Clause 9 - Requirement to keep a register

Licensing Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 8th April 2003.

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Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire 4:00 pm, 8th April 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 87, in

clause 9, page 5, line 37, leave out from 'and' to end of line 38 and insert

'and all relevant contact details that the Secretary of State may by regulation require.'.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Vice-Chair, Conservative Party

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government amendment No. 9.

Amendment No. 167, in

clause 9, page 5, line 45, leave out subsection (2).

Amendment No. 168, in

clause 9, page 6, line 3, at end insert

'except such as is necessary to cover the costs of providing access or making available a register'.

Amendment No. 169, in

clause 9, page 6, line 8, leave out 'may' and insert 'shall'.

Government amendments Nos. 12, 13, 46, 47 and 14.

Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire

The clause is important, not least because the Government are wanting yet again to overturn an amendment that was introduced in another place, an amendment that was well debated

at the time, and that had considerable support not only from those on the Conservative Benches, but people throughout—I use that word wisely—the industry that will be affected by the Bill.

Amendment No. 87 has been overtaken somewhat by our lengthy debate on clause 4 stand part on a central licensing authority. We debated whether there should be a central register or database and received a concession from the Government that they will now begin to honour the White Paper's intention, which stated clearly that a central database or register will be established.

The amendment has also been overtaken by events, because the details issued by a local authority should not be on a central register, although the local authority will be required to put on a database information that is deemed important by the Secretary of State and made by regulation. That may have to follow as a result of the Government's concession to set up the register. We shall await their proposals about what they intend to include on it.

Through the clause, the Government are yet again seeking to centralise their influence and power, and have included some fairly unnecessary rules and regulations pertaining to the decision making of the local authorities involved.

We accept the need to impose the obligation to maintain a register, but detailing exactly how a local authority should keep that register seems unnecessary and unacceptable. If central Government desire of local authorities that they use some ingenuity or initiative in doing what they are supposed to, they should trust them to be capable enough of keeping a register, and credit them with some responsibility.

Amendment No. 168 ensures that the cost of implementing the requirements of the provisions will not be too onerous for the local authorities that will be assuming the role of licensing authority. The costs incurred by local authorities could be fairly substantial. Recent representation from the LGA has reflected some disquiet on its part that the costs of implementation are going up by the minute as we proceed through the Bill.

We would like to see changes made to the legislation so that those costs are minimised and, if at all possible, have a neutral effect on the issuing functions that local authorities will take up. Subsection (3) demands that all licensing authorities make necessary arrangements and provide facilities for the inspection of the register by any person who turns up during office hours. We believe that that particular measure is unnecessary and is an unnecessary cost imposition.

The local authority will probably have to make a room available for such facilities and have someone on tap to look after people who want to examine the register, and we feel that there are other ways of doing that than the ways suggested in the Bill. In any event, if that provision remains, local authorities ought to be reasonably remunerated in some way for providing that facility. It could be carried out through the

council's IT system as part of its website. That would not cost the council very much, and would be accessible to quite a lot of people. Some consideration should be given to the unnecessary bureaucratic and regulatory burden of the provision.

Amendment No. 169, which I referred to during this morning's sitting, removes the word ''may'' in subsection (6) and inserts the word ''shall''. We have asked for the amendment to be considered to give a clearer indication of the Government's intention to ensure that the Secretary of State will arrange for the central database register to be set up—a move that is supported throughout the industry, and by local authorities. Such a register seems a highly desirable and pragmatic way of ensuring that references that need to be made to the details on personal licences will be held centrally and kept up to date. That will obviously have a financial implication, which, as the Minister said in an earlier debate, will be less than the implementation of a central licensing authority. Nevertheless, it will cost a lot of money. The question of appropriate computer systems must be thought through and, in the Minister's words, that may be delayed for some time until the problems can be overcome.

Government amendment No. 9 would delete subsection (1)(d). That subsection was carried in the other place after a lengthy debate in which many speakers supported it. In deleting it, the Government are seeking to remove ''the name and address of any person who has an estate or interest in the premises'', which are the subject of the licence. There is an existing right to register interests in section 32(2) of the Licensing Act 1964, and the question why that right is not being maintained in the Bill obviously arises.

The Government have to explain why they deem it necessary not only to ignore that point in drawing up the first draft of the Bill, but to remove a sensible amendment from the other place. They have attacked subsection (1)(d) once in a negative way by not including the right, which is in the 1964 Act, in the Bill and once in a direct and obvious way by tabling a Government amendment indicating that they want nothing to do with it. The right already exists and should be preserved and linked to all situations in which the investment of the party with the superior interest is potentially threatened by actions by the designated premises supervisor or the premises owner, or in any other circumstances that may arise.

An owning company will often be in a position to promote licensing objectives through its contractual agreement with the tenant or lessee, which is support for the Government's licensing objectives from an important party with a vested interest. It seems sensible that the Government and that interest should be drawn into the licensing objectives, which were set out and discussed earlier. The ability to register an interest would enable the owning company to meet its reversionary interest in the event of the demise of a tenant, which could be useful to both parties in the event of death or incapacity. It would also be beneficial where a tenant suddenly disappears leaving a serious problem behind. It would mean that,

by virtue of its interest, the owning company can step in, quickly appoint a new personal licence holder and continue trading without too much of a hiatus.

The beneficiary of the superior legal interest, which is protected, is entitled as a matter of natural justice to seek to ensure that its interest in the property—the value of which is linked to a significant degree to the possession of the premises licence—is indeed properly recognised. Over the past decade, we have seen the growth of companies with hundreds, if not thousands, of pub outlets—we will not name names. That has been a feature of the past few years, and many of those companies rely on their quotations in the City and on their share price for running their businesses and further expansion. In that regard, Opposition Members think it important to recognise that the City will look at the legislation relating to those businesses. If they can see a situation in which the so-called owner of the business does not have legal backing or the ability to solve local problems with its tenants and managers, the value of that business might not be deemed to be as high as perhaps it should be.

This is a very practical measure. No matter which way one looks at it, it makes sense. It makes sense from the industry's point of view—and we know that its representatives have consistently and seriously lobbied the Minister and his Department. It has not met with any objections that I am aware of, from any serious and involved quarter. There may well be a question mark over the individuals who run or manage such enterprises and outlets. Some may fear that if this overriding, overarching interest is too closely set out and detailed in the legislation, their security of tenure and position will be in some way undermined, in which case, that must be considered. However, it is my understanding that the people involved have looked at the matter carefully and are happy for the amendment made in the other place to stand. They are totally against the Government's intention, in amendment No. 9, to remove it.

I know that many other Committee members want to speak to the amendment. This is a very important point, which has been alluded to on many occasions, not least in the other place. We shall oppose the Government's intentions.

Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Selby 4:15 pm, 8th April 2003

I intend to try the patience of my silent and good friend the Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington, East (Mr. Kemp), by following the line of argument of the hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire and expressing a little scepticism about the need for amendment No. 9. I try my hon. Friend's patience for two reasons: first, it briefly makes me feel alive on a long Tuesday afternoon in what the Minister called this mediaeval monastery; secondly, amendments Nos. 9, 12 and 13 fall a little below the standard of perfection of other amendments that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has come up with.

As the hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire said, a right to register interests already exists in the Licensing Act 1964. Why is it a bad thing to have a register including not only the

designated premises supervisor but, perhaps, the company that owns a pub and so on?

The reason for my scepticism about the amendments is not primarily the interests of the pub companies, although clearly there is a legitimate interest for them in overseeing their estate and there are effects on employment and the community if, for example, someone absconds and the licensing authority does not know with whom to get in touch. However, my primary reason is that a register of interests would enable the licensing objectives to be more speedily enforced if there were a problem. If there were a problem with a licensed premises such as a pub or its landlord and the licensing authority needed to take action, it would surely be a good thing to have a register of interests, so that the pub company could be told of the problem instantly by the licensing authority and could probably nip it in the bud.

When I have spoken to Ministers about that and about the reasons why the Government oppose the amendment passed in the other place, the arguments come back that the interests of big business dominate the amendment and tenants do not want it, and that it is overly bureaucratic and the Local Government Association does not want it because it would cost too much to enforce.

I spent my lunchtime doing two things: trying to establish whether Saddam Hussein had indeed been killed earlier this morning and also over my ham sandwich ringing the relevant people to determine their attitude to the measure. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to have a quick word with the Minister before speaking this afternoon—I arrived just as the Committee began.

I first rang the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, which represents tenants, if anyone does. It faxed a letter to the Minister today noting that as long ago as September 2002 it had reached an agreement with the British Beer and Pub Association that

''the immediate landlord should have the right to his interest being recorded in the register''.

To be fair, it did want various assurances. I shall not go through the entire letter for reasons of time, but, basically, it wants to ensure that the

''registration of an interest does not entitle the landlord to any additional rights over the holder of the premises licence beyond that already enjoyed under present legislation.''

I do not see why it would, because that clearly comes under contractual law and is completely distinct from the provision. The FLVA noted that it wants to be involved in any consultations on the subject and ended its letter to the Minister by stating:

''The FLVA would be happy to enter into discussions with the LGA, the Government, the industry and the police to further progress this issue.''

That was the view of the tenants. Clearly, they are not violently opposed to the measure.

I then rang the Local Government Association. Again, I shall not read the full text of its reply. Incidentally, it was sent as an e-mail to me not the Minister, but I would be happy to forward it. The LGA stated that it

''would be happy to support the proposal of a register for property owners to be able to record their interests on a premises licence where their property is leased to a separate personal licence holder''.

The e-mail lists various matters that the association would like to discuss, such as the cost of registering an interest. I contacted the British Beer and Pub Association, which said that it would be prepared to talk to the LGA positively about marginal extra costs. So it appears that the tenants and the LGA are not opposed in principle to the measure.

Finally, I consulted one of the big, evil pub companies in whose interest the amendment supposedly was passed. Simon Townsend, the customer services director of Enterprise Inns, wrote to the Minister to explain his company's position. I shall try the patience of the Committee for just a few more seconds and read a couple of paragraphs from the letter:

''As the owner of a large number of licensed premises operating under leased and tenanted agreements, we feel that it is hugely important for us to be able to maintain and manage our interests in the premises licence, not just in order to protect our commercial interests, but also to be able to play our full part in the accountability of the licence holder to the local community, and our belief in the importance of a local pub at the heart of its community.

We believe that the interests of local communities, local authorities, law enforcement officers and individual licensees will be best served if we are required to be informed of any specific threats or proposed changes to a premises licence . . .

As regards proposed changes to a premises licence, we believe that the concerns for additional administrative burden are quite misplaced. If anything, the process of informing us as owners of the business, would ensure that a consolidated approach to proposed changes could take place . . . We believe that the administration involved would be little more than 'ticking the appropriate box' at the time of an application.

We have received the support of trade representatives of tenants and lessees for this course of action, and were heartened to see an amendment''

passed in the House of Lords.

It is not entirely clear that the world is against the amendment that was agreed in another place. The LGA made a happy suggestion. It said that it would be happy to participate in any discussions to further the issue. The LGA, the tenants and the British Beer and Pub Association agree to do that.

The civil servants in the Department were convinced that everything in the Bill about churches and music was right. Like us all, perhaps they make the occasional mistake. Our discussion this morning on the database provided a model by which all the parties get together to reach an agreement. That would have been unthinkable even six weeks ago when the Bill was in another place. I commend a similar approach for this clause.

Photo of Nick Harvey Nick Harvey Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

I shall also speak briefly against Government amendment No. 9. The hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire made a good case for why we should resist it, but that was as nothing compared with the tour de force that we have just had from the hon. Member for Selby (Mr. Grogan), whose misspent lunch hour will not have done anything to endear him to Her Majesty's

Government or improve his chances of a Government position, but I fancy that he probably did not entertain great hopes in that department in any case.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport 4:30 pm, 8th April 2003

It is well known that, outside the remit of the Committee, my hon. Friend is a rising star and on his behalf I certainly want to criticise the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Nick Harvey Nick Harvey Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

I entirely share the Minister's appreciation of the hon. Member for Selby. I am just disappointed that it has not yet resulted in the hon. Gentleman's call to office. I await the next reshuffle with interest.

The hon. Member for Selby made a good point. The owners of premises, who in some cases are chains, have a legitimate interest and that should be recorded, both from the practical point of view of their being able to help when problems arise and because not allowing them to have that interest registered strikes at the heart of the Government's decision to separate premises licences from personal licences, which in a sense was a laudable aim but one that the Government have rowed back from slightly since they set out down that path.

The premises themselves, as opposed to who is running them, should be viewed separately. If we are to do that adequately and meaningfully, we must maintain on the central register the vital information about who the owners of the premises are. Whether premises should be licensed and whether the current tenant or licence holder has been doing a good job of running the establishment are separate questions. The Government are making a mistake in trying to undo the amendment. In the light of the information that we have received that all the relevant parties appear to be content with what was done to the clause in the other place, or with some variation on what was done, and are interested in discussing it further, I urge the Government not to reject the provision as they seem to intend to do.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster

I, too, shall speak briefly. I certainly would not want to usurp the role of the hon. Member for North Devon (Nick Harvey) as the careers adviser for the hon. Member for Selby, but from his comments this morning I assumed that his decision to become an officer of the all-party beer group was made very much with his long-term career prospects in mind. Given that Selby is a target seat of my party, perhaps I should have said ''with his short-term career prospects in mind.'' Who knows?

I entirely agree with the proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cambridgeshire. It seems perverse that the Government are going to such trouble to row back from the sensible amendment that was agreed in the other place. Given the Government's views, I can understand why they wish to reverse some of their nine losses in the other place, but this change seems perverse. Really, there seems little point in having a register without knowing the name and address of the person who has an estate or interest in the premises.

When we were discussing the previous group of amendments, the Minister mentioned that he had considered the expert views of environmental health officers. I always get worried whenever expert views are mentioned. Expert views are often to be questioned, rather than to be given yet more credence. As a practical proposition, it seems odd that the Government wish to overturn the proposal from the other place. I hope that the Minister will be able to give robust reasons why he feels that a complete and comprehensive register should exclude what one might imagine would be basic information.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Before I deal with the Government amendments, I want so speak about amendments Nos. 87, 167, 168 and 169. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Selby who came charging on to the battlefield like the fifth cavalry. The Committee will remember what happened to them. I must tell my hon. Friend that the LGA is an interesting body because it seems to hold different views simultaneously. It is a democracy, but if it changes its mind from hour to hour we shall have something to say about that.

On cost, I must ask my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire what difference it would make for the BBPA to talk to local authorities about costs. They will be permanent and ongoing throughout the years and not one-off, as those for registration will be. The costs are, therefore, unlimited and would have to be paid from the annual charges paid by tenants, not landlords. If I were cynical, I would be worried that there was some confidence trickery going on—I am not implicating my hon. Friend—but we shall come to that in a moment or two.

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport


Amendment No. 87 is not necessary and would have undesirable effects. It would add to the list of information to be kept in the licensing register set out in the Bill all relevant contact details that the Secretary of State may set out in regulations. The amendment is unnecessary because clause 9(1)(e) provides that the Secretary of State may set out in regulations such other information as may be prescribed.

Leaving the detailed contents of licensing registers to secondary legislation provides for a degree of flexibility. Should it be necessary to amend the list of prescribed information to be contained on the register in the light of experience or future developments, we will not have to wait for the opportunity to amend primary legislation, which is an important consideration. Furthermore, by prescribing such further information in secondary legislation, we will ensure consistency and transparency throughout all licensing authorities.

Amendment No. 87 would also remove the requirement for licensing authorities to keep a record of personal licences issued. For reasons that I set out in detail when speaking to Government amendment No. 44, I ask that amendment No. 87 be withdrawn. When discussing amendment No. 44 and the amendments grouped with it, we had a useful debate

about the provisions in the Bill to establish a central licensing database. Although the drafting of the Bill is flexible so that implementation of the new regime can go ahead in the absence of a single, central system, the Government are committed to setting up such a system. That is why I cannot accept amendment No. 167, which would remove the power to make regulations as to the form and manner of licensing authority registers.

If we are all committed to a central database, as the Government are and as I feel Opposition Members are, there will come a point when data held severally by individual licensing authorities will need to be transferred under the central system. That process will be made considerably easier if licensing authorities record the same information in the same way. Amendment No. 167 would undermine that sensible objective and I hope that it will not pressed.

For similar reasons, I cannot accept amendment No. 169, which would remove the flexibility that the Bill gives to the Secretary of State to determine when it would be appropriate for details to be recorded on the central register.

Amendment No. 168 would allow the licensing authority to charge people to view the licensing register. I thought that the hon. Member for North-East Cambridgeshire over-egged the pudding. I understand completely that licensing authorities may wish to charge when, for example, they provide photocopies of information in the register. Surely it is too much to ask people who may be concerned, such as local residents, to pay just to see the information. Putting that information on the local authority web site is a useful suggestion, and there may be ways of considering that, but we cannot accept the amendment as it stands.

The Government certainly think that local residents, for example, should be able to see such information in the register without having to pay. That is why we resist the amendment. This is supposed to be an open and transparent system. Charging people for access to information in that way will place a barrier in the way of local people and I hope that amendment No. 168 will not be pressed to a Division.

On the Government amendments, the issue of registered interests had a good airing in another place. The purpose of this group of Government amendments is to restore the Bill to its original position following changes accepted there. The amendments would remove from the Bill references to persons having a registered interest in the premises affected. The changes were pressed for by some parts of the pub industry—we have heard all about that—and we have discussed the matter with it at great length. Although we are offering the pub industry considerably more flexibility and less red tape, we have not been able to agree with it on the subject. I shall try to explain why.

The Government believe that a licence holder's responsibility in respect of his licence is to the licensing authority, and that if a tenant is in dispute with the owner or lessee of the property, that is not a matter for licensing law. The Bill is about the carrying on of

licensable activities, not regulating interests in land. The Bill will improve on the current situation by providing a clear focus on matters that properly concern the licensing regime. Under the current system, which ties alcohol licences to the individual running the business on any premises, it makes more sense for those with an interest in the premises, often pub companies and breweries, to be able to register an interest.

If a pub manager leaves, the old licence must be transferred by the justices to the new manager, with a full hearing before the justices and decisions on whether the new manager is a fit and proper person. However, under the new system set out in the Bill, which splits the personal and premises licence, any pub operating company will be able to hold a premises licence itself and designate a manager as the premises supervisor. The Bill does not require the managers or tenants to hold a premises licence. When the premises licence holder wants to change the premises supervisor, there will therefore be no need for any hearing, just a simple notification—unless, exceptionally, the police elect to intervene. That is a significant reduction in red tape.

Notification of matters relating to licensable activities can be a requirement of the contractual relationship between the operating company and the manager, or the landlord and the tenant. Those with an interest in premises may avail themselves of protections in property law, such as registering a caution against dealings with premises, but those matters are properly outside the sphere of the regulatory regime, and are properly matters of private law. Before the Bill was amended, it set out quick and easy procedures to deal with transfers and changes of premises licences.

An interim authority notice can be given following the death, insolvency or mental incapacity of a licence holder. That reinstates the licence for two months, during which time an application for transfer can be made. Clause 47(2) sets out who can give such an interim authority notice. I would like to emphasise that, with a view to providing for continuity of business, it is intended that clause 47(2)(a), which refers to a person who

''has a prescribed interest in the premises concerned'',

will capture pub operating companies and owners of premises. At least one of the changes made in another place would therefore replicate provision for some of those whom it is already intended to cover.

Alternatively, in the case of death, insolvency or mental incapacity of the premises licence holder, or when a licence is surrendered, if it is known who will take over the business, a transfer of the premises licence may be applied for with immediate interim effect. Although the pub industry wants the concept of registered interest, that, of course, applies only to the big players in the industry. Many of the licensees in our constituencies will be tenants, and I am confident that several of those would not like that kind of control given to their landlords, some of whom may be

banks or property developers, not to mention pub companies.

Indeed, the big companies would expect to pay a few pounds for registering their interest, but the cost and bureaucracy that flow from the scheme, which sees large numbers of modifications and consents flying backwards and forwards between the companies and the licensing authorities, would not fall on them. Additional costs would have to be recovered by increasing the main fees for premises licences and annual charges. The tenants who hold the licences will have to pick up those costs and will probably pass them on to their customers. Notice of any surrender would be recorded on the licensing authority register, and could be accessed. Furthermore, there is no requirement to notify a landlord of surrender of a justices' licence under the current regime. If the Government amendments are accepted, the Bill will still offer protections for business, provide quick and simple procedures where changes are needed and require licensing authorities to record and make available information about all authorisations and notices.

The Bill must remain focused on matters that properly relate to licensing. However convenient it may be to the pub industry, the Bill cannot become a means of addressing issues that are the concern of contractual arrangements between parties, which are subject to private law. We must therefore restore this part of the Bill to its original form.

Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire 4:45 pm, 8th April 2003

There we have it. The Minister has said it all, and not an inch has been given. There was not even an acknowledgement that all these good people have got together over lunch—today or yesterday—and agreed that there is not a problem. The Minister has just said that in his opinion the licensed victuallers are totally against the Government, but that is not the case. The hon. Member for Selby made that point after having spoken to them by telephone today—and, no doubt, having been in contact with them regularly during the past few weeks. The industry certainly wants the provision in the Bill, and nowhere in the arguments that I offered to the Committee did I hint at serious problems between the owner and the tenant or manager.

The provision could be helpful to the police, for example, if they turned up at premises where there were serious problems, the designated premises licence holder was not around, and the personal licence holder had disappeared. It would be in the interests of the police to know exactly who to approach to say, ''Your interest here in this location is in serious jeopardy, and it's up to you sort out the situation.'' I had a constituency case some months ago in which there were complaints about the state of a pub car park. A representation to the landlord or tenant bore no fruit, but I was able to contact the owner of the premises—it was a brewery—and within two days I had an answer, and action. If the public knew who had a vested interested in the premises it would be helpful in more ways than one in tackling some of the key objectives that we have been discussing, in particular those relating to law and order and public nuisance.

The Minister talked about flexibility, but I do not think for a moment that the Government's intention will render greater flexibility. He talked about a case in which the designated premises licence holder had been changed by the premises licence holder. He said that a simple notification to that effect would suffice. However, our understanding of the Bill is that such a change would be a variation, so a whole new licence would have to be applied for. Perhaps the Minister could clarify what he meant. It is not our understanding that such changes can be effected easily by simple notification. We thought that if there were a fundamental change of licence holder, that would constitute a variation and a new application would have to be made. That is not decreasing the bureaucracy; in our opinion, it is dramatically increasing it.

We believe that if the interest of the owner of the premises is noted in that way, owners will take a greater interest in their pubs and outlets. Given all the other provisions in the Bill that may militate against their interests, licence holders will want to ensure that the individuals on the ground running their enterprises are complying with the law, and are doing so in a way that will not attract the type of opprobrium, problems, objections and complaints that could make their businesses suffer if licences were withheld for any reason.

Licence holders therefore have a vested interest in knowing what is happening in the various outlets—for some chains, that means in hundreds of different outlets. With the best will in the world, and perfect management, there will always be problems. The provision simply highlights the fact that licence holders have an interest and can act positively to fulfil the Government's aims and objectives if they are encouraged and brought on board. The amendment introduced by their lordships strengthens rather than weakens the legislation.

I am happy to withdraw my amendments. I have already said that amendment No. 87 has been overtaken by our discussion on an earlier clause. However, we shall oppose amendment No. 9, because we believe that clause 9(1)(d) has almost universal support. There is support from Back-Bench Labour Members and from the Conservatives. I cannot speak for the Liberal Democrats, but no doubt they will pipe up in a moment to say that they are in favour of retaining that provision. Perhaps they have already done so. [Interruption.] I beg the pardon of the hon. Member for North Devon; he already has said that.

The provision also has the support of the trade—the British Beer and Pub Association. If representatives from the Local Government Association are listening to our deliberations, they should reconsider what they are telling component parts of the Committee and the Government, because we seem to be getting mixed messages. However, my understanding, which was corroborated by the hon. Member for Selby, is that the LGA is happy for the provision to remain in the Bill. As for the Licensed Victuallers Association, although it expresses concern about interpretation and wants a guarantee that the provision will not undermine its rights under present

legislation, it is happy to see the provision stay in the Bill.

At no time did the Minister attempt to justify this fundamental shift. He did not explain the necessity of changing the right enshrined in the Licensing Act 1964, why that provision has not worked, or why it is working against the public interest. Why is the right for those involved in the trade being removed?

Photo of Kim Howells Kim Howells Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

I apologise; I should have explained that the existing right in the 1964 Act makes sense because managers hold the only licence and their employers do not. Under the new system in the Bill, the employer—the business—would normally hold the premises licence, so the two arguments cannot be properly compared. It is like comparing chalk and cheese.

Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire

I am not sure that I agree. Why else would those who have an interest in the premises argue for the retention of the provision in the Bill? The Minister shrugs his shoulders; he does not know. I shall move on. We shall oppose the amendment, and I suspect that the subject will return on Report if we are defeated and the Government get their way today. The issue is important, it seems that there is universal agreement on it—[Interruption.]

Photo of Malcolm Moss Malcolm Moss Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire

The only people who do not agree are the Minister and his officials in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The Opposition, and many people with a vested interest in retaining the provision, think that he and his Department have set their face against it. Hitherto, no powerful arguments have been brought forward to justify its removal by amendment No. 9.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: No. 9, in

clause 9, page 5, line 41, leave out paragraph (d).—[Dr. Howells.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 5.

Division number 8 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 9 - Requirement to keep a register

Aye: 7 MPs

No: 5 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 9, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. Kemp.]

Adjourned accordingly at three minutes to Five o'clock till Thursday 10 April at five minutes to Nine o'clock.