HC Deb 28 July 1955 vol 544 cc1349-50
53. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will state the number of convictions for drunkenness of young persons under the age of 18 for 1953 and 1954, respectively; and what steps he is taking to prevent the sale of all liquor on licensed premises to such persons.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth)

The only figures readily available are for young persons under 17 and for those aged 17 and under 21. The number of convictions for drunkenness of persons under 17 in England and Wales was 101 in 1953 and 136 in 1954; and of those aged 17 and under 21, 2,995 in 1953 and 3,366 in 1954.

Section 129 of the Licensing Act, 1953, prohibits the sale of intoxicating liquor to persons under 18 for consumption on the premises, except that beer, porter, cider or perry may be sold to a person who has attained the age of 16 for consumption at a meal, except in a bar. I have no reason to doubt that the police do all they can to enforce this prohibition.

Mr. Henderson

Have not many chief constables expressed the view that there is excessive drinking among young people, and that this is becoming a serious social problem? Is that the view of the Home Office?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

Yes, Sir. I am aware that there has been a marked rise in drunkenness, and this is disturbing. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Home Secretary is looking into the matter.