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Lord Watson of Richmond: My Lords, with great respect to the Minister, I was not saying that. I was saying that councils are going to find themselves in a David and Goliath situation. The Minister would do well to be realistic about that.
I believe that I have responded to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, and given him the assurance that he seeks that the councils will not be out of pocket. We understand that they are out of pocket now, but that they will recover the money for transition periods. The noble Lord made a particular point about what might happen with each individual local authority, which he may want to raise with me. Or perhaps he does not.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I do not. I am grateful for what the noble Lord has said about recouping the costs that local authorities have already incurred, but that has not actually been the burden of their complaint, although it is part of it. Their complaint is that the level of charges that have so far been indicated will not cover, on a continuing basis, the costs that they are going to incur. I hope that the Minister can give an undertaking that these will be reviewed.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have just done so. It is our intention that the charges that we set will recover the costs. If necessary and at whatever interval, they will be reviewed. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, for intervening and allowing me to turn off my pager. The noble Lord asked me to look at an alternative basis of charges produced by some local authorities. If he will give me further details of that, I shall be glad to do so.
The noble Lord, Lord Bridges, in a very constructive contribution, asked for a debate on the alcohol harm strategy together with, I would have thought, the wider implications of this legislation, although we cannot go back on the provisions of the Bill. That is, of course, a matter for the usual channels, but I would be very happy to see Cross-Bench time found for such a debate.
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The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, made other points from those to which I have responded. His main point was about the nature of the assessment that will be made. He made some useful suggestions about accident and emergency attendances, statistics on offences of violence near premises, fire deaths and so on. I am grateful for them. In DCMS, we are talking actively with the Home Office, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department of Health about assessment. We are planning to use the British Crime Survey and the General Household Survey, which give some of the answers for which he is looking, but we are also concerned with the cultural impact. Issues like the cultural impact of live music, which was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, are part of the assessment that we will be making.
I hope that I have responded to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson. His points were about the introduction costs and the running costs. They are legitimate points and will be taken into account in the assessment of the fee structure. When he called me ingenuous, I rather think that he meant to accuse me of being disingenuous. There you are, you cannot have everything.
The noble Lord, Lord Phillips, referred to paragraph 3.29 on public nuisance. I must say that he ought to have read a bit further because, in addition to that, in the definition of public nuisance in paragraph 7.40, he will find wise words describing the criterion of,
I am sorry that I cannot respond to the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn. I enjoyed hearing them again. I love the Musicians' Union's representations. I shall write to him about it, why not?
Finally, I want to come back to the issue of fee levels and the issue of the prayer of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. We are considering the material that has been provided by the Local Government Association and the Association of London Government. We prolonged the period of consultation to allow everybody time to build their case, and we are grateful for the assistance that we have been given. I have repeated many times now the public assurance that the fee levels we will set will allow licensing authorities to cover their costs. We have said that at the end of the transition period there will be not just a review but an independent review of the fee levels, and they can be revised upwards or downwards, as necessary. We are not neglecting any of this material.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, on the question that I raised with the Minister about giving assistance
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to individual parties that are interested in these decisions, will he say whether the Government would contemplate trying to help?
Lord Redesdale rose to move, That this House regrets Her Majesty's Government's decision to lay the draft guidance on 23 March, before they have laid orders under Sections 55, 92, 100, 110 and 133 of and Schedule 8 to the Licensing Act 2003, which set out the level of fees which applicants for licences will be required to pay licensing authorities.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, much as I am tempted to launch into what the noble Lord would describe as a Second Reading speech, raising many of the points he raised, I feel that there are certain Members of the House who are not as interested in these debates as others and believe that I might suffer some displeasure. So I can only say that although the Minister's arguments were, as always, extremely emollient and persuasive, he still could not make a silken purse out of a pig's ear, an analogy which we believe is reflected in some aspects of this legislation.
In speaking to the very issue of the fee structure the Minister used the phrase, "the not-too-distant future". That leads me to press the Motion standing in my name. I should therefore like to test the opinion of the House.
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