Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm finding this hard to believe

At what point did it become possible in Britain for the state to create rules that allowed them to close down private businesses because the owners of those businesses publicly oppose a law. These people have not in fact broken a law, but "positively promote non-compliance".

The reason I ask is because up in Blackpool the Licensing Committee met on the 18th September this year to discuss the new licensing policy for 2008-2011. Under the Chairmanship of Tory Councillor, Henry Mitchell the Tory dominated committee has drafted new regulations that take into account the introduction of the smoking ban. Here is point 3.9.3 (Page 16)
3.9.3 Smoking
The licensing authority recognises that premises licence holders who do not comply with the prohibition on smoking in enclosed public places will be dealt with under the relevant legislation, and ordinarily will not be brought to its attention through the review process. Premises licence holders however, who persistently fail to comply with the legislation, and/or positively promote non-compliance should be brought before the panel on review and can expect that suspension or revocation of the licence would be the normal course of action.
Take a close look at the little section starting "and/or". What this seems to be saying is that a publican, such as Stuart Dudgeon who is vocally opposed to the ban could have his license revoked. Remember he has not broken the law, but what he has done is support somebody who has broken the law, in this case Hamish Howitt.

By vocally supporting the law breaker he puts himself at risk of losing his licence.

So my question is, did the people of Blackpool realise that they voted for a man whose political compass points to a Mugabean regard for the rule of Law? When the Tories rock up in Blackpool next week, will they feel just a little ashamed? I doubt it.

This little piece of regulation just illustrates a wider and scarier conception of what law is about. If we do not defend ourselves from it, then we will only have ourselves to blame.

Can I ask anybody who is concerned by this to write to the fat fellow who came up with this idea then email him here and ask him what the devil he thinks he is up to,


Simon Clark - Formerly The Cynical Libertarian said...

Hm, I see the problem but I'm not sure it's what you think it is.

Isn't it saying that the publican cannot encourage people to break the ban which is seperate to him opposing or voicing his opposition to the ban?

A publican might for isntance tell people they can smoke if they want but if they do not light up he hasn't broken the law but was promoting it. If he says "this ban is bollocks" that's ok.

Though I certainly agree the wording needs changing to ensure that this does not infringe on freedom of speech and, more over, the ban needs repealing and those who voted for it sacked from government.

Elaib said...

Starting from the bottom, quite.

I undertsand that the Council has now accepted that the paragraph is badly written. The problem is that it leaves the interpretation of the text to the local licensing authorities and they hate Mr Howitt and his supporters with an inconcealed passion. If they were heavy handed, then it would go to court. All very messy