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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, Amendment No. 90 proposes time limiting a provisional statement for a period of three years, which aligns it with the period after which a renewal of a planning consent will be required in the future. That would require applicants to make a new application every three years, as they would in respect of planning permission. As the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, said, on each occasion of a new application, local residents would have their say.

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If Amendments Nos. 91 to 93 had been proposed in isolation from Amendment No. 90, I should have been inclined to oppose them. However, by matching the three-year limitation with the possible deletion of Clause 31(3), I see greater merit in the amendments. The limitations in Clause 31(2) would still apply.

Both the approach taken in the Bill and in this group of amendments attempt to preserve what the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, rightly described as the very delicate balance between the needs of investors for some degree of certainty before they commit to major building projects and the need for proper protection for local residents. If the approach suggested by these amendments maintains that balance but would provide industry with greater confidence than the Bill does now, we should be prepared to look at the proposal.

We need to examine the implications and talk to people involved in the industry and stakeholders before we reach a final decision but I am happy to take the matter away and consider it. I cannot promise to return with an amendment at Third Reading, or that an amendment on the face of the Bill will be necessary. However, we are certainly sympathetic to the objective behind the amendments.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said that the Government opposed a statement of opening hours in the provisional statement. I did not say that. I said that in many cases it would not be possible to give a statement of opening hours or, for example, the name of the designated premises supervisor, as would be required by the operating schedule. If that information is known, there is no reason at all why it should not be provided or, indeed, why it should not be required.

I do not think that the noble Lord is right with regard to a misprint in the reference to Clause 18(6)(d), but I shall write to him on that point. With those assurances, I hope that the amendment will not be pressed.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, if someone did not know what the opening hours of a particular premises would be at the time of the provisional statement being issued, and then suddenly discovered that the relevant premises would be open until three or four o'clock in the morning, would they have forfeited their right to make representations?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I should have thought that if that circumstance were entirely unexpected it would constitute a material change. Therefore, people would have the right to make representations. If I am wrong about that, I shall write to the noble Lord.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I am rather disappointed in the Minister's reply given what he said in response to the previous amendment and our efforts to come up with what we feel is a sensible suggestion; namely, the proposed three-year period in relation to provisional statements. The Minister said that it was

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important to consider the needs of investors for some degree of certainty before they committed themselves to major projects, and for them to be confident that, subject to no material change occurring, they would get a premises licence when the relevant work was completed.

The Explanatory Notes refer, for example, to the possibility that someone may be confined to hospital during the period in which representations could have been made. They state that the restriction on making representations following the issuing of a provisional statement would not apply to someone in those circumstances. We do not believe that that is a valid point.

There is a delicate balance to be struck here. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, for his support. It is helpful to have the benefit of noble Lords' practical experience in this field. In many cases considerable investment is made in the projects we are discussing and that follows lengthy periods of planning. It is not always a case of big businesses investing in these projects, but rather all kinds of establishments. It may not always be the large supermarket operators and the big hotels and leisure centres which invest in the projects we are discussing. Smaller operators may invest in a project which they believe will contribute to local industry or to the tourist industry. I thought that we were encouraged to develop a more attractive, liberalised culture. However, they may be stopped in their tracks under the current provisions.

The Minister said that he wanted to take the amendment away and think about it further, but we have considered the matter for two-and-a-half years. I should like to be confident that the Government will bring back an amendment at Third Reading. However, our amendments have been tabled for some time. We debated the matter at length in Committee. With some regret I believe that it is right that we—

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, obviously, I have not made my position clear. I said that we agreed with the thrust of the amendments. I said—if I did not, I apologise—that we thought that the amendments reflected the delicate balance which needed to be maintained. We have said that we think there is much to be said for integration with the planning arrangements. I said that we would consider sympathetically Amendments Nos. 90, 91, 92 and 93. What I could not say is that we would be ready by Third Reading, and what I did not want to say was that there would necessarily be changes in primary legislation. But my intention is to be entirely sympathetic to the group of amendments.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I feel that I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I entirely accept what the Minister said. He wishes me to back off with regard to the amendments. I am tempted to do so. However, we should feel more comfortable if the Minister could give us an assurance that a measure will be brought forward at Third Reading.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I shall certainly write to the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe,

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before Third Reading but the gap between Report stage and Third Reading is very short. When we bring forward new thoughts on matters, we always consult those concerned. We would consult the industry and residents before making what is a significant change. Although the noble Lords, Lord Hodgson and Lord Williamson, were sympathetic to the change, it has not necessarily been raised before with the industry. I am very unconfident that we would be able to consult to the extent that we would need to do between now and Third Reading. But that does not mean that we do not intend to do something about the measure.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his further assurances in relation to the amendments. I hope that he will accept that I seek to do my best for the industry which feels strongly about the issues we are discussing. But, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, before the amendment is withdrawn, I should say that I am not taking the amendments away for the sake of the industry. I am doing it because there is a balance to be maintained between the interests of public nuisance, public safety and those of people living in the vicinity of licensable premises and the proper concerns of the industry. If I gave the impression that our consultation would be only with industry, that was not the impression that I wished to give.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I hear what the Minister is saying. What I really meant was that I appreciate that further consultation is necessary. I regret that such consultation was not dealt with earlier, because I think that the point being put forward is one of common sense. We all agree that there is a delicate balance to be struck, as I said earlier. However, I accept what the Minister has said, so I look forward to seeing what happens in another place on this important point. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.30 p.m.

Clause 31 [Restriction on representations following provisional statement]:

[Amendments Nos. 91 to 93 not moved.]

Clause 32 [Notification of change of name or address]:

Viscount Falkland moved Amendment No. 94:

    Page 18, line 42, at end insert—

"( ) Upon the application of any person who has an estate or interest in the premises whether as owner or lessee, prior or paramount to that of the occupier, the relevant licensing authority shall enter the name and address of that person and the nature of such interest upon the register of licences, subject to the payment of such fee as may be prescribed.
( ) It shall be the duty of the relevant licensing authority as soon as reasonably practicable to notify any person registered under the preceding subsection of any matter entered in the licensing register under section 8(1)(c), save for notices recorded under paragraphs (b), (g), (h), (m), (r), (s), (t), (u), (v), (w), (x) or (y) of Schedule 3."

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On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 33 [Application to vary premises licence]:

[Amendment No. 95 not moved.]

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