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Baroness Blackstone: Amendment No. 451 is unnecessary, and I suspect that it may stem from a misunderstanding of what the transitional provisions of the Bill set out to achieve.

The transitional process will have two distinct parts. The first is the conversion of existing licences into a new style premises licence. That involves the submission of all the licences held for a particular premises that an applicant wants to convert. Those licences may include justices' licences, a public entertainment licence, a licence under the Theatres Act and so on.

The process does not require the submission of an operating schedule, which would be the effect of the amendment, because all the relevant operating conditions will be set out in those existing licences, and

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the incentive is to convert the old to the new. Except where the police object to the conversion of those existing licences, a new licence, reflecting the permissions and conditions in the existing set of licences will be issued automatically. There is absolutely no need for an operating schedule, because all the information is there already.

The second part of the transitional process, where businesses want to make use of it, involves the variation of the existing permissions and conditions. Examples include changing the hours of operation of the business or seeking permission to put on public entertainment. That process will take place entirely in accordance with the arrangements set out in Clause 33 for variation of a licence, with all the scope for representations from responsible authorities and interested parties that that would entail.

In the light of that explanation, I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.

Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for her response. I am certainly satisfied by what she said to clarify the situation with regard to the transitional period, and I hope that those who urged us to table the amendment will also be satisfied. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 452 to 463 not moved.]

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts moved Amendment No. 463A:

    Page 161, line 13, leave out "have regard to" and insert "accept the conditions of"

The noble Lord said: The amendment takes us to Part 1 of the schedule, which concerns transitional provision. It deals with the issue of provisional licences that have been granted under the old regime, but not finalised by the time we switch to the new regime.

The arguments on the subject were made in another context on Clause 31 when we discussed further representations on provisional statements, which I described then as the second bite at the cherry. I want to rehearse those arguments briefly. If one seeks to build or develop a new public house, one would have to invest between 2 million and 3 million by the time the pub opens. Obviously, that is a big sum of money to put at risk, and the risk would be greater with the regime change in the middle.

In the schedule, the new licensing authority,

    "must have regard to the provisional grant of the justices' licence".

That seems an insufficiently strong set of words. I believe that they should be replaced so that the licensing authority must "accept the conditions of" the provisional grant of the justices' licence.

The danger is that, apart from the unfairness of the matter, there may be a hiatus in either the development of new pubs or places of entertainment, or the reconstruction and refurbishment of old ones. Therefore, those who are putting their money at risk are entitled to a degree of certainty, and I believe that the new regime should not in the limited number of

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cases be able to second-guess the old one. If the justices have made a grant under the old one, it is incumbent on the licensing authority that comes in under the new system to accept the decisions of its predecessors. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Baroness Buscombe: I support the amendment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We discussed the issue in some detail when we considered Clauses 28 to 31, which were concerned with the provisional statements. I hope that I gave the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, the reassurance that he sought, and think that I did so to some extent. He is raising a special point now about the transitional period, which is fair enough.

I hope that I can reassure the noble Lord that the assurances that I gave for the permanent regime apply to the schedule as well. There are differences between "have regard to" and "accept the conditions of". The first phrase is very powerful. It means that it is not open to a licensing authority to disregard the grant of a provisional justices' licence. However, the second phrase means that the conditions attached to a provisional licence under the current law would have to be transposed intact into the new law.

That is actually impossible. The new law will express the conditions differently, and there will have to be a continuing role for the licensing authorities to interpret the conditions that have been imposed under the provisional licence into the new licence under the new law. If there were not, they would not have anything to do, which is a minor issue and does not concern those with whom the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, has discussed the amendment. The major point is that the amendment would be impossible. The protection is still there. The provisions are not a second bite at the cherry of the kind that he fears.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. Clearly, I am comforted by his assurance about the force of the words "must have regard to". I understand that "accept the conditions of" would present a constitutional problem of translating one regime to another regime. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 463B:

    Page 165, line 25, after "licence" insert ", or a person who has held a justices' licence for a period of not less than six months in the three years prior to the appointed day,"

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 464 to 465A. I shall deal first with Amendments Nos. 463B and 465A. As the Bill is currently drafted, only those actively holding a justices' licence on the appointed day will be entitled to receive the new personal licence. We understand that anyone who has been in the trade, but not specifically responsible for a premises, will not get the benefit. That would be

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grossly unfair on those who, through no fault of their own, were not currently listed as licence holders. There could be a number of reasons for that. A company may have gone into receivership and the manager may have lost his position, a supermarket manager may be in between positions, or a tenant may be in the process of acquiring a new tenancy.

The British Beer and Pub Association and all the other trade organisations have long argued that the transition should include those who, for whatever reason, are temporarily without a licence. They should be enabled to obtain a new style licence without the need to obtain the qualification. Some of those affected may have many years' experience in the trade. To those people, it would be more than insulting to have to sit such an examination. Many of them would of course also have obtained qualifications that are already available.

Amendment No. 464 relates to applications for personal licences during the transitional period. Holders of existing justices' licences are to apply for a conversion to a personal licence during the transitional period. One of the documents that must accompany the application is a photograph in the specified form. The amendment provides more detail as to the format of the photograph, and would ensure that the photograph was of sufficient quality to enable the holder to be easily identified from the licence once issued.

Finally, Amendment No. 465 would ensure that the licensing authority had sufficient proof of the applicant's home address when granting the converted licence. I beg to move.

Viscount Falkland: I support Amendments Nos. 463B and 465A.

Baroness Blackstone: I can see why the amendments have been tabled. However, two of them expose the public to an unacceptable degree of risk, and two of them are unnecessarily burdensome. Amendments Nos. 463B and 465A would extend the automatic "grandfather right" to a personal licence for existing holders of justices' licences for the sale of alcohol to cover anyone who had held a justices' licence for any period of six months during the previous three years.

The transitional scheme set out in the Bill contains this and other grandfather rights for one very good reason: it allows businesses and individuals to continue trading during and after the transitional period as they did under the old licensing system with as little difficulty as possible. The public can be assured that individuals who hold a justices' licence at the beginning of the transitional period have been assessed by the magistrates as being fit and proper persons to sell alcohol.

Extending the grandfather rights to anyone who has held a justices' licence for a period of six months in the previous three years is unacceptable for two reasons. First, if an individual does not hold a justices' licence at the beginning of the transitional period, the Government do not consider that he merits a

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grandfather right of this nature. He will be able to make use of the open, transparent and administratively simple application process for a personal licence. Secondly, who is to say why those individuals no longer hold a justices' licence? If an individual no longer holds a licence, the public cannot be assured that he or she is judged fit and proper to sell alcohol and may therefore be automatically awarded a new personal licence with no risk.

Turning to the remainder of the amendments, the Bill makes it clear that the form of the licence will be set out in regulations. That satisfied the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform. I can give a clear undertaking that it will be the subject of consultation with all interested parties. However, I do not accept that the submission of four photographs is a reasonable requirement to place on applicants. In today's technological world, with electronic storage and transmission of data becoming the norm, I see no reason why—particularly in view of some of the comments we have heard about the setting up of IT systems by licensing authorities—photographs should not be stored and distributed in digital format. I hope that that amendment will not be pressed.

Amendment No. 465 is unnecessary. Those who wish to apply for a personal licence will be required to submit a number of documents, including their existing justices' licence. That licence will contain all the information necessary for the licensing authority to process the application. Placing a further requirement on applicants for more paperwork would be detrimental to the light touch that we all want. In the light of those explanations, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, will withdraw the amendment.

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