SEV Exemption Wrong & Unfair – MPs
Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay, called on the Government to tighten the regulation of exempt sexual entertainment.
In his address, Mr Gilbert said there is a need for consistency in the application of the regulation of sexual entertainment on high streets up and down the country. The crux of the matter for Mr Gilbert is how fair the exemption is for those businesses that comply with the full licensing requirements for SEVs. Such venues comply with a large number of conditions that regulate their business for which the cost can be substantial yet a nearby property, which has failed in getting a licence, can still proceed to stage sexual entertainment in direct competition but without the relevant safeguards that the licence holder must fund.
He argued that exempt sexual entertainment is at odds with the previous Labour Government’s 2009 Policing and Crime Act that aimed to help to put the community back in control.
Mr Gilbert proposed to the Minister of State, Jeremy Browne that exempt sexual entertainment could be subject to the same stringent requirements of the SEV licence process with minimal legislative effort because the existing law allows the relevant national authority to order, amend or repeal the exemption clause without new primary legislation.
Diana Johnson, MP for Kingston upon Hull North, supported Mr Gilbert’s call for tighter regulation of exempt sexual entertainment. She said that whilst the intentions behind the Licensing Act 2003 were good, its application caused problems. There seemed to be widespread confusion as to whether a premises needed to declare adult entertainment as an integral aspect of the application and whether a council could take a position on the opening of such venues in its licensing statement. Several communities found that they could not prevent such premises from opening, and the application of the four basic licensing criteria seemed to vary extensively in relation to the opening of such establishments.
In response, the Government stated that exempt sexual entertainment is not entirely without regulation because it is still subject to control under the Licensing Act 2003. The Government is its response made it clear that it will not be looking to scrap the exemption but it will be willing to look at the exemption is subject to abuse and whether there is scope to make changes so that it is exercised in line with the spirit of what Parliament intended when the legislation was enacted in 2009.