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Volume 624: debated on Monday 24 April 2017

8. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) the community right to bid scheme and (b) other Government initiatives to protect and support local pubs. (909767)

So far, 2,000 pubs have been listed as assets of community value. That listing provides communities with the time to bid for a pub if it comes on to the market. We are supporting the process further, with £3.6 million, through the “More than a pub” programme.

The Northumberland Arms in Marple Bridge is a much-loved local pub, and members of the local community hope to reopen it using the community right-to-bid scheme. Will my hon. Friend the Minister lend every possible support to their effort and consider joining us for a celebratory pint when it reopens? Indeed, we could make it a double celebration, should the good people of Marple Bridge see fit to return me to the House.

It is unthinkable that the people of Hazel Grove will not return my hon. Friend to the House, given his work on their behalf these past two and a bit years. I would be delighted to join him, with the whole ministerial team, to celebrate the community pub he mentions—so long as he is buying the pints, of course.

The Minister has failed to mention what my office has been told by the Department, which is that the Neighbourhood Planning Bill is set to fall, so the change to pub protection it contains will not be made. Will he assure the House that that is not the case? That wonderful decision was supported on both sides of the House, and we need to make sure that the change goes through.

My understanding is that we hope to complete the passage of that legislation before the Dissolution of Parliament. The change the hon. Gentleman refers to has been broadly welcomed by very many people, including, of course, the hon. Gentleman, who campaigned for it.