The government expects to publish the long-awaited draft guidance for local authorities on the new Licensing Act by the end of this month, MPs have been told. The Licensing Minister, Richard Caborn, confirmed that Parliament would be able to comment on the draft and would need to approve it before it could be sent to local authorities, starting the countdown towards the implementation of the new licensing regime. Caborne told MPs he anticipated that the guidance would be approved by early February and local authorities would then have six months to adopt local licensing policies. Under this timetable the first appointed day, when applications to convert existing licences may be submitted, will be in July/August and the new regime would go "live" in April/May 2005. The guidelines are now at least four to six months late, and the government has long given up on its original plan to have the new system in operation by the beginning of 2005. Meanwhile local authorities are apparently still lobbying hard about the need to recover costs and suggested fee levels for issuing licences.