I could not agree more; it meant that different authorities with different priorities brought forward measures at different times, and some of them never regarded this as a priority, even though they might have had sympathy with the intentions of the legislation. What this measure does is ensure that, rather than local authorities having in effect to use legislation for an entirely different purpose than intended and place blanket conditions on all their pubs, there is a simple and clear method whereby developers will know that, quite simply, if they want to make a change to the use of a pub, they will have to get planning permission.
We know that pubs will open and pubs will close, and this Bill will ensure that all the evidence is considered before such decisions are made. As I have said, it is sensible of the Government to create the new A3/A4 mixed use class, and I am glad they have made it clear that it is their intention that the mixed use class should enjoy the same protections as the A3 and A4 classes.
I would be interested to hear the Minister’s response to the question of what might happen until the Bill is passed. He has set out the Government’s wish to have secondary legislation in place by July, which is a sensible timescale. However, there is a worry that this is going to lead to a rush of businesses or developers buying pubs and levelling them before the legislation regulations are in place, so everyone must take all the steps they can to prevent a rush of conversions or demolitions. I shall be interested to hear the Minister suggest steps that the Government or local authorities and communities may take to prevent that from coming to pass.
I am very pleased to have been able to take a few moments to reflect on the value of the 48,000 British pubs to our communities. When visitors come to the United Kingdom, one of the first things they want to do is have their first pint in a British pub. The British pub is a tremendously important asset to our country, and I will be very pleased to welcome the Government’s adoption of this amendment. I am pleased that this important step will be taken to help communities save and preserve the great British pub for many, many years to come.