HC Deb 27 April 1988 vol 132 cc475-6

Lords amendment: No. 3, in page 3, leave out lines 7 to 10 and insert—

  1. "(b) any person living in the neighbourhood, or any body representing persons who do;
  2. (c) any person carrying on a business in the neighbourhood or managing or otherwise in charge of it in the neighbourhood; or
  3. (d) the head teacher or other person in charge of any educational establishment in the neighbourhood."

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss also Lords amendments Nos. 4 and 8 to 11.

Mr. Hogg

I commend the amendment to the House. It is the fulfilment of a commitment that I gave on Report to make it plain that head teachers are among the group of persons who have a right to apply for a restriction order. There are various other changes, but that is the substantial one.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

We welcome the amendment, as it is one that we asked for in Committee. Strangely enough, this is another example of the Government's incompetence. In the debate on Lords amendment No. 1, we heard that the Government's incompetence in another place had led them inadvertently to accept an amendment on Sunday opening. In Committee we were given an assurance that the Government would bring forward on Report an amendment to include head teachers among those who could apply for an exemption order, but somehow, due to the Government's incompetence, that amendment was left out of the Government's amendments on Report. The Bill seems to be dogged with difficulties. However, we are pleased that the Government have decided to put this point right, although it is a minor step considering the extent of the changes that we were requesting.

The Minister knows that we are extremely concerned about the level of alcohol consumption by young people and about the problems that exist for young people. As the Minister also knows, we considered carefully in Committee and on Report the recommendations of the Masham committee, which showed that ten times as many deaths were caused by alcohol abuse as by drug abuse. The Masham committee told us that a vast number of young people drink alcohol under age on a regular basis. Indeed, 52 per cent. of 15-year-old boys drink alcohol once a week. The Masham committee also showed that the law relating to the consumption of alcohol by those under 18 was complicated, anomalous and widely flouted. We had hoped that the Minister would use the other place to introduce more amendments to deal with the problem of under-age drinking. We are in a strange position —the Government are pressing ahead with their Bill while paying lip service to the problem of under-age drinking and the recommendations of the Masham committee.

Although we welcome this limited amendment, which we requested, we are extremely disappointed that the Government are not taking seriously the problem of under-age drinking and I hope that the Government will do something about it in the future. We cannot continue to store up problems for the future by allowing too many people high levels of alcohol consumption. The problem should concern the Government as much as Opposition Members, and I am sorry that the Government have not taken this opportunity to do something about this serious problem.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 4 agreed to.

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