Morality Based Licensing…Scottish parliamentary committee hears about the effects of arbitrary state censorship laws used to control lap dancing in England

Posted: 18 January, 2015 in Scottish Parliament, Strip Pubs
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The Scottish Parliament Scotland’s new Licensing (Scotland) Bill iscurrently being discussed by the Scottish Parliament. A committee invited Professor Phil Hubbard, whohas been following such issues, to speak about the experiences in England where similar control laws have been in place for some time.He spoke of the expenses incurred by councils when their morality based decisions to ban table dancing clubs are formally challenged in the courts.

Hubbard noted that a one-size-fits-all policy for all Scottish councils would prevent the farcical situation in England and Wales where one council’s decision to refuse a strip club licence can be successfully challenged – at great expense to the council – because a neighbouring council is more liberal.

National guidelines should be set on licensing fees – which range from £300 to £26,000 down south – and the amount of nudity permitted on show, he told Holyrood’s Local Government Committee.

National guidelines were backed by the women’s anti lap dancing campaign group,  Zero Tolerance.

But the strip clubs’ trade association warned against central government imposing a draconian regime on councils, arguing that the ban on religious comedy Life Of Brian in Glasgow or the ban on cult French porn movie Emmanuelle in some rural cinemas demonstrates the diverse moral sensibilities in Scotland’s communities which should be respected.

Hubbard said:

I think the introduction of the Police And Crime Act 2009 in the UK was by and large farcical in terms of the way it was allowed to proceed.

What we have in England and Wales is a situation that I would like to see avoided in Scotland, where we have a licensing regime for these establishments in one local authority but not in a neighbouring one.

Fees for these establishments range from £300 to £26,000.

We have a situation where some local authorities will ban nudity and others will not.

The whole situation has led to a whole range of appeal cases and litigation in which legal unreasonableness and inconsistency have been raised as valid concerns, and some of these appeals have been upheld.

It has created a great deal of anxiety, expenditure and time for local authorities who have been left to evolve policies of their own.

He didn’t appear to mention much about the suffocating uncertainty and the effects of arbitrary moral censorship on businesses trying to make a living.

  1. TonyN says:

    Interesting as the whole farce that is the Scottish strip scene had the raids looking for trafficking which produced no trafficked dancers. Als reading Phil Hubbards own words on his blog make interesting reading when you see what has made it to press.