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Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I have not put my name to any of the amendments in this group. However, the thrust of the Minister's argument seems to be that my noble friend Lady Buscombe is asking for too long a period, but that the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, is asking for too short a period. The Minister cannot have it both ways. The period is either too long or too short. It cannot be both.

Baroness Blackstone: I do not think that the noble Lords opposite can have it both ways.

Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for her response. However, her response did not take into account several aspects of the issue. We have to remember that the Government have remained inflexible regarding the number of those who can sit on licensing committees. There will be a good number of applications during the transitional period, and I think that there will be an enormous burden on those who have to sit on those inflexible committees. As the members will all have to be present, there is also a question as to whether they will even be able to meet. I believe that Rutland has 20 members in total. If it had to have between 10 and 15 on the licensing committee and all those members had to be present to process licensing orders, those members would sit ad infinitum over a period of months. That would be a problem.

Inner city areas will be inundated with huge numbers of applications for variations. I urge the Government to reconsider the matter between now and Report. We on these Benches have been approached not just by local authorities who fear the burdens that will be placed upon them but also by the

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industry which wants to be sure that applications are dealt with speedily. There are problems for everyone who is involved. However, for the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6 p.m.

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 449A:


    Page 154, line 45, leave out "disregarded" and insert "regarded"

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 449A, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 449B. These are two simple amendments that concern the "two in a bar" rule in the transitional period. We believe that the "two in a bar" rule should be regarded, not disregarded, through the transitional period. The amendment seeks to prevent any dislocation in the provision of live entertainment by groups such as folk singers in small pubs during the transitional period. I hope that the Government will accept the amendments, which do not change the current provision of live entertainment. Indeed, under the ruling, all live entertainment would have to stop at 11 o'clock. Although we do not support the "two in a bar" rule, we support it as a measure until a new licence is granted as the overlap period could last some time.

I thank the Minister for providing his reply to the Human Rights Committee. However, the conclusions the Minister reached with regard to Article 10 are not shared by these Benches. That matter is slightly wide of the amendment, but I considered that I should mention it.

The amendment indicates our concern over the future provision of live folk music and traditional music. We have deep concerns about the effect of the Bill on the provision of live entertainment. I very much hope that the Minister will take a different view from that expressed during earlier discussion on the Bill. If that is not the case, we shall have to return to this issue at a later stage. I beg to move.

Baroness Buscombe: I support the amendment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I have before me a ferocious speech against the "two in a bar" rule which I should love to read out. However, I am totally disarmed by the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said that he was opposed to the "two in a bar" rule and that his amendment was concerned only with the transitional period. As the "two in a bar" rule will survive during the transitional period and will be abolished only on D-Day, I can only say that the two amendments are misconceived.

Lord Redesdale: I am delighted to hear that. Although we shall withdraw these two amendments, I am not sure that the fundamental problems associated with the removal of the "two in a bar" rule are being tackled. However, I do not want to argue with the noble Lord at this point in the evening. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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[Amendment No. 449B not moved.]

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 449C:


    Page 155, line 16, at end insert—


"( ) the owner of the business where the current licence holder is in the employ of that business consents to the application being made."

The noble Baroness said: The amendment would allow a company to make the application for the premises licence without the need for its manager to make the application. The problem here is that under the licensing system a company such as Whitbread or Six Continents which operates its own businesses cannot currently own the licence as it has to be in the name of the manager. Hence every time a manager changes you have to re-apply for the licence under the name of the new manager.

In changing to the new system it would be much simpler if, say, Whitbread, who will be the holder of the new licence can apply for the new licence without obtaining the consent of the manager. It is slightly bizarre that a company would have to seek the permission of its employees to apply for the licence. What if he or she refuses? This could put the licence in jeopardy and mean that the company misses out on transition arrangements while the problem is sorted out. But, more importantly, it will be much more efficient for an operating company such as I have mentioned to process all its applications together without the need to obtain 2,000 or 3,000 consent forms. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale: We on these Benches support the amendment.

Baroness Blackstone: The amendment betrays a narrow focus on pubs and the off-licence trade rather than on all the premises potentially affected. The intention of the amendment is clearly to prevent the manager of a supermarket or a pub manager employed by a pub operating company making the application for the premises licence in his name unless his employer thinks that that is acceptable. In other words, the employers want to make sure that they have the decision as to whether they hold the premises licence or some other employee does so.

But I am afraid that that is not only what this amendment would do. There is nothing in the amendment that links the business in question to the licensable activities taking place on the premises. Does the Committee think that it would be appropriate that an employee of a computer company, who in his spare time is the secretary of the local village hall committee and holds the justices' licence for the hall, should have to ask his employer for consent to convert the licence? Of course not. It would be absurd and is clearly not what is intended. So my first point is that the amendment is not very well worded.

We do not in any event accept that the current wording presents any problems for employers. Indeed, the anxiety that the noble Baroness expressed is simply not in any practical terms real. Is it really being suggested that an employee would do anything other

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than what his employer requires in this context? The owner of the supermarket or the pub operating chain can take action in respect of the individual under his employment contract if the employee acts against his instructions or seeks to damage his employer's business. So to all intents and purposes it is rather odd to suggest that the business would not make the decision as to who makes the application.

As the wording of the amendment clearly goes far beyond what is intended and could cause considerable confusion, and as the intention behind it is based on an unjustified anxiety, I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw it.

Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for that response. The problem here is that it is considered unacceptable that companies running managed pubs, supermarkets or off-licences—I appreciate that my remarks focused on pubs but we are also discussing supermarkets, off-licences and so on—will not be able to apply for their premises licences without obtaining the consent of all their managers. However, I do not wish to detain the Committee further. I shall read the Minister's remarks with care. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 450 not moved.]

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 451:


    Page 155, line 30, at end insert—


"( ) an operating schedule in the specified form which includes a statement of the matters set out in section 17(4)"

The noble Baroness said: Under the transitional provisions, provision is made for the documents which must accompany an application for a conversion of an existing licence to a premises licence. One of the major requirements for a premises licence holder under the Bill is to have an operating schedule, yet the transitional provisions make no provision for the holders of existing licences to provide an operating schedule to the council on conversion of the licence. This amendment would require an operating schedule to be provided to the council when the application for the conversion is made. I beg to move.


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