HC Deb 14 July 1987 vol 119 cc1060-88 9.27 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Richard Needham)

I beg to move, That the draft licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1987, which was laid before this House on 2nd July, be approved. Let me begin by welcoming the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) to the Front Bench, and say how much we appreciate and understand the deep and abiding interest that he shows in Northern Ireland affairs. Conservative Members will be extremely interested in everything that he has to say. We know how much concern and care he feels for all the people of Northern Ireland. There are those who say that to receive a post on either Front Bench is a poisoned chalice, but I have never found that. I have always found it an honour— and, of course, a challenge. We all know the dedication and concern that the hon. Gentleman brings to his post, and we look forward to his contributions.

Both this order, which amends the liquor licensing legislation contained in the Licensing Act (Northern Ireland) 1971, and the one that follows it owe much of their parentage to the Blackburn report. Mr. Blackburn was an extremely distinguished Clerk to the Stormont Parliament and later in the Assembly, and I know that he was highly respected by hon. Members in this House. The two orders owe much to him and his committee, and should be seen as a package of measures designed to bring greater control over the regulation of clubs and to make the licensing law fairer and more easily enforceable.

That is about as far as agreement on this order is likely to go. Now I wish to discuss whether public houses in Northern Ireland should be allowed to open on Sundays, as they do in the rest of the United Kingdom. I have read with the greatest care the views put forward from all sides for many years, and I have especially taken into account the views expressed in the Assembly and by hon. Members of this House. If there has been a delay in introducing these orders during the past 18 months, I am the culprit, as I wished to consider for myself all the options and the proposals that I had inherited from my predecessor. I have considered the case for banning all drink in Northern Ireland on Sunday; a Provincewide referendum on Sunday opening; districtwide referendums on Sunday opening; bringing the law into line with that in England and Wales, which those who back integration would support; bringing the law into line with that of Scotland, which those who support devolution would support; keeping the law as it is in Northern Ireland; and doing as we propose in the order.

I share hon. Members' anxiety about the way in which primary legislation for Northern Ireland is made. All that I can say is that no one can accuse me of not having considered every permutation and laboured over every variant of this order.

My starting point for what needs to be done is the same as that of the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor). I am sorry that he is not here tonight because he is a considerable expert in these matters. He was the architect of the 1971 legislation. On 24 May 1983, in the Assembly, he said: Since our consolidating legislation in 1971 the situation in the licensing trade in Northern Ireland has got out of control … This is yet another argument in favour of devolved Government for Northern Ireland. Having wrestled with the problem for the best part of two years, I heartily agree with the right hon. Gentleman on both counts.

A review of the history of licensing in Northern Ireland must start with the major cut in 1923, which was followed by a series of amending measures in 1927, 1959, 1971 and 1978. The right hon. Member for Strangford said: In the early 1920s there were very stringent controls introduced in Northern Ireland, but since 1923 we have seen a gradual relaxation of these controls which were introduced to combat the excesses experienced at the turn of the century. The questions before the House tonight are as follows. Do we continue the relaxation? Do we stay where we are? Do we return to the draconian rules of the 1920s? Some would wish all liquor sales banned in any outlet in Northern Ireland on Sundays. Of course, I respect the depth of their feelings, but I think that they are wrong. Circumstances are changing in Northern Ireland, and it is impossible to ignore the changes in social behaviour that are now taking place. Many people choose not to worship on Sundays, and no amount of persuasion would make them do so. They do not deny the right of people to observe the Sabbath strictly, but they ask why they should be denied their right to enjoy themselves as they want because of other people's moral principles.

I hope that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. I. Paisley) will not mind me praying him in aid in my view of the matter. During the Assembly debate in 1985, the hon. Gentleman said: Everybody knows where I stand on this particular issue. I do not run away"— no one would ever accuse him of that; he might be accused of running into things, but not of running away— some people say I would like to—but I meet it head on and say that if I had it my way, I would want this Province to be obedient to God's law, but I do not have it my way. I can only speak to people and try to morally persuade them … I am not saying to the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Glendinning) that he must not drink on Sunday. I am telling him that he has to make a choice. I have made my choice. In the 1983 debate on the same subject, the hon. Member for Antrim, North accepted that Northern Ireland is a pluralistic society and must be treated as such. I agree with him. We have a pluralistic society in Northern Ireland and we need to reflect the differing aspirations of the different strains in our society. This was well put in the Blackburn report. Paragraph 12 states: If on the one hand the law is more restrictive than a significant proportion of the people wish it to be, then it is likely to be widely disregarded. If on the other hand the law is more permissive than the prevailing climate of opinion wants, then the public is needlessly offended and society incurs unnecessary cost. Paragraph 13 continued: We do not think, therefore, that the operation of the law can be confined to limiting or influencing the individual's use of alcohol. We think that to be successful it must also to some extent reflect the demand for alcohol within the community. Our present problem, as the right hon. Member for Strangford said, is that the licensing law is out of control. Can we therefore do something more to enforce the existing law? The answer given by the police is no. I have some sympathy with them, because the present law is extremely difficult to interpret.

I shall give the House an example. The hon. Member for Antrim, North said during the same debate during 1983 that he was not against the provision of drink on Sunday provided it was taken with a proper meal. But what is a proper meal? I know what a proper meal means to the hon. Gentleman. It means the same as it does to me —quantity and quality, perhaps in my case accompanied by a pint of Guinness. But that is not everyone's view. There are those who believe that a lettuce leaf resting lightly on some small unbuttered square of brown bread is a proper meal. Those who would consume such a meal would no doubt feel entitled to a glass of chilled white wine with such a feast. Are they to be denied?

Is each constable in the RUC to be left to determine the definition of a proper meal upon his own preference or palate, or will the matter be left to the whim of the magistrate and the preferences of their clerks? Is police and court time to be spent fruitlessly deciding how much fruit constitutes a meal or on interrogating a customer as to what he is about to eat or what he has just eaten? It would certainly make no sense to try to bring greater equity to this by bringing clubs and pubs into line with hotels on the provision of food. Why should the middle class who can afford to buy meals on Sunday have a drink while the ordinary working man in his club or pub would be denied?

I do not believe either that we should succeed if we decided on outright prohibition. The precedents of prohibition are hardly encouraging. There is enough gangster activity in Northern Ireland without encouraging any more. Shebeens would no doubt sprout like shamrock. How would we check that each tonic, each tomato juice, each orange cordial served in each hotel and each golf club on a Sunday was free of anything more exciting than lemon peel and ice? The present rules are ridiculous, but it is exactly because we have stumbled down this alley that we now have the law as an ass, unenforced and unenforceable.

The question is, if we accept that there is nothing in principle against a person purchasing liquor on a Sunday, or visiting a leisure centre or an ice rink, when and where should he or she be allowed to buy drink? What will be the effect on society? Will it, for example, increase the consumption of alcohol? Will it lead to greater alcoholism, or to increased public nuisance? As to increased consumption, of course I have carefully considered this aspect, but under the reforms in this order and the Registration of Clubs (Northern Ireland) Order, which go together, I do not believe that that will happen. Under this order, not all pubs will open on a Sunday—the publican will have the choice. Under the registration of clubs order, clubs will lose four hours a week. Under this order, bringa-bottle clubs, where drinking goes on at 3 o'clock in the morning, every morning, will be banned. I am confident that the effect of the Sunday opening of pubs on the overall availability and consumption of alcohol is likely to be small.

I have also been influenced by the finding of the surveys carried out in Scotland on the changes in the licensing laws since 1976, which included the Sunday opening of pubs. The overall conclusions were that the changes had not directly led to an increase in drinking, any adverse health effects, more alcohol-related crime, or more drunken driving.

That is not to deny the danger that alcohol abuse poses to health or, of course, the need to control and to treat it, but I do not believe that keeping pubs in Northern Ireland shut on a Sunday will make any impact on the health problems that are brought about by excessive drinking. We are legislating in support of a social custom that is enjoyed by the majority of the population in Northern Ireland—about 80 per cent. of men and 60 per cent. of women—very few of whom commit offences as a result of their drinking habits and very few of whom have related health problems.

As to nuisance, I am not convinced that the alterations will make life for the ordinary citizen any different. I spend many Sundays in Northern Ireland, where pubs are closed, and many Sundays in England, where pubs are open. I have noticed no great difference between the Province and the rest of the United Kingdom except the greater churchgoing of the Ulster people. I certainly do not take the view—to me it is insulting—that was taken by the former Assemblyman, Jim Wells, who said to my predecessor that most people go into pubs in Northern Ireland to get drunk. I just do not believe that. There are those who have said that Northern Ireland pubs are not like those in England and Wales. That statement conjures up the image of the "spit and sawdust" pub as being the norm in Northern Ireland, and there is the implication that people are satisfied with that. I reject that also.

Obviously those who say that have not been in many Northern Ireland pubs recently, or observed the large number of pubs that have been extensively refurbished. I hope that the changes that are being brought about by the order will lead to a better quality of pubs and perhaps, as has been experienced in Scotland, encourage a move from clubs to pubs.

There is also the matter of consultation. Why did we not decide to test opinion either through a Provincewide referendum or through district council referendums? I considered the matter carefully. First, I am not convinced that, even if a majority were opposed to Sunday opening of pubs, we should necessarily not allow the minority their wishes. As the hon. Member for Antrim, North said, this is a moral issue to be decided in a puralistic society. Secondly, it would be impossible to frame a question that would cover all the issues relating to the availability of drink on a Sunday. It would require the ingenuity of the general council of the TUC to wrap all the possible variations into a single composite question. The same difficulty would apply to local referendums, with the additional problems that we all know about with cost and wet and dry areas.

Mr. William Ross (Londonderry, East)

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that another way of testing opinion through the elected representatives in Northern Ireland is by introducing a Bill in the House? All the serious matters that he is treating so flippantly could be explored with the depth and seriousness that they deserve rather than be treated with the hon. Gentleman's flippancy.

Mr. Needham

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I do not take the matter flippantly. I take it with the greatest possible seriousness. He is well aware that I wrote to him in October, putting forward the proposals that the Government intended to introduce. Until his intervention, I had not heard a single bleat or murmur from him. In fact, if it is his view that the matter should be considered in greater depth, there are ways, even now, to do so. For example, the hon. Gentleman could have utilised the Northern Ireland Committee if he had so wished. He did not undertake to do that. I am delighted to hear his intervention. I look forward to his continued interventions. The House takes the matter seriously, and so do I as the responsible Minister.

I now refer to the order. I apologise for the difficulty in following the amending legislation. The order, while substantially altering the 1971 legislation, leaves a large part of it unaffected, and its provisions have to be read in the context of the principal 1971 Act. In due course the licensing laws will be consolidated in a single piece of legislation. I hope that we shall be able to do that over the course of the next year.

I shall deal quickly with the main provisions of the order. The effect of article 3 is to ban bring-a-bottle clubs.

Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

I appreciate and understand the anomalies and defects in the present law in Northern Ireland, but it would be helpful for the House to know whether there has been any pressure from a majority or a minority of the people of the Province to change that particular law which may or may not suit them.

Mr. Needham

The fact that the law in Northern Ireland on Sunday opening is widely abused and is unenforceable, and, as I said, I think before my hon. Friend took his place, has made the law appear a complete ass is one of the reasons why we feel that we should take this action. We cannot, as I said earlier, return to the draconian rules of the 1920s. We have spent most of the past 60 years making sensible amendments to them. It is because of the nonsense of the present laws, which many in Northern Ireland do not accept, that we are considering doing what we are tonight to bring the law into an enforceable and acceptable state for the majority of those who want to drink on Sunday.

Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)

Has the Minister been aware of a substantial active lobby over the years against the 1971 legislation as it applies to the licensing of clubs? That is a crucial question.

Mr. Needham

As is usually the case in Northern Ireland, as the hon. Gentleman knows only too well, there are lobbies on everything and he is right to say that there have been fierce lobbies for and against what we intend doing in this order and what we are proposing to do in the next order on clubs. This order, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, deals with licensing provisions and the next order deals with clubs and their registration.

Mr. Mallon

I probably have not made myself clear and the Minister has misunderstood me. I have lived in the north of Ireland all my life and I have never been aware of a substantial lobby against the licensing laws as they apply to clubs. What is the difference between the licensing laws as they apply to clubs and as they apply to pubs? It was the answer to that question that I was trying to elicit from the Minister.

Mr. Needham

I apologise for not understanding the hon. Gentleman's point and I accept what he says.

Let me continue with the effect of article 3 which is to ban bring-a-bottle clubs. These clubs run until 3 am or 4 am and are largely supported by young people. Because they do not sell drink or supply it, they are completely outside the terms of either the licensing or clubs law. They cause law and order problems and are open to profiteering by criminal and paramilitary bodies. I am satisfied that the only answer is to ban them.

Article 4 will allow pubs to provide overnight accommodation, provided that they meet certain requirements. I am sure that that will be welcomed as another aid to tourism in the Province.

Article 5 makes changes in the application procedure for licences. The most important of these is to allow the individual publican to decide whether he wishes to open on a Sunday.

Article 6 allows a court to grant up to 13 occasional licenses on one application. At present, a separate application is needed for each. The new provision is designed to help bodies such as the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society which run a large number of exhibitions. This should reduce the work of the courts and save both the licensee's and the court's time.

Article 7 refers to extension licences which allow a licensee to sell drink at certain functions after normal hours. As under the existing law, there will be no restriction on the number of these which can be granted for any licensed premises in any one year. However, the extension licences will now stop at 1 am instead of of 1.30 am as at present and will be granted only for premises that a court regards as suitable for functions.

Article 8 provides the rules covering Sunday opening. The permitted hours will be from 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm and from 7 pm to 10 pm. On that day no off-sales will be allowed for pubs, hotels or off-licenses. Neither hotels nor pubs will be required to serve a meal as a condition of serving a drink. However, the meal and other conditions will apply to licensed restaurants.

Article 9, paragraph 1, amends the provisions of the 1971 Act relating to alternative hours for off-sales. The Government are worried about the growing problem of late night drinking in public, especially by young people. They have received many complaints on that subject and there is no doubt that some of the problem is due to the fact that young people can get their drinks from off-licences as late as 11 pm. The amendment means that off-sales shops will now be able to open only from 9.30 am to 9 pm, except in the case of off-sales that are attached to pubs.

Article 10 bans young people under the age of 18 from off-licence premises, except when they are with their parents. That, I am sure, will be welcomed by everyone. Apart from drink, off-licences in Northern Ireland can sell only cigarettes, tobacco, matches and fizzy drinks. Article 4, at their request, adds corkscrews. Generously, we have also added items such as crisps, pork scratchings and lighters, and that will also apply to public houses.

Article 9, paragraph 2, amends section 45 of the 1971 Act. The new provisions of the amendment will put pubs on a par with hotels and restaurants when applying for additional hours orders. However, pubs will still have to satisfy the conditions that apply to hotels and restaurants, and will also have a certificate from the tourist board stating that the premises are well equipped, run by competent staff and provide a high standard of catering. Here again, we are trying to improve the quality of public houses.

Article 11 substitutes a new section 67 for sections 67 and 68 of the 1971 Act and provides for new rights of entry and inspection by the police. Articles 12 and 13 contain miscellaneous amendments to the 1971 Act, and article 13, paragraph 6, brings ballrooms and horse and dog racing tracks within the range of facilities that can now apply for licences.

Article 14 substantially increses the maximum penalties for a number of offences. For example, the fine for permitting minors to be on licensed premises will go up from £400 to £1,000. The penalty for selling drink to a minor on licensed premises or purchasing it for his consumption on those premises goes up from £400 to £2,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both.

That concludes my detailed description of the provisions of the order. I thank hon. Members for their attention and patience. As I have explained, the order is the first part of the package of reform which we are here to discuss; we shall debate the second part later tonight.

Public debate in Northern Ireland on this order has focused almost exclusively on the issue of Sunday opening of public houses. The key question on that issue is whether to take the route advocated by some and abandon Sunday opening altogether, or move closer to the pattern of the rest of the United Kingdom. In an increasingly pluralistic society, we could not agree to closing everything. nor could we, for the overwhelming practical reasons I have given, either stay where we are, or impose further piecemeal restrictions. I believe that what we are suggesting this evening creates a more sensible balance and introduces a law which at last is enforceable and will be enforced.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)


Mr. Needham

I commend the order to the House.

Rev. Martin Smyth

I thank the Minister for giving way. He referred to the increased fines or penalties for selling drinks to teenagers. Can he say how many people have hitherto been brought before the courts for such offences? What difference will increasing the penalties make if the law, as it stands, has not been in operation?

Mr. Needham

The whole point of what we are trying to do this evening is to ensure that the law that we introduce is more capable of enforcement than that of the past.

As I was just about to sit down, I shall cover the hon. Gentleman's point when I reply. For the second time, I commend the order to the House.

9.53 pm
Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

First, I thank the Minister for the kind words that he addressed to me at the beginning of his speech. I appreciate them greatly and I look forward to my work shadowing him and his right hon. and hon. Friends. The Minister used the phrase, "the poisoned chalice of Northern Ireland". I do not regard it as such, but I wondered what sort of vessel I was being given when I went to the Library this evening having suddenly been given this work to do in the space of two hours, and was presented with all these documents. I was left with the feeling that perhaps the best thing to do would be to sit out most of this order and listen to what was said by the rival parties.

The Minister covered the whole of the ground set out in the arguments by both sides and examined very fairly the cases for and against the alterations. Within half an hour of being appointed I was lobbied by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) on this matter. I toyed with the idea of the local option and thought, "Why not?" Then my mind went back to the time when I lived in Liverpool and looked at what was happening in Wales about local options. They just did not work there and that was for the reason that the Minister has given.

If a person belonged to a golf club or to a branch of the Royal British Legion or some other institution, he could get a drink on Sunday anywhere in Wales. That did not drive to drink people who did not want to have a drink. It did not stop people going to chapel or church if they wished to do so and it does not stop people in any locality who do not wish to have a drink on Sunday from attending any of the places that sell drink on that day. If such places are not allowed to sell drink on Sundays, they will not open on Sundays.

I am concerned about minors being prohibited from certain premises and about preventing under-18-year-olds buying drink from off-licences. This may be an important reform being introduced in Northern Ireland and it will be watched carefully by people on the mainland to see the effect that it has on under-age drinking and on some of the unfortunate things that many of us see in our constituencies. We see young people, some under-age and some over-age, going into off-licences, purchasing drinks and then going away and getting drunk and disturbing innocent residents and passers-by.

One of the problems associated with this matter is the responsibility of the person controlling the premises. When the Under-Secretary of State replies to the debate, perhaps he will tell us whether the defence will be that of unknowingly selling to people under the age of 18, or will it be a question of absolute prohibition? Will the defence of not knowing be applicable in this case? I am conscious of the fact that I have not carried out as much reading as I should have liked of the Assembly report, although I did manage the Blackburn report. On balance, we think that this measure ought to be supported because it can do away with some of the problems. It can help the police in Northern Ireland and make the law more enforceable and may introduce important reforms on sales to minors. We support the measure.

9.58 pm
Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

I regret that I was not present at the beginning of the debate. I am sorry that I did not hear what the Minister said about remarks that I made. However, I think that I received a true and accurate report from my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson). Before I come to that matter, I should say that we in Northern Ireland must enter the strongest possible protest about the way in which this matter has been dealt with in the House. Scotland had a similar problem. Liverpool has been mentioned and so has Wales.

When the matter came before the House every consideration was given to there being a drastic change in the opening hours of public houses on the Christian Sabbath. Hon. Members from those parts of the United Kingdom had every opportunity to put before the House amendments giving the reasons why certain matters should be taken into account. We should keep in mind the effects of our legislation on majority and minority interests.

If I had been in this House when it debated the legislation for the rest of the United Kingdom I could have moved amendments and had them voted on. Northern Ireland hon. Members now find themselves considering a matter that runs into the very heart and gut of the Northern Ireland community, yet we are not to have the opportunity of a democratic debate. We cannot move any amendments and we shall not be given the opportunity to vote on any amendments. An unamendable Order in Council will be put through this House with the overwhelming support of a majority of hon. Members who will probably never be in Northern Ireland on a Sunday. They will probably never enter a public house in Northern Ireland on a Sunday or partake of alcohol in Northern Ireland on a Sunday.

That is what we protest against tonight because it goes against the very principle of democracy. That is what the people of Northern Ireland find obnoxious. I do not think that I need to reiterate that point, because others in this House are beginning to realise at long last that the long series of protests made by hon. Members from Northern Ireland has a great deal of credibility; our protests have their own authority.

As the House votes on these orders it should remember how it dealt with the legislation affecting other parts of the United Kingdom. It is wrong to suggest that every part of this kingdom is the same and therefore that all the laws should be the same. England has different laws from Scotland and, in some cases, Wales has different laws from England and Scotland. Whatever their attitude on this matter, the people in Northern Ireland have the right to insist that their elected representatives should enjoy the same rights as the elected representatives of other parts of the United Kingdom—to state and argue their case, to move amendments, to vote and to seek the satisfaction of their wishes in a democratic way in this democratic House.

Let me come to the point which has to do with legislating for morality. Everybody agrees that the House cannot legislate for morality. Of course we cannot make people do things that they do not want to do. But in its legislation this House puts up certain markers to morality. Take the matter of prostitution, for instance. Certain laws in this country provide markers on that and possibly deterrents to it. It is no use the Minister instantly dismissing this point and saying, "Well, as I cannot legislate for morality, I am on firm ground in introducing this order." If we said that we could not legislate on any matter that would intrude into the morality or choice of individuals, no Government would have a case for making any laws at all. But we legislate on such matters all the time.

Something else needs to be said to the Minister. I do not understand his view that in these circumstances we cannot have a choice in law to say that certain places should be closed on Sundays. That is not what successive Governments have done on this issue. The people of Northern Ireland are perfectly entitled, through their representatives, to say what they think should be done and what should not be done. The Government have already made decisions in various matters of this kind.

Some people have the strange philosophy that this is a purely Protestant issue, that those who do not want the public houses opened are all Protestants and that the Roman Catholic community is unanimous in wanting the pubs of Northern Ireland to he open on Sundays. Ulster Marketing Surveys Limited carried out some research into this matter. It showed that 39 per cent. of the total population strongly opposed Sunday opening, 19 per cent. were strongly in favour, 24 per cent. were slightly in favour, 13 per cent. were slightly opposed and 6 per cent. did not know. The breakdown of those strongly opposed showed that 45 per cent. were Protestant and 30 per cent. were Roman Catholic. It is therefore quite wrong to suggest, as I have heard from Members whom I have lobbied on the subject, that this is merely a Protestant interest and that the Protestants do not want the Roman Catholics to be allowed to drink on Sundays.

The Secretary of State smiles, but I must tell the House that anyone who wants a drink on Sunday in Northern Ireland can get one. I challenge anyone to claim that some poor thirsty souls cannot get a drink anywhere in Northern Ireland on a Sunday. The Minister and I do not often agree, but he will agree with me that those with that particular type of thirst can always find a drink on Sunday in Northern Ireland. I am sorry that their thirst is not for that water of which a man drinks and will never thirst again, but that is their misfortune. I hope that no one will be so foolish as to say that a person who wants to drink on Sunday in Northern Ireland cannot do so because that is totally untrue.

I cannot understand why Northern Ireland cannot be treated in the same way as other parts of the United Kingdom were treated when this was an issue there. It was an issue in Scotland and, indeed, in Wales.

I welcome the new Opposition spokesman on Northern Ireland—the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara)—to his post. He will probably have a rough ride from Ulster Unionists, but he has been used to that through the years and it will not make any difference to him. The hon. Gentleman mentioned Liverpool.

Sir John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

I do not quite follow the argument of the hon. Gentleman. I feel that he has begun to destroy his argument. The hon. Gentleman says that someone can get a drink on a Sunday in Northern Ireland. Why is it all right to get a drink in an hotel, restaurant or even a club but wrong to get it in a pub?

Rev. Ian Paisley

That is not what I am saying. I am sorry that the hon. Member does not know a little bit more about Northern Ireland and about drinking in Northern Ireland. All those in Northern Ireland who have studied alcohol abuse, no matter what their religion—no matter if they have no religion—say that there are far too many outlets for alcohol in Northern Ireland.

If we pass this order, there will he 10,000 additional hours for alcohol consumption. I do not know of a stronger argument that could be put against this order.

It is a pity that the Government did not take the bull by the horns and dealt with drinking clubs in the way that they should have been dealt with. That is the trouble.

Sir John Biggs-Davison

They have dealt with those clubs.

Rev. Ian Paisley

The drinking clubs have got away with a coach-and-four with regard to the sale of alcohol. I can understand the views of publicans—I have been lobbied by them. They must have a certain standard of premises, their trade must be carried on to a certain standard and the public house is open to inspection by the police at all times during opening hours. However, the drinking clubs do not have those restrictions and publicans cannot understand that. I can understand the concern of publicans.

The Government have not moved to shut the other outlets for alcohol and they will continue to exist. However, as a result of this order, the Government will allow an additional 10,000 hours for alcohol consumption.

The hon. Member for Epping Forest, who said that I was destroying my argument, should come with me to parts of Northern Ireland where both sides of the community do not want the public house to be opened on a Sunday. They want the peace and quiet that is hard to get and they want that peace and quiet to continue.

I have also been lobbied by people who work in public houses who say that they deserve a day of rest—I am talking about people in the trade union movement. They say that it is all right for the publican, but they want a day of rest.

Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)

I am a little confused by the hon. Gentleman's argument. A moment ago he suggested that the Government had done nothing about illegal drinking clubs. I believe that the essence of this order is that it would ban, as much as any legislation can, the bring-a-bottle clubs and place restrictions upon them. They will give the police rights of entry and the right to search those establishments. In all honesty, I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome this legislation.

Rev. Ian Paisley

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman must have been sleeping. I never mentioned illegal clubs. I am talking about legal clubs that should have been dealt with long ago.

I am talking not about the shebeens, but about the legal clubs that are supposed to be recreational clubs. However those clubs spend £14 million a year on liquor. Why were the drinking hours on Sundays not restricted? Why say to the publican that he can open for a few hours but say to the licensed club owner that he may open for as many hours as he likes, well into the early hours of Monday? I am not talking about illegal clubs that should have been closed a long time ago. I am talking about legal clubs, but at long last a deterrent has been introduced to restrict the number of illegal clubs. It is necessary now to produce audited accounts.

I invite the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes) to visit Northern Ireland. I shall arrange for a Roman Catholic to meet him and take him to the Roman Catholic district to hear the views of Roman Catholics. I shall arrange for a Protestant to take him to a Protestant area. Arrangements can then be made for a Jew to take him to a Jewish area. If it is possible to find an agnostic area, arrangements will be made to take him there. After that, he will have a proper knowledge of feelings in Northern Ireland. Anyone who intervenes in these debates should try to ascertain exactly what is happening in Northern Ireland. In these days of alcohol abuse, and when the police in Northern Ireland are strained to the utmost in dealing with terrorism, does anyone say that it is sensible to add 10,000 hours to the opening times that outlets for alcohol already have? Hon. Members should search their consciences. The issue before the House should be considered seriously.

Why were restrictions introduced in other parts of the United Kingdom? Why are the restrictions that operate in Northern Ireland all to be swept away in an hour and a hall's debate? We are debating an issue that affects the young people of Northern Ireland and the future of society generally in the Province. It affects the well-being of families in Northern Ireland.

I believe that the Lord's day should be a special day. I believe that the human body was so created by God that it requires a day of rest. A Sunday that is kept in the proper manner will bring a week of contentment afterwards. Apart from that, there are arguments that can be advanced showing why we should not proceed in this manner.

There are hon. Members who do not understand the way in which opening hours are arrived at for pubs in Northern Ireland. One hon. Member was amazed when he was told that our system is entirely different from that which applies elsewhere in the United Kingdom. He thought that after the passage of this measure the licensing magistrates would have a say about every public house that is to be opened on Sundays. Hon. Members should not believe that. After this measure passes through the House all public houses that currently have a licence to open during weekdays will be able to open on Sundays.

First, we must ascertain what we are arguing about, and then we can come to our own conclusions. Every reputable authority says that longer opening hours and greater consumption will bring additional problems. I do not think that the House wants to add more problems to a system that is already teeming with problems.

The House should not pass this measure. We should have a further opportunity to consider the safeguards that were given to other parts of the United Kingdom. Why have these safeguards not been given to Northern Ireland? Why cannot people have a say about what is happening in their area in respect of public houses? Why should we be faced with this blanket measure that will lead to Sunday opening?

A publican said to me, "If the public house down the street opens, I must open if I am to keep my business." That position is not helpful in Northern Ireland. We should proceed this evening in dealing with Northern Ireland as we proceeded when dealing with other parts of the United Kingdom.

10.19 pm
Mr. Seamus Mallon (Newry and Armagh)

The way in which this debate is taking place puts its context into perspective. I do not have to reiterate that in the North of Ireland more than 2,500 people have died and a large number of our young people are in gaol. We have social deprivation, an economic situation and unemployment that is unequalled anywhere else in this country. Yet one of the biggest issues that is facing us is whether I shall be able to have a pint before my lunch on Sunday.

Does not that put the nature of this entire debate into context? I believe that it sharpens totally the context in which the debate is taking place and highlights the fact that with this legislation the Government are trying to do something which, quite frankly, should have been done years ago. Perhaps that view is too cynical. I hope that it is not, because I know that there are many genuine and sincere people who hold the opposing points of view on this to me, and who wish to retain Sunday closing. I accept the sincerity of their position and of their point of view.

However, this issue goes beyond the issue of the opening or closing of pubs. It even goes beyond the question of the licensing of clubs of any type. It raises two questions. It asks questions about the nature of people in Northern Ireland and about the type of people that they want to be. It also asks about the type of society that we want to create in the North of Ireland and about the type of society that we might be able to create. This debate probably tells, and will tell, more about our attitudes, in the broader sense, than many of the debates in which we shall take part. What do we want in the north of Ireland where, on an ongoing basis, we have nothing but closures? The swings on which children could play on a Sunday are closed. The swimming pools in which people could enjoy themselves are closed and the pubs in which people could relax are also closed. Is it a coincidence that those closures are accompanied by probably the greatest conglomeration of closed minds of any country in western Europe? I believe that there is a connection and that we must consider the nature of society in Northern Ireland, and its politics and structures when we engage in this debate.

We have been told, and we will be told, that it is a question of morality. We will be told, in no uncertain terms, that it is a question of one person's belief taking precedence over that of another person. I do not believe that God gives anyone the right or the duty to legislate for my conscience or for the conscience of anybody else in the north of Ireland on such a matter. One could not do so successfully in any case because the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) has confirmed something that most people in the north of Ireland know, which is that, once there is this type of legislation in a modern society, one creates the opposite effect to that intended.

I ask, because this question should be asked, whether as a result of the licensing law changes in Scotland, any village or town there has gone to the dogs? Perhaps we should take Bickley, that haven of depravity, as an example of the results of the licensing laws that pertain in England. It is an insult to the people of Northern Ireland to suggest that because they have the right and the ability to go for a drink before their lunch on a Sunday, all of a sudden the North of Ireland will become a terrible place, that it will be worse than it is now and that people will indulge in depravity. The people of Northern Ireland are not like that. In my view, they will respond to this type of legislation positively and responsibly. They will be no more depraved than the people in Kirkcaldy, Bickley or any other part of western Europe.

This also poses the question: what type of ethic do we want to live by in the north of Ireland? Is it a completely authoritarian ethic where we are told we may or may not do something depending on the moral attitudes of the majority of people there or is it an ethic based on freedom of choice? Do we have the strength to accept and live respectfully with the differences, political, cultural and moral, that exists in the north of Ireland? Or are we simply so weak that we demand one set of rules and the denial of choice because at the end of the day in such matters if we have the choice to be right, we also have the right to be wrong, if that is our choice? That must be the essential view regarding morality.

Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster)

Is not the basis of the hon. Gentleman's argument rather false and hypocritical, particularly when one considers that he wants the Unionists to join a united Ireland which legislates on divorce, abortion, the sale of contraceptives and other such matters?

Mr. Mallon

The profundity of that question eludes me—[Interruption.]—and, judging from the reactions of most other hon. Members present, it has also eluded them.

Rev. William McCrea

Is it not true that the Government of the south of Ireland do not allow people the right to divorce, if they want it, or the liberty to choose to have contraceptives? Is that the sort of society which he speaks of as a liberal society and which we should all wish to live in?

Mr. Mallon

That is not the type of society that I want in a united Ireland. It is very much the type of society that I do not want. I want people to be able to live by their own consciences, not by any piece of legislation, whether in the Republic of Ireland, the north of Ireland or here. I ask the hon. Gentleman to make a serious attempt to help to create on the island of Ireland a proper legislative basis which allows that freedom of choice.

What type of people do we want to be? What type of society do we wish to have? In the north of Ireland I often hear people saying that they admire "the British way of life". I do not hear that among those I represent because we are not enamoured of the British connection. We wish to live in the type of united Ireland that I am trying to describe to the hon. Member for mid-Ulster (Rev. William McCrea). What about this "British way of life", so admired by the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues? It would be much more beneficial if they were to adopt it, to live it and to introduce it into their legislation. That is the acid test of that phrase.

Mr. Porter

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the British way of life accepts diversity? Does he further accept that the Scots and Welsh in their own time determine whether public houses should be open on Sundays for their own reasons, whether for tourism or economics? It appears that there is no evidence yet that the Northern Irish people want their somewhat archaic laws changed.

Mr. Mallon

The fact that there has never been a substantial lobby against the licensing laws available to clubs shows that the majority of people in the north of Ireland do not hold this moralistic view about licensing laws. They are worried about the legalities and the potential for abuse. That is why I would dispute whether a majority of people oppose this legislation.

What type of society do we want? Do we want to be totally isolationist? Do we want to be introverted, or out of step with the rest of Ireland, Britain and Europe? Are we to be the oddities of the western world where we say no to everything, and where everything is closed including our minds? Is that the type of Northern Ireland that we want? Do we want to be out of step with our Johnnies over there? Do we want to be the oddities of the western world without allowing ourselves the ability to relax and enjoy that little bit of relaxation? A little bit of human frailty might get us away from many of the problems that we face and many of the terribly absolute positions that we adopt.

I praise the Minister for bringing the legislation forward. It is a recognition of the terrible injustices that publicans have suffered in the north of Ireland down through the years. They had to compete with clubs and hotels because the publicans were being under-cut in the prices that they were charging. So many of the clubs were de-rated while the publican was, and still is, paying very heavy rates. The publican was unable to deal with his overheads in the same way as the clubs and hotels. The competition was unfair and unjust and I am glad that it has been put right.

There was also social discrimination to which the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) referred. If people can afford it, they can go to a hotel and have a meal. If they can afford it, they can become members of a club. People can have drinks at both. If people cannot do either of those things, if they live in a village in any part of the north of Ireland or in the towns, they cannot do that. That cannot be right in any man's language. The people who are suffering and being deprived are those who simply cannot afford to have a meal in a hotel or join a club.

The legislation governing clubs and hotels is one of the factors that has forced people to drink and drive. Invariably in the north of Ireland people get in their cars and drive to hotels and clubs. Would it not be much better for the whole of society, if a person feels that he wants a drink, for him to be able to walk down the street, drop into his pub and have his pint or two—and perhaps even three—and then walk home again? That factor is worth considering.

I welcome the legislation. I hope that I may indulge in a little whimsy at the end of my speech. For many of us, the legislation marks the end of an era. It is well known that forbidden fruit always tastes sweeter. There will be many in the north of Ireland who will remember with nostalgia the knock at the back door, the dim lights, walking in and then that feeling of excitement because one was going to enjoy oneself so much more because one was not allowed to do something.

10.32 pm
Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) on extending this debate to more of the social issues of the day in Northern Ireland, because a pub is a very social place. It is a meeting place where people discuss the issues of the day and where opinions are formed. It is a sensible meeting place. Even my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine)—who I know has very important views on the licensed trade generally and on drink—would concede that the British pub is unique. Any legislation that will enhance its standing and improve facilities in the pub, even to the detriment of other outlets for alcohol, is to be commended. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Newry and Armagh that this legislation should have been brought forward many years ago.

Nevertheless, my hon. Friend the Minister is to be congratulated because the Blackburn report was produced in 1978 and it has only taken the Northern Ireland Office nine years to get around to amending the law in Northern Ireland. It is now 15 years since the Erroll report was published on reforming the licensing laws in England and Wales and we are still waiting for action. I am glad to say that, following the manifesto commitment to that end, we are likely to see a change in the law for England and Wales quite soon.

I wholeheartedly welcome the measure, because it appears to bring more into line the licensing laws relating to pubs and clubs, which over the years have manifestly become more out of line. It provides for all hotels, restaurants, clubs and pubs to share the same opening hours seven days a week. Extension hours will also be the same for all. There will be no overall increase in the number of opening hours, as there will be a reduction of 13 minutes in the normal daily opening hours for clubs. All public house extensions will be reduced by 30 minutes, and club extensions by two hours. I do not know where the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. I. Paisley) finds the extra 10,000 drinking hours which he says will be available.

There are more flexible features in the licensing orders for pubs to allow for greater development of tourist and food business, and that is to be commended. The two principal points are the provision for accommodation in pubs, which will allow a new style of outlet to develop, and the provision to allow a pub the same extended hours as a hotel or restaurant if it has a full restaurant facility.

The proposals do not force Sunday opening on those who do not wish to avail themselves of it. At licensing renewal, the option of a six or seven-day licence is at the publican's discretion. Even with a seven-day licence, opening on a Sunday may not be economically viable because of location, and the publican need not open.

I should like to ask my hon. Friend a question about the permitted-hours clause in the lease that most licensees sign with their brewers. That clause, if ultimately enforced, means that the publican must open for all the hours permitted by the local licensing courts. In some parts of the United Kingdom, the permitted-hours clause is not onerously enforced, but in other parts the brewers can be pretty heavy-handed. They say to the publican, "You will open for every hour that you are permitted by law to do so. If you do not, we shall evict you and tear up your lease."

Should there be any provision in the law to protect publicans if the law is relaxed so that permitted hours cannot onerously be enforced on publicans? The question is particularly relevant to Sunday opening. If the law says, "You may open on Sunday," and the licensing courts say the same, and if the publican chooses not to do so—after all, freedom of choice is an important principle in our party—can the brewer force him to?

The most controversial issue relates to the Sunday opening of pubs. The present laws, in my view, are a bit of a nonsense, and have fallen into disrepute. They seem to work unfairly against pubs as compared with clubs, hotels and restaurants, and many pubs have closed, with loss of employment and amenity. I am told that directives have been sent out by one bank to its branches saying that publicans are a poor credit risk. Perhaps changing the law will make them a better risk and enable them to obtain the credit that they require to improve their facilities, which will assist tourism and the economy of Northern Ireland generally.

The present laws on Sunday opening are almost unenforceable, save at disproportionate cost. The principle of Sunday drinking has long been established in clubs, hotels and restaurants, and anyone in Northern Ireland who wants to get a drink on Sunday can do so. As a pub is probably the most sensible place in which to drink, why can he not get that drink in a pub? Under this legislation, Northern Ireland will come more into line with the rest of the United Kingdom. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North that we do not want to be exactly the same, but this is a united kingdom, and the more our laws are in line, the better. He also referred to public opinion and produced some interesting statistics, but I believe that opinion is pretty evenly divided on this issue, as shown by the attitude surveys and the response to the Government's proposal.

Mr. Geraint Howells (Ceredigion and Pembroke, North)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that the licensing laws in Wales are different from those in other parts of the United Kingdom. The people of Northern Ireland should have the right to decide for themselves; it should not be done through an order tabled in the House. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is unaware that, for the past 30 years in Wales, we have had the right to vote every seven years to say whether we are in favour of Sunday opening. I am the only Member in the House who represents a dry district council area. Whether that is a good thing or not, the people of Northern Ireland. like the people of Wales, should determine whether they want pubs to open on Sunday.

Mr. Colvin

That was an interesting intervention. In a sense, it was a speech, so the hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells) can now go and have a drink and leave the answer to that question to my hon. Friend the Minister. A strong measure of local control over licensing hours is wise. That is why the Government are trying to lay down the broad parameters for licensing hours but will not force anyone to open. Even in Northern Ireland, there will he some control by the licensing courts. I agree that the law is different in Wales, but the hon. Gentleman will agree that the Welsh are very different from the rest of us.

Public opinion on this matter is pretty evenly divided. In response to the published proposals, 16,500 letters were in favour and 10,500 were opposed, and a couple of church petitions also opposed it.

There has been much discussion of the health aspects of the proposals, because some have said that they will undoubtedly lead to more drinking hours. My hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North mentioned the example of Scotland. I shall quote some of the figures from the experience in Scotland. There is no reason why a similar experience should not pertain in Northern Ireland.

The law was changed in Scotland in 1976. Between 1979 and 1982, convictions for drunkenness in Scotland fell by 28 per cent., whereas in England and Wales they fell by only 9 per cent. The figures for under-21s were even better. Although consumption of drink has increased in Scotland, the extra drinking is done in pubs rather than elsewhere. Not so many people are buying drink at off-licences and taking it home, which is a bad place to drink. The pub is a sensible place in which to drink. That is what has happened in Scotland. The health aspects have been totally beneficial in Scotland—

Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point)

My hon. Friend has just said that everything in the garden is rosy as regards health. Since he has the figures there, can he tell us the statistics in respect of cirrhosis of the liver? Is he aware that those people who were drinking hard before the reforms are now drinking harder? What has been the effect upon women in Scotland? Let us have the whole story.

Mr. Colvin

The debate is about Northern Ireland. I am drawing a comparison with Scotland because I think that it is relevant. My right hon. Friend has asked particularly about liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis mortality trends have not changed because of the altered licensing laws in Scotland, nor has there been an increase in alcohol-related mortality. There has been a downward trend in admissions to psychiatric hospitals for alcoholism and alcohol dependence. Relative risks from drunk driving have declined in Scotland compared with England and Wales. Overall, the trends in Scotland compared with England and Wales have proved to be favourable. In 1979, there were 13,628 charges in Scotland for drunkenness. Following the experience of the change in the law, there were only 6,618 in 1984. The experience has been beneficial, and I hope that the same will happen in Northern Ireland.

We are trying to equalise the law as between the pub and the club. The Brewing Review published in 1986 shows that in 1976, the year in which the law was changed, 23 per cent. of drinking occurred in public houses and 23 per cent. in licensed clubs. By 1984, consumption in public houses had increased to 28 per cent. and consumption in licensed clubs had decreased to 18 per cent. Experience will show that, if we equalise the law as between pubs and clubs and make the market more equal, the trend will be in the right direction.

Although I have not drunk much in pubs in Northern Ireland, I have a son who served in the same regiment in which I served and who has just returned from Northern Ireland. He said that the experience of drinking in pubs there was to be commended. He found outside one pub a ditty which I have stuck up outside my pub, which reads: Who comes here? A grenadier. What do you want? A pot of beer. Where's yer money? I forgot! Get you home you drunken sot. In other words, tick, or credit, in Northern Ireland is no easier than in this country here. I am sure that that notice outside my pub will encourage my hon. Friends who go there for a drink to ensure that they take enough money with them and not expect credit at The Cricketers Arms in Tangley.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on bringing forward this measure. I wholeheartedly commend it to the House and I hope that it will be passed.

10.47 pm
Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

The slip of the tongue at the end of the speech of the hon. Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) was revealing when he talked about the difference between Northern Ireland and "this country here". Northern Ireland is part of this country here. It is worth reminding the House that two separate issues are before us. One is whether pubs should be open on a Sunday and the other concerns the way in which we go about making decisions for the different parts of the United Kingdom.

On the first issue, I freely admit that, like probably many hon. Members, I enjoy a drink, not least after church on a Sunday evening. If I were voting for provisions in my region, I would be one of those who argued, like the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) did, for the opening of public houses each day. It is a matter of choice. It is a matter of moderation. I accept that the overuse of alcohol undoubtedly leads to not only physical but emotional problems. Much violence and brutality can be associated with it. The overuse of alcohol in cities such as mine, Liverpool, can have dire consequences.

The second issue is about the differences of opinion in different parts of the United Kingdom. Clearly, there are differences of opinion in Northern Ireland. The Lord's Day Observance Society, the Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland, people from all parts of the religious equation and the trade unions have given their opinions, suggesting that public houses should not be able to open on a Sunday.

I find it ironic that Northern Ireland hon. Members should be able to amend proposals for drinking laws in Scotland, England and in Wales, but, when we consider such matters, Northern Ireland Members cannot move amendments because of the ways in which we consider such proceedings. That is why I signal a warning to the Government that, unless we do something about the over-use of Orders in Council and the constant resort to one-and-a-half hour debates to ram through Government proposals, we shall have no choice but to—[AN HON. MEMBER: "You?"]—Yes, we and other hon. Members from other political parties. We shall have no choice but to vote against the Government when they bring forward proposals that are clearly unacceptable to many people in Northern Ireland.

Such matters would be far better considered by a Northern Ireland committee, which could be established under Standing Order No. 99. They would be far better considered by Northern Ireland hon. Members. It would be far better if we could consider Bills in the normal way, with their being open to amendment. It is for the second of those reasons—it has nothing to do with the drinking laws in Northern Ireland—that my right hon. and hon. Friends and I shall call a vote. We may find ourselves in the Division Lobby with some hon. Members from Northern Ireland. It is time that such issues were considered in the Chamber, on their merits, open to amendment and not simply put to the House for black and white yes-no decisions which force polarisation. It is quite obvious that people are constantly forced to take decisions on issues and are not given a chance to vote for the shades of grey that often exist or to vote for amendments.

For those reasons—not the ones that were advanced! earlier about Sunday opening—of diversity and choice, and bearing in mind the differences of opinion that exist in many parts of our islands and people's rights to decide for themselves in the places where they live, that we shall be with those who choose to divide the House tonight.

10.51 pm
Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point)

I wish to approach the matter from a somewhat different angle and perhaps to sound a somewhat different warning. From what we have heard, it is quite clear that the licensing law in Northern Ireland is in disarray. One can understand the Government wishing to put it into better order, although it is exceedingly doubtful whether making it possible to drink more rather than less will improve matters. The licensing law is broken daily in this country. There has been a failure to deal with the rising tide of under-age drinking that is taking place all over the kingdom, the full facts of which were revealed to the Government by their Office of Population Censuses and Surveys about three years ago. Its report was withheld from publication for at least a year.

The facts exist, and they demonstrate not only that there is a serious rising tide of under-age drinking in our public houses but that an overwhelming proportion of boys from the age of 13 upward had their first drinks not at home, not as a result of buying liquor from supermarkets, but in public houses. The law here is not being properly enforced. In short, that is why we should be concerned not merely with legal consequences but with the social and health consequences of any change in the licensing law of any part of the United Kingdom. I fervently believe that, as long as the majority of its people wish it to remain part of the United Kingdom, that should be the case. Northern Ireland should not be treated in a different way. We are all concerned about the matter. We cannot sweep aside the strong objections that are coming from the Province.

There is another good reason why we should not sweep those objections aside. There is no justification for tampering with the licensing laws anywhere in the United Kingdom before the full implications of the rising levels of consumption are understood. In addition to under-age drinking, we have the carnage on the roads and a clear link between alcohol abuse and marital break-up, non-acccidental injury to children and crime of every kind. Before any increase in drinking hours, in pubs or in clubs, is allowed, the full social and health implications should be properly understood.

The order comes to us hot-foot on the announcement in the Queen's Speech that licensing hours in England and Wales are to be extended. All this flies in the face of expert opinion. I am speaking not of the drink and tourist trades but about the views that have been expressed by doctors and magistrates.

I received a letter from Dr. Havard, secretary of the British Medical Association, when we were discussing the Bill affecting England and Wales. He wanted me to make it clear to the House that his association was opposed to any tampering with the licensing laws until the health implications were grasped. He wrote: There is no conclusive evidence that a change in licensing hours would decrease the health and social costs of alcohol abuse and every reason to fear that it would exacerbate an already deteriorating situation. The Government must take note of the request by the World Health Organisation that by the 1990s all member states should reduce the level of alcohol consumption by at least 25 per cent., so great is the cost on a global scale. What has been the British Government's response? It has been to increase licensing hours, to do nothing about the proliferation of outlets, to make no moves to deal with under-age drinking in public houses and to do nothing about the link between alcohol drunk to excess and crime.

No wonder Dr. Havard wrote in his letter to me: Why, when other countries are desperately tightening up on the availability of alcohol, are we taking up parliamentary time relaxing things? Mr. Gorbachev has had the honesty to deal publicly with this problem in the Soviet Union. He has done it in a way one would never have thought possible in that country. All civilised countries are concerned about the problem, yet here we are tampering with the licensing laws before any of the other issues to which I have referred have been considered.

On 1 July The Times published a letter from Dr. Douglas Acres, a constituent of mine who is the chairman of the council of the Magistrates' Association, in which he made it clear that any tampering with the licensing laws was a mistake. Not only are all the caring agencies opposed to any extension, but I am astonished to note that the only published statement by any British Government since the 1930s on the subject of alcohol abuse was that produced by the Department of Health and Social Security entitled "Drinking Sensibly." What does that tell us? It tells us repeatedly that, if anything, there is a case for increasing the restrictions, not lessening them. Why is the Department of Health so silent on this matter? We have had evidence from that Department—the only evidence that we have ever had from it—that grave health harm is being caused and that there are risks in tampering with the licensing laws. The Minister responsible for roads and traffic has courageously drawn attention to the carnage on the roads. So why is there no co-ordination on these matters? Why did the Government see the light in the area of drug abuse? They appointed an interdepartmental coordinating committee under the then Minister of State that has worked well. It has brought together all the facets of prevention, treatment and so on. However, they have not done that on the issue of alcohol. Why? The House will find its own answer. Just as the proposed Licensing (Amendment) Bill is a mistake, the order is a mistake until such time as the Government demonstrate that they understand the totality of the problem. They must act soon, because the harm is mounting all the time.

11.2 pm

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

I welcome the opportunity to follow the right hon. Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), who stressed the health factors that are involved. Traditionally in Northern Ireland, licensing laws have been dealt with by the Department of Health and Social Services. Unlike England, where we deal with the problem largely through the Home Office, in Northern Ireland alcohol is reckoned to have a direct impact on the health of the community.

The health factors are important. I was fascinated by the concluding comment of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon), who spoke of the days when the "knock knock" would be over. I put it to him, and the House, that even with these laws, the "knock knock" and after-hours drinking will continue. I am worried that the Minister has put forward nothing to show us how the law as amended will be implemented any better than previous legislation.

When facts and figures are adduced to show that, since the change of licensing laws in Scotland, there has been a decrease in convictions for crime and traffic accidents as a result of drinking offences I wonder whether any examination has been conducted into whether constables have merely said, on many occasions, "Get a grip on yourself; away home and don't let that happen again." How many cases have not been pursued because of a tendency to have a little compassion on a person who is under the influence, if not downright inebriated?

When the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh talked of the more relaxed opportunities that now exist for walking down to the village pub, did he, or any hon. Member, really believe that people in Northern Ireland will not still drink and drive, with the consequent calamity of road accidents? If so, I refer them to yesterday evening's Belfast Telegraph, in which there is an article entitled Government slammed over summer drink-drive move". Perhaps it is an act of midsummer madness to introduce extended licensing hours tonight, when, yesterday evening, two groups that are particularly concerned with fighting alcohol abuse criticised the Government for introducing a summer drink-driving campaign while passing laws to make Sunday drinking easier. That can be added to the point made by the right hon. Member for Castle Point. As we have been reminded in the debate, it is a tragedy that the House can only reject or accept the order. The Government have brought this forward and I imagine that the Whips will be in position and that there will be enough payroll votes to get the measure through. That is not a proper example of democracy in action.

Mr. Will Glendinning of the Alliance party in Northern Ireland was quoted last night as saying that it has been recognised that increased availability can lead to increased consumption and increased harm. The Government act quite rightly against drinking and driving, but perhaps they should realise that there are things other than an advertising campaign and the breathalysing of people. One of those things is the use of the law as a marker to discourage certain practices.

It is possible to quote from various statistics, but if one examines the statistics presented by the Central Policy Study Group and by others, one will discover that not only is there a difference in the rate of alcoholism between the citizens of England and Wales and those of Scotland, but that there is an increased level of alcoholism in Northern Ireland. When one examines the statistics even more carefully in terms of the health problem, one sees that an increasing number of people in Scotland suffered from cirrhosis of the liver between 1950 and 1985.

I realise that we are required to finish the debate shortly and for that reason I find it difficult to deal with all the points that have been raised in the debate. We welcome to the post of shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara). He may discover that he will have to play many tunes over the years. He mentioned the Assembly report. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry, East (Mr. Ross) the Minister was rather testy and told my hon. Friend that my hon. Friend had not spoken to him or been in touch with him. It is a little like a dialogue with the deaf where one has to watch the other's lips.

The representatives of Northern Ireland were lobbied and then met in the Assembly to draw up a report. It is rather interesting to note that if the Assembly suggested something that was in keeping with the plans of the Government, they accepted it and said, "Well done." If a suggestion did not fit in with their plans they ignored it.

The report by the Assembly was an in-depth one and was produced on 6 March 1985. It recommended that current Sunday opening laws should be retained and rejected the suggestion that Sunday opening should be allowed during the same hours as in England, which was what the Government wanted.

Provision was to be made for objections along the Scottish lines and for objection on the grounds of public nuisance. That was rejected. It is nice for all of us to have certain facilities in society—as long as they are not too near where we live. We are not unduly worried about a nuisance that affects other people—as long as we have a reasonably relaxed and calm time. That was one of the reasons why objection on the grounds of public nuisance was suggested, but it was rejected by the Government. The Assembly Committee recommended the provision of a country-wide referendum or deed poll such as used to happen in Scotland. That, too, was rejected. It recommended that registered clubs should be brought into line with the provisions for Sunday drinking in hotels and restaurants. That was rejected and tinkering with the powers of the police and the registration of clubs was offered instead.

It will be interesting to see how the laws are implemented. I specifically asked about under-age drinking, and I have a specific recommendation to make. We shall never deal with the problem of under-age drinking until we adopt the practice of our American cousins and ask for identification. It is utterly impossible to be clear about under-age drinking unless some means of identification is provided. The offence relates not simply to the sale but to the serving of alcohol, and it is extremely difficult to prove. Furthermore, often it is not simply a question of under-age people going in to wine houses and purchasing alcohol; others purchase it and bring it out to them. Time after time, we have had experience of local police overlooking such offences. I suspect that that happens in the rest of the kingdom, too—partly because of the pressures on the police, who claim that they must devote their attention to much more serious crime. I doubt whether the modernisation of the laws will have any great effect. The Committee also recommended the tightening up of legislation relating to clubs to reduce the inequities between clubs and pubs, and the Government seem to have been rather half-hearted about that.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) said that he had been lobbied by publicans; I suspect that all of us have. All that I can say is that every South Belfast publican who spoke to me said, "We are not asking that our pubs should be open. We are asking that the clubs should be restricted." I find no clear evidence in the new legislation to suggest that that will happen.

I suspect that this order is a foretaste of Home Office thinking, which favours an open season for everybody and no real restrictions. The arguments advanced tonight could equably be advanced for having no licensing laws a t all. Therefore, I ask the House to think seriously about joining those of us who will be voting in the Lobby against the order. The order will affect employment, too. It will provide more casual employment but fewer full-time working opportunities and will divide more families on yet another day of the week, which is contrary to the best interests of our nation.

11.8 pm

Mr. James Kilfedder (North Down)

I know that there is very little time left for this debate, and I deeply appreciate the fact that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, should have called me. I intend to restrict my remarks, although I am sorry that I have to do so because very important issues have been raised.

I wish to put it on record that I deeply resent the fact that the Government have introduced this draft order to enable public houses to open on a Sunday. Why has the order been introduced? It does not have the support of the majority of the people in Northern Ireland, and that includes Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, despite what the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) said. Some people have said that the reason for the order is to bring the law into line with that pertaining to the rest of the United Kingdom. It has been said, too, that it is being introduced in the interest of liberty. If we had liberty, the public houses would never close. Is that what hon. Members advocate?

The hon. Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin), said that his son, who serves in the Army in Northern Ireland, is glad that he will be able to go to public houses on a Sunday. Having spoken to the police, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that they have endless trouble when young soldiers from the barracks in my constituency get drunk and engage in assaults, causing tremendous bother for police and local residents. I wish to put that on record in view of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Andrew MacKay (Berkshire, East)

That is disgraceful.

Mr. Kilfedder

Yes, it is a disgrace that people in my constituency have to put up with conduct of that kind. The Government should have heeded the decision of the Assembly with regard to the extension of pub hours.

Mr. MacKay

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kilfedder

No, I will not give way.

Despite what the Minister said in introducing the order, it will cause extra trouble for the police, who are already hard pressed. They have difficulties enough, but the order will increase their difficulties. It is not just the difficulties of dealing with intoxicated people. When the public houses disgorge their parties at closing time there is a considerable amount of unruly behaviour which in some cases unfortunately ends in criminal behaviour. Damage is caused to property, the peace of the area is disturbed by drunks, innocent bystanders are insulted with obscenities and so forth, and from time to time there are muggings as well.

My constituents and I have a problem, especially with young people drinking to excess in Bangor and in Holywood. On behalf of those who are already incensed at the behaviour which takes place, I say that there should be no extension of drinking hours on Sundays.

Mr. MacKay


Mr. Kilfedder

I regard the introduction of the order as dictatorial because we are being treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom. I shall not rehearse what has already been said, but I support the views of the Father of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), and of the two Liberal Members who spoke. The way in which the order has been introduced constitutes discrimination against the people of Northern Ireland. Late as it is, I urge the Government to let the people of Northern Ireland decide. Let them have a referendum. Or are the Government afraid that their proposals will be rejected?

This measure will increase the problems in Northern Ireland. People there resent the fact that the order cannot be amended. We can only vote for or against it, and I certainly intend to vote against it. Debate is limited to one and a half hours. That is no way to treat people in a democracy. I have heard talk about British standards, but that is nothing like the British standards to which I have been accustomed.

11.18 pm
Mr. Needham

With the leave of the House, I shall try to deal with all the points raised as quickly as I can in the 12 minutes before the debate closes.

I was distressed to hear some of the comments made by the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Kilfedder). He called the police in aid of his cause, but I must tell him that we discussed everything in the order very carefully and closely with the police. It was clear that the existing law was neither enforced nor enforceable, so we clearly wished to ascertain the views of the police on the matter. They did not tell us that they had to deal with drunken young soldiers in the hon. Gentleman's constituency as a result of existing licensing laws in Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for North Down should be more careful in his words when he talks about young soldiers who go to Northern Ireland to risk their lives in the defeat of terrorism.

Mr. William Ross

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Needham

No I am afraid that I do not have the time.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) was the first of many hon. Members who questioned the way that this order has come before the House. I appreciate that the hon. Member for Antrim, North was unable to be present at the start of the debate. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), was also absent but I tried to cover that matter then.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said that the Government are prepared to consider changes to legislative procedures and are anxious to consider them in the context of the wider arrangements for the government of Northern Ireland. My right hon. Friend has also said that we are willing to consider changes in arrangements to determine whether it is possible to agree ways to improve the difficulties that we perceive.

When I opened the debate I quoted the right hon. Member for Strangford (Mr. Taylor), who said that if anything showed the case for a devolved Administration in Northern Ireland it was orders as complicated and as difficult as these. I heartily agree with that. I only wish that the hon. Friends of the right hon. Member for Strangford were as clear in their views.

In the Assembly debate in 1985 the hon. Member for Antrim, North said that licensing must be looked at in the context of a pluralistic society. It is a moral issue. The Government and myself do not believe that an issue of this nature is best legislated for by controlling the large number of people who wish to be able to pursue on a Sunday what they consider to be their perfectly reasonable and harmless habit of the six other days. They cannot understand why they should not be allowed to pursue that habit on Sunday. The hon. Member for Antrim, North rightly said that people are able to get a drink in Northern Ireland on a Sunday. The problem is that those people obtain that drink outside the law. The exisiting law is not enforceable.

Too many people obtain drinks in clubs over which we would like to see much tighter control. The order that follows this order goes into great detail about such clubs. I am sure that the hon. Member for Antrim, North will welcome the next order and will recognise that it will go a long way to deal with the problems of the clubs.

Many hon. Members, including the hon. Members for Antrim, North and for Belfast, South (Rev. Martin Smyth) mentioned the number of outlets for drink. I am sure that hon. Members are aware that when it comes to applying for a new licence for a public house in Northern Ireland an old licence must be delivered. In 1985 the number of public houses in Northern Ireland stood at 1,832 and that is 39 less than the number of public houses in 1978. The number of off-licences has increased from 200 to 250; the number of hotels has gone down from 177 to 165. I hope that the House will be pleased to learn that the number of restaurants has risen by 82 to 208. Registered clubs, with which we are concerned, have risen from 483 to 625.

The views of the people of Northern Ireland have changed since the Blackburn report of 1978. The opinion of the people of Northern Ireland is much more evenly divided, even though there is still a small majority for closing public houses on Sundays. As I said at the outset, I do not believe that, given the present circumstances, the Government can legislate on Sunday opening when any law that they try to introduce is unenforceable. The law has been unforceable because of the problem of the availability of meals.

Mr. Alton

In the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells) and elsewhere in the United Kingdom it is possible to exercise a local opt-out. Why cannot that option he made available in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Needham

The hon. Gentleman was not in his place when I dealt at considerable length in my opening remarks with local referendums. We would not be dealing with a simple "Can you?" or "Can't you?". We must deal with existing law, which allows drinking in clubs and in hotels with the availability of a meal. We would be faced with having to use the genius of the entire general council of the TUC to find a question that we could put to the people of Northern Ireland. It is not a simple issue.

The hon. Member for Ceredigion and Pembroke, North (Mr. Howells) proudly represented to us that he is in a dry area. What happens to all those people in a dry area who wish to have a drink on Sunday? As the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) said, they drive to a wet area and return in the condition to which the hon. Member for Belfast, South referred. The hon. Member for Belfast, South did not deal especially well with the argument of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh that people should be able to walk to their local instead of having to drive elsewhere, which raises the very issue that my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) brought to our attention about drunk driving.

Rev. Martin Smyth

The Minister has said that my argument was not valid. People will continue to travel to the seaside, whether it be Newcastle, Warrenpoint or Port-rush. They will travel on a Sunday and return with drink.

Mr. Needham

We are talking about what the majority do on a Sunday when they are deprived of the opportunity of walking to their local. We are not discussing whether they will go to the seaside.

I turn to the deeply held views and the powerful arguments that were expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine). As the Minister with responsibilities for health in Northern Ireland, I am concerned about the health of people in the Province and with ensuring that the proposals in this measure will not make the position worse. My hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) produced accurate figures about the Scottish experience, and in Northern Ireland, as in Scotland, there are fewer people drinking than hitherto, and those who drink are drinking less. The problem is that those who are at the margin and are extreme drinkers drink more, and there is a greater incidence of alcohol abuse. It is a problem that lies at the margin, and the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver in Northern Ireland is much lower than in Scotland, and lower than it is in England and Wales. We want to know why that is so.

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, alcohol consumption is concentrated in fewer days. It appears that a greater proportion of Scottish men and Ulster men than men elsewhere in the United Kingdom have at least one heavy drinking day a week, which makes the alcohol abuse problem worse. I acknowledge that there is a problem of alcohol abuse, but I do not see that opening the pubs on Sunday—other experience shows that it will not lead to increased consumption—when taken alongside what we are doing in reducing the hours during which clubs can open and reducing the time that hotels can remain open, will exacerbate the problem. There will not be a nil increase in the number of opening hours, but the increase will be half that suggested by the hon. Member for Antrim, North. I do not believe that that will lead to an increase in consumption and, therefore, an increase in alcohol abuse. We have had no representations from any doctors about this.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Will the Minister give way?

Sir Bernard Braine

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Needham

I give way to my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point.

Sir Bernard Braine

I mentioned earlier a letter that appeared in The Times on 1 July from the chairman of the Magistrates' Association, which read: All the evidence in this country and overseas indicates that the degree of harm resulting from inappropriate drinking is directly proportional to the total consumption in terms of absolute alcohol. If there is an increase in opening hours either in Northern Ireland or England, overheads will increase. As a consequence, sales of alcohol will increase. All the evidence supports my view and not the suppositions that the Minister is making.

Mr. Needham

I understand what my right hon. Friend has said, but none of his points have been made to me by those who are concerned with health in Northern Ireland.

I realise that this matter is of great significance and importance to the people of Northern Ireland, and I realise how strong feelings in the House are, but the Government take the view—

It being half-past Eleven o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 ( Exempted Business).

The House divided: Ayes 179, Noes 22.

Division No. 17] [11.30 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Alexander, Richard Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)
Allason, Rupert Ashby, David
Amess, David Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Amos, Alan Baldry, Tony
Arbuthnot, James Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Batiste, Spencer Hayward, Robert
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Heddle, John
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Benyon, W. Hind, Kenneth
Bevan, David Gilroy Holt, Richard
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Boswell, Tim Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Bottomley, Peter Irvine, Michael
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Janman, Timothy
Bowis, John Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Brazier, Julian Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Bright, Graham Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Browne, John (Winchester) Kirkhope, Timothy
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Knapman, Roger
Buck, Sir Antony Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Burns, Simon Knowles, Michael
Burt, Alistair Latham, Michael
Butler, Chris Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Carrington, Matthew Lightbown, David
Carttiss, Michael Lilley, Peter
Colvin, Michael Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Conway, Derek Lord, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Cope, John McGrady, E. K.
Couchman, James MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dorrell, Stephen McLoughlin, Patrick
Durant, Tony Malins, Humfrey
Emery, Sir Peter Mallon, Seamus
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Mans, Keith
Fallon, Michael Marland, Paul
Flannery, Martin Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Forman, Nigel Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Freeman, Roger Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Miller, Hal
Gower, Sir Raymond Mills, Iain
Greenway, John (Rydale) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gregory, Conal Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Monro, Sir Hector
Ground, Patrick Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Moss, Malcolm
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Moynihan, Hon C.
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Needham, Richard
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Neubert, Michael
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Harris, David Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Haselhurst, Alan Page, Richard
Hayes, Jerry Paice, James
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Parry, Robert
Patnick, Irvine Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Porter, David (Waveney) Summerson, Hugo
Portillo, Michael Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Powell, William (Corby) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Raffan, Keith Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thorne, Neil
Redwood, John Thornton, Malcolm
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Thurnham, Peter
Riddick, Graham Tracey, Richard
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Tredinnick, David
Roe, Mrs Marion Twinn, Dr Ian
Rooker, Jeff Viggers, Peter
Rowe, Andrew Waddington, Rt Hon David
Ryder, Richard Walden, George
Sackville, Hon Tom Waller, Gary
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Warren, Kenneth
Shaw, David (Dover) Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wells, Bowen
Shelton, William (Streatham) Whitney, Ray
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wiggin, Jerry
Short, Clare Wilkinson, John
Skeet, Sir Trevor Winterton, Mrs Ann
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Winterton, Nicholas
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wood, Timothy
Speller, Tony Young, Sir George (Acton)
Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Stanbrook, Ivor Tellers for the Ayes:
Stanley, Rt Hon John Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and Mr. David Maclean.
Stern, Michael
Stevens, Lewis
Alton, David McCusker, Harold
Beggs, Roy Maginnis, Ken
Beith, A. J. Meale, Alan
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Paisley, Rev Ian
Cryer, Bob Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Dixon, Don Skinner, Dennis
Duffy, A. E. P. Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Howells, Geraint
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Tellers for the Noes:
Kilfedder, James Rev. William McCrea, Mr. William Ross.
Kirkwood, Archy

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1987, which was laid before this House on 2nd July, be approved.