Licensing Bill [HL]
Lord Avebury (Liberal Democrat)
I hesitate to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, because he knows so much about these matters. However, there is an argument for proposing, as the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, has in one of her amendments, that if the registers were kept in a form accessible via the Internet it would be much easier for people to find them. If people have to go to the local authority offices where the register is held, they will have to find out first which office it is and who they will have to ask to obtain the information. If the registers are in a prescribed form on the Internet, everyone will know how to access them and it will not make any difference whether they live in Durham or Bodmin; the way of obtaining information via the Internet will be identical.
So there is something to be said for the noble Baroness's suggestion in Amendment No. 128 that the Secretary of State should, under subsection (6), arrange for the duties to be discharged by having one or more central registers common to all local authorities in terms of method of access even though the information may be collected by individual local authorities in whatever way they choose. The information must be the same so that it can be fitted into the software to enable anyone to have access to it. That is paramount, because it is essential that members of the public who need this information are not put to great trouble in obtaining it.
Amendment No. 128 is inconsistent with Amendment No. 126 seeking to leave out subsection (2), because prescription will be required if the Secretary of State is to ensure that the data are harmonised and presented in a single medium on the web.