The clause will reform the street trading licence appeals process in the City of Westminster and other London local authorities. Such street trading appeals in the rest of the UK are already heard by magistrates courts, or can be challenged by judicial review. At present, however, appeals arising in the London boroughs are heard by the Secretary of State. The clause will remove Ministers and Government officials from this judicial role by transferring the responsibility to hear London street trading appeals to local magistrates courts. This will ensure fairness and political impartiality in the interpretation of legislation. The changes will be achieved by making amendments to the City of Westminster Act 1999 and the London Local Authorities Act 1990. I commend the clause to the Committee.
I shall be equally brief. I have one quick question for the Minister. Perhaps he will have inspiration before I finish speaking. What estimate has been made of the savings generated to central Government by the switch? If he has the information to hand, what additional costs fall to the magistrates courts? If not, he may write to me afterwards, if that is convenient.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question, which is a sensible one. The Government’s view is that the appeals process will run more swiftly in the local magistrates court. In past years, appeals heard by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills have taken between one and five years to resolve—the hon. Gentleman would agree that that is rather a long time frame—and the majority have taken about two years. In contrast, it is reckoned that an appeal hearing with an estimated duration of half to one day would take eight to 12 weeks to list; an estimated appeal hearing of two days or more would take longer to list, but could be expedited in the case of urgent hearings. I hope that he agrees that this process will clearly improve the speed in which appeals are heard. On his specific question about the cost, the estimated saving associated with the measure is about £19,000.