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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, Clause 22 provides that licensing authorities must give notice to applicants and those who made relevant representations following the determination of applications for premises licences. Clause 75 sets out the same procedure in respect of club premises certificates and Clauses 35 and 157 for the variation of premises licences and club premises certificates. These amendments would introduce unacceptable and unnecessary delays into the process by preventing decisions of the licensing authority from coming into effect until either the period for making an appeal came to an end, or until the appeal that had been made was disposed of.
Clauses 22 and 75 concern the procedure following a determination, not the determination itself. As I said during our debates in Committee, I wonder whether these amendments really have a place in those clauses. Aside from that observation, however, the general position in law is that where an appeal against any decision is made, the decision stands and is effective until overturned. The licensing system has to be efficient and effective and provide certainty. The net effect of the delay which these amendments would impose on the industry would be enormous.
No licence or certificate or variation of them could come into effect for at least 21 days. Some businesses could be shut down for a long time pending the hearing of appeals, which would affect not only the owner of the premises but any staff employed there, too. It is not simply an applicant who has a right of appeal against a decision of the licensing authority, but anyone who has made relevant representations as well. The applicant may be very happy with the decision and want to go about his business as quickly as possible. Why should that be denied for at least three weeks just in case someone decides to appeal? Why should we depart from the normal position in these cases?
I know that the noble Lord tabled these amendments, at least in part, because he was concerned that once an application for a licence or certificate, or indeed a variation of either, had been made, a court would not be able to overturn that decision on appeal. I think that he suggested that the only remedy for an appellant would be to seek judicial review. In fact that is not the case. Clause 176 provides that on an appeal in accordance with Schedule 5, which applies to all of the circumstances dealt with by these amendments, a magistrates' court may either dismiss the appeal; substitute for the decision appealed against any other decision which could have been made by the licensing authority; or remit the case to the licensing authority to dispose of it in accordance with the direction of the court.
I believe that these amendments are unnecessary and would place an unnecessary burden on the industry. Given the existing protections in the Bill, and the reassurances I have given about the ability of the
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, again I express my appreciation for the manner in which the Minister has responded. She is right that we discussed this in Committee and has a very clear recollection of our exchange. It was her noble friend Lord Davies who responded to my original amendment seeking to add to the licensing objectives the protection of human rights which we debated just after dinner last Monday. I indicated then that there would be a series of human rights amendments thereafter, which have been discussed between the residents' association in Soho, the department and the Select Committee, to which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, referred.
I am appreciative of the further information the Minister has given on Clause 176 in relation to avoiding the necessity to go to judicial review. In the light of the Minister's reassurance and the revisiting of the matters that we discussed in Committee, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, by virtue of Clause 18(6)(d), interested parties and responsible parties are prohibited from making relevant representations about provisional licences after a provisional statement is issued. But these parties have the opportunity to make representations in relation to provisional licences before the provisional statement is issued by virtue of Clauses 29 and 30. It is important, therefore, that interested parties and responsible parties have the same information in respect of the provisional licence as they would in respect of the final licence. The amendment would ensure that the information requirements are the same. I beg to move.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, Clause 28 provides that where a premises is being built, extended or altered for use for licensable activities, a person with an interest in the premises may apply for a provisional
The Bill currently provides that an application for a provisional statement must be accompanied by a schedule of works. A schedule of works is a document in the prescribed form which includes a statement including particulars of the premises to which the application relates and of the licensable activities for which the premises are to be used; plans of the work about to be or being done at the premises; and such other information as may be prescribed.
The amendments would remove the need to supply a statement including particulars of the premises and licensable activities and replace it with the operating schedule in Clause 17(3) and (4). An application for a provisional statement would need to be accompanied by a plan of the premises to which the application relates and, if the licensable activities which are to be undertaken include the sale of alcohol, a form of consent from the individual the applicant wishes to have specified in the premises licence as the premises supervisor.
Clause 17(4) provides that an operating schedule includes information on a number of matters relating to the operation of the premises, including the licensable activities that are to be undertaken there, the times when they will take place and the person who is to be the designated premises supervisor.
By its very nature, a provisional statement will be applied for only where work is to be carried on at a particular premises or, indeed, a new premises is being constructed. The work will often be carried out by an individual or company who have no intention of operating the business but intend to lease or sell the premises to another party who will operate the business. Clearly, under those circumstances, they could not be expected to provide all the information which is provided for in an operating schedule.
A developer might intend to build a multi-use leisure complex with cinemas, bars and restaurants. He will wish to have some assurance that permission to carry on licensable activities at those premises will be granted, so he will apply for a provisional statement. In that application, he will say that he expects there to be a certain number of bars, restaurants and cinemas, give an idea of their size and the kind of activities that will take place there. He will clearly not be able to state the precise hours when these places will be open or the name of the designated premises supervisor.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, might say that an applicant for a provisional statement who could provide all the information required by the operating schedule should be required to do so. But if the applicant has all that information, he might as well just apply for a premises licence straightaway. That would save him the fee associated with applying for a provisional statement as well as giving him greater assurance.
If we accepted these amendments, we would be getting rid of the provisional statement procedure. We would be getting rid of a relatively simple way of providing an assurance to somebody who will spend money on developing or constructing licensable premises that they can go ahead in the assurance that, subject to no material change, they will have a licence when the work is complete. I cannot imagine that the industry would be happier with that. It seems out of keeping with the kind of development work and investment that we wish to see in the licensable trade.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I am sure the Minister will forgive me if I say I had the sense that he was, in the latter stages of his speech, engaging to establish eye contact with my noble friend Lord Hodgson in the hope of receiving an assenting nod. The Minister made a cogent case, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.