§ Mr. Harry Ewing
I beg to move Amendment No. 19, in page 10, line 14, after relates', insertor any organisation which in the opinion of the Board represents such persons'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this it will be convenient to take Amendment No. 20, in page 10, line 18, at end insertor, where there is no community council, a community or residents association which, in the opinion of the licensing board, represents a significant body of opinion among persons residing in the neighbourhood of the premises'.
§ Mr. Ewing
Amendment No. 19 meets a point made in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook). I explained earlier this morning that we had had a difficulty in defining a residents' or tenants' association, and we decided to use the words in this amendment.
503 Amendment No. 20 provides that, where there is no community council for the area in which the premises are situated, a right of objection will be conferred on a community or a residents' association which, in the opinion of the board, represents a significant body of opinion among persons residing in the neighbourhood of the premises to which the application relates.
Amendment No. 19 has the important effect of adding to the list of competent objectors any organisation which in the opinion of the board, represents persons owning or occupying property in the neighbourhood of the premises to which the application relates. In practice, it will most likely be a residents' or tenants' association, but any organisation which can satisfy the board that it represents such persons will be allowed to lodge an objection to the granting, renewal or permanent transfer of the licence.
Amendment No. 20 seems unnecessary in view of our important amendment which affects the rights of the individual.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I welcome the Government amendment and am prepared to accept it and not press Amendment No. 20. 1 pay tribute to the debate initiated in Committee by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), whose representations have been met in Amendment No. 19.
§ Mr. Robin F. Cook
I welcome the Government amendment. It is as comprehensive as we could have hoped for and recognises that it is important to strengthen the rights of objection for people neighbouring public houses—particularly in the light of our earlier vote on Sunday opening. The Government amendment entirely meets the points raised in Committee.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I beg to move Amendment No, 21. in page 11, line 17, leave out 'practicable' and insert 'possible'.
This amendment covers an important issue. Clause 17 deals with objections to licences and gives powers to chief constables to lodge objections at any time before the hearing of an application. In such cases the chief constable shall. where practicable, 504cause his objection to be intimated to the applicant before the hearing.I am concerned about the possible interpretation of the word "practicable". I do not suggest that chief constables would act irresponsibly, but the use of "practicable" leaves a slightly larger loophole for objections not to he intimated to the applicant. If "possible" is included, the test will be easier and so, too, will appeals to the sheriff court on the ground that a chief constable had not carried out his duty. This is not an amendment on which I would stick, but it seems to tighten up the Bill.
§ Mr. Millan
I appreciate the reasons for the amendment and the way in which it was moved. This matter was discussed in Committee and we have considered it in detail since, but my advice is that the inclusion of "possible" would take us too far in the opposite direction and might impose unreasonable obligations on chief constables. The term "practicable" means that every effort will be made to carry out the functions imposed in the Bill. Anyone who did not try to do that would be in default.
The matter which concerned the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) is covered by the wording of the clause, and "practicable" is the more usual word.
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
I am grateful for the Minister's assurance. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.