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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the Bill complies with the ECHR without the amendments. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has received representations about some of these matters. It has not found any problem with the provisions as they stand.
As noble Lords know, an interested party is a local resident, a residents' association or a local business or trade group that may want to make representations on applications for premises licences or club premises certificates, or may wish to apply for a review of the licence or certificate. If we expanded those groups too far, we would add to the bureaucracy of the system, which would put a burden not only on industry but also on licensing authorities. Simplicity is something that we should value.
Having said that, one of the Government's aims in introducing the legislation is to give a real voice and influence to local people who are affected by the decisions taken. It is something that industry understands but about which it has legitimate anxieties, as the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, is aware. Local economies need the investment and employment that the hospitality and retail businesses bring, but those businesses also need some certainties if they are to make the investments needed. We therefore need to strike a balance in the Bill.
I would certainly find it extremely irritating to have considered myself entitled to make representations or seek a review of a premises licence, only to be told by the licensing authority after I had collected all the necessary evidence that I was not such a person. We need clarity in the rights we describe.
I appreciate that some noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, believe that the impact of new licensed premises may fall as hard on those living near to taxi ranks or fast food outlets some distance away, where customers may go after visiting the licensed premises. I would need to know how what
If we are talking again about cumulative effects, that is a matter to be addressed holistically and broadly, as our debates have already shown. Licensing can be only one strand of a more complex approach. It is not a panacea. Other mechanisms in the Bill provide the necessary protections. We need simple and clear definitions which allow people to know where they stand and which strike the right balance.
I must make absolutely clear that a person living in the vicinity of the premises or club in question may be represented by any other person. He can ask his solicitor to do so, or a friend, his local councillor or his Member of Parliament. Nothing in the Bill prevents him nominating any personal representative to represent his views. So it is wholly unnecessary to include a person in subsection 3(b) of Clause 13.
A body is included in subsection (3)(b) to ensure that residents' associations have a voice without the need to take direct instructions from their members on every single matter. I understand the desire to include the term "organisations" to cover the eventuality that a school, church or hospital might be free to make representations. However, as I said at Committee stage, I do not believe that that is necessary. Any parent or governor living in the vicinity of the premises can make representations. Similarly, any member of the hospital staff in the vicinity can do so, too. Of course any member of a church living nearby can do so. We really do need to try to avoid over-complicating the arrangements. It is right that businesses are included because livelihoods may be affected. They should have a say in developments.
So, in striking a balance between the needs of the community for investment and employment and the need for security and peace, we have to focus on what is necessary and proportionate. I think that the definition in the Bill of interested party does that; we believe that it gives a proper voice for the community directly affected by the premises involved.
One of the Bill's merits is that it gives local residents a voice whereas in many circumstances they are currently denied one by the existing legislation. Against that background, I have to resist the amendments and ask that they not be pressed.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for the comprehensive way in which she responded. I am grateful also for her indication on where she thought the amendments unnecessary as the rights are already enshrined in the legislation. I hope that I may be allowed to ask her whether I was wrong in thinking that the Government were thinking of providing extra definition, to which I alluded in the final group of amendments that I quoted, in relation to which they may table further amendments. Perhaps the Minister said that she would consider it and the Government have decided against. Perhaps I misunderstood the Government's previous intention.
The Minister knows that my particular concern is the swathe of entertainment area that stretches between Bayswater and Covent Garden, particularly in the context of Soho. When I was the Member of Parliament for that constituency, 20 times as many people worked in that constituency as in the average seat. If I shook the hand of someone on the street, I had a one in 15 chance of shaking the hand of someone who had the right to vote for me. I think that the Minister is being perhaps a little optimistic if she assumes that the organisations to which I referred would automatically have someone who was resident in the vicinity.
One has only to quote the figure of 750,000 people coming into work each day in the City of London and south Westminster to be perfectly clear that they are all coming from outside the constituency itself. The working population of the constituency is about 50,000, so 700,000 are commuters. Unless I misunderstood the Minister, none of them is eligible to make a complaint on behalf of the institution. So I can see cases in which, although the Minister is confident that someone in the organisation could make representations, organisations are "disenfranchised" under the law simply because they do not live in the vicinity. If I have misunderstood what the Minister was saying, I am entirely happy to be corrected.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, on the noble Lord's first question, if I gave the impression that we intended to make changes to the clause in terms of further definitions, I am very sorry because I do not believe that that is our intention. On the second question, it is perfectly clear under the Bill that any business can make representations. So the employers of those to whom he referred, whose hands he shakes, can make representations. However, if those people are commuters coming in who do not live in the vicinity, they obviously cannot do so as residents. I think that that is the point at issue, is it not?
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, as I understood it, the Minister was explaining why businesses were in the Bill and other organisations were notin order to keep matters simple. I understood from her reply that those other organisations would be represented by individuals who had an association with them. If she is saying that they do not need to be local residents, then I have no problem. However, if any organisation that wishes to make representations has to produce a resident in order to make it, that would seem to be a deficiency.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, I am a bear of very little brain. The fact that I had some difficulty in being absolutely certain about the rights of people in the vicinity of premises suggests that it is just possible that others living in the vicinity of those licensed premises may have the same difficulty in being absolutely certain of their rights. However, I take the noble Baroness's word absolutely at face valueI greatly respect the manner in which she has conducted the Billand beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"( ) the local planning authority within the meaning given by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c. 8) for any area in which the premises are situated,"