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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I was asked for a robust response. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, can have a robust response. Frankly, these amendments are nonsense. Amendment No. 156 says that a designated premises supervisor would actively have to obtain the signed consent of the premises licence holder to fill that role and to notify the police that he had taken up the position. The designated premises supervisor is the person employed to manage the premisesor he is the person managing the premises who also holds the premises licence. I assume that Amendment No. 156 does not apply to those circumstances.
In what circumstances does an employer actively have to seek the signed consent of his employer to do his or her job? In real life, the contract of employment represents an explicit permission on the part of an employer for an individual to work at a particular premises. Imagine the situation where one applied for a position, got the job, then had to ask the boss for permission to turn up. That is what the amendment would require. The premises supervisor would be required to notify the police that he had taken up the job. That is the job of the premises licence holder; it is not to be shirked by putting the duty on the designated premises supervisor.
The Bill makes the premises licence holder responsible for variation of the licence, including the premises supervisor, for good reasonwhere one has corporate ownership. If a business wants to change its premises supervisor, that is the responsibility of the business, not of the premises supervisor, as Amendment No. 156 suggests. One would not employ a premises supervisor, then say, "Good luck. Welcome to the job. Now make sure you tell the police you have arrived." That is the responsibility of the business.
Amendments Nos. 238 and 242 would remove the bulk of Clause 40, which covers the procedures to be followed when an individual wishes to cease to be the designated supervisor for a particular premises. In
Lord Redesdale: I asked for a robust response and I got one. I admit that the purpose of the amendments is to make sense of the designated premises supervisor. The Minister's response clearly shows that I should move back to the position of earlier amendments and object altogether to the inclusion of the clause. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Baroness said: This amendment is designed to probe only. Clause 17 sets out the application process for a premises licence. An application must be accompanied by an operating schedule and a plan of the premisesboth in the format to be prescribed. That may seem a reasonable obligation for any premises licence holder to undertake to procure a licence. However, some premises that are used to paying £30 per annumas at presentto operate the village pub may feel burdened by what appears to them to be added administration, greater bureaucracy and more red tape.
The amendment proposes that operating schedules need only be produced for certain types of premises. It is deliberately broad and does not focus on physical size or capacity. However, several forthcoming amendments deal with capacity. If a mandatory capacity were imposed, to be set out in the operating schedule, our amendment might go some way to exempting small village pubs from having to specify numbers.
The principle behind the amendment is simple. Premises range from a local pub in a rural area that serves a handful of regulars each day to a busy nightclub open until 3 a.m. and holding many hundreds of people. While it is admirable to try to impose one-size-fits-all legislation on a system, perhaps it is unrealistic. The small country pub might have problems trying to outline the steps it proposed taking to promote licensing objectives as detailed by subjection (4)(b).
Perhaps a balance can be reached between consistency and uniformity on the one hand and flexibility to suit certain circumstances on the other. It is clear that the Government realise the need for such a balance. Paragraph 38 of the guidance framework states:
I hope that as we discuss the details of premises licences in Part 3, the Government will continue to have regard to the need for such proportionality as opposed to standardised conditions. I beg to move.
Lord Davies of Oldham: I fear that the phrase "operating schedule" fills some people with dread. It has a bureaucratic ring to it. We might have alighted upon a happier phrase but it is the one we are using. I reassure the noble Baroness and people who are anxious about the issue that there is no cause for anxiety.
The average size pub will be able to list its operating schedule by filling one sheet of A4perhaps two at the absolute outside. It is meant to be a non-bureaucratic exercise. It is clearly needed for all licensed premises. Therefore, we are ensuring that it covers every conceivable licensed circumstance.
We recognise the strength of the noble Baroness's point that for the small village pub the schedule should not be a draconian document requiring endless hours of burning the midnight oil for the pub to meet its obligations. Far from it. It seeks to specify the basis on which it operates as succinctly as possible. For some larger premises or events the document is bound to be a little more involved. However, I believe that the main burden of the noble Baroness's argument concerned small premises. I give way to the noble Lord.
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: Will the regulations make a distinction between the two types of premises so that the country pub will not be caught up in the bureaucracy that is envisaged for much larger premises? What will be the position as regards the regulations?
Lord Davies of Oldham: The licensing authority will be aware of the aspects on which it needs reassurance before granting licences in respect of premises with differing roles in the community. The licensing authority will be familiar with those roles. A licensing authority will be able to determine the significant difference between a small village pub and large urban premises that may carry on a whole range of functions which require a clear specification of the basis of the business and how it is to be carried out.
I do not seek to decry the significance of the operating schedule. It is a crucial part of the basis on which the licence is issued. It is also the crucial document that identifies for authorities seeking to
The strength of the legislation lies in its power to bring a wide range of premises within one framework for licensing. As regards the concern that the operating schedule may cause anxiety to a potential licensee, I point out that it will deliver benefits to the licensing authority, responsible authorities, interested parties and potential licensees. Licensing authorities will consider the operating schedule with any other accompanying material and must grant the licence as applied for unless representations have been made that are critical of it. We envisage that in the majority of cases the granting of an application will constitute an administrative process. But without the requirement to submit such a document, licensing authorities would not have the basic information they require to process applications without holding costly hearings. We should not forget that all applications and renewals and almost all changes to a justice's licence to sell alcohol require a full hearing before the magistrates' court which represents a significant investment of time and money. The operating schedule will do away with that and replace it with a much less onerous system.
The operating schedule may become the focus of a process of genuine partnership between the licensing authority and licensees. In the light of that explanation, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment. Anxieties have been properly expressed but clearly the measure will not constitute a great bureaucratic demand but one that differentiates between the small pub and the big enterprise with a whole range of obligations necessarily imposed upon it. It will give a clearer specification to the community and to the enforcement authorities of what is required. For the vast majority of small operations and small pubs the measure should constitute an enormous advantage rather than a disadvantage.
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