The Government has promised a detailed consultation into exemptions under the proposed late-night levy - and insisted that councils will be restrained from charging what they like in licence fees. The Government was pressed on its plans to reform licensing in the House of Lords, as a number of proposed amendments to the reforms were withdrawn or thrown out during the latest committee hearing on the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones proposed several changes to the legislation around the controversial late-night levy, which would see late-night pubs and clubs in designated areas forced to pay an extra charge. These included extending the ability of councils to determine the geographical spread of areas that would be covered by the levy, to avoid a “broad brush” approach that would force more venues away from hot spots to pay. Other amendments included ensuring that venues open just once a year won’t have to pay the charge because this would discourage late-night opening on New Year’s Eve, while another seeks reductions for venues in schemes such as pubwatch and Best Bar None. Home Office minister Baroness Browning said these amendments “pre-empt our public consultation”. “I can assure noble Lords that our upcoming consultation will consider exemptions and reductions in relation to members of business-led initiatives and special occasions. I am aware that many business-led schemes seek to mitigate late-night alcohol conditions and problems, particularly anti-social behaviour, and there will be an opportunity in the consultation period for representations from businesses that have already adopted them to make their views known.” He said the Government has “struck the right balance” the proposal. “Significant administrative and legal burdens have purposely been avoided. We have created a tool which licensing authorities can easily use. The late-night levy will be a proportionate contribution towards policing costs shared by all businesses that profit from selling alcohol in a safe late-night economy.” Concerns were raised about the apparent ability of councils to charge excessive licence fees - the Bill proposes giving them powers to charge “full cost recovery”. Clement-Jones’ labelled the wording of the Bill “extremely vague”, saying it suggests that general costs of council departments such as planning, not just licensing, should be covered by the charge. Similarly, Viscount Astor criticised the plan to force venues to pay a “reasonable share of the licensing authority’s general costs” - he predicted “endless arguments” about how these terms would be defined. He also called for a cap on fee levels to be written into the Bill. “Businesses have a real concern that some councils may charge excessive amounts based on their costs, which will be difficult and expensive to challenge,” Clement-Jones said. In response, Government spokesman Lord De Mauley said there was “no intention” that the levy will fund general local government costs such as “to help build a swimming pool” or “collect refuse”. He added: “We do indeed intend to make locally set fees subject to constraints. Specifically, we intend to make each fee subject to a nationally set cap, and we will consult on the level of that cap. However, to impose a requirement for the imposition of unspecified constraints would be both excessive and, I suggest, ineffective.” He also promised “detailed guidance” for local authorities on the fees they can set. Clement-Jones also proposed a number of amendment to Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs), which also failed to be added to the Bill after Browning promised full consultation at a later date. The proposals included shifting the start time for EMROs to 1am, ensuring that they don‘t apply on New Year’s Eve, and forcing EMROs to be reviewed after implementation. However, Clement-Jones said he was not convinced by the Government’s argument that temporary events notices could be used to mitigate the effect of EMROs. Browning said temporary events could be switched to another part of the authority area to get around an EMRO, or sales of alcohol could be restricted to before midnight. Meanwhile Baroness Coussins, former chief executive of the Portman Group, withdrew her amendment to double fines to £10,000 for buying alcohol on behalf of children - after she was “encouraged” that the Government will look at the issue again in the autumn.