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Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 40:

"( ) the name and address 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 noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 80, 94 and 114.

I said in Committee that I would return to this issue. The industry is keen for it to be included in the Bill. It also has the support of the Licensed Victuallers Association. I want to present four arguments for its inclusion.

First, an owning company will often be in a position to promote the licensing objectives through its contractual agreement with the tenant or lessee. Notification of breaches of the premises licence would allow the registered party to enforce the terms of such

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an agreement to the effect that the terms and conditions of the premises licence must be complied with. The registered interest would want to protect its rights in the property whose value is linked to the possession of a premises licence. This situation is particularly prevalent in the pub sector, where thousands of pubs are owned by pub companies and leased to tenants.

Secondly, the ability to register an interest will enable the owning company to meet its reversionary interest in the event of the demise of the tenant. This can be useful to both parties in the event of death or incapacity. It is also beneficial where a tenant absconds leaving the business adrift. The owning company, by virtue of its interest, can step in, appoint a personal licence holder and maintain the business quickly and efficiently.

Thirdly, the beneficiary of a superior legal interest which is currently protected is entitled, as a matter of natural justice, to seek to ensure that its interest in a property, the value of which is linked to a significant degree to the possession of the premises licence, is properly recognised.

Fourthly, the register of interest will make it much easier for companies to retain premises as going concerns, thereby protecting the jobs of those employed and, equally importantly, those employed indirectly such as musicians who are dependent on pubs and other licensed premises.

We believe that there is value in adding these amendments to the Bill. The industry is prepared to take on the further responsibility that the amendments set out. We believe that such provision would be of value to the industry but also to those who live in the vicinity of the pubs and to many tenants. I beg to move.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I support these amendments and have added my name to them, as has my noble friend Lord Luke.

We debated this issue at length in Committee, but we were unable to persuade the Government. The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has set out what we believe are sensible reasons for the amendments. We have been approached repeatedly by those in the industry through the British Beer & Pub Association and believe that they have a strong case.

As the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said, a right to register interests already exists in Section 32 of the Licensing Act 1964. This needs to be preserved in the proposed legislation and linked into all sections where the investment of the party with the superior interest is threatened by the actions of the designated premises supervisor, the premises owner or other circumstance.

Notification of breaches of the premises licence would allow the registered party to enforce the terms of such an agreement to the effect that the terms and conditions of the premises licence must be complied with. The registered interest would want to protect its rights in a property whose value was linked to the possession of a premises licence. That is an important

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point, particularly in relation to the pub sector, where large breweries own and manage a large number of premises leased to tenants.

Amendment No. 80 relates to Clause 27, which provides that the licence shall lapse automatically upon receipt of the licensee's notice of surrender. At present, the interests of those owning licensed premises are protected by established case law—the decision of the High Court in Drury v Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) Ltd v Scunthorpe Justices (1992). It is wrong, therefore, to suggest that similar provisions are made under existing legislation. Furthermore, existing protection represents a proprietorial interest and necessary protection for property owners. If lessees who have an interest in the premises which is subsidiary to that of the lessor are able to surrender licences without the consent of the lessor, that would place at risk a key element of the property which the lessor has made available to the lessee, so depriving the lessor of that "possession" without a corresponding or equivalent public benefit. This consequently goes against Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Human Rights Act 1998.

Furthermore, the availability of a contractual remedy in such circumstances will, in practice, rarely be of comfort to the lessor.

I turn to Amendment No. 94. The requirement for the licensing authority to give such notices will, in view of the terms of the proposed subsection, be relatively infrequent and the cost of such a process can be covered entirely by the revenue generated by the initial registration of such interest. Amendment No. 114 is consequential.

Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, while I agree with every word that my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, have said in support of the amendment, it is clear that registrable interests are a gap in the new scheme introduced by the Bill.

However, I observe that in effect the first amendment would add a new paragraph (e) to Clause 8(1) which may—I hope we are about to be told—not be necessary, because Clause 8(1)(d) states that the register should contain:

    "such other information as may be prescribed".

I hope that the gap for which explanation has just been given will indeed be filled by prescribing exactly that kind of information. I hope that that is what we are about to be told.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: My Lords, I add my support to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. Increasingly, breweries are letting long leases of 21 years to tenants who, after four or five years of work, make the pub very profitable. The tenants then sell the remaining 16 years of the lease because of the additional value that they have created. That is increasingly part of the way in which the sector operates. Entrepreneurs come in, such as a husband-and-wife team who build up a local reputation for good food. There is nothing wrong with that—it is very desirable. But the tenants want to be free to sell

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because of the increasing value and the lease allows them to do so. However, if the premises are sold to someone who does not run the business as well as the person from whom it was purchased, in due course there will be conflict over the licensing objectives. The position of the owner of the underlying asset is not properly safeguarded, and I therefore support the amendment.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the last-minute intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, perfectly illustrates the problem with these four amendments. The issues he raises are contractual issues between landlords and tenants. He did not even suggest that they should be issues for licensing law. They are nothing to do with the objectives but relate to the commercial viability of the businesses.

We believe that the licence holder's responsibility in respect of his licence is to the licensing authority. If there is any dispute or issue with the owner or lessor of the property, it is not an issue for licensing law. That is why it has not been included and why there is what the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, calls a gap in the Bill. It is quite deliberate. The Bill improves on the current situation by ensuring that there is a clear focus on matters which properly concern the licensing regime.

The current system ties liquor licences to the individual business in a particular premises. It makes sense for those with an interest in the premises, often pub companies and breweries, to be able to register an interest. If a pub manager leaves, a new justices' licence is required. But under the Bill, which splits the personal and premises licence, any pub-operating company will be able to hold a premises licence itself and designate managers as the premises supervisor. The Bill does not require that managers must hold the premises licence.

Where pub-owning companies choose to delegate the responsibilities and duties attached to holding a premises licence to managers, they will still have access to information about authorisations, notices and applications relating to it. An owner of the premises can get the same information. The Bill provides that each licensing authority must keep a register recording all this information. It will be available for inspection by anyone, and copies can be supplied. To require licensing authorities to inform anyone with an interest—there is quite a wide range of interests—of almost any application or notice would make the system more costly, complex and time-consuming, and would damage the deregulatory benefits and savings which the Bill will bring. Notification can, and probably should, be a requirement of the contractual relationship between the operating company and the manager or the landlord and tenant. It should not be an issue for licensing law.

The Bill sets out quick and easy procedures to deal with transfers and changes of premises licence. An interim authority notice can be given following the death, insolvency or mental incapacity of a licence

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holder. This reinstates the licence for two months, and an application for transfer can be made in that period. Clause 46(2) sets out those people who can give an interim authority notice. Because we are concerned with the need for continuity of business, it is intended that paragraph (a), which refers to a person who has a prescribed interest in the premises, will capture pub-operating companies and owners of premises. I do not know whether that goes some way towards satisfying the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale.

Amendment No. 114 would replicate provision for some of those whom the Bill is already intended to cover. In the case of the death of the premises licence holder or where a licence is surrendered, if it is known who will take over a the business, a transfer can be applied for with immediate effect.

It seems unreasonable to suggest that tenants who are premises licence holders, with whom the responsibilities and duties associated with the licence would rest, should be required to seek the permission of landlords to surrender those responsibilities. Notice of surrender is recorded on the register. Under the present justices' licensing system, there is no requirement to notify a landlord of a surrender of a justices' licence.

The Bill offers protections for businesses, provides quick and simple procedures where changes are needed and requires licensing authorities to record and make available information about all authorisations and notices. Surely the Bill must be focused on matters that properly relate to licensing. It cannot be extended to cover contractual relationships between landlords and tenants.

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