HC Deb 03 April 1979 vol 965 cc1264-6
Mr. John Fraser

I beg to move amendment No. 37, in page 23, line 7, leave out subsection (1).

This is one of the parts of the Bill in relation to which it was impossible to reach agreement. Therefore, I move this amendment to put the position in order.

Mr. Giles Shaw

The Minister would be surprised if I allowed the amendment to be passed on the nod like other amendments in the Bill. He will be aware that clause 18 has caused much discussion and dissension both in Committee and in the trade and the licensing authorities.

Clause 18(1) deals with the introduction of lined glasses, and many authorities will be delighted to hear that it is to be omitted. There are other aspects of the clause which we shall consider, but we welcome the Government decision to remove clause 18(1). That decision came about in a peculiar way—in relation to the judgments made in the Scottish courts and the other arrangements made within clause 18 as a whole.

There has been considerable discussion on whether clause 18 should be omitted from the Bill. The Minister has argued that it is important for clause 18(2) to remain, allowing for the liquid measure. It is only fair to say that Opposition Members confidently expect that they shall be able to influence the regulations flowing from the Bill and will take a different view from the present Administration. We should be most unlikely to enact clause 18(2) as presently drafted—not without the fullest possible consideration of the problems raised by the Guinness company and other stout manufacturers.

Mr. David Penhaligon (Truro)

I am delighted to see that clause 18(1) is to be omitted. I should declare a non-interest to the House. I am one of those rare birds in Cornwall—a member of the Church of England and teetotal. I have never drunk a pint of beer in my life and I have certainly never pulled one. It was my total lack of knowledge of the clause which aroused my interest in the difference between a line and a brim glass. The more I thought about the difference, the less convinced I became of the logic behind the change and the desire for it.

As a result, I circulated every public house in my constituency and I was staggered to see that they amounted to 274. I outlined the arguments for the changes and asked the customers of the public houses to indicate whether they were in favour of the change. There was one signature in favour of the change and about 900 or 1,000 signatures against it. It is interesting to see how such a change can get so near to the statute book when there is no desire among my beer drinking constituents for the change. I assure the Minister that, being teetotal, I am among the minority in my constituency.

The change would cost money and it is a minor example of how Government bureaucracy apportions an increase in cost on the public. I am delighted at its withdrawal. I was uncertain how to argue the case against it with the present state of Parliament. However, I know that I am on a winning streak when the Minister has proposed the withdrawal.

Amendment agreed to.

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