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Flaws in the licensing system remain unresolved, says new Lords report

11 July 2022

The House of Lords Liaison Committee publishes; The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny Follow-up report.


This report examines the progress made by the Government in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003 in its 2017 report, The Licensing Act 2003: post-legislative scrutiny.

In the Liaison Committee’s report, Review of House of Lords Investigative and Scrutiny Committees: towards a new thematic committee structure, published in July 2019, the Committee recommended that the Liaison Committee (on a case by case basis) could hold follow-up evidence sessions on a former special inquiry committee’s recommendations, followed by the publication of a report. This is the sixth occasion on which this new procedure has been utilised.

Key recommendations

The Committee found that more needs to be done to ensure the licensing system is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. The Committee recommended:

  • The Government should work with key stakeholders to establish a clear mechanism for the licensing and planning systems to work together and communicate effectively.
  • The ‘Agent of Change’ principle should be adopted into the section 182 Guidance to ensure licensing guidance reflects the National Planning Policy Framework. Further to this the Government should review and strengthen the ‘Agent of Change’ principle and consider incorporating it into current planning reforms in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill.
  • The Committee reiterated the original inquiry’s recommendations for a minimum training standard to be established for councillors who participate in licensing committee or sub-committee proceedings.
  • The lack of progress in improving access to licensed premises for disabled people is unacceptable. The law must be amended to require that an application for a premises licence should be accompanied by a disabled access and facilities statement.
  • The Government should undertake a formal review of the impact of minimum unit pricing (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 recent decision not to extend the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003 airside should be reviewed within three years to ensure that disruptive incidents caused by alcohol consumption are being effectively managed by existing industry initiatives and regulation.
  • The future of the GOV.UK online licensing platform must be determined and an alternative established before it is removed.

Former Chair’s comments

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering, who was Chair of the Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003, 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.”

Further information