HC Deb 04 May 1978 vol 949 cc424-5
3. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why there are no plans at present to introduce measures to implement the Erroll Committee's report on liquor licensing.

Dr. Summerskill

The committee's major recommendations raise complex and controversial issues on which the Government have as yet reached no conclusions.

Mr. Knox

How much longer will the Government sit on the Erroll Report? It is now five and a half years since the committee reported. Is it not high time that the very sensible measures it suggested were legislated for? Is it not true that the Clayson Committee's report on Scottish licensing laws was legislated on two years ago? Does not this show that the attitude of the Home Office to the Erroll Report is a characteristic example of the dilatory attitude it takes on everything?

Dr. Summerskill

Since the Erroll Committee reported in 1972, offences of drunkenness have increased and so has the problem of alcoholism. The Government's Advisory Committee on Alcoholism and the Expenditure Committee, in its report on preventive medicine, have both recommended that there should be no relaxation of the law at present.

Mr. Farr

Does the Minister agree that there is an alternative way, which is to proceed by way of voluntary agreement, such as has been so successful in recent months in relation to the control of beer prices and greater distribution and freedom of access to publicans' houses?

Dr. Summerskill

The matter of prices is for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection. There is no pressure for implementation of the Erroll Report, certainly in this House. In fact, the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) showed that there was great division on the subject.