House of Lords (Licensing Act 2003) Liaison Committee reports (lack of) progress by Government in implementing 2017 recommendations

The House of Lords (Licensing Act 2003) Liaison Committee has today (11 July 2022) published its report – entitled ‘The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny – Follow-up report’ (that you can download below) – that examines progress made by the Government in implementing recommendations made by the Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 in its 2017 report, ‘The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny’. By reason of its below-mentioned list of conclusion and recommendations, it may be more appropriate to say that the report “examines the lack of progress”!

In terms of background information:

The following summary of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations is set out within today’s report:


Below is a list of all of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations (recommendations appear in italics).

Coordination between the licensing and planning systems

1. The Committee is disappointed that no practical progress has been made to address the lack of coordination between the licensing and planning systems. It is clear that issues between the two systems remain and we regret that there has been no initiative from Government to take forward the work undertaken to explore solutions. (Paragraph 31)

2. The Government should work with the Institute of Licensing, the Local Government Association and other interested parties to establish a clear mechanism for licensing and planning systems to work together and communicate effectively. The Government should trial these mechanisms in pilot areas. (Paragraph 32)

3. The section 182 Guidance and Licensing Act 2003 Councillor’s handbook advice on licensing and planning systems working together needs to be reinforced and amended. The Guidance should reflect the importance of the need for coordination. Councillor training should also make clear the requirement for the licensing and planning systems to work together. (Paragraph 33)

4. The Government must consider the coordination between the licensing and planning systems in its ongoing planning reforms in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill to ensure new proposals do not further exacerbate tensions between the two systems. (Paragraph 34)

‘Agent of Change’ principle

5. We continue to recommend that the ‘Agent of Change’ principle should be adopted in the section 182 Guidance. This should be incorporated to reflect the National Planning Policy Framework as soon as possible, and at the latest by the end of 2022. (Paragraph 39)

6. The 2017 recommendation focused on the adoption of the ‘Agent of Change’ principle into guidance, however we have heard that the principle as it stands is inadequate and does not sufficiently explain the duties of all parties involved and needs to go further to protect licensed premises and local residents in our changing high streets, and to prevent continuing uncertainty and inconsistency. The Government should review the ‘Agent of Change’ principle, strengthen it, and consider incorporating it into current planning reforms in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill to prevent further uncertainty. Any changes to the ‘Agent of Change’ principle should then be reflected in the section 182 Guidance. (Paragraph 48)


7. Training is essential to support those working in licensing and create consistent and accurate decision making. We welcome the work of the Institute of Licensing, Local Government Association and Government to develop councillor training since the publication of the April 2017 report. However, this momentum needs to resume as there is no clear sense that training has resulted in improvements in the licensing system. (Paragraph 59)

8. The Committee reiterates the original inquiry’s recommendations for the Home Office to work with stakeholders to establish a minimum training standard for councillors, including a refresher training standard. This agreed minimum standard should be set out in the section 182 Guidance and councillors who are members of a licensing committee should be prohibited from taking part in licensing committee or sub- committee proceedings until this minimum standard has been met. (Paragraph 60)

9. Once the mandatory minimum training standard has been established it should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it remains effective and responds to changes and issues that occur in alcohol licensing. (Paragraph 61)

10. The Committee welcomes the developments in training for new police officers on licensing and the policing of the night time economy. (Paragraph 68)

11. We commend the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Institute of Licensing, the College of Policing and other interested parties who worked on the training package developed for police licensing officers. The training package should be implemented as a matter of urgency. The Government must ensure that this training is kept under review to ensure it reflects changes in legislation and guidance and remains effective in tackling concerns about inconsistency. (Paragraph 69)

Access to licensed premises for disabled people

12. The Committee finds the lack of progress in improving access to licensed premises unacceptable. The Committee continues to recommend that the law should be amended to require that an application for a premises licence should be accompanied by a disabled access and facilities statement. (Paragraph 79)

13. If the Government does not believe the Licensing Act 2003 is the right mechanism to bring about change, it is imperative that the Government reviews the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and in consultation with disabled peoples’ charities and organisations ensure accessibility to licensed premises is improved to enable everyone to enjoy licensed premises. The Committee welcomes the appointment of a hospitality Disability and Access Ambassador and hope this role can champion the reforms needed to improve access. (Paragraph 80)

The Night-time economy

14 The Committee reiterates the 2017 conclusion of the positive impact of the industry-led initiatives in place to support the night time economy. The Government should provide an update on any replacement to the Local Alcohol Action Areas programme within two years. (Paragraph 90)

15. If the Government is to retain the Late Night Levy, the amendments made under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 need to be consulted on as a matter of urgency and brought into force. (Paragraph 101)

16. The Committee recommends that within three years of the provisions being implemented, the Government consult local authorities, businesses and interested parties on the impact of the amended Late Night Levy. If there is not a demonstrable improvement of the impact and uptake of the Levy we continue to recommend that it be abolished. (Paragraph 102)

17. The Committee continues to recommend that local authorities consider the use of Business Improvement Districts and other initiatives to support the night-time economy. (Paragraph 107)

18. The Committee recommends that the Government undertake a formal review of the impact of MUP across Scotland and Wales and consider the Ministerial report on the effect of MUP in Scotland to assess the benefit of implementing MUP in England. The Government should complete and publish this review within one year of the publication of the Scottish Ministerial report. (Paragraph 114)

19. The Committee recommends that the Government review the effect of the proposed alcohol duty reforms on excessive alcohol consumption within three years of implementation. (Paragraph 122)

Sale of alcohol airside

20. The Committee is surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Government not to proceed with licensing airside. The Government’s response to the recent consultation does not reflect the evidence heard in the original inquiry. (Paragraph 127)

21. Due to the potential danger posed by excessive alcohol consumption airside, and the resulting disruptive incidents, the Committee recommends that the Government commits to review their decision on licensing airside within three years. (Paragraph 128)

Application systems

22. The Government’s decision to remove the GOV.UK licensing application platform without a replacement system in place would be disastrous and would result in further inconsistency across licensing authorities and thus disparities in the experience across the country. (Paragraph 137)

23. The Committee welcomes the Institute of Licensing survey to help inform the Government on the position of the current application system and the need for an alternative. (Paragraph 138)

24. If the Government intends to proceed with removing the GOV.UK licensing application platform then the Government must establish an alternative before it is withdrawn. (Paragraph 139)

National Database for Personal Licence holders

25. The Committee recommends that the Government proceeds with its proposed review of adding records of refused, suspended and revoked personal licences to the National Register of Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles Revocations and Refusals. If this approach is found not to be suitable to tackle the issues previously raised by stakeholders the Government should review the report’s recommendation to establish a national database of personal licences. (Paragraph 145)

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, who was Chair of the Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003, has commented:

Our original inquiry concluded that the Licensing Act 2003 was fundamentally flawed and needed a radical overhaul. It is now five years since we published our findings and we have not seen the progress we had hoped. We urge the Government to review our conclusions and recommendations and act now to tackle the issues that remain unresolved.

UPDATE: In response to the report, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls has stated:

This is critical time for the sector, as it strives to rebuild after the pandemic under the most challenging conditions. Therefore this review by the Lords Liaison Committee of their 2017 report, is most timely, and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to give evidence to the committee earlier this year.

The new report recognises that while things are improving in licensing and signs of more co-ordination and partnerships are emerging, some areas of inconsistency remain. We agree with the committee that licensing and planning co-ordination must be improved, and that the Agent of Change principle remains key. We also applaud the continued call to place this within statutory licensing guidance.

We support the recommendation that the Government should consult the industry and affected stakeholders on the efficacy of the Late Night Levy. Unless some meaningful benefits can be identified, we strongly believe that the Levy should be abolished as soon as practically possible to aid the sector’s recovery.

It was pleasing that the report recognised the industry’s laudable  initiatives around the safety of women and vulnerable people, and the highlighting of access for all as a key issue, an area which we are already progressing. We are working with stakeholders to find ways that will be most effective and practical to improve disability access, something which I am driving as part of my role as the Disability and Access Ambassador for Hospitality.