I spoke very briefly in Committee in support of this amendment, and I would like to do the same again now. I have no shares in pubs but, like many Members of your Lordships’ House, I have made a considerable investment in a number of pubs over the years and continue to do so.
I understand the points that the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, makes in an accountancy sense and a clinical sense. Of course, they are true. He talked about people drinking at home, which people are doing more of, as we know—but this is not about people drinking at home; it is about people drinking with other people, in the community, and all that brings to the community. It is not just about drinking anymore. I think of my local pub, which has wi-fi and excellent food—not just fish and chips on Friday, although it does that very well. It has an art gallery behind it and all sorts of things, including pub quizzes, of course. It is a major hub in the community and would be hugely missed.
I am sure that in your Lordships’ House we all have memories of pubs and pubs we currently use. They are a uniquely British institution. We are losing them too fast anyway and surely we should do anything we can to hang on to those that we have. There are good reasons why we might have some difficulties in keeping them open, but they are a uniquely British institution and this amendment is a very sensible one. I hope that the Minister feels minded to accept it.