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Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, in six years of specialist study of the classical languages, in writing Latin and Greek prose and verses, only one single line of mine in Latin verse received the commendation of Katharine Whitehorn's father, who had the challenge of teaching me. I shall not be so immodest as to read the Latin pentameter into the record but the English line I was translating was to the effect that, "The raucous voices of the long path resound". The long path has a certain relevance to the four years of the Bill's gestation and the point we have now reached in its progress in this House.

The raucous voices are also apposite to the amendment because the undertakings to which it refers, as the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has so ably described, are often the fruits of not just a single argument but arguments that have gone on for years and years. In a recent case in the west end, it took seven years of persistent and persevering protest to secure a particular undertaking on the part of the licensee.

The Minister seemed, perhaps unintentionally, to undervalue the amount of time and perspiration that has gone into securing, in dozens of cases, what are

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known as undertakings. In the long path of licensing history, these undertakings, as seen by residents—who, prior to the undertakings, had to pay the price of raucous sounds—are milestones. The Bill will level them at a stroke and their re-erection will seem like a labour of Sisyphus to the residents or vicinity dwellers—to bring in those who are not residents—who have to take on the licensees, whom the Minister described today, in the context of licence fee payments, as being largely businesses, with all the greater resources that businesses have over residents. It really will be a very sad day if, when the Bill becomes an Act, those undertakings eventually turn out to be as nought. I support the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in his amendment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, this is a particularly difficult part of the Bill. All transitional parts of Bills are difficult. Schedule 8 is about the transition from a justices' licence to a premises licence. Paragraph 2 of Schedule 8 is about the conversion of an existing justices' licence to a premises licence. Paragraph 6(6) preserves the conditions, in effect, at the time of the transfer. The amendment would add any undertakings in force.

We introduced these provisions in Schedule 8 because the industry was concerned about the damage that would be caused if we went back to zero budgeting, so to speak, threw all the cards in the air and got rid of the automatic transfer of licences subject to conditions. But the amendment seems to ignore the fact that there can and will be, at the time of the conversion to a premises licence from a justices' licence, applications to vary the licence. Under the more liberal regime which is being proposed, there will be changes. Since noble Lords have just voted virtually to abolish entertainment licensing, I shall not refer to that, but there will certainly be applications to vary the time of opening. In the far-off days of entertainment licensing, there would have been applications for live music licensing, and so on. All those changes would be within the protection of the licensing regime, and representations would be possible on all those variations. It is in the applicant's interest to give as much detail as he can to convince the responsible authorities and interested parties not to make representations. The very nature of the transition process means that there will be proper consideration of the licence in many cases. The kind of automatic transfer described by the noble Lords, Lord Avebury and Lord Brooke, is not the only scenario we are considering.

What are undertakings? They are matters which have been volunteered by a licensee or an applicant for a licence when the licence would otherwise be in doubt. I have no reason to quarrel with any of the examples which have been given. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, did not seem to like our example of not taking glasses outside after 10 o'clock, although it is important for those living in the area that there should not be noise and broken glass. A lot of undertakings are temporary. For example, a licensee might agree not to have more than a certain number of people in the

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premises pending the construction of a new fire exit. There could be temporary undertakings on all sorts of grounds relating to the physical conditions of the premises. Although the undertakings are there to reassure residents, I think the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, recognised that they have no legal force and there can be no criminal prosecutions if they are broken.

The Bill offers protection whenever there is an application to vary a licence that is being converted into a premises licence. Secondly, a review can be requested, which would trigger the need to seek the opinions of responsible authorities and interested parties, including residents. With that protection, to carry over all undertakings, including temporary ones, goes beyond the needs of the case. The Bill as drafted meets the points that were raised in the reasonable speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Avebury and Lord Brooke. I do not believe that their amendment is necessary or desirable.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I am disappointed by that reply, as I have been with answers that we have had at earlier stages on the carrying-over of undertakings. I cannot see the logic in the Government's distinction between conditions, which are carried over, and undertakings, which are not. The list that has been supplied to me of conditions and undertakings that are agreed as part of the award of a licence shows no fundamental distinction in the nature of the two processes. A restriction on the permitted hours of the premises on a Sunday is listed as a condition, but the question of noise limitation is an undertaking.

It would be much simpler for licensees and for those in the vicinity who are affected to incorporate conditions and undertakings in a temporary licence and to start from that point with the process of review that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, mentioned. There would be the presumption that both sets of conditions—using the word in the general sense to apply to conditions and undertakings—would continue in force unless they were the subject of a variation that had been agreed by the parties concerned. That would be the logical way to deal with the matter.

I hope that the Commons will continue to pursue the argument and will try to extract from the Government some more logical explanation of the reason for the distinction. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

An amendment (privilege) made.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Blackstone.)

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I shall be brief. I thank noble Lords for their participation in this important and complex Bill. We are pleased and

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grateful that the Government have made a considerable number of important concessions as a result of our debates. In the words of my noble friend Lord Brooke, we pay tribute to the flexibility that the Government Front Bench have shown.

In addition, the Government have been defeated nine times on important issues. Together with government concessions, these achievements have resonated to an extraordinary degree in the country at large. People connected with our churches, our schools and our village, parish and community halls, together with our musicians—in relation to performance and copyright—publicans and local councillors and many others have supported our amendments, as well as, perhaps most critically, parents concerned with the well-being of their children, who have urged us to effect changes to the Bill.

In turn, I urge honourable Members in another place to consider with care the changes that have been made to the Bill in your Lordships' House. They should note the overwhelming support that we have received and continue to receive in the country. I ask the Government to think hard before taking any steps that would compromise the hard work of noble Lords on all sides of your Lordships' House.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I, too, commend the work done by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, for dealing in such a kindly manner with all issues in the Bill, and the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, who has done sterling work, often alone on the Front Bench, in helping to improve the Bill. I also thank my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury, who has been successful in the most surprising of ways, and my noble friend Lord Avebury, who has also put in such sterling work.

We believe that the Bill has been improved by some of the amendments that have been made. We are not certain that the Government will accept every amendment in its entirety in another place. However, we take heart from the letter today, which shows that the Government have taken on board our concerns, especially about music, but also in other areas. We also hope that the Government will take on board the spirit in which those amendments were moved and will bring the Bill back to this House at a later stage without too many drastic modifications so that we can pass it, because we support the Bill.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am enormously grateful to my noble friends Lord Davies of Oldham and Lord McIntosh of Haringey for their huge support on the Bill. On their behalf, I thank the Opposition Front Bench spokesmen—the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale—and everybody who has taken part in our deliberations on the Bill. We have been given a very good run for our money. I can guarantee that honourable Members on the government side in another place will read very carefully the debates in this House. I can say with absolute certainty that they will not accept all the

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amendments that have been made here. However, when they reject them, they will do so having given considerable thought to what has been said in this House.

We look forward to further debates on the Bill later in the Session, when it comes back from another place.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

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