Business and Planning Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:59 pm on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Felicity Buchan Felicity Buchan Conservative, Kensington 6:59 pm, 29th June 2020

I will keep my remarks short, Mr Deputy Speaker. First, I congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher) and for Sedgefield (Paul Howell) on two remarkable maiden speeches.

There is no question but that we need to get the economy up and running again, and that we need to do so with a sense of urgency. There is also no question but that the hospitality and construction sectors have suffered, and that they need our help. I welcome a number of things in this Bill, such as allowing tables and chairs to be put on pavements on a temporary basis. However, I am concerned about one particular provision in the Bill, which has already been referenced by Meg Hillier, and that is off sales of alcohol. As I read it, off sales of alcohol will be allowed to run for the same time as on sales of alcohol. I have a central London constituency, so I have many premises with late licences. I am concerned that if these late licences are to run until 1 o’clock in the morning, bars will still be selling alcohol on the streets to big groups of people until 12.30. Like the hon. Members for Hackney South and Shoreditch and for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney), I can say that central London has seen issues over the course of the past two to three weeks. I certainly had issues at the weekend in my constituency where the police were heavily involved. I ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to think about whether we could put a time limit on off sales—let us say to 11 pm.

My other point concerns construction work continuing on residential developments until 9 pm. I was delighted that my right hon. Friend said that this would not apply to single dwellings and that local authorities would have discretion even in major developments. Can I ask him to ensure that local authorities have that discretion, because many people in my constituency live in small terraced houses, bang on top of each other, and in mansion blocks? It is not like building a new estate outside a new town, where it does not affect anyone. Obviously, I spent a few weeks at home during the lockdown and I must say that a basement development going on next door until 9 pm would have been intolerable. I welcome what was said, but let us ensure that local authorities have that discretion.

In conclusion, I welcome the Bill, but ask my right hon. Friend to consider the time restriction on licensing for off sales.