing Act 2003, as was recommended by the Committee, although it states that there are a significant number of recommendations in the Committee’s report that it agrees will help improve the operation of the Act, for example clarifying points of practice for licensing committees by amending the statutory guidance and looking at the provision of good quality training to licensing committee members.

With this in mind, instead of adopting the Committee’s recommendation that the functions of licensing committees should be transferred to planning committees, the Government intends instead to focus on improving training and providing stronger guidance on how licensing hearings should be conducted.

Whilst not disagreeing with the Committee’s recommendation that the promotion of health and well-being is not appropriate as a licensing objective, the Government makes clear its determination “to continue to support an increased focus on public health engagement with licensing”. It says that it will work with partners to identify the most effective means of responding to alcohol-related harms that cannot be addressed through further change and amendment to the Act.

Other key aspects of the Government’s response include rejection of the Committee’s recommendations that:

  • Early Morning Restriction Orders and the Late Night Levy should be abolished and
  • licensing fees should be locally set by local authorities.