My Lords, I am very interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, for once sticking up for the couples who run pubs. We have been listening for the past two or three years to him, virtually single-handed, opposing the ACV system that both the Labour Party and the Government supported. There are still problems with it, as we know; we need not get into it. It was, however, good to hear him stick up for the small pub couples. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, is wrong. Pubs are closing. They are closing and having change of use when the community does not want them. It is very easy to stereotype. I live in Cornwall, in a little village by the sea; if the two pubs there were to close it would be a disaster for the community, but the owners would make much more money selling them as desirable second homes. The same applies in London, because the property prices are so high. Many owners would rather sell their pubs and turn them in to luxury flats or something rather than keep them going, especially when the business rates issue is coming to the fore and there is fear of an enormous growth in the rates they will have to pay.
It is perfectly reasonable and very desirable that these amendments are supported. Pubs, as other noble Lords have said, are an essential part of the community. There have been examples where people have walked down the road and found that their pub suddenly has a barrier around it and is closed for good. They did not know that was going to happen as it was all done in secret.