HC Deb 18 November 1982 vol 32 cc400-1
4. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any plans to introduce measures to implement the Erroll committee's report on liquor licensing.

Mr. Raison

We have at present no plans for further legislation in this area.

Mr. Knox

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the licensing laws are riddled with anomolies? Does he further agree that there is a strong case for introducing limited reforms similar to those introduced in Scotland, which are working satisfactorily?

Mr. Raison

I know that the licensing laws are subject to criticsm and dissatisfaction. The problem is to find a reasonable measure of agreement on what should replace them. We have followed carefully what is happening in Scotland, but it is too early to make a final judgment.

Mr. Snape

Will the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge that there is increasing pressure from the licensing industry and others for flexibility in public house opening hours and that there is great anxiety within the trade about competition from the proliferation of outlets, such as wine bars, which are not subject to the same number of licensing controls as are public houses? Is it not about time that the Home Office introduced legislation to bring about much-needed reforms?

Mr. Raison

I have already acknowledged that there is some argument over whether the present laws are exactly right. I should not necessarily defend them for all time, but there needs to be greater agreement about the right course to take. Although there is pressure for liberalisation, there is also considerable concern about the problem of drunkeness, particularly among young people. We must get the right answer.

Mr. Hannam

Will my right hon. Friend look carefully at a rather silly anomaly in the liquor licensing laws which prevents charitable organisations from offering bottles of alcoholic liquor as prizes at functions held on unlicensed premises to raise funds for good causes?

Mr. Raison

I am aware of the concern about that matter but we have no plans for Government legislation on the issue.