Don’t tie boards to immigration

Proposals to link alcohol licences to immigration checks slammed

The legislation is currently before the UK parliament and could tie boards to immigration

By Jack Walsh

LICENSING lawyers have slammed draft immigration proposals that would link the granting of alcohol licences to immigration checks, saying such a move would harm the operation of already overworked licensing boards.

Under the draft Immigration (Alcohol Licensing and Late Hours Catering) (Scotland) Regulations 2018, which is currently before the UK parliament, licensing boards would be required to take into account an applicant’s immigration status when considering applications for a personal or premises licence – and would have to refuse any applications by individuals not legally entitled to work in the UK.

And where boards receive a personal licence application, they would be required to give notice of it – together with a copy of the application – to the Secretary of State (Home Office); according to the draft legislation, the Home Office could then respond within 21 days and block personal licence applications if it “is satisfied that granting the licence would be prejudicial to the prevention of illegal working in licensed premises”.

Jack Cummins of Hill Brown Licensing criticised the draft legislation, stating that licensing boards should not be treated as an extension of the Home Office. He told SLTN: “I think it’s quite wrong to use licensing as a means of enforcing other legislation.

“I’m aware that – not surprisingly – hard-pressed licensing board clerks, with limited resources, are less than pleased that they’re effectively being seconded to the Home Office to assist in the enforcement of immigration legislation.”

Audrey Ferrie of Pinsent Masons also criticised the proposals.

She said the Home Office “is using licensing authorities to do their work for them”, adding, “I am also unsure what mischief the regulations are designed to address”.

Taking a similar stance, licensing lawyer Janet Hood said if the proposed legislation was to be enacted, it “is going to have a massive implication on the work to be carried out by licensing boards”  and “will slow up application periods – at no fault to boards”.

The draft legislation, which is similar to law that came into force in England and Wales last year, will take effect on the 21st day after the day it is passed; a date is yet to be set.