All 7 contributions to the Business and Planning Act 2020 (Ministerial Extracts Only)

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Mon 29th Jun 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & 2nd reading
Mon 29th Jun 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Commons Chamber

3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Report stage & Report stage: House of Commons & Committee stage & Report stage & 3rd reading
Mon 6th Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Mon 13th Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Mon 20th Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Lords Chamber

Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage
Mon 20th Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Lords Chamber

3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tue 21st Jul 2020
Business and Planning Bill
Commons Chamber

Consideration of Lords amendments & Ping Pong & Ping Pong: House of Commons

Business and Planning Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons
Monday 29th June 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
2nd reading Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 29 June 2020 (PDF) - (29 Jun 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Alok Sharma Portrait The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Alok Sharma)
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I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Covid-19 has had a profound impact across the economy. It required many businesses to shut their doors on 23 March, and they have taken a significant economic hit to protect the public’s health, so it was vitally important, at the start of this pandemic, that we put our arms around businesses to provide them with support to protect our people’s livelihoods at the same time as we protected our nation’s health.

So far, the job retention scheme has supported over 9 million jobs; 2.6 million people have been helped by the self-employment scheme; over 850,000 small businesses have benefited from around £10.5 billion in grants; and over £40 billion of Government-backed loans have been made to over 970,000 businesses. Every one of these interventions has helped individual families in each of our constituencies, but we are now reopening the economy in a cautious and phased manner, and the measures in the Bill are designed to provide a boost to businesses to help them as they look to bounce back from a period of enforced hibernation.

On 25 June, the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill received Royal Assent, and I thank the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) and all colleagues for their support in an expeditious passage for that Bill. Similarly, I hope we will be able to expedite the passage of the Business and Planning Bill. I acknowledge the very constructive discussions that we have had on the individual measures in the Bill with the shadow Secretary of State and, indeed, all shadow Ministers.

The overall aim of the Bill is to provide an adrenaline boost to key sectors of our economy. We want to support the hospitality sector by allowing outdoor dining and off-premises sale of alcohol, helping the sector back on its feet with the promise of al fresco dining for all this summer.

Jonathan Gullis Portrait Jonathan Gullis (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that the measures allowing al fresco dining are essential to allowing the food and hospitality sector to bounce back following lockdown, and will he encourage all those businesses to go and update their ceramics and buy purely from Stoke-on-Trent?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend makes a compelling case for his constituency, and he makes an equally important point that this is an opportunity to get businesses going—up and running—after a period of enforced hibernation.

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con)
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We are all very grateful for my right hon. Friend’s efforts, particularly to help small businesses. I have noticed in Lincolnshire that small businesses and shops seem to have done better during the lockdown, as people have wanted to shop locally. As we are helping small business, would it not be a retrograde step if we were to reopen Sunday trading laws, since it is our present Sunday trading laws that do so much to protect small shops and businesses from large businesses and supermarkets?

--- Later in debate ---
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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As my right hon. Friend will know, measures related to Sunday trading are not in the Bill, but of course Sunday trading has been temporarily relaxed in the past, during the Olympics, and that was about ensuring support for businesses and consumers. But as I said, that is not in the Bill.

Through this Bill, we also want to support the construction sector to get Britain building again by enabling the extension of site operating hours and extending until 1 April 2021 planning permissions that have lapsed or will lapse between 23 March and 31 December.

Katherine Fletcher Portrait Katherine Fletcher (South Ribble) (Con)
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Does my right hon. Friend agree that construction is vital to getting our economy going, including in South Ribble, where my constituents are looking forward to the new Tesco’s in Penwortham? For that reason, I welcome these measures. Does he agree that they are vital to supporting growth as we come out of lockdown?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend makes an important point. I know she is working incredibly hard to support businesses in South Ribble, and I am sure she is looking forward to going to the Tesco’s once it is up and running.

We also want to support the transport sector by enabling shorter-term licences for drivers of heavy goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles and allowing for the risk-based testing of HGVs and public service vehicles. These measures will allow goods and public transport to keep moving. We want to continue to support small and medium-sized enterprises through the quicker delivery of bounce-back loans, which have provided a financial lifeline for more than 920,000 small businesses so far. This measure is retrospective and will disapply elements of consumer credit law.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)
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I speak as co-chair of the all-party group on fair business banking and support the suspension of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 with regard to bounce-back loans due to affordability issues, but does the Secretary of State agree that it is vital that lenders still comply with the requirement to treat customers fairly in the collection process or if there are debt issues later on and that forbearance is applied?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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As ever, my hon. Friend raises an incredibly important point. Yes, forbearance is part of these measures, and we would expect that very much to apply.

Before I turn to the detail of the Bill, I want to thank all those across industry and both Houses who have engaged with the Government to help develop the measures in the Bill. I also thank the Local Government Association, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Home Builders Federation and the British Property Federation for sharing their expertise. I am pleased to say that the measures in the Bill enjoy wide stakeholder support. The LGA, the Federation of Small Businesses, the British Beer and Pub Association, UKHospitality, the Freight Transport Association, the Road Haulage Association, the Royal Town Planning Institute, the British Property Federation and UK Finance have all expressed their support.

Huw Merriman Portrait Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) (Con)
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I add my name to that long list, but can my right hon. Friend give some confidence to local authorities? There are a lot of planning rules and regulations, and some of our planning officers are quite conservative in their interpretation. Where there is discretion, can we send the message out from this place that decisions must be decided in favour of business and of opening up?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Of course we want to make sure that businesses open up, and we want local authorities to help local businesses do that, which is precisely the reason for these measures. We will publish guidance alongside the measures in the Bill, and I would ask local authorities to adhere to it. If my hon. Friend has any specific suggestions, I would be very happy to hear from him, as would my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, who will wind up this debate.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells) (Con)
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My right hon. Friend is making a compelling case for giving a boost to many sectors of the economy, but will he reflect on the fact that some sectors will not be able to reopen because of the necessary rules? I am thinking of theatres, concert venues and other music venues. Given the need to adhere to the rules, will he make special provision for those that cannot trade their way out of difficulty?

On the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) made, it would be very unfortunate if any of these venues, theatres or concert halls fell into insolvency, and we hope to avoid that, but in doing so we should guard against granting planning permissions that take them immediately out of those very valued uses. Will my right hon. Friend reflect on both during the passage of this Bill?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My right hon. Friend, who has previously served as Business Secretary with great distinction, raises a number of important points. On insolvency, he will know that with the support of both Houses, we passed the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, which came into effect on 25 June. When it comes to providing support to businesses, I think the best thing we can possibly do is to open them up, and I know that that is a sentiment that he will appreciate as a former Business Secretary. I would love to be able to have the whole economy operating and opening up, but we all understand why we are taking a phased and cautious approach: we want to continue to meet our five tests, and we want to ensure that the R value stays below one. In the tourism sector and the theatre sector, which he mentioned, ministerial colleagues are working closely on these issues.

I turn first to the temporary measures in the Bill to step up the recovery of our hospitality sector. Our 127,000 pubs, restaurants and cafés, which employ around 2 million people, are the lifeblood of our high streets and town centres. Social distancing guidelines significantly affect their capacity to accommodate customers, and food and beverage service activity has fallen by nearly 90% in the last quarter. The Bill introduces a temporary fast-track process for pubs, cafés and restaurants to obtain local council permission to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises.

Anthony Mangnall Portrait Anthony Mangnall (Totnes) (Con)
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I spent my weekend in Dartmouth speaking to some of those businesses in the hospitality and tourism trade. May I associate myself with the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Huw Merriman) about making sure that councils are not over-zealous in their approach to allowing businesses to adopt the measures in the Bill for outdoor dining? I think it is very important that we can give those businesses reassurance.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Of course my hon. Friend makes an important point, but I think local authorities will understand that it is in their self-interest to ensure that businesses can open and that high streets flourish. I certainly encourage businesses to look at the guidance and adhere to it.

Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) (Lab/Co-op)
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In my borough, licensed premises are a very important part of the local economy, and we work with local residents to support them. This measure, with seven days’ notice, allows an enormous amount of off-sales, which are already causing havoc in my constituency with people defecating, urinating and leaving problems in parks. People are talking about fake Glastonbury. This is going to cost my borough a lot of money to police. We are not party poopers, but we do not want the other sort of pooping, either. Will the Secretary of State make provision to allow councils some discretion where there is a particular problem with a licensed premises causing antisocial behaviour?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Ultimately, it is possible to revoke these permissions, and expedited processes have been put in place. Nobody wants to see bad behaviour, but this is a 10-day process, and there is an opportunity in the first five working days for anyone to put in their views to the local authority. Ultimately, the local authority decides. There is also a clear requirement that a legible notice is put up at the premises, so anyone who is in the locality will be able to see it when they pass by, and they can make representations if they wish. These new measures will cut the time to receive approval for this licence from an average of 42 working days to just 10 working days, and the application fee is capped at £100.

Public safety and access for disabled people using pavements is of course absolutely vital, so I can confirm that local authorities will be able to refuse or revoke licences where appropriate. The Government will be publishing minimum requirements and guidance for footway widths and distances required for access by disabled people.

Matt Western Portrait Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)
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The Secretary of State spoke earlier about the organisations that he has consulted. Has he engaged with, say, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to understand the sorts of risks and challenges that people with sight loss face? We have a centre for guide dogs in my constituency. This is a real issue for these organisations.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I can confirm that we have engaged with disability groups in the preparation of the clauses in this Bill.

We will also be making changes to alcohol licensing. Currently, any licensee wishing to add off-the-premises sales permission has to apply for a licence variation. This takes time, with a 28-day notice period, adverts placed, and sometimes a hearing. Ordinarily, of course, that is necessary. However, hospitality businesses are not operating in ordinary economic times, as we all acknowledge, so the Government are temporarily changing the process. Under the measures in this Bill, most licences will automatically and temporarily be extended to include off-the-premises sales. However, there are safeguards in place. The extension will not include premises that have been denied off-sales permission or had it removed within the past three years. Taken together, these measures will help our hospitality industry to get back to business over the busy summer months.

Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier
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Has the right hon. Gentleman given any thought to allowing a review of this Bill, because—I am particularly talking about the hospitality industry—it will be coming into operation over a busy summer period, and we will see the effects of that? If he were to agree to a three-month review period where we, as a House, can see the evidence and then, if necessary, amend legislation, that would be a welcome step.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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First, these are of course temporary measures. A 90-day rolling review, which I think the hon. Lady is proposing, would undermine the certainty that we are giving businesses in terms of these particular measures. She will know, however, that should the Government wish to extend any of the measures, they will be subject to made affirmative or draft affirmative procedures, so they will come before the House before there is any opportunity to extend them further.

I now return to the issue of trying to get the construction sector moving. In 2018, this sector represented almost 9% of our GDP. Lockdown has had a profound impact on construction sites across the country. We estimate that almost 1,200 unimplemented major residential planning permissions, with capacity to deliver over 60,000 homes, have lapsed or will lapse between the start of lockdown on 23 March and 31 December this year. Therefore, the Bill introduces powers to extend these planning permissions and listed building consents to 1 April 2021. This will be automatic for permissions that have not lapsed at the point that these measures come into force. Lapsed permissions can be reinstated and can benefit from the same extension, but subject to necessary environmental approvals.

We will also make it quicker for developers to apply for longer construction site working hours. This will help to facilitate safe working—for example, by staggering workers’ hours—and to make up for lost progress. Applications will be concluded within 14 days. This measure does not apply to applications from individual householders. Local authorities retain discretion and can refuse applications where there would be an unacceptable impact. Again, this is a temporary measure. Extended hours can only last up until 1 April 2021, unless extended by secondary legislation.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller (North East Bedfordshire) (Con)
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Across my constituency, there is already tremendous local sensitivity about excessive developments, the planning process and some of the procedures for public participation in the process being curtailed—there are virtual meetings and sometimes council executives make decisions on their own. Will the Secretary of State assure me that the Bill will not limit public participation in anything that might be the result of an extension or expansion of existing planning permission or indeed a new planning permission?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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No, it will not. I will talk a bit about hybrid appeal proceedings, and I think my hon. Friend will find that helpful.

There are two further planning measures that relate to the new spatial development strategy for London and hybrid appeal proceedings. The Mayor of London will shortly publish the new spatial development strategy, setting out plans for new homes for London. The Bill temporarily removes, until 31 December, the requirement for the strategy to be available for physical inspection and to provide hard copies on request. That ask from the Mayor of London will help to address practical challenges from social distancing.

Social distancing has also constrained the Planning Inspectorate’s ability to conduct hearings and inquires, and a backlog has been growing. Through the Bill, we will enable the inspectorate to combine written representations, hearings and inquiries when dealing with appeals. That change was recommended by the independent Rosewell review. A recent pilot undertaken on the review measures reduced average decision-making time from 47 weeks to 23 weeks.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
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The Secretary of State mentioned 60,000 houses that big companies will be able to build, but does he recognise that small and medium-sized companies that do refurbishments, extensions and small works are critical to the core of the economy? Will he ensure that they can also progress their applications through councils for approval? They may be sitting on the line where that may not happen.

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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As I said, these measures will not relate to residential applications that have been made. The whole point is to get the construction sector moving. I have talked about a range of measures that we have set out for the sector, and I hope that more SME builders will be able to take advantage of them.

The Bill will enable lenders to continue issuing bounce-back loans quickly and at scale. It will retrospectively disapply the unfair relationships provisions in the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for lending made under the scheme. Reflecting current circumstances, the bounce-back loan scheme allows lenders to rely on self-certification from the business that it meets the eligibility criteria for the scheme and can afford to pay back the loan. It also provides for simpler information disclosure requirements to the borrowers. That will ensure that small businesses can continue to access the financial support that they need without undue delay.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller
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I am very grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. I want to take him back to the point about public participation, because it is such a sensitive area. He said that in clause 20, the procedures for planning proceedings can be altered. Either now or in Committee, can he clarify who will be making those decisions and what impact that will have on public participation in relation to housing developments that might have a dramatic impact in the area? I want to be clear about whether the Bill will affect that dramatically.

--- Later in debate ---
Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The Minister for Housing, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Christopher Pincher), will deal with the details of that. The point of these measures is to get the economy going, which my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Richard Fuller) is keen to do. I understand his point, and we will address it in Committee.

The Bill temporarily allows the issuing of one-year lorry or bus driving licence renewals, rather than the standard five years. Shorter renewals will be allowed if an applicant is otherwise healthy but unable to obtain the medical report required for a five-year licence. That will relieve pressure on GPs and allow drivers to continue to work. The Bill also reforms powers to exempt temporarily goods vehicles, buses and coaches from roadworthiness testing. That will allow the high demand for heavy-vehicle testing, which restarts from 4 July, to be managed in a manner that prioritises road safety by targeting higher-risk vehicles or operators.

In conclusion, the Government have stood shoulder to shoulder with businesses throughout the covid-19 emergency and now, as we emerge from this pandemic, we need to support our economic recovery and help businesses with more flexible ways of working. The great British economy, helped by a willing public, is reawakening from its enforced slumber. Taken together, the measures in the Bill are designed to provide a much-needed economic boost, and I commend it to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Christopher Pincher Portrait The Minister for Housing (Christopher Pincher)
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First, I am sure on behalf of the whole House, I want write into the record my appreciation of the maiden speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher) and for Sedgefield (Paul Howell). My hon. Friend the Member for South Ribble demonstrated some oratorical elasticity in the sense that she was able to draw together Tacitus, Cartimandua and Peter Kay. Historians among us recognise and honour that feat, although I suspect the Whips Office paid greater attention to the fact that she said she might occasionally prefer to be a rebel.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield paid full tribute to Phil Wilson, a strong and fine member of the Opposition Whips Office, and he also paid some tribute to the chap who preceded him; I forget his name. My hon. Friend spoke in prose and gave us some poetry, but whether he speaks in poetry or prose, he will always be welcome in this Chamber and, perhaps one day, even in Trimdon Labour club.

I also wish to congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Meriden (Saqib Bhatti), for Kensington (Felicity Buchan) and for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) for their support for the measures we are introducing—I shall say some more words about those shortly. I also congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes) and the entrepreneurial spirit of all at the Rockingham Arms, and look forward to her letter to me on nitrates. I also congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for Wantage (David Johnston), for Arundel and South Downs (Andrew Griffith) and for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake), whose support for the bounce-back loan I am grateful for—I shall pass his message on that to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. I thank all Members from across the House for this lively, constructive and, I think, supportive debate, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Croydon North (Steve Reed) for his support for these measures. He is right to say that occasionally we fling some spice and some ginger across the Chamber in our debates, but when it really matters, when the chips are down, we all want the best for our country, which is why we are coming together to support this Bill tonight.

The Bill is good news for our businesses, for jobs and for everyone who is looking forward to enjoying a safe summer as we bounce back from an incredibly difficulty period. We need to tread carefully, but, thanks to the sacrifices and resolve of the British people, and the unprecedented support this Government have provided, we are turning a corner and on the road to recovery. This Bill is pivotal to that economic and social recovery, and I am pleased that the measures it contains to support hard-hit sectors and help businesses adjust to new, safer ways of working have, as I say, been largely welcomed. As my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary said earlier, we listened to and worked with a wide variety of stakeholders and experts, and we are delivering on what they told us through this Bill. So I welcome this opportunity to address important issues raised in this debate, to ensure that the Bill gets Britain back to work safely and that the power, prosperity and opportunities we all want to see are returned to our economic sector.

We know that the hospitality industry is raring to go. Our restaurants, pubs and bars want to make the most of summer trading and welcome back their customers, and it is vital we support them to do that safely. As my right hon. Friend said, this is the third largest employer in our economy, with the pandemic and social distancing measures having serious consequences for its ability to operate. That is why the Bill will temporarily make it easier for businesses, including restaurants, pubs and bars, to obtain a licence, to set up outdoor seating and to sell either food or alcohol, or both, with a fast track to get permission for furniture such as tables and chairs on pavements, thereby enabling them to maximise capacity, within social distancing guidelines. I understand that there may be concerns about potential obstruction of highways, so I wish to reassure the House that we are taking steps to mitigate that. Recommended minimum footway widths and distances required for those with impaired vision and mobility, for example, will be clearly set out using the Department for Transport’s inclusive mobility guidelines, thus striking a balance between the effective use of space and maintaining traffic and thoroughfare. In addition, we will provide councils with enforcement powers and the ability to revoke licences where conditions are breached.

I should emphasise that the changes to outdoor eating and drinking and off sales will be carefully implemented to minimise public nuisance and reduce any crime or disorder. The police already have powers to issue closure notices to a premises in such cases under section 76 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, but we are also building in safeguards to the Bill, such as an expedited review process for alcohol licences, which allows responsible authorities such as the police to quickly alter the licensing conditions granted to premises if necessary. They will be able to revoke permissions granted. I will work with my colleagues in the Home Office and the Local Government Association to ensure that those measures work.

Taken together, the temporary new measures will be a lifeline for our hospitality industry, as are those we propose for planning to restart the construction industry and deliver the homes this country still very much needs.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
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In my contribution, I referred to the temporary events notices for breweries. Has the Minister had a chance to look at the provisions that they need to ensure that they can continue to prosper and do well after the covid crisis is over?

Christopher Pincher Portrait Christopher Pincher
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The hon. Gentleman mentions breweries. He knows that the Bill largely covers England and England and Wales. It does not cover other areas of our devolved community. However, I can tell him that by ensuring that breweries’ customers open up and can sell alcohol to their customers, we are helping breweries around the country and in Northern Ireland, whether they are big or small.

As hon. Members have heard, activity is picking up in the construction industry, another sector that is an engine of our economy and that is keen to get Britain building again. I pay particular tribute to construction workers up and down our country who worked through the pandemic and the businesses that got their sites back up and running in these difficult circumstances. I am pleased to support their efforts through the safe working charter, which my Department developed with the Home Builders Federation.

However, we know that there is more to do. Home starts and completions are well down on last year, with planning permissions for at least 60,000 homes hanging in the balance. That is why we are speeding up the planning system through the temporary measures in the Bill as part of a wider reform to ensure that it is fit for the 21st century. That means greater flexibility for builders to seek extensions to site working hours to facilitate social distancing, which will support the sector’s safe economic recovery. We want work on construction sites to resume swiftly and safely, but I recognise the potential effect of the change on residents when we are all spending more time at home. Several Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, raised that point.

I encourage builders to work constructively with local communities and councils to minimise disruption. I want to be clear that councils will retain local discretion over the decision-making process. They also have legal duties regarding statutory nuisance, which continue. They know their areas best and that is why they will continue to have discretion in their local decision-making processes. They are well placed to judge the effect on local businesses and residents, and where there will be an unacceptable impact, they retain the discretion to refuse extended hours.

We are also enabling the extension of planning permissions that have expired since the lockdown began or are about to expire, saving literally hundreds of projects. This is at the request of local authorities and the construction sector. I recognise that there is a risk of schemes being delayed further if existing permissions are extended too long, which is why this will be only a temporary measure. Our extension date of 1 April 2021 strikes the right balance between giving certainty to the sector and ensuring that there are no further undue delays to new developments.

Another significant measure, which will help us double the pace of appeals while maintaining fair decision making, is the proposal to enable the Planning Inspectorate to advance appeals using more than one type of procedure. When we tested this hybrid approach last year, we more than halved the appeal time. This change, backed by all parties in the planning system, will be introduced on a permanent basis. In making these changes, it is important that we bring communities with us, and I am satisfied that, by agreeing through the Bill to temporarily remove the requirement for copies of the London plan to be made available for inspection at premises and on request, and instead enabling inspection free of charge by electronic means, the interests of transparency and accountability will be served.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller
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I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for clarifying a point that I raised earlier during the Secretary of State’s speech. I would just like to ask him for clarification on a slightly more detailed point about housing developments outside London, particularly those in my constituency. It is about the process in the Bill for the public themselves having the opportunity to review any application. What changes, if any, might occur to their rights to make representations on applications?

Christopher Pincher Portrait Christopher Pincher
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I do not believe that this Bill does anything to disadvantage anybody in their right to fair access to information. Some of the changes that we have already made allow people to take part in planning committees virtually. Not everybody wants to go down to their town hall at 10 o’clock on a wet February evening if they can, quite literally, dial into those planning committees and see what is going on. They have access in a way that they would not ordinarily have.

I make this final point with reference to my hon. Friend’s point and the changes that we are making to the Planning Inspectorate’s processes. This particular proposition was made by Dame Bridget Rosewell as part of her recommendations. It was one of the 22 recommendations that she made, and it will allow planning inspectors to use a variety of tools consecutively to speed up their adjudication on decisions, which is good for everybody involved in the process. The average time has already been cut from 47 weeks to 23. We believe that this mechanism will speed up adjudication on planning decisions even more, and that is to the betterment of all involved.

This Bill could not be more important for reopening our economy, for championing firms large and small and for helping people live their lives again, with safety still paramount. Let us ensure this Bill’s swift passage, as I think all hon. Members have said in their contributions, and get Britain back in business. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time; to stand committed to a Committee of the whole House (Order, this day).

Business and Planning Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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3rd reading & 3rd reading: House of Commons & Committee: 1st sitting & Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons & Report stage & Report stage: House of Commons & Committee stage
Monday 29th June 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
3rd reading Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 29 June 2020 (PDF) - (29 Jun 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

This is a cross-party effort. New clause 1 is in my name, but it is supported by many Members. I hope that the Government will take notice and provide support for an industry that is the fourth biggest employer in the United Kingdom and the biggest employer in Cumbria. While I recognise that extending support for that industry from October through to spring will be expensive, I want the Minister to realise that not providing that support will also be hideously expensive, as tens of thousands of people become unemployed and we see the collapse of businesses that would otherwise be healthy and ready to start the fightback from the beginning of the new season in spring. I will not seek to divide the Committee on this matter, but I strongly urge the Minister to acknowledge what I am saying and to commit the Government to supporting a package of support for hospitality and tourism right the way through to spring 2021.
Christopher Pincher Portrait The Minister for Housing (Christopher Pincher)
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I thank everyone in the Chamber for the constructive discussion that we have had in Committee and on Second Reading. I want particularly to thank Opposition Front Benchers for the positive discussions we have had over the last several days to bring this Bill through all its stages today.

I also thank all the members of the BEIS team who have provided such great support for the Bill, those in the Department for Transport, those in my office and particularly—in my own Department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government—Simon Gallagher and his planning team for all their efforts while there have been other demands, with the covid-19 emergency, on their time.

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set out, the overall aim of the Bill is to provide a boost to key sectors of our economy—the hospitality, construction, transport and SME sectors. It will support businesses across the economy, particularly in the hardest-hit sectors, to transition from the immediate crisis and the response to lockdown towards economic recovery. It will also support businesses to implement new safer ways of working to manage the ongoing risk of covid-19, and particularly the need, as we all know, for continued social distancing.

Hon. Members have made important points in their contributions on the amendments and new clauses tabled in Committee, and I should like to discuss them in turn. I turn first to amendment 3 to clause 9 of this Bill, which speaks to the same point as amendment 2. I thank Opposition Members for this amendment, as it raises the important matter that we would want to include in our definition of “relevant highway” those highways that benefit from a temporary traffic restriction order. This is particularly so given that more of these orders are now being made to encourage active travel, including walking, as people get back to work and more shops reopen. Our definition did not include highways where such temporary traffic restriction orders are in place, and it should have done; that was our intention. If we do not make this change, the scope of the pavement licence provisions will be limited, reducing the number of businesses that will be able to benefit and undermining the powers granted to local authorities that allow them to manage their public spaces in response to covid-19.

For those reasons, and in the spirit of the constructive comments made by the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury), I will accept this minor technical amendment, amendment 3, to the definition of relevant highway in clause 9. I am grateful to him for bringing it to our attention, and I invite him to move it formally later. [Interruption.] It may only be the one, but bag them while you can.

I turn to amendment 1 to clause 11. Clause 11, as drafted, provides a bespoke temporary change to the Licensing Act 2003 to provide an automatic extension to the terms of on-sales alcohol premises to allow the sale for consumption off the premises. This is the amendment to which the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Ben Lake) spoke very eloquently. It is important that every person wishing to sell alcohol has a licence to do so, and for licensing authorities to be able to record and regulate the sale of alcohol through their area of control. The amendment would allow mobile traders to sell alcohol in places not previously allowed, and that could lead to a significant number of alcohol sales taking place from new locations not previously allowed by licensing authorities, potentially leading to crowding and disorder in those new locations. I would encourage mobile traders to apply for a variation order to their licence under existing legislation. For that reason, I am not able to accept his amendment, although I understand the thrust of it. I also recognise that it is perhaps an important issue in rural areas such as the one that he represents, so I would be happy to talk to him further about how we can help the rural economy through this difficult time moving towards winter. I am sure that my colleagues in the Home Office will be prepared similarly so to do.

I now turn to new clauses 1 and 2. The extraordinary support that we have put in place has been about getting us through this crisis, and the Bill is now supporting us out of it. It is the case that some firms will be affected by coronavirus for longer than others, and the Government will seek to support these firms appropriately. So far, the coronavirus job retention scheme has helped 1.1 million employers across the United Kingdom to furlough 9.2 million jobs, protecting many, many people’s livelihoods. Starting with the first release on 11 June, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is publishing monthly figures for the coronavirus job retention scheme claims, broken down by employer size, sector and geography. These figures are publicly available on the gov.uk website. They show the total number of jobs furloughed and the value of claims made within the accommodation, food services, arts, entertainment and recreation sectors. The Office for National Statistics also provides a very great deal of data.

I therefore believe that there is data available that the House can see and that Opposition Members can use, and therefore there is no need for the new clause. The hon. Member for Weaver Vale is, I would suggest, a seasoned player in the Standing Orders of this House, and he knows how to use urgent questions, SO24 applications and Opposition day debates. There will be plenty of opportunities for him to raise issues of concern with the Executive at the Dispatch Box without the need for the new clause.

The hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) spoke very eloquently about the importance of supporting the hospitality and leisure sector, particularly in rural economies as wintertime approaches. I remind him that the tools that we have put in place already, such as the job retention scheme, are only temporary. There may be other, more effective and more sensible long-term tools to support the economic sectors to which he referred. The Chancellor made it absolutely clear in his remarks at the Dispatch Box during the Budget and subsequently that he will do whatever it takes to support our economy and its relevant sectors as we move through this crisis. I am therefore afraid that we cannot support new clauses 1 and 2, and I encourage those who proposed them to withdraw them.

I thank the hon. Member for Weaver Vale for tabling new clause 4, which would require the Secretary of State, prior to making any regulations to extend the time limits associated with the powers in respect of construction working hours, or extending the duration of certain planning permissions or extensions in connection with outline planning permissions, to make a statement to the House on the reasons for the extension beyond 1 April 2021. We recognise that there are concerns about this, but let me assure the hon. Gentleman that the powers in question were drawn in a proportionate way to address only what is necessary to facilitate the continued activity in the sector through this crisis. These delegated powers are considered essential to allow the flexibility necessary to respond to the emerging effects of coronavirus, its potential continuing effect on the sector, and the uncertainty around its future trajectory. Our intention is to exercise the powers only if the effects of coronavirus, including social distancing measures or other restrictions, continue for a longer period. I can make that clear to him from the Dispatch Box.

Matt Western Portrait Matt Western (Warwick and Leamington) (Lab)
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Just to pick up on new clause 4 and on the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), while this from the Government is viewed as continuing into the future, the importance of the new clause is taking stock of the situation and realising how well that has worked. From comments across the Chamber, I am sure that the Minister understands there is concern about or fear of mayhem, because this is being rushed through. Local authorities such as Warwick District Council and Warwickshire County Council, have few resources, are under huge financial pressure and have little capacity to be able to enforce such changes. I welcome what the Government are trying to do, but I have real concerns about the ability to enforce.

Christopher Pincher Portrait Christopher Pincher
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I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that point. I will address it, if I may, when I come to new clause 6, which the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) mentioned. To speak partly to his point, and in conclusion on this, the powers are subject to the affirmative procedure for draft regulations, which will enable Parliament to scrutinise thoroughly any relevant use of the powers, because the approval of both Houses will be needed. I therefore do not think that there is a need for new clause 4, and I would invite the Opposition to withdraw it.

With respect to new clause 5, again I thank the hon. Member for Weaver Vale for its tabling, because it provides an opportunity to give reassurance that local authorities will not be overburdened by the proposals in the Bill. This new clause would require the Secretary of State, following consultation with local planning authorities, to publish a report to provide an assessment of the costs to be incurred by local authorities as part of our proposed planning measures in the context of the covid-19 epidemic.

The applications relate to both the provision allowing for applications to extend construction working hours under clause 16 and the additional environmental approval process under clauses 17 and 18. Both the new forms of application will be free of charge to the applicant, which is to encourage developers to take advantage of the provisions in order to start or resume development as quickly as possible.

For three reasons, we do not consider the cost burden of either route to be particularly onerous on local planning authorities. First, each route deals with a single issue, and the onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient information. If insufficient information is provided by the developer, in the case of an additional environmental approval application or of an application for an extension to construction site working hours, the application will not count as having been made at all.

Secondly, as I said, the measures are temporary. This will therefore only be a short-term administrative burden over the course of this financial year. Thirdly, we do not expect individual authorities to face a deluge of applications under each route. For example, our analysis shows that by 1 August 546 planning permissions for major residential developments across the country would have lapsed since 23 March, an average of 1.5 permissions per authority. Cumulatively, it is important to the economy to see those progress, but for individual local planning authorities we do not believe that the effect will be particularly onerous. Again, I invite the Opposition to withdraw the clause.

I will speak briefly to new clause 6, as many Members are watching. I appreciate that some Members are concerned about the need to ensure that any changes made under the fast-track legislation are restricted to what is proportionate and necessary. Ensuring that measures are time-limited can be an effective way to do that, but a rolling review provision across the whole of Act is not the best approach in this case.

The first reason is that two provisions in the Bill are permanent; they would be jeopardised by a rolling review of the entire Bill. The second is that part of the reason for these measures is to give the business community, local authorities and Government agencies certainty about what they need to do with certain planning activities. A cliff edge 90-day end to the processes that they are undertaking would remove any chance of the certainty that they are looking for.

The hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch has many ways in which she can advance her concerns. She can use Standing Orders, in which she is a seasoned expert, to look at SO 24 debates; she can encourage her Front Benchers to undertake Opposition debates, and she can use the Public Accounts Committee to undertake inquiries. There are many ways in which she can progress her concerns other than through new clause 6.

Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier
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My drafting may not have been perfect; the Bill has been very rushed, so it was difficult to get it right. Can the Minister give me any comfort that, in his mind or the Government’s, there is scope to allow a three-month review point on the licensing element so that there is simply a review? Given the Government’s majority, they would have to agree to any change anyway, but a review point seems a sensible, proportionate measure so that we can all reflect on how this is working and pick up any issues. If he could give me an indication of whether that is something the Government might consider as the Bill goes through the other place, that would be very helpful.

Christopher Pincher Portrait Christopher Pincher
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I appreciate the hon. Lady’s concern and I understand why she raises those points. However, I simply reiterate that introducing a rolling review would kill certain aspects of the Bill and reduce the certainty and clarity that businesses and planners are looking for. It may also jeopardise the conclusion of the Bill before the summer recess, and we need to get it on the statute book so that businesses around our country can benefit from its provisions over the summer months.

Let me reiterate the importance of this Bill for our economy in these extraordinary times. As we emerge from this pandemic, we need to do all we can to support our economic recovery and help businesses adjust to a new and safe way of working. I therefore encourage the House to support amendment 3 tabled by the hon. Member for Weaver Vale (Mike Amesbury), and I encourage the proponents of all other amendments to withdraw them.

Mike Amesbury Portrait Mike Amesbury
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This has been a constructive debate, and I thank Members across the Chamber for their positive contributions and suggestions, which I hope will be taken up in the other place. I thank the Government, and I thank the Minister in particular for his positive engagement. We are happy to withdraw amendment 2 in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and I look forward to moving amendment 3. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 to 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 9

Interpretation

Amendment made: 3, page 7, line 37, at end insert—

“(1A) Subsection (1B) applies for the purposes of—

(a) the reference in section 1(5)(a) to a highway to which Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980 applies, and

(b) the references to traffic orders in section 3(6)(a)(i) and (b) (which, by virtue of section 3(7), have the same meaning as in that Part of that Act).

(1B) The definition of “traffic order” in section 115A(2) of the Highways Act 1980 is to be treated as if it included an order under section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 made pursuant to subsection (1)(b) or (c) of that section under the procedure provided for by regulation 18 of the Road Traffic (Temporary Restrictions) Procedure Regulations 1992 (S.I. 1992/1215) (procedure for temporary orders made for purposes connected to coronavirus).”—(Mike Amesbury.)

This amendment secures that the provisions about pavement licences apply where a highway is subject to a temporary traffic order under section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 for reasons relating to coronavirus.

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

Clauses 10 to 26 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill, as amended, reported.

Bill, as amended in the Committee, considered.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

Business and Planning Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading
Monday 6th July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
2nd reading (Hansard) Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 29 June 2020 (PDF) - (29 Jun 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

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Moved by
Earl Howe Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (Lord Greenhalgh) (Con)
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My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Howe, I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.

It is a great privilege to open Second Reading on the Bill in your Lordships’ House. This is my first Second Reading speech since I took my seat in this House in April, and I am honoured to speak on this Bill, which is so critical for our economic recovery.

Noble Lords may have seen the Prime Minister’s speech of 30 June, when the Government announced that we would launch a planning policy paper this month setting out our plan for comprehensive reform of the planning system. I make clear that the Bill is not part of those ambitions for planning reform and should not be taken as a signal for what that will entail. This Bill is about implementing urgent and mostly temporary measures to provide much-needed support to businesses across our economy. We have within this House some of the country’s finest experts on planning and local government, so I look forward to constructive and positive discussions on planning reform once the paper has been launched.

For now, I beg noble Lords to focus on the merits of this urgent Bill, which will provide a much-needed boost to key sectors of our economy at this extraordinary time. The measures in the Bill have been developed in collaboration with industry and key stakeholders. The Bill directly responds to asks from businesses to help them to overcome the challenges that they face. It is right and important that we now support businesses in overcoming the disruption that has resulted from the pandemic and to implement new, safer ways of working. The Bill will support businesses in four key areas of the economy: hospitality, SMEs, transport, and construction. I will take each in turn.

First, the Bill will provide critical support for the hospitality sector. Food and beverage service activity has fallen by nearly 90% in the last quarter. From last Saturday, pubs, restaurants and cafes were able to reopen while following Covid-secure guidelines. The Government want to support those businesses to make the most of summer trade and to operate in a safe way. The Bill will therefore make it easier for businesses that sell or serve food or drink to obtain a licence on a temporary basis to set up outdoor seating and stalls. It will do this by introducing a temporary fast-track process for obtaining a licence from the local council to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside their premises. This new process will cut the time to receive approval for a licence and will cap the application fee at £100.

We recognise that public safety and access for disabled people using pavements is of unquestionably great importance. That is why the Government have published a national condition. When that condition applies, licence holders will be required to take into account recommended minimum requirements for footway widths and distances required for access by disabled people. In addition, local authorities will be able to refuse or revoke licences where they assess that it is necessary.

The Bill also makes it easier for licensed premises to sell alcohol to customers for consumption off the premises. It temporarily and automatically extends the terms of on-sales alcohol licences to allow the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises as well. It also suspends any relevant conditions on existing off-sales licences, including conditions that require off-sales of alcohol in sealed containers and restrictions on sales for delivery.

We recognise the need to strike a balance between supporting businesses and ensuring safety and amenity for our communities. If in a particular location these alcohol licensing arrangements were to cause problems then any responsible authority, including the police or an environmental health officer, could apply for a new off-sales expedited review. This expedited review process will allow responsible authorities to quickly alter the alcohol licensing conditions, suspend it for up to three months or remove the permission for sales of alcohol for consumption off the premises. On receipt of an application, the licensing authority must consider whether it is necessary to take interim steps to the permission granted by the Bill within 48 hours of receiving that application, and must hold a hearing within 28 days of receipt. These temporary measures to support the hospitality sector will be in force only until the end of September 2021. This will enable businesses to make the most of outdoor seating opportunities in the summer months this year and next.

Secondly, to support small businesses, the Bill introduces measures to enable lenders to continue to issue bounce-back loans quickly and at scale. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is designed to provide loans at speed to small businesses adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. So far £29 billion has been lent to small businesses under the scheme, providing a vital lifeline to many.

The effect of the Bill is to retrospectively disapply the “unfair relationships” provisions in the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for lending made under the scheme. This is necessary to remove some of the checks and processes that lenders would otherwise need to run, and which would prevent them from providing loans to small businesses at the scale and speed necessary in this crisis.

Thirdly, to support our transport sector, this Bill makes changes to driver licensing and enables changes to roadworthiness testing for commercial vehicles. It will reduce the backlog of checks and tests that grew over the lockdown. It will help us to get goods, and indeed people, moving across the country.

The Bill introduces a temporary—and, in Great Britain, retrospective—power to issue one-year lorry or bus driving licences, rather than the standard five-year licences. This flexibility will allow a licence to be extended for a year if an applicant is unable to obtain the medical report required for a full five-year licence. This helps to alleviate pressures on doctors and the NHS.

The Bill also reforms the powers to temporarily exempt goods vehicles, buses and coaches from roadworthiness-testing requirements. This will be a permanent change but our intention is to use the reformed power only temporarily in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. This will allow for the high demand for heavy vehicle testing, which was reintroduced after lockdown only on 4 July, to be managed so that the most important vehicles are tested first.

Fourthly, the Bill will support our construction sector to get building again. It will introduce a fast-track route through the planning system to apply for a temporary extension of construction hours so that firms can plan for the safe reopening of sites. Temporarily allowing longer working hours—for example, during the evening and at weekends—will help to facilitate safe working by spreading out the working day. Importantly, local councils will have discretion to refuse requests where they consider that longer hours would have an unacceptable impact. I make it clear that this measure will not apply to construction works to an existing house, which affords a measure of protection to neighbours from disturbance. This measure will expire on 1 April 2021.

In addition, the Bill responds to calls from both the development industry and local authorities to extend planning permissions and listed building consents that lapsed during lockdown or will lapse before the end of this year. As a result of the pandemic, almost 1,200 unimplemented planning permissions for major residential development have lapsed or are at an increased risk of lapsing by the end of this year. These account for 60,000 new homes. The Bill enables the extension of these planning permissions and listed building consents to 1 April 2021, subject to any necessary environmental approvals.

There are two further planning measures included in this Bill. The first supports the Planning Inspectorate to conduct hearings and inquiries while adhering to social distancing. It enables the inspectorate to combine written representation, hearing and inquiry procedures when dealing with town and country planning appeals. This change was recommended by the independent Rosewell review, following which a pilot reduced average decision-making time from 47 weeks to 23 weeks. This measure will apply permanently to support the improved efficiency of the Planning Inspectorate.

The second responds to a request from the Mayor of London. It temporarily removes the requirement for the Mayor’s spatial development strategy to be available for public inspection and for hard copies to be available on request. In a time of social distancing, that is not practical. This requirement is replaced with a duty to make the current version of the strategy available for inspection free of charge by appropriate electronic means. Nevertheless, the Government appreciate that not everybody will have electronic access. As a result, the Bill also requires the Mayor to take into account any guidance the Government publish on appropriate mitigation measures. This measure will expire on 31 December this year. Taken together, all these planning measures will support the recovery of our construction sector and help to get Britain building again.

Finally, the Bill contains a provision to enable the time-limited powers to be extended by secondary legislation, subject to Parliament’s approval. This provides necessary flexibility, given the uncertainties around the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic and the nature of future social distancing requirements.

The package of measures in this Bill has been widely welcomed by businesses and local government at this critical and extraordinary time. The Local Government Association is supportive of the Bill, which it says will help ensure that a consistent approach can be taken so businesses can reopen as soon as possible. The Federation of Small Businesses also welcomes the Bill, which it says will help small businesses in the hospitality sector to resume trading with confidence.

These measures are necessary to alleviate some of the current challenges that businesses face and help the economy bounce back as we emerge from this pandemic. I look forward to our debate today and I commend the Bill to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, this has been a constructive debate and I am grateful, as ever, for your Lordships’ detailed engagement with the measures in the Bill. I congratulate my noble friend Lord Greenhalgh on making his first speech in this House in physical form. He set out succinctly the measures that the Bill seeks to introduce. I therefore intend to focus mainly on responding to questions and comments posed in the debate. Those that I do not have time to cover today—and there will be several, for which I apologise in advance—I will answer in writing.

Before I turn to those matters, it might help if I addressed some of the cross-cutting issues that your Lordships have highlighted. The first is the wider context. This is an important Bill, but I am the first to acknowledge that its scope is deliberately focused. It does not pretend to cover the whole waterfront of the UK economy. That is why my right honourable friend the Chancellor will make a summer economic update to the House of Commons on 8 July, outlining the next stage in our plan to secure Britain’s recovery, building on the Prime Minister’s speech. It is clear that the long-term plans and big decisions are for the Autumn Budget and spending review, but there are things we can and should do now to give the country the boost it needs.

The first phase has seen us help families and businesses through the crisis. As the economy opens up, we will move into a new phase. I cannot confirm the details in advance, but we have done the right thing by helping people through the crisis and we will do the same as we come out of it. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, indicated her view that support for the economy has been insufficient. I remind her that the Government have provided unprecedented support to help businesses through the lockdown. Over £350 billion of government-backed and guaranteed loans have been made available to businesses and individuals, as well as a range of support schemes, including business rate holidays, tax deferrals and the job retention scheme. Of course, we will continue to keep under review what further support should be provided to businesses.

I can say, particularly in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, that our recovery from Covid-19 should be clean and resilient, making our economy match fit for tomorrow’s challenges and not yesterday’s. This means reducing risk and increasing our resilience to the threat that climate change poses to the UK’s prosperity and security, as well as the linked challenges of biodiversity and public health. Action to support net zero can deliver jobs and opportunities across the country, as demonstrated by our success to date—with growth up by 75% and emissions down by 43% over the last three decades and more than 460,000 people employed in low-carbon businesses and their supply chains. This is a win-win area.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Stevenson and Lord Kennedy of Southwark, the noble Baronesses, Lady Wilcox and Lady Andrews, the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, and my noble friend Lord Sheikh, raised concerns about the impact of these measures on local authorities, taken in the round. First, I note that the Local Government Association has been consulted and has welcomed the proposals on pavement licensing and planning extensions. Licensing proposals have also been discussed with local government and the police. Secondly, I remind the House that the Government have provided £3.7 billion to local authorities through un-ring-fenced grants to address pressures they face in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes the extra £500 million announced on 2 July. This further funding provision demonstrates the Government’s continued commitment to making sure that councils have the resources they need to continue to support their communities through this challenging time.

On pavement licences in particular, our measures will create a more streamlined process and may take away some of the current administrative costs associated with processing applications. For example—and in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson—we have taken steps to ensure that local authorities can impose their own conditions up front across all licences, which should help mitigate concerns about automatic deeming of licences. However, we recognise that elements of the new fast-track process may have resourcing implications. We are undertaking a new burdens assessment to assess what support local authorities need to implement this new temporary process and whether any additional funding will be necessary.

As regards planning consents, let us bear in mind that the measures in the Bill are temporary and together do not amount to a significant new financial burden on local authorities this financial year.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, expressed concern about the unclear situation, as she sees it, of councils returning to open public meetings. During the pandemic the Government have temporarily removed the legal requirement for local authorities to hold public meetings in person. While social distancing restrictions remain in place, we have provided councils with flexibility to hold meetings in a manner that ensures the decision-making process remains accessible to their residents. The local authority remote meetings regulations enable all meetings to be held remotely. They do not preclude either physical meetings or a hybrid form of meeting, where these can be held in accordance with public health regulations and guidance. The Government have amended the health protection regulations to allow indoor gatherings of more than 30 persons; these apply to meetings taking place in council buildings from 4 July.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, expressed concerns about the shortness of consultation, there being no legal requirement to post applications online and having only lamp-post notifications. She felt that was discriminatory against those with visual impairments. Local authorities are required to publish, in such a manner as they consider appropriate, applications, material accompanying them and the fact that representations may be made. The draft guidance makes it clear that authorities might consider using digital means of publicity, such as on their website or via an online portal, and that in deciding what action to take to publish, they should consider the needs of those who might find it more difficult to access online publications.

The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, called for a quarterly review, rather as is built into the Coronavirus Act. We recognise the importance of keeping the measures under review and will closely monitor their effects. However, we think that a rolling parliamentary review would compromise the stability we seek to provide to businesses and local authorities in the recovery stage of the pandemic. Almost all the measures in the Bill are temporary; they have temporary effect or apply to temporary schemes. The end dates we have set out in the Bill are designed to be restricted to what is proportionate and necessary, while giving businesses, local authorities and government agencies the certainty they need to plan their activities over the coming months. We think that subjecting the measures to an unpredictable cliff edge through parliamentary review will undermine this certainty.

On the Bill’s specific provisions, we are all aware of the serious effect coronavirus has had on the hospitality sector. Even as restaurants, bars, pubs and cafés open up again, social distancing requirements will significantly reduce their capacity, and we want to help these businesses recover quickly. Measures in the Bill will help by allowing easier use of outdoor space to accommodate more customers safely while summer weather allows. I am grateful for the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of Cradley, the noble Lords, Lord Bhatia and Lord Campbell-Savours, and my noble friends Lord Inglewood, Lord Bourne and Lady Noakes in this context.

The Local Government Association and several individual councils have been consulted on pavement licence proposals, as have the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee and the Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Group, which—my noble friend Lord Sheikh in particular will be pleased to hear—recognised the importance of allowing businesses to open safely while ensuring highway accessibility. The proposals have been welcomed by the LGA, UKHospitality and the British Beer and Pub Association. In addition, measures on alcohol licensing have been discussed with local government, trade, police and licensing experts.

Noble Lords, including my noble friends Lord Holmes, Lord Blencathra and Lord Balfe, the noble Lords, Lord Blunkett, Lord Low and Lord Addington, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Pinnock, were understandably keen to know how our pavement licensing provisions might affect pedestrians and those with mobility impairments and visual impairments. I agree that this is an important point and that we should never lose sight of the inclusion agenda.

We are publishing a national condition which requires licence holders to maintain clear routes of access. This includes taking account of the needs of disabled people and, in particular, section 3.1 of the Department for Transport’s Inclusive Mobility guidance. This sets out the recommended minimum footway widths and distances required for access by mobility-impaired and visually impaired people. I say to my noble friends Lady Eaton and Lord Lucas, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, that any licences granted will be subject to local and national conditions, and the legislation contains robust enforcement procedures. Local authorities can revoke licences where they give rise to matters of public safety, highways obstruction, anti-social behaviour and public nuisance, as well as on a number of other grounds.

A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Stevenson, Lord Blunkett, Lord Carlile, Lord St John, Lord Paddick and Lord Kennedy, the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, and my noble friend Lord Balfe, understandably raised concerns about possible unwanted effects of the alcohol licensing provisions in terms of anti-social behaviour and disorder. We have established two main safeguards in designing these provisions, to ensure that any issues that arise can be dealt with swiftly and robustly. First, it is worth reiterating that the measures in the legislation will not apply to premises whose off-sales permissions have been removed, either voluntarily on a variation or on review, within the last three years.

Secondly, the Bill will introduce an expedited review process for automatically granted permissions. This can be used where there are problems of crime and disorder, public nuisance or public safety arising from how premises use the new permission. In this case, any responsible authority, including the police or environmental health, can apply for an off-sales expedited review. On receipt of this application, the relevant licensing authority must consider whether it is necessary to take interim steps within 48 hours, and must determine the review within 28 days. Interim steps can include: changing the hours in which off-sales are permitted; adding new conditions in relation to public nuisance, such as to prevent noise nuisance; and suspending the off-sales permission. As I have said, a review can result in the automatically granted off-sales permission being removed.

Beyond the provisions in the Bill, my noble friend Lord Balfe in particular may wish to note that the police also have the power, under Section 76 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, to issue a closure notice if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the use of a premises has resulted, or is likely to result, in nuisance to members of the public or that there has been, or is likely to be, disorder near the premises that is associated with the use of the premises. Having mentioned that, I am sure we can all identify with the very good points made by my noble friend Lady Stowell of Beeston regarding the relationship between the police and the public.

I shall sum up these protections with an example. If local residents complain to the police about disorder relating to a particular bar or restaurant, the police might first consider taking immediate steps to close the premises using their anti-social behaviour powers, but they could also request an expedited review, which could result in steps to prevent ongoing issues at the premises by toughening the terms of the premises licence.

My noble friend Lord Sheikh, the noble Lords, Lord Stevenson and Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, all referred to the importance of keeping hospitality workers safe. The Government are clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace and that the health and safety of workers should not be put at risk. To this end, we have published Covid-19 secure guidance for keeping workers and customers safe in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services. The guidance sets out how to open workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading Covid-19 and gives practical considerations for how that can be applied to hospitality businesses. The guidance is non-statutory and does not change legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities, but it will help businesses to manage the risks for their employees through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering.

Businesses must also carry out an appropriate Covid-19 risk assessment in consultation with unions or employees. Employers should share the results of their risk assessment with their workforce and are encouraged to display a notification that they have complied with the Government’s guidance on managing the risks of Covid-19. Employees can raise any concerns by contacting their employer representative or trade union or by contacting the Health and Safety Executive by phone or online form.

I appreciate that noble Lords may be interested to know the specifics of the guidance and therefore encourage them to read the guidance in full on the GOV.UK website. Due to the comprehensive nature of the publication, I cannot relay all its recommendations to the House. However, I reassure noble Lords that a considerable range of practical steps are provided to help to keep workers safe. The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, will be pleased to hear that that includes setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure that they are kept clean and social distancing is achieved as much as possible. I should add that the Health and Safety Executive has been given an extra budget of £14 million for extra call centre employees, inspectors and equipment to help businesses to manage the necessary changes.

The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, raised some very interesting points about second-hand smoke on pavements. With regard to pavement licensing, the local authority can impose locally-set conditions on licences. The draft guidance provides that, when authorities are determining applications and setting conditions, issues that they will want to consider include public health and safety, while the conditions can include restricting smoking in areas not designated for smokers.

The noble Lord, Lord Hain, called for new ways of working following Covid-19 that are arrived at through robust dialogue with unions and employees. The Government have worked constructively with the unions throughout the pandemic. We recognise that responsible trade unions can play a constructive role in maintaining positive industrial relations and that collective bargaining remains an important form of negotiation in the workplace. However, we believe that where possible industrial relations should be undertaken on a voluntary basis, not mandated by the state. Collective bargaining is largely a matter for individual employers, their employees and their trade unions. If workers want a union to represent them, they have the means to secure that through the CAC statutory recognition procedure.

The noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, called for a revival of holidaymaking and tourism. I am sure she will agree that supporting hospitality is a key part of supporting tourism. The pavement and alcohol licensing measures in the Bill will help restaurants, bars and pubs to get ready for the summer. The more places where people can eat and drink, the better the local tourism offer and the more likely people are to take the brilliant staycations our tourism industry offers. She and other noble Lords, especially my noble friend Lord Hunt of Wirral, will have seen yesterday’s announcement of more than £1.5 billion to support cultural assets of international, national and regional importance, and that money will directly help the tourism industry. The announcement has been widely welcomed, as I am sure noble Lords are aware, by the arts sector.

More widely, we announced the cultural renewal task force on 20 May. We have since published guidance on reopening holiday accommodation and the visitor economy to give businesses the ability to plan with confidence to reopen. On 3 June, we announced a £10 million kick-starting tourism package. This will give small businesses in tourist destinations grants of up to £5,000 to help them adapt their businesses following the pandemic. That is only one of a number of measures that we have taken.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, and my noble friend Lord Moynihan asked about the status of sports clubs and whether they can benefit from the alcohol licensing measure. The Licensing Act 2003 provides for club premises to sell alcohol by retail to club guests, but only for consumption on the premises. I am afraid that this is not changed by the Bill. The Bill is focused on the wider hospitality sector. However, all clubs can apply for a variation of their licence to serve alcohol off the premises if they wish. Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. The Government are in discussions with representatives from the sport and physical activities sector about the steps required to reopen sports venues and facilities, including swimming pools, as soon as it is safe to do so, and we will update the public when possible. As with all aspects of the Government’s response to Covid-19, we will be guided by the science to ensure that, as restrictions are eased, people can return to activity safely.

The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, and others, including the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked whether temporary licences could be issued for small breweries to sell to the public. The provisions in the Bill do not grant any new licences. The proposal that a brewery should be given a premises licence without any scrutiny by the local licensing authority, the police or the public goes too far, I am afraid. It is vital that the conditions on which a permanent premises licence is granted receive careful consideration from agencies with a knowledge of local issues and the licensee. The suggestion that a premises licence could be granted through a purely administrative procedure or a minor variation would deprive the responsible authorities and the public of a voice.

My noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe asked about age verification. I will write to her on that topic.

The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, made some very powerful points, one of which was to question why schools should not be more fully open than they are when we are taking these measures in relation to pubs. While pubs reopened this weekend, he will know that schools are already open and more than 1.5 million pupils have been welcomed back. Since 1 June, primary schools have been welcoming back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups. Since 15 June, secondary schools and colleges have been offering some face-to-face support for pupils in year 10 and year 12, who will sit key exams next year.

I will write to noble Lords who raised the issue of hospitality businesses that do not have premises and on any other topics in relation to that part of the Bill that I have not covered.

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme has, by common consent, been a lifeline to small businesses during the crisis. Over 900,000 have benefited to date, and I am grateful for the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, and others on this measure. The provisions in this Bill allow for the majority of bounce-back loans to be issued within just 24 hours, rather than the usual five to 10 days. They also help lenders to process applications at a much greater scale, and the measures have been welcomed by UK Finance.

The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked why the Government do not publish data on the number of applications to and rejections from the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. We have in fact been publishing relevant data on the Covid business lending schemes on a weekly basis since 12 May. This includes data on the number of applications received and the number and value of facilities approved to date for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, CBILS and CLBILS. In publishing this data, we aim to support the information needs of society in general and of course the stakeholders. The Government are considering what further data may be available in the future while balancing the sensitive commercial nature of this information for lenders.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bowles of Berkhamsted, raised her concerns about protections for business. We need to remember that these are unprecedented times, which is reflected in the 100% guarantee that we are providing to lenders. Under the scheme, businesses cannot borrow more than 25% of their turnover, which should help to ensure that the loan is sustainable. In addition, to enable firms to get back on their feet, borrowers are not required to make any repayments for the first 12 months, and the Government will cover the first 12 months of interest payable. The scheme also has an affordable flat rate of interest and borrowers have six years to repay the loan.

However, businesses do need to take responsibility for what is in their interests. The terms of the loan are very clear in the application that businesses will fill in as part of securing a loan. Any business taking on a loan such as this should think carefully about whether debt is the right answer for them and about their ability over the long term to pay it back.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Falkner of Margravine and Lady Bowles, spoke about the prospect of defaults. The scheme supports the smallest businesses, which are the backbone of our economy, as rightly emphasised by my noble friend Lord Inglewood. The Government said from the start that they would do “whatever it takes” to support business; this scheme delivers on that promise and is in addition to the support the Government offers through business grants, the corona- virus job retention scheme and tax deferrals.

However, we have also made clear that bounce-back loans are loans and not grants. Borrowers must make every reasonable effort to repay these on time. The scheme being 100% government-guaranteed means that, should some borrowers default, lenders will not be burdened with debts. However, the Government expect lenders to seek to recover the loans where feasible and we are convening workshops in the coming weeks to discuss this in more detail with the accredited lenders.

I will write to the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, on the issues he raised on HGV licensing and move to another topic raised by noble Lords, which is construction working hours and planning. I am grateful to those noble Lords, and especially my noble friend Lady Noakes, who expressed support for the measures designed to assist the construction industry. Like the hospitality industry, the construction sector has been hit hard by coronavirus: over 40% of the workforce has been furloughed. The Bill helps them to get back to work safely, and the measures have been extensively discussed with representatives of the development industry.

To the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, who expressed concerns, I stress the point that these measures are temporary. The Bill will make it quicker to extend site opening hours, allowing for better social distancing and catching up on lost work time, and there is strong support across industry and local planning authorities for the provisions.

Having said that, I of course take on board the points powerfully made by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, on the wider context, especially the future of the high street. I agree that there is a balance to be struck between using up spare capacity for housing on the high street and motivating the retail sector, but I say to her and to my noble friend Lord Wei that we strongly support the revival of the high street so that it becomes a place where people want to go. We need to look constructively at flexibilities to further that aim.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, said that, in his view, the 14-day timescale was too short for consultation. He will recognise that, as so often, this measure has to strike a balance. We consider the timescale to strike a fair balance between allowing time for necessary engagement, for example with local councillors, and enabling developers to obtain a fast-tracked decision, particularly so that they can make use of the additional daylight hours available in the summer months. Local authorities know their areas well. We are confident that they will be able to judge the impact on local businesses and residents in the majority of cases, particularly since we have prepared guidance to support this decision. They retain the discretion to refuse where there would be an unacceptable impact.

A number of noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Randall, expressed concerns about noise and nuisance during extended construction hours. I understand that concern. First, authorities will have discretion to refuse extensions to working hours where they consider that longer hours would have an unacceptable impact. They also have a range of enforcement powers available to them. Secondly, many sites will already have construction management plans, which will include mitigation measures against dust, vibration, noise and so forth. Thirdly, my noble friend Lady McIntosh will note that developers are, as ever, encouraged to work closely with the local community and their local authority and to undertake works which may be noisy and affect residents during normal working hours.

I will write to the noble Lord, Lord Best, on his proposal that the presumption in favour of sanctions in relation to the five-year housing land supply and the housing delivery test be suspended. I have an extensive note, but, unfortunately, there is not time for me to put it into Hansard. Equally, I will write to my noble friend Lord Blencathra on the potential for 24-hour construction and the need, as he saw it, to limit that facility.

I will cover a point raised by my noble friend Lord Randall, who was concerned about the environmental impact of extended construction hours. Local authorities will need to carefully consider applications where, for example, the development is subject to an environmental impact assessment or there are habitats issues. They will have discretion to refuse applications for extended construction hours where they believe that a development would have a significant environmental impact that has not previously been assessed.

I will write to my noble friend Lord Naseby on new towns and garden towns. I will also write to my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham, who raised two very important points about local plans and hybrid appeals. I apologise that there is no time to cover the note I have now.

Equally, I shall write to my noble friend Lord Lansley on the point he made about a three-month extension to planning consents not being enough, and to the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, on cycle lanes and parking bays. I shall also write to the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, about caravan and self-catering accommodation being open for the winter, and to the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, about the bodies with planning powers which are not covered in the Bill, such as mayoral development corporations, Transport for London and the London legacy corporations.

Once again, I am grateful for the excellent and constructive contributions from noble Lords who have spoken. In summary, the Government believe that this Bill is urgent and necessary. It will help businesses in hard-hit sectors get back to work safely and without delay. Almost all its provisions are temporary. They have been developed in consultation with businesses, local government and other interested parties. It is very important that these provisions come into force as soon as possible. If we are not able to make the changes before the summer, benefits for the hospitality sector will be greatly reduced and approval backlogs may again become an issue in construction and in vehicle licensing and testing.

We are entering a new phase in the response to coronavirus. The immediate crisis is abating; now we need to help businesses and the economy to rebound. This Bill will play an important role in achieving that aim. I beg to move.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Business and Planning Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee stage
Monday 13th July 2020

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Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard) Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 119-I Marshalled list for Committee - (8 Jul 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, I refer the House to my relevant registered interests as a vice-president of the Local Government Association and as president of Pubwatch.

Group 1 deals with a range of amendments relating to premises and alcohol licensing, including Amendment 39 in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Berkeley on temporary event notices and Amendment 41 in my name, which seeks to add a new clause on health and safety to the Bill after Clause 11.

The noble Lord, Lord Balfe, referred to there being no votes today. We do not often vote in Committee—I have now been in the House for 10 years. I have made it clear in all my dealings with the Government, at Second Reading and in my meetings with them, which have been very helpful, that I will divide the House on Report if necessary. I have been very clear on that. I hope that we will get some resolution today so that it will not be necessary, but I am certainly not averse to having a vote. I would not be accused of that.

The first amendment in this group, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Balfe, raises the issue of cumulative impact zones, which are areas defined as contributing to community problems because of alcohol. The noble Lord rightly seeks to stop premises in these zones applying for pavement licences. I look forward to the response from the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, explaining how she has consulted with groups such as Pubwatch and other groups representing towns and city centres.

I hope that the noble Baroness will also detail the wider assessment the Government have made of the impact of these changes on crime, and in response to Amendment 11, on police consultation, I hope she will confirm that dialogue with police, local authorities and other interested parties will continue after measures in the Bill are implemented.

The noble Lord, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, made the point, which I agree with, about the need for the new street drinking to be controlled and managed safely. People can then relax and support the local economy while doing so safely and helping to avoid a second spike. That is very important.

My Amendment 39, plus two amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, deal with how the provisions can help businesses which do not have the necessary licence presently, as they rely on temporary event notices. This would also help street vendors who have been hit particularly hard in this crisis and have seen their doors close, some for good. Up to 15,000 businesses have lost all their income overnight and many tens of thousands of pounds have been tied up in rent for music festivals and rolled over to 2021.

The amendment would also help small breweries, which have suffered. Many noble Lords have spoken about the support for the small brewery industry. As we have heard, small breweries have seen up to 82% of their sales reduced because of Covid-19. They have not received the same level of financial support as pubs and the hospitality sector, and that is a matter of regret. One in four breweries—about 500 of the 2,000—does not currently have any way to sell directly to the public. The Government should adopt this measure as a way of helping them in the months ahead. The noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, and my noble friend Lord Berkeley, made a convincing case for the need to help small breweries, as did my noble friends Lady Kennedy of Cradley and Lord Wood of Anfield. As my noble friend Lord Berkeley said, these small breweries have made a fantastic contribution to the variety and type of beers sold in the UK; they employ local people, and they have been devastated. We need to do something and I hope the noble Baroness will be able to give us a positive response.

My Amendment 41 seeks to highlight the importance of workers’ safety in the hospitality sector, which the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, also referred to. I am grateful to the support I have had from the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers’ Union for its contribution about how to address this issue. I hope the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, will address issues such as the handling of cash and how that can be limited. In pubs and other small venues, small amounts of money are handed over. There are payment companies like Worldpay and Shopify, but in many cases if you go into a pub or a small shop and want to pay by debit card, or if you spend less than £10 or £15, they charge you. There needs to be some way in which the companies will not charge the 10p that they presently do. What contribution can they make to ensure that people use less cash and pay by debit card more? Companies would need to step up to the plate and maybe the Government could ask them to do that. It would certainly help reduce the amount of cash being used, with the benefits that that would bring.

It would be interesting to hear about the protection of security staff at entrances to licensed premises. That is very difficult normally, but particularly now that we are talking about social distancing. What support are the Government going to give those staff to ensure they can do their job properly as well as being safe?

How do we ensure that toilets are safe for staff and customers? What discussion has the Minister had with the British Toilet Association including advice on keeping toilets clean and safe? This will be of paramount importance for staff who need to ensure their toilets are kept clean and safe for their customers. Can the noble Baroness also explain what guidance the Government will offer to pubs on these other issues?

Other amendments in the group raise important points, and I hope that we will get a detailed response, particularly on Amendment 44, from the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. They both made a clear case about allowing better enforcement of the drinking regulations, which would be welcomed. It will be interesting to see whether it is possible to bring that forward quickly. The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, made it clear that there is support in the sector for bringing these matters in quickly.

I will leave my comments there and look forward to the detailed response from the Minister.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate and particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, who manages to get cannabis into every debate—I admire her tenacity. If she is agreeable, I will respond to some of her comments in group six.

The general tenor of this debate is that people support the context in which this Bill is proposed, to get the economy moving and, crucially, the fact that it is sunsetted to next September. As my noble friend Lady Noakes clearly articulated, this is not about the norm but about emergency measures to get the economy moving again. As this mistake has been made a couple of times, it is important to distinguish between pavement licences and off-sales licences, which of course supermarkets have got anyway.

Amendment 1 in the name of my noble friend Lord Balfe seeks to prevent the granting of pavement licences to businesses in cumulative impact zones. It is right that cumulative impact and potential for nuisance and disorder be considered when granting these pavement licences. That is why the Bill gives local authorities the ability to effectively manage risks in their local area. If a local authority thinks problems related to alcohol or anything else could occur, they can refuse an application for a pavement licence. In granting these licences, they may also impose conditions and if these conditions are breached, the local authority may issue a notice requiring the breach to be remedied. Local authorities can also revoke pavement licences in several situations including when the licence is causing risk to public health or safety or causing anti-social behaviour and nuisance. I hope my noble friend will agree it is important to retain local authority discretion in this area and he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Amendment 3 is also in the name of my noble friend, and I appreciate the points he has made. We expect the pavement and alcohol licencing measures to benefit cafes, restaurants and pubs primarily. However, it is important that the Government support economic recovery whenever they can, which is why this fast-track route is available to all businesses selling and serving food and drink. It will mean that a range of businesses, including some shops, theatres, and galleries, will be able to apply for pavement licences and off-sale licences, maximising the economic impact of these temporary measures. For the reasons I have set out I am not able to accept this amendment and I hope that my noble friend will not press it to a vote.

Amendment 11 is the last of the amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Balfe. I assure noble Lords that the Bill requires local authorities to consult such persons as the local authority considers appropriate before determining an application for a pavement licence.

To answer my noble friend Lord Sheikh and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, the Government expect that this would include the local police force, but believe that the local authority can and should use its discretion and local knowledge to decide who to consult. To answer the question from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, directly: yes, we have spoken to the police. We have engaged with them throughout. The most recent time that I spoke directly to Martin Hewitt was last Friday, just before we went into super Saturday. We will continue to engage with them throughout.

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Baroness Wilcox of Newport Portrait Baroness Wilcox of Newport (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, I draw attention to my interests as noted in the register. Despite my deep and continuing roots in local government, I am afraid I am not able to say that I am a vice-president of the LGA. Who knows? Maybe one day.

We welcome the clauses in the Bill to allow pubs and restaurants to obtain pavement licences more easily. We have heard a wide range of views from noble Lords in this debate. The hospitality industry continues to suffer from restrictions in its capacity, and I am sure the whole Committee is keen to support steps to allow pubs and restaurants to serve a greater range of customers. However, it is imperative that with the increase of pavement licences, precautions are taken to minimise any adverse consequences. Safety and accessibility are paramount, and I am pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, has tabled a series of amendments with this in mind. His point regarding inclusive design was extremely well made, as was his question regarding updated guidance in our post-Covid environment.

The noble Lord is not alone in raising these issues, and I note that the RNIB and Guide Dogs for the Blind have raised similar concerns. His expertise in this area is clearly invaluable, as is that of the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, who made the point that guidance is often ignored and legislators must think more positively to allow disabled people to move around safety. I take particular interest in Amendment 5, which stresses the importance of compliance with the Equality Act, and I would appreciate clarification from the Minister of how statute already provides for this.

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, raised the interesting proposal of allowing outdoor seating outside unused premises. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s thoughts on this, but I hope that in doing so he considers the implications of this for the concerns raised elsewhere over safety.

I also take interest in Amendment 12, which raises the point that any changes must allow for social distancing. I am sure the Minister will agree that these issues must be considered together by businesses, local authorities and the Government to ensure that they are resolved. With each of these concerns, it is clear that legislation will not provide all the answers. It is incumbent upon local authorities, as was so clearly put by my noble friend Lord Harris, who has a laser-like focus on what town halls can and cannot do. He made an important point about a seven-day consultation period and the problems that residents have to deal with as a result of not knowing what has changed in their community.

As further premises gain pavement licences, it is crucial that the Government engage with local authorities to consider whether they can offer any support and do not merely issue a diktat from above. A main learning outcome from this dreadful pandemic is the clear dependence that central government has upon local government in carrying out the laws and regulations made by the Governments of the four nations. Without the practical support of local government, much of what happens here simply would not happen. Local authorities will no doubt work, as ever, in partnership with local businesses, disability groups and, as we have in Wales, public service boards, working jointly to improve our areas. As noted in the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, and the detailed elucidation by my noble friend Lord Adonis, Parliament must remain alert to any further issues which may arise, such as the inclusion of 1,500 millimetres apart guidance, thus changing an unworkable solution into a workable solution.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (Lord Greenhalgh) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank my noble friends Lady McIntosh of Pickering and Lady Neville-Rolfe for the important measures proposed to support the hospitality sector. It employs some 2 million people. However, this group of amendments relates to the need to maintain access on the highway for all users, especially those with a disability. The Government strongly agree that this is an issue of great importance. As the noble Lord, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, put it, no one should be left behind and we need to proceed with appropriate caution.

My noble friend Lord Blencathra has done extensive research into the guidance on the different standards, which was noted by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, and the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, mentioned the Inclusive Mobility guidance of 2005 and the different standards included in that guidance. It is very important to retain local flexibilities so that local authorities can assess the distance needed for the location of the premises and the type of street involved. There needs to be that flexibility rather than having uniform guidance.

Amendment 21, tabled by my noble friend Lord Blencathra, would require pavement licence guidance requiring minimum distances as part of a national condition to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. My noble friend also raised concerns about inclusive mobility. I am happy to tell the Committee that we have accepted the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that national conditions should be contained in regulations subject to the negative resolution procedure. I hope that my noble friend is comforted that this will help address parliamentary scrutiny. Clause 5(6) gives the Secretary of State power to publish conditions for pavement licences. This is to be replaced with a power for the Secretary of State to make provision about national conditions by regulations subject to the negative resolution procedure. We will also accept the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee’s recommendation in relation to the powers to extend measures in the Bill to ensure that the effects of coronavirus form part of that consideration.

We have listened to the concerns raised at Second Reading and today in Committee and have noted the strength of feeling in this Chamber that more must be done to address accessibility issues. We intend to table an amendment on Report to address those concerns. We believe that putting this into the legislation will provide an important safeguard to ensure that authorities act in accordance with their legal obligations to protect the interests of disabled people.

Amendments 2, 12 and 25 were tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, and the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, and were spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, and my noble friend Lord Naseby. Amendment 2 would require the inclusion of a barrier to separate furniture from the pavement to allow the safe passage of pedestrians. Introducing barriers to separate furniture may improve navigation for the visually impaired, but it can also cause further obstructions on the pavement which would inhibit others, including the mobility impaired. The Government are clear that access must be maintained for all users of the highway, including the visually impaired and the mobility impaired. All pavement licences will have an express or, in default, deemed no obstruction condition, along with a condition explicitly requiring clear routes of access, taking into account the needs of disabled persons.

Amendment 12 requires that where possible the minimum pavement width required must be increased to allow two pedestrians to pass each other while socially distancing. We fully support the intention, which is why the pavement licence guidance refers to the government guidance on Covid-19 safe public places. The measures for social distancing set out in the guidance will have to change over time depending on the circumstances. It is important that the legislation does not restrict businesses’ ability to align with it and therefore it is more appropriate to address this through guidance.

For reasons that I have set out, I am not able to accept Amendments 2, 12 and 25. I hope that my noble friend Lord Holmes will withdraw Amendment 2 and that he and the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, will chose not to move their amendments when they are called.

Amendment 20, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, seeks to establish a specific requirement that the Secretary of State should have to take into account the needs of the disabled, including the blind and the partially sighted, when setting any national conditions. Related to this, my noble friend Lord Holmes, supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, has tabled Amendment 5. The intention of this amendment is to require that when applying for a pavement licence, applicants must ensure that the application is compliant with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and any relevant regulations or guidance under that Act.

My noble friend Lord Holmes also tabled Amendment 17, supported by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, to place duties on the authority to investigate concerns over accessibility where a licence is granted, revoking the licence if necessary. I assure noble Lords that businesses that provide services to the public must comply with their duties under the Equality Act 2010, as must local authorities because they are public authorities. As these parties are already under specific legal duties, it is not necessary to include a specific reference to the Equality Act in the Bill or specifically reference taking into account the needs of disabled people in the setting of any national condition. A local authority will need to have regard to these duties if concerns are raised over the accessibility of a pavement. The legislation already includes powers for local authorities to revoke if a licence holder has breached any conditions of the licence. This includes no-obstruction and clear-access conditions. For the reasons I have set out, I am not able to accept these amendments, and I hope that noble Lords will therefore choose not to move them when they are called.

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Lord Blencathra Portrait Lord Blencathra [V]
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My Lords, it would be churlish of me not to intervene at this stage and thank my noble friend the Minister most sincerely for his excellent concession in saying that these national guidelines will now be subject to parliamentary scrutiny via the negative resolution procedure. I chair the Delegated Powers Committee. This is an excellent and very welcome concession.

We make laws in two ways in this country, or we should do—Acts of Parliament and statutory instruments—but in the past few years we have seen a worrying trend of guidance having legal force and a new invention, which we will come to in a Bill very shortly, of something called “protocols”, which are legally enforceable. These are just clever euphemisms for what should be regulations. I am delighted that my noble friend the Minister will put these on a statutory basis. I also look forward to his amendment next week in time to set minimum guidelines for access on pavements.

In the meantime, I thank my noble friend most sincerely for this excellent change of heart today.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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I thank my noble friend for his comments. Of course, I noted the points about the need for a minimum access requirement.

Lord Holmes of Richmond Portrait Lord Holmes of Richmond [V]
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I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this interesting debate. First, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his change of heart on the footing of the guidance and his commitment to bringing forward an amendment on Report; all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate will certainly wait so see the nature and extent of it.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, for his excellent speech. He made his point perfectly clearly: we should make Acts of Parliament and statutory instruments that are clear and to the point. His setting out of how guidance can get into trouble with a whole series of different lengths and distances made the point clearly, to the extent that, if at any stage the noble Lord cared to make that film, I would be happy to take part in it with him; there could be no greater way of demonstrating how not to go about things.

I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Grey-Thompson and Lady Thomas of Winchester, for their interventions. It has been made clear in the debate that, at their heart, these amendments essentially have nothing to do with disability and disabled people. They have pertinence to disabled people only because we are the individuals on whom this stuff bites if it is not got right. It is no more significant for a disabled person seeking access than for a man pushing a double buggy or a woman from a store down the road pushing a trolley full of goods to get to the other branch around the corner.

I am sure that my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe did not intend to make this point, but there is no sense whatever that economic activity, economic growth and economic motoring are any sense diametrically opposed to inclusive design and accessibility. Inclusive design is the bedrock for the best economy and society that we can build. Inclusion is in no sense a clog at the heel of economic activity; it is the basis on which a better, more prosperous economy and a more integrated and prosperous society is built.

To the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, I say this: my noble friend made perfectly clearly the point as to how inclusive design and economic activity go hand in hand in the specific case of the situation in Berlin. We really need to see from my noble friend the Minister amendments on Report that can have us all saying when it comes to pavement dining and pavement socialising, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

On the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, his forensic analysis is spot on. With modern techniques, there is absolutely no reason why consultation should be seen and characterised as a laborious process. Things can be done in real time by connecting to the people who are in the vicinity and have particular expertise to bring to bear on the consultation on a specific issue. Similarly, the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, was spot on with his laser focus on exactly the point at hand: ensuring that the guidance is not only fit for purpose but takes into account the current context.

It is interesting that most of the arguments about the need to get on with this seem to fit very well with the previous group, in terms of enabling small, independent breweries to have licences, with an aim to get on with it and drive economy activity in that way. But I will leave that to one side and come back to it on Report.

In conclusion, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this debate. In essence, none of these amendments asks for anything other than for every policy practice, procedure and area to be predicated on inclusive design—not because of Covid but because that should have always been the case in every situation. Either we build back together or we do not build back anything that is worth while and sustainable and that optimises social activity and economic growth. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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First, I thank my noble friends Lady Noakes and Lord Hayward for asking us to get a move on—or, as my noble friend Lord Naseby put it, “Get on with it”—and my noble friend Lady Stowell for her vociferous eating out to help out over the weekend; it is much appreciated.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris, made several points concerning the importance of listening to residents; as a fellow former council leader, I know that that is of course absolutely critical and key to any consultation. I should point out that any additional costs and burdens which fall upon local authorities are covered by the new burdens doctrine as they arise. As someone who has more recently been a council leader, I know that these days, almost all applications are sent electronically, so the dates sent and received are identical in almost all cases. I also highlight that the Local Government Association is fully supportive of the measures proposed for the issuing of pavement licences.

Let me turn to the amendments in the names of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris. This group of amendments addresses a range of issues relating to pavement licences. Amendment 19 seeks to ensure that the Secretary of State consults authorities if he chooses to publish a national condition. As I said to the House when discussing the previous group of amendments, we have already accepted the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that national conditions should be contained within regulations subject to the negative resolution procedure. I hope this addresses the issues raised by both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness.

I now turn Amendments 9 and 10, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Low, which deal with the consultation process. They would extend the public consultation period to 14 days rather than seven and provide that the period starts after the application has been published by the authority. The Government welcome the intent behind the amendments, which is that local communities have appropriate opportunity to comment on applications, and this is an important part of the process. Under the Bill, the seven-day consultation period starts the day after the application is made. The Bill requires the applicant, by posting a notice on the premises, and the authority, in such a manner as it deems appropriate, to publicise the fact that representations can be made during that period.

Authorities can choose to publish the application electronically, and this should make it easier to publish the application speedily. Extending the consultation period for more than seven days, however, would undermine a key benefit of this process, which is its speed. This temporary fast-track process strikes a balance between supporting businesses and responding to community interests by equipping authorities with local conditions and robust enforcement powers. For the reasons I have set out, I am not able to accept these amendments, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Low, will withdraw Amendment 9 and choose not to move Amendment 10 when it is called.

Continuing the theme of consultation, Amendment 16 —in the names of my noble friends Lord Holmes and Lady McIntosh, the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson—would allow local authorities to include conditions which incorporate concerns expressed in the consultation. As I have previously said, the ability to respond to local issues is important, which is why the Bill allows pavement licences to be granted by a local authority, subject to such conditions as it considers reasonable. Local authorities can already do what the amendment is seeking, and for this reason I cannot accept it.

I turn to Amendment 13, tabled by my noble friend Lord Holmes, which seeks to implement a right of appeal. It is right that authorities have the ability to control the effects of licences, whether deemed or granted. That is why deemed licences are subject to conditions published by authorities. Authorities can require licence holders to immediately remedy breaches of conditions and have the power to revoke licences where needed. For these reasons, I cannot accept this amendment.

Amendment 14, in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Low, and the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, seeks to reduce the duration of deemed licences to three months. I believe the intent is to allow greater flexibility to local authorities to manage public spaces and review the suitability of these licences. It is important to allow for local authority discretion, while providing certainty for businesses. This is why the Bill provides that a deemed licence has a duration of a year and robust enforcement powers where there are breaches. Licences can also be revoked if all or any part of the area of the relevant highway has become unsuitable for any purpose for which the licence was granted. We need to provide certainty to businesses, which is why three months is not long enough as a default position. For the reasons I have set out, I cannot accept the amendment.

The same is pertinent to Amendment 15—tabled by my noble friend Lord Holmes and the noble Lord, Lord Harris—to change the expiry date of these licences to the end of September 2020. For the same reason I gave for Amendment 14, I cannot accept this amendment.

I respond finally to Amendments 22 and 23, tabled by my noble friend Lord Lucas and the noble Lord, Lord Harris. These would provide authorities with duties and powers to make pavement trading safer, and the authority to facilitate successful implementation of a pavement licence. The Government take public safety seriously, which is why there is a range of provisions in the Bill to ensure highways safety. By virtue of the conditions imposed on all licences, licence holders must not do anything that prevents pedestrians passing along the highway. If conditions are breached or public safety risks arise, authorities can revoke licences.

The Government have published guidance on reallocating road space in response to Covid-19, which points to measures that can be taken to reduce speed limits and create pedestrianised zones. The pavement licence guidance makes it clear that, when determining applications, authorities will want to consider whether any such temporary measures are in place. There is already a requirement for the local authority to consult the highways authority. In combination, the requirements I have outlined clearly tackle the issues of road safety. For these reasons, I cannot accept this amendment.

Lord Russell of Liverpool Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Russell of Liverpool) (CB)
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My Lords, I have received requests to speak after the Minister from the noble Lords, Lord Lucas and Lord Balfe.

Lord Lucas Portrait Lord Lucas [V]
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My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that reply, but I did not gather how he expects the county authority to respond to a request from the district that a particular road should be closed to traffic to enable restaurants to spread on to the pavements and streets. We are looking to do things quickly. As others have remarked, timescales in such requests can stretch into years. We have been asking for permission to put a pedestrian crossing opposite the new conference centre we built. This opened a year and a half ago, but nothing has happened yet. We want these things to happen quickly. What in the Bill will make superior authorities react speedily?

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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There is nothing specific in the Bill on communication between lower-tier authorities and county councils, other than that the intention of it is to move speedily to support the hospitality industry. That is the underlying purpose of the measures we propose.

Lord Balfe Portrait Lord Balfe [V]
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In my contribution, and in the previous one, I asked first about the position of unused shops and whether there is a need for the applicant to have and submit the permission of the owner or lessee of the shop, if they propose to put tables and chairs outside it. I did not hear an answer; I might have missed it. Secondly, I asked whether it would be legitimate for an application to be rejected on the grounds that the seven days provided was not enough time for the consultation with local people that is provided under the Bill. I did not hear an answer to that but, again, I might have missed it.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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For clarification, the definition of adjacent does not necessarily refer to premises. We will write to the noble Lord on his second specific point.

Lord Low of Dalston Portrait Lord Low of Dalston [V]
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My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment at this stage.

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Baroness Wilcox of Newport Portrait Baroness Wilcox of Newport [V]
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My Lords, the sole amendment in this group seeks to prevent customers from smoking in areas covered by the new pavement licences. The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, is right to alert the House to the dangers of second-hand smoke. This is a pertinent issue, considering that respiratory health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

The House will be aware that for some time there has been a wider campaign for smoking in beer gardens to be banned, and that any proposals for further restrictions should be considered only in consultation with the hospitality industry, especially at a time when businesses are struggling to survive. On a similar note, I would welcome the Minister clarifying the guidance to pubs on the exact regulations relating to smoking in outdoor areas. The Minister may be aware that a bar in Belfast was fined earlier this year because its beer garden, which allowed smokers, was too enclosed.

Also on the dangers of smoking, can the Minister explain why the Government are still planning to cut smoking cessation services across England by £4.9 million in 2019-20? The noble Lord, Lord Young, reminded the House of the Health Act 2006, which helped employees in the hospitality industry deal with the perils of passive smoking, since they are entitled to work in a smoke-free atmosphere. My noble friend Lord Faulkner alerted the House to the Government’s intention to make pubs and clubs smoke-free by 2030—the most significant contribution to public health since the Clean Air Act of the 1950s.

I pay tribute to local government colleagues in Manchester who, through consultation, have found that an overwhelming majority of Mancunians support the creation of permanent smoke-free zones in the city and wider region, to “make smoking history”. Perhaps the Minister should look instead to Wales, where the Labour-led Welsh Government have made enormous achievements in de-normalising smoking and protecting non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Last summer, Wales was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in outdoor school spaces, playgrounds and hospital grounds, and—as noted by the noble Lord, Lord German, who was an Assembly Minister at that time—we were ahead of the curve when we banned smoking in indoor public places in Wales in April 2007, ahead of England.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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My Lords, the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff, my noble friend Lord Young of Cookham and the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, seeks to ensure that pavement licences may only be granted by local authorities subject to the condition that smoking is prohibited. The Government recognise the vital importance of health and safety concerns but we do not believe that imposing a condition to prohibit outdoor smoking would be proportionate. I shall explain why.

We are helping our pubs, cafes and restaurants to safely reopen, and we are securing jobs by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to operate outside. The Government’s priority is protecting public health against the transmission of the coronavirus while ensuring that venues can remain open and economically sustainable. The Government have no plan to ban outdoor smoking. Excessive regulation would lead to pub closures and job losses. Smokers should exercise social responsibility and be considerate, and premises are able to set their own rules to reflect customer wishes.

The Bill allows local authorities to set their own conditions on licences and makes it clear that those authorities will want to consider public health and public safety in doing so. Therefore, local authorities can exercise their condition-making powers to impose no-smoking conditions. Where there is a breach of the condition, the local authority can serve a notice to remedy the breach and even remove the licence, so local authorities have the power to revoke licences where they give rise to genuine health and safety concerns.

Businesses can make their own non-smoking policies for outside space, which can include restrictions on smoking near food. There is a need for social responsibility, as I have already said, and smokers should be considerate to others. The amendment would have unintended consequences, pushing drinkers on to pavements and roads away from licensed trading areas. It would also cause confusion with existing outdoor areas that would still permit smoking.

I have to say that it is great to see the reformation of the dream team of my noble friend Lord Lansley and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, given what they have achieved in public health terms—the display ban, the ban on vending machines—and to hear of the work between my noble friends Lord Lansley and Lord Young in cooking up a free vote on banning smoking in public places. However, I reiterate that this is a temporary emergency form of legislation and it should not be a backdoor route to try to ban smoking in public places, as pointed out by my noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe, Lady Noakes and Lord Naseby.

As the son of a surgeon, I appreciate the contribution of my noble friend Lord Ribeiro and the points made by the noble Lords, Lord German and Lord Carlile of Berriew, and my noble friends Lord Shrewsbury and Lord Sheikh. The case is now incontrovertible that there are dangers from second-hand and passive smoking. I can say that as the son of a vascular surgeon who has published extensively on the impact of smoking on arterial disease. The Government are committed, as has already been stated, to achieving a smoke-free England by 2030. We are already taking steps to get there, as was referenced by the noble Lord, Lord Rennard. England’s smoking levels continue to fall and are currently at 13.9%, the lowest rate on record. We will publish the prevention Green Paper consultation response in due course and set out our plans at a later date to achieve a smoke-free England. So we support the implementation and evaluation of smoke-free policies in line with the evidence as it emerges.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, made the important point that any changes of this nature should be made in consultation with the hospitality industry, so amending this Bill is not the way to implement such changes. I note her points about specific places and I will write to her on those matters. For the reasons that I have set out I am not able to accept the amendment, and I hope the noble Baroness will therefore withdraw it.

Lord Robathan Portrait Lord Robathan (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I was moved to speak on this amendment because it seems to negate the purpose of this part of the emergency Bill, which is to allow people out on to the pavements to smoke and drink. I have not smoked a cigarette since I was about 11. I had a reputation at school as a prefect and in the Army of being virulently anti-smoking, which I am. I welcome the fact that I can go to pubs and come out without my jersey stinking of cigarettes.

I am delighted to say that neither of my children, who are in their early 20s, have taken up smoking. I would be very upset if they had. We all know how unwise it is. It is a foolish habit, but it is legal and lots of people smoke. Furthermore, many people only smoke with a drink because they like smoking with a drink.

We are talking about being outside. If, as the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, said, it is safer to be outside because of the threat of the virus, it is also safe to be outside when it comes to passive smoking. Of course, we will also have social distancing, which makes it that much more difficult to breathe in someone else’s smoke. As it happens, I would support this amendment if it referred only to restaurants and places where people were eating, but it is illogical because if people are just having a drink it is rather like the outdoor smoking areas that were much talked about during the passage of the Bill that banned smoking in pubs.

We are trying to encourage people to visit bars, but this would deter some people from going to bars. I see it as a somewhat illiberal amendment, which is why I am not surprised to see so many Liberal Democrats supporting it. It seems to be driven by a personal dislike of smoking—a dislike which I share. I will welcome the time when everyone gives up and we have a smoke-free England but, at the moment, if people are allowed to smoke they should be allowed to smoke with a drink outside if they are not harming anyone else. I am delighted to hear that the Government are likely to resist the amendment.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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I am delighted that my noble friend Lord Robathan has a smoke-free family and to hear about his ill-spent youth as an 11 year-old smoker. But as I said previously, this is emergency and temporary legislation and should not be a backdoor route to ban smoking in public places.

Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response and especially for grouping me with the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, as part of this dream team. There is no reason why the Minister would know this, but when the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, was the Secretary of State, I was a mere Whip in the coalition, and deputising for part of that dream team—the noble Earl, Lord Howe. I understand why the noble Earl might have felt it difficult to give the speech that the Minister was given by his department this evening. It would have been immensely difficult for part of that real dream team to do that.

I am very thankful to noble Lords for their contributions. I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lady Noakes, and the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for their comments about moving fast, but they did not seem to get the point that I was making which is that we need to get this sector up and running. Given that almost 90% of us do not smoke, the amendment would make establishments more rather than less attractive, more viable rather than less so, as well as tackling the public health challenge that everyone has laid out. The fact that so many cities have expressed support to me in the space of a few days shows that people can move fast on this. I trust that, in fact, while we have been speaking, the Government are sending the write rounds on the concession that I think is needed on this amendment. I know that the Department of Health and Social Care has been in touch with ASH today and we are very happy to work with the Government on this.

I am, as the Minister will see, disappointed in his response. I realise that he is constrained and that he will be perhaps less familiar with the history of this House and the cross-party involvement in this issue, although I think that he has probably gathered that from the range of people who have spoken. At this stage, I will withdraw the amendment, although we will return to it next week.

The ideal situation is that the Government come forward with their own amendment so that we do not have to have a vote on it next week. I hope very much that the discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care—I am looking at the Box at the moment—will bear fruit. I also look at that part of the dream team sitting on the Bishops’ Benches. I hope that next week we can come to a resolution that we are all happy with.

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Baroness Wilcox of Newport Portrait Baroness Wilcox of Newport [V]
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My Lords, the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, highlights the need for outdoor space licences to be easily granted for areas such as courtyards and car parks. The noble Baroness is right that many premises will not benefit from pavement licences but have space elsewhere for which they may wish to explore the addition of seating. She asked an important question: where is the general new provision? Is the licence needed at all?

The knock-on impact for residents may be lessened should these options be considered rather than pavements. I assume they will also lessen the consequences for those with disabilities who may struggle on pavements blocked by seating. I hope the Minister will consider whether it is possible and desirable to allow more outdoor spaces to be utilised. The noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, noted what my noble friend Lady Kennedy of Cradley said at Second Reading about the licensing laws needing real revision.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
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My Lords, the new clause proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles of Berkhamsted, would introduce a fast-track procedure to provide outdoor space licences for areas within the curtilage of premises not already covered by the existing licence—for example, car parks or courtyards. Given that indoor space will be limited while social distancing measures apply, we want to provide a temporary process that helps us support as many businesses to reopen as possible by allowing them to use outdoor space to serve customers, which I believe is the intention of the noble Baroness’s amendment.

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26: Clause 11, page 8, line 33, leave out from “must” to end of line 35 and insert—
“(a) be made at a time when the licensed premises are open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises; and(b) be made at a time no later than 11.00pm.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment would mean that off-sales could not take place after 11pm, regardless of whether the premises can sell alcohol on the premises after 11pm.
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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Do not worry, my Lords, this is not going to be a long statement. I thought it might assist noble Lords to know that I intend to table an amendment on Report to introduce a standard cessation time of 11 pm for operators to trade under the new off-sales permissions.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for her promise of an amendment but, regrettably, we have a series of amendments in this group: Amendments 26, 30, 32, 34 and 35. I will briefly put on the record what they are, although they are set out in the Marshalled List.

In addition to the amendment promised, the Government need to think about amendments that aim to prevent street drinking and disorder, particularly late at night, where late-night licences are in operation for on-licence premises in the vicinity of residential premises, as the Minister has suggested she will do. If revellers who have already consumed a lot of alcohol are allowed to purchase alcohol to take away just before premises close, sometimes just before 3 am, there is a danger that they will simply party in nearby streets, to the detriment of local residents. The Minister’s suggested, albeit completely last-minute, promise of an amendment is welcome to that extent, but, whatever the hour, if alcohol is sold in open containers such as pint beer glasses, there is every incentive to consume it in surrounding streets rather than take it home or to the office. If alcohol is sold without restriction as to the kind of container—such as pint beer glasses—in which it can be supplied, as allowed under the Bill, there is a danger of injury either by assault or by accident; for example, were someone to fall while carrying a beer glass. The potential for both assault and accident increases with consumption of alcohol.

At Second Reading, the noble Earl, Lord Howe, tried to allay these concerns by pointing to the provisions in the Bill to review and revoke off-sales if premises were causing problems, and the power under Section 76 of Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to close down premises. Those provisions are largely unworkable as they require the particular premises responsible for the problem of street drinking, violence and disorder to be identified. In central London, for example, there are hundreds of on-licence premises within short distances of one another, and it would be practically impossible to identify from which premises the revellers causing the problems had bought their alcohol. There are more than 100 premises with post-1 am licences in Soho alone.

Some of those most likely to be affected, represented by the West End Community Network, will support what the Minister has promised because they support an 11 pm end time for off-sales and have not asked for a restriction on when off-sales can begin. Can the Minister explain why the Government have left it until tonight to give even the slightest indication that they are prepared to bring forward their own amendment? Will she agree to meet me and other interested Peers between now and Report to discuss both the Government’s proposed amendments and the other amendments in my name in this group? In the meantime, despite what the Minister has said, I move Amendment 26 in order for her to respond at the end of the debate.

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I will also make a few comments on Amendment 45, in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, which would add a new clause to the Bill to deal with the very separate issue of reducing the late night levy for premises shut during the coronavirus pandemic. That seems a good idea to me, and local authorities should have a say in determining the levies and applying a reduction. The Government should clarify how they are engaging with councils in the process of determining these levies. It seems only reasonable that you get some reduction in the levy you pay, if you have been shut during the pandemic and unable to actually trade. I will leave my comments there, I thank the Government again and I look forward to the response from the noble Baroness.
Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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I thank all noble Lords for their comments, and their discipline in not repeating the same remarks over and over again.

The noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, made a very good point about how local areas and local partners will cope with all this and their capacity to cope if things go wrong. We have been very clear from the outset that, if things do go wrong, if licensees do not enforce their obligations and the public start to behave in a reckless manner, these places will be closed. The licensing authorities are quite clear about that and have already started to close premises when things have gotten out of hand. Over lockdown, I have spent a lot of time talking to the police on their operational calls. They are very clear that this is a multi-stakeholder approach and that everyone—not only the police, not only the local authorities, but the public and the licensees themselves—has a responsibility to make this work well.

On how this will help the economy, the night-time economy is a very vibrant one, and footfall in town centres can only enhance it. The Government have, however, listened to and sympathised with the concerns around the possibility of associated noise, nuisance, and anti-social behaviour that might occur when a late licence is in existence.

The noble Lord, Lord Blunkett, asked about off-sales. The noble Lord, Lord Hogan-Howe, tells me that in the olden days off-sales were a common occurrence at pubs and are nothing new, but with the advent of off-licences and supermarkets selling alcohol they are not so common anymore.

The noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, asked about cumulative impact areas. I covered that in my earlier comments.

To recap, the alcohol licensing provisions will allow all licensed premises with an on-sales licence to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises, provided they have not previously been refused permission for off-sales. In the draft of the Bill before the House, licensed premises which are eligible will be bound by a temporary licence condition which limits the hours of trade to the existing hours of operation as the premises’ on-sales licence permits, which can include late licences beyond 11 pm.

However, we recognise the concerns of noble Lords who have spoken to these amendments, and obviously local authorities have had concerns too. That is why we intend to a table an amendment on Report to introduce a standard cessation time of 11 pm for operators to trade under new off-sales permissions.

Both my noble friends Lord Balfe and Lady Stowell of Beeston asked about earlier finish times. If that is the wish then those earlier finish times will certainly be permitted.

The noble Lord, Lord Paddick, asked me why tonight and why at the last minute. I say to the noble Lord that I have worked really hard to make this statement tonight, so to have had it done ahead of Report is an achievement.

The new provisions defined in the amendment that the Government will bring forward will not affect the underlying licences of premises or their conditions. It will provide for new permissions that will apply to the holders of only on-sales licences, as well as to holders of more restrictive dual licences that allow for off-sales for a more restrictive period. The effect of the amendment will be that new permissions will apply only up to 11 pm or when the current licensing hours for that premises end. I reiterate for the benefit of my noble friend Lord Cormack that if it is wished that that will finish earlier—say, 10 pm—that is up to the individual premises concerned.

Crucially, the forthcoming amendment will build on the current set of safeguards previously heard by the House, which can be used to address concerns about crime, disorder and disruption caused by premises operating irresponsibly—to go to the point of the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett. That includes the new expedited review process that I have talked about previously, which allows a local authority to suspend or modify the new off-sales permission within 48 hours and then hold a hearing to decide whether to revoke, suspend or modify the permission within 28 days.

In addition, the police are already empowered under Section 76 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to issue immediate closure notices to premises if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the use of a particular premises has resulted or is likely to result in nuisance to members of the public or that there has been or is likely to be disorder near the premises which is associated with the use of those premises. I spoke to the Metropolitan Police the other day and they stand ready to use Section 34 and 35 dispersal notices if necessary.

We also intend to publish guidance alongside the Bill that will set out the details of how the new provisions, including the details of the amendment, will apply to premises and local authorities. I hope that addresses the concerns raised by the noble Lords who tabled the amendments and that the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, will be content to withdraw his amendment.

I turn to Amendments 32 and 35, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, and the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock. They relate to the sale of alcohol for consumption in open and glass containers. The Government agree that premises must be responsible for the manner in which they serve alcohol in all circumstances, and that includes minimising the risk of any associated disorder. We will therefore be including recommendations to address issues regarding glassware in the guidance for local authorities and premises that will accompany these provisions. The guidance will encourage the use of closed or non-glass containers such as reusable plastic cups. However, we also recognise that restaurants in particular will benefit from being able to serve alcohol in open containers in outdoor areas that they may use under the provisions in the Bill relating to pavement licences. Premises may have different serving equipment and preferences, and the provisions need to remain flexible to meet business and customer needs. Requiring that alcohol sold in these circumstances must be in a closed container could hinder premises that might want to take advantage of the aims of the Bill. I therefore determine that it would be too prescriptive to specify in the Bill restrictions on the type of containers that can be used for the off-trade permission, and I hope the noble Lord will be content not to move his amendment.

Lastly, the Government are sympathetic to the concerns behind Amendment 45, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Thornhill, regarding the late-night levy. That is why, in April, the Minister for Crime and Policing wrote to the chairs of the licensing committees to ask them to take a more flexible and pragmatic approach during the coronavirus outbreak, while ensuring that the licensing objectives are safeguarded. I am grateful to the licensing authorities for ensuring that the system has continued to operate during this trying time.

Local authorities of course have discretion when considering non-payment or late payment of an annual premises licence fee or a late-night levy charge. While the Licensing Act 2003 requires that the licence be suspended, it is possible to delay when that suspension takes effect. I hope and expect that businesses experiencing difficulties will make the licensing authority aware and that the licensing authority will treat such businesses sympathetically. In his letter, the Minister for Crime further advised authorities to consider delaying any suspension of the licence where the delay in payment or non-payment was related to Covid-19. I hope that that is a reasonable explanation and that the noble Lord will be content not to move his amendment.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Portrait Baroness Finlay of Llandaff [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am most grateful to noble Lords for allowing me to intervene. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, was very powerful and I welcome the Minister’s statement. I declare that I chair the Commission on Alcohol Harms.

The chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales recently said that it was “crystal clear” that drunk people were unable to socially distance. But let us not forget that the price of beer in the off trade has fallen by 40% relative to the price of other goods since 2000, and pubs have been unable to match the low price. Publicans see cheap supermarket alcohol as a grave danger both to their commercial interests and to the country’s health, and 83% of publicans believe that supermarket alcohol is too cheap. So what happens about off-sales from supermarkets? If these very cheap, highly promoted sales are not tackled, the plan to revive pubs as social meeting places and for the support they can provide in terms of integrating people and supporting our economy will just fail.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the off-sale of cheap alcohol is not a novel concept in terms of the Bill. I totally concur with the noble Baroness’s concerns about the harms of alcohol and about the accessibility of cheap alcohol attracting people who might not have enough money to go to the pub. Ironically, that is why I support pubs: because drinking is done in a much more controlled way. Licensees have an obligation to chuck people out of the pub if they are behaving irresponsibly. Therefore, landlords are prohibited from selling off-sales as well as on-sales to someone who is clearly drunk. It is a good safeguard.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Balfe and Lord Sheikh, for supporting Amendments 30, 32 and 35. There appears to have been a mis-communication over the extent of the amendments that the Government were going to bring forward on Report, which took me slightly off guard—so, with the leave of the House, I will say something more.

I thank the West End Community Network, the Soho Society and the Covent Garden Community Association for their briefings on these issues. I am grateful for the Minister agreeing that new off-sales should be limited to 11 pm. But the Minister does not appear to have heard my reasoning as to why the measures she set out to vary off-sales licences and the power that the police have to close on-licence premises are not effective. I will not repeat them again; I will allow her to read them in Hansard.

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Baroness Pinnock Portrait Baroness Pinnock [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My noble friend Lady Randerson is unable to speak on this group as she has caring commitments that she is unable to change. She has been in contact with the Freight Transport Association, which provided her with an extensive briefing. I know that she has also spoken with the noble Baroness, Lady Vere.

My noble friend asked me to highlight one of the issues in the Freight Transport Association’s briefing: certificates of temporary exemption. These may now result in the required test falling within the busiest period for many operators. The FTA is confident that this is not what the Government are seeking to achieve. It has therefore asked for the certificates of temporary exemption to be issued for a full 12 months so that HGV licences are not subject to change at a time when the vehicle needs to be on the road to catch up with transport issues that have fallen by the wayside due to the coronavirus changes.

With that rather inept briefing—I am sure that my noble friend would have done so much better—I hope that the Minister will be able to give some answers to the questions that have been asked.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this group concerns Clauses 13 and 14, which seek to manage road safety risks as we move into recovery from the pandemic. I am very grateful for the discussions that I have had with the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, and the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, who is unable to be in her place. I will put on record further details to address the concerns that have been raised.

First, noble Lords will be aware that draft regulations referred to in Clause 13 are now available, but the essence of this clause is as follows: at this time, the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency can issue certificates of temporary exemption from roadworthiness testing on a blanket basis for vehicles during exceptional circumstances. It has issued such exemptions to all heavy vehicles that are due a test in the period from March to August 2020. Clause 13 allows the DVSA to exempt vehicles from testing based on road safety risk factors rather than on a blanket basis. These powers are not intended to manage business as usual and will not be used to manage normal test demand unconnected to exceptional circumstances.

When determining whether a CTE should be issued for a particular vehicle, the new regulations will allow the following relevant safety factors to be considered: the age of the vehicle and its technical characteristics; the findings of any examination or inspection of a vehicle; enforcement action against the vehicle’s operator or against the driver of a vehicle used under that operator’s licence; the operator’s membership of the DVSA’s earned recognition scheme; and any action, direction or order in relation to an operator’s licence, held by the operator, taken or made by a traffic commissioner within the previous five years under specific relevant provisions.

Where exceptional circumstances necessitate, the new power will be used to prioritise older vehicles for testing—most likely those over two years old—and take into consideration membership of the DVSA-run earned recognition scheme and operator compliance risk scores calculated by the DVSA, based on historic evidence of compliance. The regulations will permit the issue of CTEs during, prior to, or subsequent to disruption attributable in whole or in part to an exceptional event which falls within the existing definition. This is in recognition of the fact that disruption to test availability may extend beyond the boundaries of an event. An exceptional event such as accident, fire or epidemic is included in this definition. The regulations will also set out the duration for which these CTEs can be issued. Given that these revisions reduce the road safety risk inherent in the existing powers and are to be used only infrequently and in exceptional circumstances, we do not propose to add a sunset clause.

I turn now to Amendment 49, tabled by my noble friend Lord Attlee, which seeks to permit the Secretary of State to qualify any individual to undertake road-worthiness tests of heavy goods vehicles. At present, heavy vehicle testing is undertaken by the DVSA, typically with staff working from a third-party site. This amendment would open the door to the private sector undertaking such testing; this is often referred to as delegated testing. I understand my noble friend’s views on this point and recognise his expertise in the area, as so ably demonstrated in his contribution. I express my gratitude to him for his constructive approach, particularly in discussions with departmental officials.

However, allowing delegated testing of heavy goods vehicles would represent a fundamental change in our long-standing approach. This amendment would require us to conduct that change during a time of immense pressure on the testing system, on stakeholders and on the DVSA. Establishing a new system of testing without carrying out careful consideration and extensive consultation would be unwise and would create risks to all road users. However, I am extremely willing to continue constructive discussions with the noble Earl, and indeed with industry, particularly as to how we can improve the current system. For these reasons, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to support the Government’s approach.

I turn finally to Clause 14. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, for giving me an opportunity to provide further details. Lorry and bus drivers must apply to renew their driving licence every five years and annually from the age of 65. From the age of 45, a medical report signed by a doctor must be provided with the renewal application. Under an existing power in secondary legislation, the Secretary of State for Transport can waive the requirement for a medical report. However, the Secretary of State for Transport currently cannot mitigate the associated risk by issuing shorter licences.

As a result of the pandemic, NHS GPs have not been available to meet the demand for medical reports. To help keep drivers on the road, we announced a temporary scheme to waive the medical report requirement and issue one-year licences back in April 2020. The provision in this Bill is retrospective. It limits to one year the duration of licences already issued under that scheme without a medical report, as well as those that will be issued in the future. Even though the medical report will not be required at renewal, the driver must still fill out the standard DVLA medical questionnaire, and confirm whether or not they suffer from one of the medical conditions relevant to fitness to drive. If a medical condition is declared, the DVLA will investigate the condition, and decide whether it is appropriate to issue a licence. The provision for one-year licences to be issued where there is no medical report will last for the duration of the Bill. However, this scheme does not have to be used. The DVLA is keeping the scheme under review, and in consultation with NHS authorities will reinstate the requirement for a medical report, and return to issuing five-year licences, as soon as medical resources are available to meet demand.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, for her questions on the issuance of other licences and their renewal, and I will write to her. On the basis of these explanations and clarifications, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, will feel able to withdraw his intention to oppose the Motion that the clause stand part.

Business and Planning Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage
Monday 20th July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
Report stage (Hansard) Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 119-R-I(Corrected-II) Marshalled list for Report - (15 Jul 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Baroness Wilcox of Newport Portrait Baroness Wilcox of Newport (Lab) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I draw attention to my interests in the register. It is right that the House is again afforded the opportunity to consider the implication of pavement licences. The various amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, highlight the need for inclusive design. I agree with him and am pleased that the Government have also tabled amendments on this theme. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, and the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, raise similar concerns, and I am glad that the House has debated them today.

I hope that, in addition to the Government’s amendments, the Minister offers further non-statutory assurances to make certain that accessibility issues are resolved. As my noble friend Lady Kennedy of Cradley noted, applications should not be granted if people are forced to cross a road; they should be able to pass by without incident. Pavement licences, when granted, can result in vibrant social spaces, but relevant stakeholder consultation is essential, as is the role of local authorities in ensuring compliance—as raised by my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey. I agree with him that resources will need to be made available to local authorities for the extra work that this will entail.

My noble friend Lord Hain returned to the issue of trade union engagement, and he has the support of these Benches in so doing. As he said, consultation and co-operation have become the name of the game. I associate myself with the remarks of my noble friend Lady Chakrabarti in that respect. It should be the norm and statutorily implemented.

The House is aware from previous stages of the Bill that amendments in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, have been raised about the concerns of trade union members. This amendment would ensure that local authorities consult employees and their unions when determining pavement seating applications. In recent weeks, I have spoken to members of Wetherspoon staff represented by the BFAWU, and it is clear that they are often left in the dark on decisions that have enormous ramifications for their working conditions. I hope the Minister will assure the House that he has at least engaged with trade unions in drafting the legislation and that he continues to during its implementation.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (Lord Greenhalgh) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, the pavement licensing clauses in the Bill will provide vital temporary flexibility to aid the recovery of the 158,000 hospitality businesses that employ almost 2 million people over the summer months. That is the importance of this legislation, as raised by my noble friends Lord Naseby and Lord Sheikh, and the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock.

Noble Lords have voiced concerns over accessibility, which the Government agree is paramount. While the Government have sought to address accessibility from the outset, through robust conditions such as the no-obstruction condition, guidance and enforcement procedures, we have reflected on the strong feeling in this House and recognise that more needs to be done.

In response—and what has been described by “a huge step forward” by my noble friend Lord Holmes—the Government have tabled Amendments 6, 16, 21 and 87, in the name of my noble friend Lord Howe. First, the Government have tabled Amendment 6 to Clause 3, which would insert a new subsection after subsection (6). New subsection (6A) provides that, when local authorities are determining whether furniture put on the highway would be, or already is, an unacceptable obstruction, they must have specific regard to the needs of disabled people and to any recommended distances required for access by disabled people, as set out in guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This puts in the Bill a requirement that a local authority, when deciding whether to grant an application and to exercise its enforcement powers, must have in mind the needs of disabled people and for clear access, as set out in the Government’s guidance.

Secondly, as well as the amendment to the Bill, I appreciate that there has been some confusion over the application of inclusive mobility guidance, so we are going to sharpen the focus. Inclusive mobility draws on a wide range of stakeholder inputs and remains the key piece of design guidance for the pedestrian environment. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Low, work led by DfT is under way that will update inclusive mobility next year. However, we recognise that businesses applying for licences may need clearer direction.

That is why our guidance will make clear that, in most circumstances, 1,500 millimetres or 1.5 metres of clear space should be regarded as the minimum acceptable distance between the obstacle and the edge of the footway. We will also address other concerns raised—specifically, provision of clear barriers to demarcate seating, explicit reference to duties on local authorities under the Equality Act and style of furniture. In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, that is the framework within which we are asking local authorities to operate.

We have also set out, in the House, the circumstances when local authorities can use their power to revoke, including where there is a breach of condition or there are risks to health and public safety, as well as highways obstruction. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, there are robust enforcement procedures and local authorities can revoke licences when they give rise to these risks. They will need to have regard to the public sector equality duty under the Equality Act, when devising and implementing the new licensing regime, to eliminate discrimination and harassment. In response to the noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, disabled people can complain to the local authority, so authorities can act and revoke the licence for breach of a condition, which would be taken immediately. The idea of using markers, as raised by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, will also be considered in the guidance. That was a good point.

In drafting the guidance, we have consulted key stakeholders, including the RNIB and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, as well as the Local Government Association. These are the relevant stakeholders requested by the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy. Since these measures will come into effect immediately on Royal Assent, it is important that we publish final guidance now, so that local authorities and businesses have regard to these vital considerations of accessibility without delay, as soon as these measures are implemented. However, we have made clear that any new national conditions will be subject to the negative procedure, as I will turn to shortly.

Finally, as a third step, we will be communicating the publication of the guidance to local authorities to make sure that they have sight of it as soon as possible. In so doing, we will point to existing examples of best practice on accessibility, as suggested by the RNIB.

With these steps, the Bill now makes clear that authorities must take the needs of disabled people and recommended distances into account, while guidance will set out further detail on what this entails. This provides very clear direction to local authorities and leaves scope for them to respond to their own local circumstances, while complying with their existing duties under equalities legislation. That delivers the certainty referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, with a degree of local discretion. I have to say, I note that my noble friend Lord Blencathra reserves the right to bulldoze through any obstruction in his armoured wheelchair.

I hope, therefore, that my noble friends Lord Blencathra, Lord Holmes and Lord Cormack, the noble Baronesses, Lady Pinnock and Lady Thomas, and the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, will accept government Amendment 6, and not press their amendments on this matter.

As I set out at Second Reading, the Government have accepted the recommendation of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and tabled an amendment to replace the Secretary of State’s power to publish national conditions on pavement licences with a power to specify any national conditions for pavement licences in regulations, subject to the negative resolution procedure. This should provide a robust level of scrutiny of any national conditions. I hope that noble Lords will accept government Amendments 16 and 87.

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Moved by
6: Clause 3, page 4, line 8, at end insert—
“(6A) Where a local authority is considering for any purpose of this group of sections whether furniture put on a relevant highway by a licence-holder pursuant to a pavement licence has or would have the effect referred to in subsection (6)(a), the authority must have regard in particular to—(a) the needs of disabled people, and (b) the recommended distances required for access by disabled people as set out in guidance issued by the Secretary of State.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment makes provision for the needs of disabled persons in particular to be taken into account when determining whether furniture put on the highway is an obstruction.
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Baroness Pinnock Portrait Baroness Pinnock [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we have heard, as we did in Committee, powerful arguments about taking this opportunity to exclude smoking from new pavement licensed areas. The case for ensuring that those of us who do not wish to inhale second-hand smoke are not excluded from that enjoyment is well made.

The amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Northover is a vital step in making our country smoke-free. It had strong and detailed arguments in support of it from the noble Baronesses, Lady Finlay and Lady Grey-Thompson, the noble Lords, Lord Faulkner and Lord Balfe, and many other noble Lords.

However, Amendment 11, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox of Newport, lacks clarity for businesses and shies away from the paramount public health concern. It is a cop-out. When an argument relies on pointing to the drafting issues of a stronger amendment, as hers did, you know that it is very weak.

We have heard that the overwhelming majority of people do not smoke: a mere 14% do. Protecting the interests of a minority does not extend to a situation where, by doing so, harm is created for the majority, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, has just explained. Smoking kills and second-hand smoking kills. Surely the Government should take every opportunity to restrict it.

The choice is clear: do we use this opportunity to keep the health needs of customers paramount or not? The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, is supported by the Local Government Association. I hope the Minister will provide a full response to the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, to have further consideration on Amendment 15 prior to Third Reading, so that progress on this issue can be made.

Other amendments on this matter fudge these vital health concerns, and we on these Benches wholeheartedly support the cross-party amendment in the name of my noble friend Lady Northover.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, we would do well to remember that the pavement licensing clauses in the Bill provide vital temporary flexibility to aid the recovery of hospitality businesses over the summer months, and that we need to proceed quickly to achieve that. Noble Lords have voiced some concerns and requested clarity in relation to the position on outdoor smoking under these temporary fast-track licences. I am not going to go into the respective roles of the hard cop and the soft cop in achieving the Government’s amendments, as my noble friend Lord Young put it. However, in recognition of the mood across the House the Government have tabled Amendments 13, 14 and 25 to provide the clarity that local authorities, businesses and customers need.

It is important to recognise that we are winning the battle against smoking: Great Britain has one of the lowest rates of smoking in Europe, at 13.9% of adults. Fewer than one in six adults smoke today and, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Rennard, over 1 million people have given up during the lockdown, as was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Bethell earlier today.

This Government have taken great strides in reducing the harms caused by smoking. We committed to doing so in the prevention Green Paper. We will publish the prevention guidance response in due course and set out our plans to achieve a smoke-free England by 2030 at a later date. I am delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, supports that mission. I emphasise to her that there has been no stop in providing smoking cessation support. The Government continue to provide those programmes of work, which address smoking harms nationally and are delivered locally through the tobacco control plan for England and the NHS long-term plan’s commitment to provide smoking cessation support in hospital settings.

In the debate noble Lords expressed their support for the temporary, urgent and necessary reforms brought forward in the Bill to support the businesses hardest hit by this pandemic—our pubs, cafés and restaurants—and to protect jobs in those sectors. We recognise that the Covid restrictions mean that customers are encouraged or required to eat and drink outside, and that clarity is critical as we support businesses to recover. That is why the Government have tabled an amendment requiring proper provision for non-smoking seating via a smoke-free seating condition. This amendment does not prevent the portion of businesses which wish to cater for smokers from doing so. It requires proper provision for non-smoking seating. This means that customers who want to choose to sit in smoking or non-smoking al fresco dining areas will be able to do so.

The Government’s position means that all businesses eligible for pavement licences can share the benefits of this new fast-track licence, while ensuring provision for non-smoking seating. Of course, businesses can already make their own non-smoking policies for outside spaces to reflect customer wishes without the need for regulations, and the Government support that. I say to my noble friend Lord Balfe that a blanket ban can be imposed by businesses themselves. Our guidance will further reinforce this point, making it clear that the licence holder has to make reasonable provision for seating free of smoking.

The guidance is available on the GOV.UK website and was circulated to noble Lords and noble Baronesses before this debate. It includes clear no-smoking signage, displayed in accordance with the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2012. No ashtrays or similar receptacles are to be provided or left on furniture where smoke-free seating is identified. Licence holders should aim for a minimum two-metre distance between non-smoking and smoking areas, wherever possible. That is the framework, so I do not see the confusion raised by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile.

It is also worth reiterating that businesses must continue to have regard to smoke-free legislation under the Health Act 2006, and the subsequent Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006. This is restated in our guidance, as it is absolutely right to stress it, and the Government are committed to working towards a smoke-free society by 2030, as I have said.

Now is not the time to prevent businesses catering to their customers, or to use a temporary provision on pavement licences to ban smoking outdoors. Now is the time to support our hospitality industry and ensure that all businesses eligible for pavement licences can share the benefits of this new fast-track licence. This point was made by my noble friend Lord Blencathra. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, is to withdraw her Amendment 11 and I thank her for her support for our amendment, which seeks to achieve what she set out in her amendment.

However, I fear that Amendment 15 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, is not the way to proceed and would be unfair to businesses. While undoubtedly not its intention, it would create confusion. The effect is to create an unfair playing field between businesses applying for these new licences, which need to abide by the condition, and those with existing licences, which do not. This point was made by several of my colleagues. Her amendment also cuts across the ability of business owners to make their own non-smoking policies for outside space, without the need for regulations. Of course, there are cases where the regulations are already clear. The existing power, set out in the Health Act 2006 and subsequent Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006, made it illegal to smoke in public in enclosed, or substantially enclosed, areas and workplaces. The Bill changes none of this.

On the other hand, the Government’s amendment has the proportionate approach advocated by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones. He said that we needed proportionality and this is what we deliver with this amendment. It rightly requires proper, fair provision for non-smoking seating, while not undermining business owners whose customers include smokers. It supports our hospitality sector in continuing to operate, while following the Covid restrictions necessary to protect public health. I thank my noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe, Lord Sheikh, Lady McIntosh, Lord Lansley and Lord Young for supporting the government amendment, as well as the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner. I therefore urge noble Lords to support government Amendments 13, 14 and 25, which will ensure that consumer choice remains. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, has already indicated that she will withdraw her Amendment 11, but I ask that the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, does not move her Amendment 15 when called.

On a couple of points of clarification, the guidance being issued is joint guidance from the MHCLG and DHSC. It will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, in response to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner. In response to the noble Lord, Lord German, there will be no physical barrier between non-smokers and smoking areas but a two-metre gap. I hope that answers the questions raised in the debate.

Baroness Wilcox of Newport Portrait Baroness Wilcox of Newport [V]
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My Lords—[Inaudible.]

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Moved by
13: Clause 5, page 5, line 3, after “no-obstruction condition” insert “or a smoke-free seating condition”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment makes provision for a “smoke-free seating” condition.
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Moved by
16: Clause 5, page 5, line 7, leave out subsections (6) to (8) and insert—
“(6) The Secretary of State may by regulations—(a) specify conditions for pavement licences, and(b) make provision as to whether, or the extent to which, those conditions have effect in addition to, or instead of, any other conditions to which pavement licences are subject.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment replaces the power to publish national conditions with a power to make provision about national conditions by regulations.
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Baroness Pinnock Portrait Baroness Pinnock [V]
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My Lords, thanks to the work of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, a number of very important amendments have been tabled by the Government that limit the extent of the powers in the Bill, with exceptions for a need consequent on a further outbreak of the coronavirus. Although there are disputes over the wording—the exact precise wording, as we have heard from a number of speakers—in general the amendments are supported on these Benches.

Of course, we all greatly miss our friend Baroness Maddock and record our commiserations to my noble friend Lord Beith.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by speaking to the government amendments in my name—Amendments 26, 28, 47, 49, 58, 60, 65, 67, 73, 75, 78, 80, 81 and 83—which are grouped with Amendment 19 and the others in this group tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, for tabling his Amendments 19, 22, 57, 63 and 71, which would require any statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State in relation to pavement licences, extended planning permissions, construction hours or electronic inspection of the Mayor of London’s spatial development strategy to be subject to negative parliamentary procedures. As he indicated, these amendments reflect recommendations made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee of your Lordships’ House in its report on the Bill. I welcome the opportunity to discuss them.

The committee’s views are always important, and we have responded positively elsewhere in the Bill to its recommendations, as I shall explain in a moment. However, in relation to this matter, I am afraid we cannot accept its recommendations or, by extension, these amendments. This reflects partly a general principle but also the practical realities. First, the statutory guidance under Clauses 5, 8, 16, 17, 18 and 21 is planning guidance. Guidance by the Secretary of State to local planning authorities has been a key feature of the planning system ever since its creation over 70 years ago—whether that guidance has been through circulars, planning policy guidance or, more recently, the National Planning Policy Framework and its associated practical guidance.

The issuing of this guidance, as a general principle, has never required statutory instruments. For instance, there is no parliamentary procedure requirement in relation to guidance to local planning authorities about the preparation and content of local plans, a key planning function under Section 34 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Similarly, and to give an example directly relevant to this Bill, our construction working hours provisions and the extension of planning permission provisions modify the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The various powers of the Secretary of State to issue guidance under that Act are not subject to parliamentary procedure. These documents will form part of the full suite of planning practice guidance and, in practice, it would be peculiar to have different parallel procedures for publication.

Our pavement licence clauses are linked to Part 7A of the Highways Act 1980. That Act contains four powers for the Secretary of State to issue guidance, none of which are subject to parliamentary procedure. Two of these powers were inserted by amending Acts in 2000 and 2015. The situation is similar for other statutory guidance required by this Bill. So, prescribing a parliamentary procedure for guidance in relation to the temporary planning measures in the Bill would be out of kilter with our well-established approach.

Furthermore, requiring guidance to be subject to parliamentary procedure does not reflect the practical realities of planning guidance. The draft guidance we have published is, like our other planning guidance, technical and practical and expressed in the form of questions and answers to help local planning authorities, and applicants, and has been formulated taking account of the view of sector specialists. For instance, the guidance on additional environmental approval for extending planning permissions has had input from the Environment Agency and Natural England. I hope that many noble Lords will have had the opportunity to review this guidance during the course of the Bill’s passage.

This guidance is designed to evolve over time in response to local planning authorities’ practical experience of these temporary measures. While we have obviously sought to ensure that guidance is as comprehensive as possible from the outset, we know that, in time, additional questions or clarifications may be required. We want to be able to make these updates in a flexible and timely way. We should not forget that local planning authorities are best placed to understand the specific needs, requirements and arrangements of their local areas. Providing helpful and up-to-date guidance is essential in allowing them to exercise their judgment on the ground. Requiring each change of guidance to be subject to the negative parliamentary procedure makes it more difficult in practice to make incremental changes to help them. I therefore regret that we cannot support these amendments, and I humbly beg the noble Lord, after reflecting on our arguments, to withdraw or not move them.

Turning to the other amendments in this group, I am pleased to say that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, and I find ourselves in broad agreement. The Government’s Amendments 26, 28, 47, 49, 58, 60, 65, 67, 73, 75, 78, 80, 81 and 83 implement another of the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which the Government are pleased to accept. As noble Lords will be aware—I emphasise this to my noble friend Lord Balfe and the noble Lord, Lord Blunkett—the vast majority of the measures in the Bill are temporary. In several cases, clauses provide for expiry dates to be extended by regulations, subject to the affirmative or “made affirmative” procedure.

We thank the committee for its careful consideration of the Bill. Our amendments in this group would implement its recommendation to clarify that the provisions will only be extended for a purpose linked to the coronavirus pandemic. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beith, for his supportive comments on this issue. I join other noble Lords in extending my sympathy to him on the loss of his wife, the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock.

The Government’s intention has always been for the powers to extend the temporary provisions to be used, if necessary, in response to emerging information about the duration of the pandemic, the nature of social distancing requirements and the impact of coronavirus on relevant sectors. We want to provide absolute clarity that the powers to extend will be exercised only where this is necessary and appropriate, and only to mitigate an effect of coronavirus. Therefore, these amendments make this clear on the face of the Bill. The wording we have used is consistent with other legislation. I also remind noble Lords that the requirement for any extensions to be by regulations, subject to the affirmative or “made affirmative” procedure, will provide opportunity for further parliamentary scrutiny.

I am sure that noble Lords will welcome this clarity, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, will agree to withdraw Amendment 19 and to not move Amendments 27, 48, 59, 66, 74, 79 and 82, which are intended to achieve the same purpose.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank noble Lords who have spoken in this short debate, not just for their widespread support but for their brevity. I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for his kind words. I join other noble Lords in very much appreciating that the noble Lord, Lord Beith, has come in today to speak on this issue, and sympathise with him at this time of loss.

It was good to hear the noble Earl give a full response. He always couches his words to your Lordships’ House in such reasonable terms, packaged in a velvet of deepest hue, that it is sometimes easy to think that he is agreeing with you, when in fact he is not. In particular, I picked up his heavy points regarding the Government’s intention not to take up the recommendations from the DPRRC on statutory guidance to which regard must be had. The noble Earl gave very good examples, which had not occurred to me, but I have no reason to doubt that they are genuine. However, the DPRRC’s report is very firm on this issue:

“We have frequently taken the view that statutory guidance to which regard must be had … should be subject to a parliamentary procedure.”


It goes on to say that:

“This is not to say that the guidance should have to be drafted like a statutory instrument … The point is that guidance which has legal significance, and which may have—and may be expressly designed to have—a transformative effect on behaviour in important areas, requires a parliamentary procedure.”


There is clearly no chance that the House will resolve this important issue in this Bill, but I point out to the DPRRC that it has now been raised. It, and other committees, may wish to return to it in order that we resolve it going forward.

The House has given this issue a good kick about. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, for picking up exactly point I was trying to make about the importance of the choice of terminology. He focused on a different set of amendments, but this issue runs like a golden thread through all the Government’s proposals when compared to ours. These are important differences, but they are not necessarily going to hold the House back tonight. I hope, again, that the DPRRC will look at them in due course. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 19.

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Moved by
21: Clause 8, page 7, line 3, at end insert—
“(2) Schedule 1 to the Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/2853) (functions which are not to be the responsibility of an authority’s executive) has effect as if, in paragraph B, after item 72 there were inserted—

“73 Functions relating to pavement licences

Sections 1 to 7 of the Business and Planning Act 2020.””

Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment secures that, where a local authority has executive arrangements, functions relating to pavement licences are not the responsibility of the executive.
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Moved by
25: Clause 9, page 7, line 36, at end insert—
““smoking” has the same meaning as in Part 1 of the Health Act 2006;”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment defines “smoking”.
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Moved by
28: Clause 10, page 8, line 16, at end insert—
“(3) In subsection (2) “coronavirus” means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is consequential on the Minister’s amendment at page 8, line 13.
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Moved by
29: Clause 11, page 8, line 33, after “a” insert “pre-cut off”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment, and the Minister’s other amendments the explanatory statements for which refer to this amendment, provide for certain new permissions regarding off-sales to end at 11pm.
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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, in moving Amendment 29, I will also speak to the other government amendments grouped with it and to which it relates. I thank noble Lords who have scrutinised the alcohol licensing measures in this Bill and, in particular, those who have made points regarding late opening hours. The Government have listened to and understood the concerns around the possibility of associated noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour occurring when a late licence is in existence.

Taken together, Amendments 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38 and 44 introduce a standard cessation time of 11 pm to operators trading under the new off-sales permissions. They also limit the ability of those premises which are licensed after midnight to resume off-sales at that time, restricting their ability to do so until they open for business the following day. With these amendments, new permissions will apply only until 11 pm or until the current licensing hours for that premises end, whichever is earlier.

We have also tabled Amendment 45, which addresses those premises that may have restrictions on their licences that do not permit the use of a beer garden or other outdoor space beyond a certain hour. Amendment 45 will limit the ability of a premises to carry out off-sales under the new permissions where they are already limited from selling alcohol for consumption in an outdoor area of the premises. That is, if a premises cannot use its outdoor area beyond a particular time, it will not be permitted to carry out off-sales beyond that time under the new permission either. This amendment is a further safeguard to help to ensure that this measure works for local communities and not against them.

I thank again the noble Lords with whom I have engaged inside and outside of this Chamber, who have helped to bring forward these constructive amendments that the Government have tabled today. I look forward to further debate. I beg to move Amendment 29 and look forward to responding to the other amendments in this group.

Lord Paddick Portrait Lord Paddick (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 40, in my name and that of my noble friend Lady Pinnock, and to the other amendments in this group. For the benefit of those who may have just joined us, let me summarise. The Government have got themselves into a right two and eight. Amendments 29 to 41 deal with bars, pubs and restaurants that have licences to sell alcohol on their premises and which will temporarily be allowed to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises as result of this Bill.

The Bill does not redefine the area covered by pavement licences as being part of the licensed premises. As a consequence, drinks served within the area covered by pavement licences will be off-sales. To enable alcohol, such as glasses of wine and beer, to be served at tables within pavement-licensed areas, the Government have had to lift the current restriction on alcohol off-sales being only in sealed containers. The unintended consequence of lifting this restriction is to allow the unrestricted sale of alcohol from these premises in wine and beer glasses, for example, to people who can then walk down the street, drinking where and when they want.

Local residents do not want people drinking outside their homes, away from licensed premises, with the potential for disorder, violence and urinating in the street, particularly late at night. In addition, broken straight beer glasses can cause horrifying injuries, whether when deliberately broken and used as a weapon or when people fall on to broken glass.

This brings me to the amendments. The Liberal Democrats’ Committee amendment, which sought to restrict off-sales to no later than 11 pm, has been given effect by government Amendments 29, 31 to 34 and 36 in this group, which obviously we support. I thank the Minister for securing this—albeit limited—concession. However, these amendments do not prevent street drinking away from pavement-licensed areas and neither does Labour’s Amendment 39 in this group, albeit that it restricts it to street drinking from plastic cups.

Our Amendment 40 restricts off-sales in open containers to pavement-licensed areas, beer gardens and the like, but also supports businesses by allowing alcohol to be taken away from restaurants, pubs and bars in sealed containers. If the restaurant or pub is too full when you get there—because of social distancing, for example—it allows you to take alcohol home from those premises in an unopened bottle, can or other sealed container, as currently applies to existing off- licences, supporting hard-pressed businesses as a result. Amendment 41, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell of Beeston, does not allow alcohol to be taken away from the premises under any circumstances, which would hinder trade.

In a meeting with Ministers last week, the Government agreed to discuss Amendment 40 with us before Report but they have failed to do so. I explained in Committee why existing provisions and the provisions in the Bill are inadequate to deal with street drinking and disorder. As a consequence, I give notice that I intend to divide the House on Amendment 40.

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Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I am grateful to all those who have spoken on this group of amendments and to those who have welcomed the government amendments. I take the opportunity to reiterate to the House that the government amendments in this group will introduce a standard cessation time of 11 pm for operators to trade under the new off-sales permissions or—I reiterate to my noble friend Lord Balfe —until the current licensing hours for that premises end, whichever is earlier. If that is 10 pm in Cambridge, that is the time it will be. As has always been the case with this measure, the new provisions will not affect premises’ underlying licences. They provide for new permissions that will apply to the holders of on-sales-only licences, and more restrictive dual licences that allow for off-sales under more restrictive conditions than are provided for under the new permission.

Amendment 45 will further help to ensure that the new permissions work for and not against local communities, as I said. It will do this by limiting the ability of premises to carry out off-sales under the new permissions where they are already limited from selling alcohol for consumption in an outdoor area of the premises. That is, if a premises cannot use its outdoor area beyond a particular time, it will not be permitted to carry out off-sales beyond that time under the new permission either. Where such restrictions apply, it is likely that a licensing authority has imposed the conditions to reduce the risk of noise nuisance or anti-social behaviour to local residents. These conditions should therefore remain in place. I hope that noble Lords will welcome these amendments, and again I thank those who led to their tabling today.

Amendments 30, 35 and 37 from the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, seek similarly to restrict the hours when the new off-sales permissions apply. I thank the noble Lord for his constructive engagement as the Bill has moved through the House and hope that, given my explanation of our amendments, he will feel that he does not need to move his amendments when they are called.

Briefly, I know that my noble friend Lady Stowell did not move her amendment, but I will relay some of the points that we have discussed. For the sale of alcohol for consumption in outside areas already part of the licensed premises, such as a beer garden, those sales are defined as on-sales and premises will therefore not require a new permission to carry out this function. However, if premises wish to sell alcohol for consumption in bordering outside areas that are not on the premises plan as part of the existing licensed premises, they will still require an off-sales permission in order to do so. That might include an area they seek to occupy following the successful application of a pavement licence.

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Moved by
31: Clause 11, page 9, line 8, after “a” insert “pre-cut off”
Member’s explanatory statement
See the explanatory statement for the Minister’s amendment at page 8, line 33.
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Moved by
36: Clause 11, page 9, line 26, after “off-sales” insert “at a pre-cut off time”
Member’s explanatory statement
See the explanatory statement for the Minister’s amendment at page 8, line 33.
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Moved by
38: Clause 11, page 9, line 31, after “off-sales” insert “at a pre-cut off time”
Member’s explanatory statement
See the explanatory statement for the Minister’s amendment at page 8, line 33.
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18:36

Division 1

Ayes: 135


Liberal Democrat: 77
Crossbench: 34
Independent: 9
Democratic Unionist Party: 4
Labour: 4
Green Party: 1
Ulster Unionist Party: 1
Bishops: 1
Conservative: 1
Plaid Cymru: 1

Noes: 267


Conservative: 208
Crossbench: 39
Independent: 11
Labour: 8
Ulster Unionist Party: 1

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I support the amendments in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Holmes of Richmond and Lord Addington, relating to small breweries and sporting clubs. I am a bit disappointed that the Government have not found a way to do something here. We hear lots of talk about supporting small business, but we seem to be in a rigid situation, where we cannot move out of where we are. I do not see why we could not do something and it is regrettable that we could not find a way. I accept that breweries do not have licences now, but they could be given something temporarily. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, made the point that sports clubs are often open only a couple of nights a week. Why have we not sorted them out? In this emergency Bill to deal with Covid-19, we have chosen to ignore them, and that is regrettable. I do not see why the Government have done that. They could have moved a bit more on that. I support the amendments, and it is regrettable that there will be no progress on them.

A convincing case has been laid out for Amendment 52, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and other noble Lords. I supported the idea in Committee. Equally, I see some of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, and I accept that this is a temporary Bill; perhaps doing something permanent in a temporary Bill may be a problem, but the least we should get tonight is a commitment. Technically, this can be done and the Government should get on and make sure that it happens.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, particularly for the interest in Amendment 52, tabled by my noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lord Bourne and the noble Lords, Lord Stevenson and Lord Clement-Jones, on digital age verification. I could agree with virtually everything said in the debate on this amendment. I am very keen to progress this agenda, and it was in discussing this that my noble friend and I realised that we had a mutual interest in moving this agenda forward—she as a former Digital Minister and me dealing with data and identity in the Home Office.

The Government have carefully considered the concerns raised by this amendment. We support its aims, and we believe that a more holistic approach is needed to enable the use of digital identity in compliance with age-verification requirements in the Licensing Act for the sale of alcohol. As I explained in Committee, the protection of children from harm is an objective that all licensed premises should promote. Age verification plays a critical role in this and it is essential that we have confidence in the forms of identification presented as proof of age to promote this licensing objective. As my noble friend Lady McIntosh of Pickering said, the PASS accredits a number of national and local suppliers of ID cards, offering retailers flexibility to choose an appropriate card to fit their needs and fulfil their licence condition.

At present it is not possible to use a digital ID as proof of age for the purchase of alcohol in the UK due to the lack of an agreed industry standard for digital ID. Without trusted digital identity standards in place, licence holders cannot know that market solutions are fit for purpose. This would make it very difficult for them to meet the reasonable precautions and due diligence requirements described in Amendment 52. The lack of an equivalent national standard for digital ID would lead to uncertainty.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, was correct in saying that movement on this is slow. I share his frustration and I know that my noble friend, a former Digital Minister, does too, but we do not think it is right to place licence holders in a position in which they are being asked to accept proof of ID without a set of agreed standards, even on temporarily. To do so may place them at risk of committing a criminal offence.

Although the Government are resisting this amendment, we do not disagree with—in fact we are very supportive of—the principle of digital ID. I set out in Committee some of the steps we are taking to progress work in this area. A call for evidence was launched last summer and the responses overwhelmingly agreed that the Government have a role in developing a framework for digital ID use in the UK. Respondents stressed the need for legal certainty on how to use digital identity. The Government will consult on developing legislation to set provisions for consumer protection relating to digital ID, specific rights for individuals, an ability to seek redress if something goes wrong and where responsibility for oversight should lie. The Government will also consult on the appropriate privacy and technical standards for secure digital identity. Sufficient oversight of these standards needs to be established to build trust and to facilitate innovation, which will provide organisations with a handrail to develop new, future-facing products, which I know is exactly what my noble friend seeks.

The Government plan to update existing laws on identity checking to enable digital ID to be used in the greatest number of circumstances. However, it is only when the framework and, most importantly, the standards are in place that we can expect industry and citizens to trust and have confidence in using and accepting digital IDs. Now, knowing our mutual interest in this subject, I hope that the Government and I will be able to draw on my noble friend’s considerable experience in this area as plans develop. I invite her to engage with Ministers and officials on this work as it develops. I am happy to give a commitment, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Barran, that we will work together with my noble friend towards our shared aspiration. To be honest, after four years in the Home Office I am glad that I have found someone interested in my policy area of digital ID and data. I hope that, with that commitment, my noble friend will support me in my longer-term vision for digital identities and will not move her amendment when it is reached.

I now turn to the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and my noble friend Lord Holmes. As noble Lords will be aware, the provisions in the Bill add permission for off-sales to most premises with an existing on-sales premises licence. It is not a mechanism to amend the process by which premises licences are granted.

I shall deal with Amendments 42, 43 and 50, tabled by my noble friend Lord Holmes, first. My noble friend has spoken passionately in support of small breweries. He is right to say that they have thrived over the past few years and we do not want to lose that. They are important. I note his point that his amendments could help breweries to sell alcohol to the public. However, as I said in Committee, we feel that any proposal that a business should be given a full premises licence without proper scrutiny by the local licensing authority, the police or the public is a step too far.

Similarly, with regard to Amendment 51, we are not currently seeking to make changes to the number of temporary event notices available for application in one year. Temporary licences granted for a limited period should not be used as a route to a permanent licence. As I have set out, there are crucial scrutiny mechanisms in place for granting them to ensure that all premises are selling alcohol responsibly.

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Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I was a little disappointed by my noble friend the Minister’s response, especially given our shared aspiration to get digital ID to come in. Will she agree to either a meeting or a letter to talk in a little more detail about the timing of digital ID—recognising that there are some difficulties but that she has made some good progress with her call for evidence? We could also discuss whether there is anything to be done on the enforcement of age verification for alcohol during the Covid-19 period, perhaps using an easement of the kind that I mentioned to her has been used by some other departments.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I would be delighted to meet my noble friend to discuss making progress on this. As I say, I am very glad to have a friend in digital identity.

Lord Holmes of Richmond Portrait Lord Holmes of Richmond [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who participated in this group of amendments. I am very attracted to Amendment 52, along with many noble Lords who both spoke and signed up to the amendment. My only reason for not signing was that it already had the support that it needed. It illustrates the need across Government to up the activity of all potential digital applications. We have world-leading businesses in digital. We need to look at every possible opportunity and means of enabling them to flourish and solve problems which have dogged our society for decades. We have the tools to do so, and Amendment 52 is but one clear and effective example of that.

I thank my noble friend the Minister for, as she said, her fulsome response. As always, she addressed all the issues which were raised with her. I am slightly disappointed that we could not go further to assist innovative businesses in our country. I understand the points that she raised, and I accept them, but would she be prepared to join me on a visit to a small independent brewery to hear at first hand the issues such businesses are facing? Through that discussion, perhaps we could consider whether there is anything else we could do to help this vibrant, innovative sector of our economy and society moving forward. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can tell my noble friend that I would love to come with him to a brewery.

Amendment 42 withdrawn.
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Moved by
44: Clause 11, page 10, line 20, at end insert—
“(11) In this section “pre-cut off time”—(a) in relation to licensed premises and a day, means any time between when the premises first open that day for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises and 11pm (but this is subject to paragraph (b));(b) in relation to licensed premises and a day throughout which the premises are open for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises, means any time between when the premises are first open that day for the purposes of selling alcohol for consumption on the premises and 11pm.”Member’s explanatory statement
See the explanatory statement for the Minister’s amendment at page 8, line 33.
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Moved by
47: Clause 11, page 20, line 29, at beginning insert “If the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the Secretary of State’s power to extend the date on which Clause 11(1) to (10) expires, and another date in that Clause, can only be exercised if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus.
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Moved by
49: Clause 11, page 20, line 33, at end insert—
“(14A) In subsection (14) “coronavirus” means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment is consequential on the Minister’s other amendment to page 20.
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21:04

Division 2

Ayes: 128


Liberal Democrat: 80
Crossbench: 33
Independent: 5
Labour: 3
Conservative: 2
Green Party: 2
Bishops: 1

Noes: 244


Conservative: 201
Crossbench: 29
Independent: 6
Democratic Unionist Party: 4
Labour: 2
Ulster Unionist Party: 1

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Baroness Pinnock Portrait Baroness Pinnock [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Noble Lords, I apologise for the technical fault that rendered my audio not working. My noble friend Lady Doocey again made a very persuasive case for giving a lift to our local tourism sector by enabling an innovative approach whereby local businesses combine to provide additional benefits to the local tourist economy. What an easy way that is to support regions that depend on tourism, such as the Lake District, Devon and Cornwall. The Minister needs to respond positively to give hope to these businesses that have gone through such a hard time.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, Amendment 55 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, seeks to alter the package travel regulations in a manner similar to the amendment tabled in Committee. The noble Baroness is right to identify the difficulties facing the UK tourism sector, in particular the many SMEs in the sector. It is therefore right that we do all we can to support this sector through the crisis.

On 3 June, we announced a £10 million kick-starting tourism package, which will give small businesses in tourist destinations grants of up to £5,000 to help them adapt following the pandemic. As of last week, the VAT rate applied to most tourism and hospitality-related activities has been cut from 20% to 5% for six months to help the sector get back on its feet. We have launched the “enjoy summer safely” national marketing campaign to encourage British people to enjoy UK tourism. Ministers and officials have been meeting representatives from the tourism sector regularly via the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group. We are actively considering all the recovery ideas suggested to us by stakeholders, including schemes to promote domestic tourism.

In that spirit, I would like to follow this up by arranging a meeting with the sector representatives that the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, has met to explore the points she has made about domestic tourism and package travel. I hope that offer is welcome. As confirmed in Committee, the Government have indicated that we will undertake a further review of the package travel recommendations. As these are EU laws, this review is better conducted when the transition period with the EU is over. I say that with some emphasis, as the EU Commission has recently commenced infraction proceedings against several member states that have amended laws in contravention of the package travel directive.

It is also important to reflect, as the noble Baroness recognised, on the balance to strike between business flexibility and consumer protection, so it is important to consult a wider range of interests. For the reasons I have given, I am not able to accept this amendment, and I hope the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw it.

Baroness Doocey Portrait Baroness Doocey [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for his response, for offering to review the regulations and for the meeting that he suggested. It will definitely be followed up. If we wait until January 2021 in order to start reviewing the regulations, I fear that tourism will be pushed to the back of the queue behind so many other issues that the Government will need to resolve after Brexit is complete. I therefore suggest that the review should take place now in readiness for legal change as soon as possible in the new year. I hope the Minister will consider this, that we can discuss it further at the meeting he suggested and that he will engage further with me and the industry on this critical point of timing. However, at this stage I thank the Minister for the constructive way in which he has engaged with this issue, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, when I first spoke this evening, I should have mentioned that I am a vice-president of the Local Government Association, so I mention it now for the record. I will be very brief. If the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, are successful, I will be the first to congratulate him.

In respect of meetings of mayoral development corporations, I am pleased that the Government listened to the points that I and other noble Lords made, and I thank them. I have only one question: can the Minister confirm that, when we agree the government amendments tonight, they will come into effect on Royal Assent and the required regulations will be laid quickly so that we do not have to wait for weeks and weeks before they can take effect? With that, I am happy to give way to the Minister.

Lord Greenhalgh Portrait Lord Greenhalgh
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I rise to speak to government Amendments 84, 88 and 89—tabled by my noble friend Lord Howe—which are grouped with Amendments 85 and 86, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, Amendment 56, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, and the noble Lords, Lord Campbell and Lord Shipley, and Amendments 61, 62, 64, 68, 69, 70, 72, 76 and 77, tabled by my noble friend Lord Lansley.

I turn to Amendments 84, 88 and 89, government amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Howe, and Amendments 85 and 86, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. The purpose of these amendments is to secure that mayoral development corporations, Transport for London, urban development corporations and parish meetings are subject to the power in Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020, which enables the making of regulations to allow these bodies to meet remotely until 7 May 2021.

They correct the omission of these bodies from the Coronavirus Act, which was an accidental oversight due to the pace at which the Act was drafted. It is wholly consistent with the current policy of the Government that bodies such as local authorities—in the broadest sense—should be able to meet remotely, carrying on their business while protecting the health and safety of members, officers and the public. The Government have received representation on this matter from, among others, the Mayor of London—particularly on behalf of the London Legacy Development Corporation—Transport for London and the National Association of Local Councils with regard to the inclusion of parish meetings.

I will answer both the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, by saying that the Government’s intention is to make the amended regulations with urgency following Royal Assent. In fact, Amendment 89 specifically allows early commencement of Amendment 84 and, in addition, we will move at pace to ensure that the regulations are in place in a matter of days, as opposed to the typical 21 days. This is a similar pace to the laying of regulations following the passing of the Coronavirus Act.

I note Amendment 85 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, which would have put the change to Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act in the Bill in respect of mayoral development corporations, and Amendment 86, which seeks to include a specific reference to the highway authority for the Greater London Authority in the local authority remote meetings regulations. We support the spirit of these amendments but, in the light of the government amendments, we hope that noble Lords will not move those amendments. I hope that will also be the case for the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson.

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, and the noble Lords, Lord Campbell and Lord Shipley, for Amendment 56. We agree that local planning authorities should have sufficient information about the impact of extended construction hours on the community and environment to enable them to make a timely decision. We believe that the most appropriate way of ensuring that this happens is through guidance. There is likely to be a range of possible responses from the construction industry to this measure and variation in what will be requested—from an additional hour or so on some sites, so that workers can have staggered start and finish times, to longer evening extensions on others. Therefore, we need a flexible and proportionate approach that can be tailored to the circumstances.

However, we listened to noble Lords’ views during Committee and we hear their concerns. We recognise the need for balance and to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect amenity, as the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, and the noble Lords, Lord Campbell and Lord Shipley, have asked for. We have strengthened the draft guidance so that it also lists an assessment of impacts of noise on sensitive uses nearby as something that local planning authorities may wish to encourage an applicant to provide to aid swift decision-making. This is in addition to providing a justification for extended hours and mitigations to aid swift decision-making, which were already covered in the guidance.

We have also taken the advice of the Institute of Acoustics, the Association of Noise Consultants and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, and gone further still to make other changes to strengthen the guidance, including that applicants provide information on the primary construction activities expected to take place during the extended hours, including the plant and equipment expected to be used. Taking into account these changes, I beg noble Lords not to press their amendment. I also assure my noble friend Lord Balfe that the legislation is temporary and we will not see any diminution to the environmental gains that have been achieved by the planning system.

I turn to the nine amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Lansley, which relate to Clauses 17, 18 and 19, and the extension of planning permissions and listed building consents. These amendments would extend the time limit for relevant planning permissions and listed building consents to 1 May 2021, instead of 1 April as currently drafted. I note that he has tabled these amendments as a compromise given my concerns about accepting his amendments in Committee, which would have introduced an extension to 1 June 2021.

I agree with my noble friend that any extension of unimplemented planning permissions or listed building consents needs to be of sufficient length to aid the development industry, given the impact that Covid-19 has had on development. We certainly think that it will take time for many developers to commence new residential and commercial development. I thank him in particular for his insightful points during the debates on these measures, particularly on the potential impacts of the winter months on the productivity of the development industry.

I am pleased to say that the Government will accept my noble friend’s nine amendments. They will provide a modest extension into the more accommodating spring months. I also recognise that this additional time would be welcomed by developers and local planning authorities, given that the development industry is experiencing a slow and cautious return to full operating capacity. We accept that this is appropriate in the circumstances.

The amendments would, in effect, give any eligible planning permissions and listed building consents nine months, or three-quarters of a year, from now to take steps to implement the permission. We will, as previously mentioned, keep the use of powers to extend certain dates in the legislation under review if the impact of the coronavirus continues.

These are modest amendments, but I agree that they will give additional certainty to developers in these exceptional times. I trust that they will be well received by your Lordships’ House, as well as by the industry. On this basis, I am happy to accept my noble friend’s amendments.

Baroness Pinnock Portrait Baroness Pinnock [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank all noble Lords who contributed on this group of amendments. I am pleased that the Government’s administrative oversight in connection to the mayoral development agency in London has been put right. I very much thank the Minister for his reply and the information that government guidance will be strengthened regarding applications to extend construction hours to protect communities and the environment. With those assurances, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
58: Clause 16, page 26, line 46, at beginning insert “If the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the Secretary of State’s power to extend the date on which Clause 16(1) to (5) expires, and certain other dates in that Clause, can only be exercised if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
60: Clause 16, page 27, line 5, at end insert—
“(8) In subsection (7) “coronavirus” means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment is consequential on the Minister’s amendment to page 26.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
65: Clause 17, page 30, line 42, at beginning insert “If the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the Secretary of State’s power to extend the date on which Clause 17(1) to (5) expires, and certain other dates in that Clause, can only be exercised if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
67: Clause 17, page 31, line 1, at end insert—
“(7A) In subsection (7) “coronavirus” means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment is consequential on the Minister’s amendment to page 30.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
73: Clause 18, page 35, line 33, at beginning insert “If the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the Secretary of State’s power to extend the date on which Clause 18(1) to (5) expires, and certain other dates in that Clause, can only be exercised if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
75: Clause 18, page 35, line 41, at end insert—
“(7A) In subsection (7) “coronavirus” means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment is consequential on the Minister’s other amendment to page 35.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
78: Clause 19, page 36, line 43, at beginning insert “If the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the Secretary of State’s power to extend the date on which Clause 19(1) expires, and certain other dates in that Clause, can only be exercised if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
80: Clause 19, page 37, line 4, at end insert—
“(4) In subsection (3) “coronavirus” means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment is consequential on the Minister’s amendment to page 36.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
81: Clause 21, page 38, line 5, at beginning insert “If the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus,”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides that the Secretary of State’s power to extend the date on which Clause 21(1) expires can only be exercised if the Secretary of State considers it reasonable to do so to mitigate an effect of coronavirus.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
83: Clause 21, page 38, line 6, at end insert—
“(4) In subsection (3) “coronavirus” means severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).”Member’s explanatory statement
The amendment is consequential on the Minister’s other amendment to page 38.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
84: After Clause 21, insert the following new Clause—
“Local authority meetingsPower to make provision relating to local authority meetings
In section 78(7) of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (meaning of local authority: England), after paragraph (r) insert—“(s) a Mayoral development corporation established under section 198 of the Localism Act 2011;(t) an urban development corporation established under section 135 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980;(u) a parish meeting constituted under section 13 of the Local Government Act 1972;(v) Transport for London.””Member’s explanatory statement
This new Clause secures that Mayoral development corporations, urban development corporations, parish meetings and Transport for London (which all have functions relating to planning) are subject to the power in section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to make regulations in relation to local authority meetings.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
87: Clause 22, page 38, line 15, at end insert—
“(2A) A statutory instrument containing regulations under section 5(6) is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment provides for the negative resolution procedure for regulations under the power proposed by the Minister’s amendment to Clause 5.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
88: Clause 23, page 39, line 8, leave out subsection (3) and insert—
“(3) In Part 3—(a) sections 16 to 21 extend to England and Wales only, and(b) section (Power to make provision relating to local authority meetings) extends to England and Wales and Northern Ireland.”Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment is consequential on the Minister’s new clause inserted after Clause 21.
--- Later in debate ---
Moved by
89: Clause 24, page 39, line 20, leave out “and 21” and insert “to (Power to make provision relating to local authority meetings)”
Member’s explanatory statement
This amendment secures that the Minister’s new clause inserted after Clause 21 commences on Royal Assent.

Business and Planning Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 20th July 2020

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
3rd reading Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 119-R-I(Corrected-II) Marshalled list for Report - (15 Jul 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Moved by
Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That the Bill do now pass.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, this Bill has passed through your Lordships’ House at greater than usual speed, and all noble Lords understand the reasons for treating it with such urgency. I am grateful to all noble Lords for their constructive engagement with the Bill and for raising many important topics. I hope that your Lordships will agree that the Government have considered and responded to the concerns of noble Lords and have made suitable changes to provisions where appropriate. We have had good debates and the Bill is now in a much better form than it was when it entered your Lordships’ House.

I thank the other members of the ministerial team: my noble friends Lady Penn, Lord Greenhalgh, Lady Williams and Lady Vere. I congratulate especially my noble friend Lord Greenhalgh, who made his first Second Reading speech when introducing the Bill to the House. As my noble friend said in that speech, the Bill supports businesses in four key areas of the economy. It has been a pleasure to work with this team on such a wide-ranging set of measures.

I also extend my appreciation to the Front-Bench spokesmen and spokeswomen on the Benches opposite —for the Liberal Democrats, the noble Baronesses, Lady Pinnock, Lady Doocey, Lady Northover and Lady Kramer, and the noble Lords, Lord Shipley, Lord Addington and Lord Paddick; and for the Official Opposition, the noble Lords, Lord Tunnicliffe, Lord Stevenson and Lord Kennedy, and the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox—whose constructive and consensual approach has ensured that the Bill is fit for its intended purpose.

Once again, I extend my thanks to all noble Lords throughout the House for scrutinising the Bill with such care, and for their constructive engagement. The Bill is needed urgently, before the summer, so that its provisions can reach their full potential. I hope, therefore, that the other place will promptly accept the amendments we have passed so that the Bill can come into force without delay. I beg to move.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark(Lab-Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his kind comments and join him in thinking that the House has worked very well in dealing with this important Bill. We send it back to the Commons in a much better state. Members from all around the House raised important issues; the Government considered them carefully and listened. We have passed many good amendments over the last few days. I am very grateful to the noble Earl and all his ministerial team for their work.

Business and Planning Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Consideration of Lords amendments & Ping Pong & Ping Pong: House of Commons
Tuesday 21st July 2020

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Consideration of Lords amendments Page Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 119-R-I(Corrected-II) Marshalled list for Report - (15 Jul 2020)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Business and Planning Act 2020 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Christopher Pincher Portrait The Minister for Housing (Christopher Pincher)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move, That this House agrees with Lords amendment 1.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With this we may take Lords amendments 2 to 42.

Christopher Pincher Portrait Christopher Pincher
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This Bill is an essential part of the Government’s response to the effects of covid-19 and the restrictions that have been keeping people safe. We know that these restrictions have come at a considerable cost to our economy and to people’s lives. We all have constituents who are desperate to get back to work— desperate to get back to their normal lives. This Bill will help to make that happen. This Bill will help the country get back on its feet.

The amendments that we are considering this evening do not disrupt the thrust of the Bill as it left this House. In fact, they improve it. It is worth remembering that when this Bill was last in this House we debated it over one afternoon—unusually fast, as several hon. and right hon. Members have said—to ensure that it would come into force before the summer recess and give the greatest possible benefit to the country.  The Bill has received more extensive consideration in the other place, and I hope that we can agree the amendments.

I am grateful to hon. and right hon. Members for their constructive engagement with the Bill. I am particularly grateful to the right hon. Member for Doncaster North (Edward Miliband) and his colleagues in the Opposition for their collaboration. Members’ thoughtfulness and involvement have been a great help in improving this legislation, and I am pleased with the result of our deliberations. I should also like to recognise parliamentary counsel, the legal advisers and staff of the other place and of this House for marshalling this Bill through all its stages.

I shall briefly summarise the amendments that have been made in the other place. First, we have improved the pavement licensing measures in several ways. We have ensured that authorities must have regard to the needs of disabled people when considering whether to grant a pavement licence, and we have ensured that non-smoking areas will be provided by businesses that are granted pavement licences. We have also ensured that local authorities can delegate decisions about pavement licences to sub-committees or to officials, and that regulations issued by Government will be laid before Parliament. Those amendments are in keeping with the policy intention of the pavement licence provisions and improve them. I therefore hope that the House will support the amendments.

Secondly, we have amended the provisions about off-sales of alcohol to combat antisocial behaviour. I am especially grateful to hon. Members for their involvement in this issue—especially my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Felicity Buchan); my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Nickie Aiken), who brought to bear her considerable experience as the leader of a London council; and the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), who spoke eloquently when we last debated the matter in this House. I believe that collectively, they have improved the Bill. The Bill now limits off-sales to 11 pm at the latest, and any new permissions will not allow the sale of alcohol for consumption in outdoor areas of the premises that are already restricted by the premises licence. Making off-sales of alcohol easier will help the hospitality industry to recover more quickly, but in a way that does not encourage antisocial behaviour.

Thirdly, we have increased the extension of planning permission by one month. This is a modest extension, but it will provide further certainty and reassurance to developers and local authorities that planning permissions will not lapse unnecessarily as a result of the pandemic. Fourthly, in response to the report by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, any extension to the provisions can be made only when it is

“necessary or appropriate for a purpose linked to the coronavirus pandemic.”

That is an important clarification.

Finally, the Bill now amends section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 so that the Government can make regulations to enable specific authorities to conduct their meetings remotely. These authorities were omitted from the Coronavirus Act because of the speed with which that legislation was passed, and now is the appropriate time to include them. I hope the House will agree these Lords amendments.

I am sure that hon. and right hon. Members agree that businesses throughout our country need the benefit of these provisions this summer. As someone once put it, we need to help to fix the economy while the sun is shining. If we do not pass this Bill today, it will not take effect until the autumn, and the country will lose out on the valuable provisions over the summer months. The Bill has been much improved and scrutinised in the other place, and it is an example of how Parliament can work quickly and effectively in the national interest and set the United Kingdom on a path to recovery. I therefore trust that the House will support all the Lords amendments.

Edward Miliband Portrait Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to support Lords amendment 1 and the other Lords amendments that have been sent back to us from the other place. This is an important Bill, as the Minister said—particularly so for the hospitality industry. The Minister made reference to the speed with which it went through this place, and I agree that it has benefited from consideration in the Lords. I join him in thanking all the people who have worked on the Bill, including the civil servants who worked on it at speed to ensure that it can help the hospitality industry and other industries in this time of crisis.

I will briefly refer to some of the changes made by their lordships. I agree with the Minister that limiting off-sales to 11 pm is an important change. I pay tribute to Government Members for their work on this issue, and I pay particular tribute to the campaign by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier). It is hard to say no to her, but she made a very important and correct case. Although it applies particularly to her constituency, it also applies elsewhere, and I understand why she made that case. Their lordships accepted it, and we should too.

The Minister is right to draw attention to the important issue of pavement licences and disability, which needs to be taken into consideration when local councils make decisions. The needs of the hospitality industry are clearly very important, but we cannot ignore the needs of disabled people in our country.

The other notable innovation of the Bill relates to smoke-free areas outside when additional licences are granted. That important change will enable people to enjoy the outside space—obviously, they are not able to take advantage of inside space in the old way—with the guarantee of a smoke-free environment. The Minister made reference to a number of other changes, which we support.

The one other point that I will make—I think the Minister and his colleagues will agree with this—is that although this is a necessary set of changes for the hospitality industry, it is not sufficient. We continue to have deep concerns about what we see as the premature ending of the furlough for that industry and other sectors that are in difficulty. With that said, I urge the House to support these Lords amendments.

--- Later in debate ---
Christopher Pincher Portrait Christopher Pincher
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not propose to detain the House any longer than simply to say thank you to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and to right hon. and hon. Members across the House for their commitment to the Bill and their contributions to it. I wish it safe and swift passage to Royal Assent.

Lords amendment 1 agreed to.

Lords amendments 2 to 42 agreed to.

Deferred Divisions

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 41A(3)),

That, at this day’s sitting, Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to the Motions in the name of Secretary Matt Hancock relating to Public Health; the Motion in the name of Secretary Dominic Raab relating to Sanctions; and the Motion in the name of Christopher Pincher relating to Town and Country Planning.—(David Duguid.)