My Lords, I support the amendment. Of course, pubs have to be closed where there is no business. All we are seeking is a filter so that there is an opportunity for the local community to make representations and consider it seriously. Planning laws cover so many—often very minor—things. It is not asking a lot that, if there were a request for a pub to be closed, at least a planning application would have to be made. This would mean that the local parish council—and I declare an interest as the chairman of my parish council—would have the opportunity to gather the views of the community. They could make their point to the planning authority—the district council—which may go the other way.
There are two reasons why pubs close. The main one is that there is not the business to keep them going. The other is that people buy pubs in order to convert them to houses. I know cases in Suffolk where that has happened. They buy them as going concerns and then, quite callously, seek planning permission to close them.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, has a strong point and I hope the Minister will agree that, at least, closures should be subject to a planning application. I think it is pretty silly to have to get planning permission to put up a garden fence more than six feet high and eight feet from the road. All one is asking here is for the community to have the opportunity to express a voice.