HC Deb 15 February 1995 vol 254 cc1013-55

Order for Second Reading read.

Madam Speaker

I have not accepted any of the instructions on the Order Paper.

4.12 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Michael Forsyth)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The purpose of the Bill is straightforward; it is to rationalise the Sunday licensing hours for off-licences, pubs and clubs.

The Bill contains sensible measures which I believe will be welcomed by both consumers and the licensed trade. It provides for necessary protection against nuisance and disorder while removing the current unnecessary rules and regulations governing the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

Clause 1 will enable small shops and off-licences to sell alcohol from 10 in the morning until 10.30 at night. This will bring the law governing Sunday off-licence hours into line with the Sunday Trading Act 1994.

Since August last year, large stores and supermarkets have been able to open for up to six hours between 10 in the morning and 6 o'clock in the afternoon; yet they have been able to sell alcohol between midday and 3 o'clock only. That has created the absurd situation in which people shopping in supermarkets on Sunday morning for their lunch can buy as much food as they want but no drink to go with it. The Bill will sweep away that pointless restriction.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Can the hon. Gentleman make it clear that the Bill will have no effect on the Easter Sunday and Christmas day position—that supermarkets are not allowed to open on Christmas day when it falls on a Sunday? Will supermarkets be empowered by the Bill to open solely for the sale of alcohol on those days?

Mr. Forsyth

The Bill does not mention the opening of supermarkets. That matter has already been before the House. The Bill provides for removal of the anomaly that related to the sale of alcohol in supermarkets, as I have explained. As a result of the Bill, people will be able to buy alcohol in supermarkets on Sunday in the same way and at the same time as they can buy any other goods.

The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) is right that, in licensing legislation, Easter Sunday and Christmas day have been treated in the same way as normal Sundays.

Mr. Beith

The Minister has not made it clear; he has made two conflicting statements. Does the Bill allow a supermarket to sell alcohol on Easter Sunday when that supermarket is not allowed to sell anything else on Easter Sunday?

Mr. Forsyth

If the supermarket is not open, it is not able to sell anything—either alcohol or goods. I thought that I had made that pretty clear to the right hon. Gentleman.

I now move to on-licensed premises. Pubs and hotels with bars are allowed to open only from noon until 3 pm and from 7 pm until 10.30 pm at the moment. Clause 1 will remove the afternoon break, so that pubs will be able to serve drinks in the bar throughout the period from noon until 10.30 pm.

The Government regard that as a sensible and responsible step. It is more than six years since the Licensing Act 1988 permitted pubs and clubs to open during weekday afternoons. At the time, serious worries were expressed about the adverse consequences that all-day opening might have in terms of increased drunkenness, crime and disorder. However, there has been little increase in drunkenness, nuisance or disorder as a result of the changes, and there seems no reason why things should be different on a Sunday.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

Will the Minister clarify for the House the position in an area such as Dwyfor in my constituency, where licensed premises do not open on Sundays as a result of the local referendum?

Mr. Forsyth

The hon. Gentleman is tempting me into matters that are outwith my immediate area of responsibility, but I understand the position in respect of Welsh polls to be that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has said that, after 1996, that system will disappear and legislation would be required for that purpose.

The Bill creates an opportunity, where opening does take place on Sundays, for it to be extended. I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that the scope of the Bill is narrowly drawn to deal with Sunday opening. Although the issue of polls might well be in the scope of the Bill, I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has said that he will seek a future legislative opportunity to tackle that matter.

Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)

The Minister said in terms that there has been "little" increase in alcoholism or drunkenness because of the operation of the 1988 Act. Will he confirm that, immediately after the 1988 Act, there was such an increase, and that research shows that there has been an increase in heavy drinking following the Act? How little is "little"?

Mr. Forsyth

I should be very interested to see the evidence on which the hon. Gentleman bases his remarks. The advice that is available to me shows that there has been little evidence of the type that he suggests, but I should be happy to consider it. I was making a specific argument in respect of the consequences of all-day opening, but I should be happy to examine that evidence. I am not aware of any strong evidence to support what the hon. Gentleman says. In considering those matters, we need to balance the rights of the majority of people to go about their business exercising responsible choices, and I believe that there should not be legislative barriers in the way of those people unless there is substantial justification for legislation of that type.

Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

It may be helpful for my right hon. Friend to know that my experience as a licensee when the Licensing Act 1988 came into force was that the heavier drinking which followed the abolition of the afternoon break on weekdays lasted for approximately a fortnight.

Mr. Forsyth

There we have it from the sharp end. It is predictable that people would perhaps take advantage of the longer opening hours for their novelty value. Speaking as a Member who represents a Scottish constituency, I believe that when liberalisation took place in Scotland it was said that the binge drinking which went on at 10 pm when people tried to "get one more in" before closing time was lessened as a result of the longer opening hours. Those who take a different view cite anecdotal evidence to support their position. However, I am not aware of any general research which shows that giving people more freedom of choice results in their being less responsible.

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. As a result of supermarkets opening on Sunday, churchgoers have been prevented from parking outside their church by the local council from 9.30 on a Sunday morning for the rest of the day because it is inconvenient for Sainsbury. That is a very odd thing to do. As a result of pubs opening all day on Sunday, parishioners of St. Gerard's in Featherstone, for example, may now be prevented from parking outside their church because it will inconvenience the pub next door.

Mr. Forsyth

Parking arrangements are matters for local authorities to decide. The proposals in the Bill are not related to parking arrangements for motor cars. I start from the position that our legislation should allow people to go about their business freely. It is up to them whether they wish to go to church or to the pub with their families. Unless there are very strong reasons for imposing legislative barriers to their doing so, those barriers should not be put in place. I am afraid that I am not able to help the hon. Gentleman directly with regard to parking arrangements, but I shall happily give way to him again.

Mr. Enright

The Home Secretary, who is sitting next to the Minister, assured us that the Sunday Trading Act 1994 would not have a deleterious effect on churchgoers. I agree that the problems have not resulted directly from any action by the Home Secretary, but will the Minister give an undertaking that he will examine the matter to ensure that churchgoers are not disadvantaged by being unable to park outside their churches as they do now?

Mr. Forsyth

The Bill deals with the opening hours of pubs and other licensed premises. I do not know what the hon. Gentleman's churchgoing habits are—I appreciate that there are differences between the Church of Scotland and the Church of England—but most church services begin before 12 o'clock when the pubs will open under the provisions of the Bill; so churchgoers will get there first for the parking spaces. I think that the hon. Gentleman can rest easy on that matter.

Mr. Enright

Not for midday masses.

Mr. Forsyth

I do not know about day masses—the hon. Gentleman is stretching my knowledge. As for his point about supermarkets, as I have already pointed out to the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, the Bill does not deal directly with the opening hours of supermarkets, as we have already dealt with that matter. We are concerned about whether it is possible to buy alcohol in supermarkets when they are open. Presumably, parking arrangements will reflect public demand for the other goods that are on sale in supermarkets as well as the availability of alcohol. I hope that that point is clear.

Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe (Leigh)

I am sure that the Minister will agree that a radical and significant measure such as this warrants full consultation with the licensed trade and club associations. The largest all-party group in Westminster is the clubs association, whose offices and membership are shared by all political parties. It has direct responsibility for looking to the interests—not protecting the interests—of consumers. There are 8 million members of the Committee of Registered Clubs Associations. They are extremely concerned that no consultation took place. The matter was first announced by the Prime Minister outside the House, rather cavalierly, if I may say so. I do not expect the Minister to comment on that, but, if we mean what we say about consultation, particularly about involving people in such a great industry, it is imperative that consultation should take place. I hope that it is not too late to invite the associations to respond, especially CORCA.

Mr. Forsyth

The Prime Minister made the announcement as part of the Government's general determination to remove unnecessary regulation which inhibits people's choices and opportunities. Most people will welcome that and will welcome the measure. The hon. Gentleman used the description "cavalier". Perhaps Cavalier as opposed to Roundhead might be more appropriate. It may be more a Cavalier measure than a Roundhead measure, and puritans may be concerned about it.

This is a permissive piece of legislation, but nothing in it will compel people in clubs or other organisations to take advantage of it. It is about removing barriers, not imposing requirements, and if clubs feel that it is not appropriate for them to take advantage of the new freedoms that the legislation will provide, they are free not to do so. I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman's protests about consultation are entirely fair.

Mr. Couchman

My hon. Friend will know that in 1993 his Department issued a White Paper on possible changes to the Licensing Act 1988. There was extensive consultation at that time and the bodies to which reference has just been made certainly had an opportunity to respond to the White Paper.

Mr. Forsyth

I was not in the Home Office at the time, but I shall take a risk. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point. It is certainly true that we issued a consultation document, but I am not sure whether the present proposals in respect of Sundays were included.

Mr. Cunliffe

They were not.

Mr. Forsyth

The hon. Gentleman, who follows these matters carefully, tells me that they were not, but I can tell the House that we have had representations on the matter. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has responded to those representations and I am sure that the silent majority up and down the country will welcome the measures. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will rally to support them.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Who are those large groups of people who have supposedly made a demand to change the law? In all the correspondence and representations that I receive, no one has ever suggested to me that it would be a great idea. Could it be that the Tory party has responded to the fact that the brewers give large sums of money to the Tory party funds, and that the brewers put forward the idea and the Minister is carrying out their wishes?

Mr. Forsyth

The hon. Gentleman does not seem to notice any demand for anything, unless it is written on placards borne by militants marching towards Hyde park. That is the nature of his politics, but I suggest that he goes back to his constituency and asks people whether they wish to have the opportunity on a Sunday afternoon to take advantage of the new licensing arrangements to allow people to take their children into pubs. If he asks people whether they think it is a sensible measure, he will find that it has considerable support. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman should seek to make such a low party political point on a measure that will command support from people of all political persuasions.

Sunday afternoon opening fits in naturally with the other steps which we have taken to relax licensing legislation. Until January, children under 14 were not allowed into public bars. The children's certificates which I have just mentioned will change that. Children under 14 accompanied by an adult will be allowed into those bars that serve meals and that licensing justices consider provide a suitable environment for young children. That should help to encourage family pubs, where parents can enjoy a quiet pint in the company of their children. As Sunday is the day when families often go out together, it makes no sense for pubs offering those facilities to have to close on a Sunday afternoon.

Allowing pubs to open on Sunday afternoons cannot fail to boost tourism. The change will, I am sure, be particularly welcomed by visitors from abroad, to whom the present requirement for pubs to close on Sunday afternoons is simply incomprehensible. I very much hope that the Bill will make rapid progress, so that its benefits can be felt during the summer holiday season.

The relaxation in Sunday hours will also apply to clubs. A club may sell alcohol to its members or their guests in accordance with the club rules if it is registered for that purpose with a magistrates court. Under the present arrangements, the hours during which alcohol may be sold in clubs on Sundays are the same in total as for pubs, and there must be an afternoon break. However, clubs have more flexibility than pubs over the length of the break and the time that they reopen on Sunday afternoons. Clause 2 will remove those somewhat complicated rules for clubs opening on Sundays. In future, they will be able to open from midday until 10.30 pm. Sunday licensing hours for pubs and clubs will be the same, which is already the case on weekdays.

I have outlined what the Bill will permit. I know that people of who live near pubs or clubs may be concerned that Sunday afternoon opening will bring problems of noise, nuisance or even disorder. As I have said, there has been virtually no evidence of such problems since pubs and clubs have been allowed to open during weekday afternoons. Nevertheless, there must be some remedy available if such problems arise following Sunday afternoon opening. Clause 3 provides that important safeguard.

Licensing justices or magistrates courts will be able to impose restriction orders on pubs or clubs where problems of nuisance or disorder have arisen or are likely to arise. A power to make a restriction order was introduced in the Licensing Act 1988 when the weekday afternoon break was abolished. Its effect is to reimpose all or part of the old afternoon break when afternoon opening had or was likely to give rise to annoyance, disturbance or disorder, and the power will be extended to Sundays.

Mr. Enright

Does that mean that, if the church next to the supermarket that is suffering—and has suffered—disturbance, objects to the sale of alcohol during those periods because it brings more customers, it will be able to appeal under that clause?

Mr. Forsyth

It certainly means that the church will be able to appeal if, as a result of the afternoon opening, there is annoyance, disturbance or disorder. It will permit the police and people who live or work in the vicinity of a pub or club to apply for a restriction order—a church is included in that category. If granted, the order will require the pub or club to close for all or part of the period from 3 pm until 7 pm on Sunday afternoons.

Clause 4 is concerned only with consequential amendments as a result of the changes in clauses 1 to 3 relating to Sunday hours and restriction orders. Clause 5 provides that, following enactment, the Bill will come into force on a date specified by the Secretary of State. That flexibility is needed to allow the Home Office to inform the police, licensing justices and magistrates courts about the changes that the Bill will make. We do not expect there to be any significant interval between Royal Assent and the Act—given that Parliament chooses to support the Bill to that stage—coming into effect.

I believe that Sunday is a special day. For many, it is a family day. Some people choose to go to church, some to play sport and others to have a drink in the pub. It is for individuals—not Government—to make those decisions. The Bill will increase individuals' freedom to choose how they spend their Sundays. It will call time on closing our pubs and clubs on Sunday afternoons. It 'will allow families to spend time together—eating and drinking at the time of their choosing, not the state's. It will ensure that the necessary safeguards exist to protect people from nuisance and disorder. I commend it to the House.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I regret having to raise with you so soon after I raised a similar point of order with you last Thursday the failure of the Government to make a statement on public sector pay, the failure of the Home Secretary to make a statement to the House about changes that I understand he will announce in a press release shortly on the introduction of new restrictive measures that will affect all categories of people seeking permission to remain in Britain, including asylum seekers. It is disgraceful, given the controversy that arose last weekend and this week, that the Home Secretary should not have seen fit to come to the House to make an important statement about matters which are of life and death importance to many people. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman might find it possible to make a statement at 7 o'clock.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

The hon. Gentleman has made his point. He knows full well that it is not a matter for the Chair to judge. It is up to Ministers whether they make statements. Those on the Treasury Bench will be aware of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Michael Howard)

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think the hon. Gentleman will find that a written question has indeed been answered.

Mr. Madden

That is not good enough: make a statement.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. This is interfering with the legitimate business now under discussion.

4.35 pm
Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North)

As has been the custom on such issues, if there is a Division it will be a free vote for the Opposition. Although in the past I have not voted in favour of any measure that encroached on Sunday, I will vote to give the Bill a Second Reading if there is a Division. We have some reservations, however, with which I shall deal later in my speech.

In the mid-1990s, there does not appear to be a great deal of moral heat left in the arguments about Sundays. As recently as 1988, when the Sunday hours were extended by one hour by an amendment in the House of Lords, Lord Ferrers, who was then a Minister in the Home Office, declined to support the amendment. He said that he could not support even this modest extension of the licensing hours for the simple reason that the Government have made plain their intention to leave Sunday hours unchanged in this Bill."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 15 March 1988; Vol. 494, c. 1052.] The heat had gone out of the argument by then, but even at that stage it was clear that the Government were not entirely comfortable with exactly how those changes were proceeding.

Mr. Donald Anderson

As a veteran of the 1988 Licensing Bill, I can tell my hon. Friend that the facts were that throughout the Second Reading debate and proceedings in the Standing Committee, the then Minister of State at the Home Office, the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), gave repeated assurances that there would be no change to the Sunday hours. The gloss on what the Minister now says is that the Government did not support the change when it was made in another place and nor did they oppose it. They did not oppose it, notwithstanding the many assurances that had been given during the passage of the Bill through the House.

Mr. Howarth

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the gloss that he has added to what I was saying.

The arrangements for Sunday licensing have in the past been far more hotly contested and controversial. For example, in Wales in the recent past—the Minister referred briefly to it in his speech—the issue was not always so straightforward because there were various referenda, or referendums as we are now told they are to be called.

Mr. Enright

Referenda—my hon. Friend is right.

Mr. Howarth

There is controversy even on the name of that subject, never mind the execution of it.

I have an extract from a House of Lords debate on alcoholic drink as long ago as 1968. I noted an exchange between Lord Maelor and Baroness Phillips. Lord Maelor had asked about the conduct of the referendum that had been held. His response to the answer was: I thank my noble friend for her reply. I am not quite satisfied with the answer because I can give her facts and figures … Is my noble friend aware that in Denbigh there were 470 spoiled votes, and that in fact 1,500 were technically spoiled, except that the presiding officer could presume to know what was the intention of the voter. I must say that I am not surprised. I have here a copy of the ballot paper."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 20 November 1968; Vol. 297, c. 846.] The whole debate then proceeded into chaos. Even at that stage, the question of holding referendums on the subject generated a great deal of heat.

The position in Wales created a series of anomalies. I have an extract from The Times of 6 November 1989. The article is headed: Forecasts of a wetter Wales". In my experience, it is often just that. On the question of some counties being wet and some dry, the article stated: To see the consequences this produced you need to stand on a humped bridge over the River Teifi. Behind you is Nellie Griffith's Red Cow. It is shut because it stands on the Cardigan side of the border. By noon a steady stream of young men—many of them the Red Cow's mid-week regulars—has crossed the bridge to drink in the dozen public houses strung through the streets of Newcastle Emlyn, which is in liberal Carmarthen. Nellie Red Cow (locals will call her nothing else) is 75 and has lived in the house since infancy. 'It is not the little bit of lost business that makes me so angry,' she explains, 'it is injustice. The good Lord knows that we are not bad people over here. Peaceful on Sunday? I don't have swearing or fighting any day. That sums up the problems and the anomalies.

Serious issues remain that should be discussed in the debate. In view of those anomalies, it was necessary to have some change. Broadly speaking, there is widespread support for a further relaxation of Sunday hours. I am sure that other right hon. and hon. Members have also received representations from the Consumers Association. It states: From surveys of CA members and the public at large, it is clear that present restrictions are inconvenient and that greater flexibility in opening hours will meet with widespread approval. It then states some reservations, which could be appropriately raised at a later stage of the Bill.

I have also received representations from the Campaign for Real Ale, which also supports the Bill. I suppose that it represents the serious drinking end of the market. Nevertheless, its support should be taken into account.

As patterns of social life and working life have changed over the years, Sunday has become a day of leisure for most people rather than specifically a day of worship, as some might have maintained 30 or even 20 years ago. Many people—me included—are able to combine both. It is quite possible, as the Minister hinted, to go to church in the morning and to a pub, club or restaurant in the afternoon, and many families do just that.

Yesterday, I spoke to the Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, who is also chairman of the board for social responsibility of the Church of England. He said that although he personally regretted the cultural changes associated with what is permissible on a Sunday, he still did not feel it necessary to take a strong line in opposition to the Bill.

Despite the fact that I shall support the Bill, I should record some of the reservations that people have about it—in addition to those already expressed by some of my hon. Friends. I agree, for instance, with my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe). Even before the Bill goes into Committee, there is a case for further consultation with some of the organisations—[Interruption.] It would be nice if the Minister bothered to listen to what I am saying. If sensible changes to the Bill can be made later, I am sure that my hon. Friends will be willing to propose them.

Mr. Donald Anderson

There has apparently already been some consultation with the brewers, even if the Government did not think it worth while discussing the matter with club representatives or licensed trade representatives.

Mr. Howarth

Indeed. I urge the Minister to hold meaningful consultation on all these points.

To continue my list of reservations: I have with me a Home Office press release published on 3 January and entitled Pubs to Offer a Family Welcome". It states: Landlords will be able to welcome families with children into their bars early in the New Year, Home Secretary Michael Howard announced today. Licensees will be able to apply for children's certificates from January 3rd, in time for the major licensing session round in February. The certificates will, for the first time, allow accompanied children under 14 into suitable pub bars where food and soft drinks are served. I welcome that announcement, but I fear that all too often pub and club facilities are not family friendly. They are frequently gloomy places that make no concession to families and have no facilities for children. Speaking as the parent of three young children, I am well aware of the changes that need to be made.

I trust that the certificate procedure will not stop there, and that licensees, breweries and club organisations will be encouraged to carry on the process of making licensed premises more family friendly. If we are serious about Sunday being a day of leisure, such facilities are very necessary ingredients.

I should like also to put the point of view of those who work in the licensed trade, referring, if I may, to points made by the Transport and General Workers union, the major trade union active in this area. It has five points to make: (i) For any worker not currently working on a Sunday, the decision to do so should be entirely voluntary. Workers should be protected from any disciplinary action or discrimination for refusing to do so. The same points were made in respect of Sunday trading; with slight modification, they hold good in this case. (ii) Where a worker already works on a Sunday, any extension of their working hours should also be entirely voluntary and, again, workers should be protected from any disciplinary action or intimidation for refusing to work extended hours. (iii) Any workers who volunteer to work on Sunday, or to work extended hours, should be entitled to enhanced pay based on a minimum of double time. (iv) (iii) above should apply to all workers, whether they be employed for the sole purpose of working on Sunday or in a peripheral activity relating to the business. (v) Any legislation in this matter should have universal application and be incorporated into the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act. We may not be given full answers to those points, but they should be taken into account.

It may surprise one or two of my hon. Friends, but I have been lobbied by the British Casino Association, and I promised to put one of its points on record without any commitment by us. It wrote: Whilst the British Casino Association welcomes the further de-regulation of licensing hours under this Bill, this is in stark contrast with the current situation for casinos. Unlike other types of club, some casinos licensed for gaming may supply liquor after 10.30 pm and none may do so after midnight, even though gaming can continue until 4 am in the morning. This is an unforseen side effect of the ban on live entertainment in casinos by regulation under the 1968 Gaming Act, which means that no casino can apply for an 'extended hours order' or for a 'special hours certificate' under Sections 70 and 76 respectively of the Licensing Act 1964. The Minister mentioned tourism. The association argues that the restriction affects the tourist industry.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Casinos are outside the scope of the Bill, but, as part of the deregulation exercise that produced this child, we are considering casinos and proposals will be forthcoming. I welcome the hon. Gentleman's views on that and other areas where there may be scope for deregulation. I have some sympathy with the association's point on the inability of casinos to sell alcohol after a particular time in the evening. That anomaly is under consideration.

Mr. Howarth

I hasten to add that I was not pressing that case but merely flagging it. We do not take a particular position on that aspect.

Mr. Enright

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Howarth


Mr. Enright

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend because it is most irritating to be interrupted from behind. This seems to be the thin end of the wedge. Will deregulation be extended to racing? Will Pontefract be flooded with race meetings, charming though they are? Will there be further gambling in our pubs, with more gaming machines being installed? That seems the direction in which the Government are moving. I hope that my hon. Friend will impress on the Minister the need to put some stop to these damned proposals.

Mr. Howarth

It is never irritating to be interrupted by my hon. Friend, whose useful points are always well made. Horse racing is already permitted six Sundays a year. I am sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend, but I understand that further proposals relating to gaming machines are on their way. Mammon is already at the door.

On balance, and subject to the reservations that I expressed, I will support the Bill's Second Reading. I hope that the issues raised by my hon. Friends and me will be addressed in detail as the Bill progresses. We have serious reservations and want them addressed before the measure reaches the statute book.

4.53 pm
Mr. Warren Hawksley (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak early in the debate. I will not detain the House long. I declare an interest, as the Register shows, as joint licensee with my wife of Eoderton hall, which is a hotel and restaurant near Welshpool in Wales. We hold a full licence, so I have experience of the operation of licensing laws. I am also honorary president of the catering industry's liaison council, a trade body in which the industry tries to put forward its views.

I welcome the Bill wholeheartedly. I believe that it has come out of the Government's Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, and for that we should be grateful. I hope that there will be much more deregulation. My hon. Friend the Minister was right to agree that the Bill is one of the early benefits to come from that legislation.

When all-day drinking was introduced, we were led to believe that it would be a disaster. We heard, when the Minister was introducing the subject, that it would be a two-week wonder in certain establishments. It probably lasted that long in my part of the world. There were not the disasters that were forecast. The public were responsible and they could be trusted. In many areas, that piece of legislation was not used. The pubs and hotels had a choice whether to open all day, if they wished. The same is true of the proposed legislation. It does not force people to open.

Mr. Couchman

My hon. Friend might like to know that a number of establishments did indeed try all-day opening on weekdays, as a result of the Licensing Act 1988, found that it was not to their benefit or that of their customers and exercised their choice not to open. I am sure that the same will happen with the Licensing (Sunday Hours) Bill.

Mr. Hawksley

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend about the wisdom of giving the licensees and the public the opportunity to show that there is a demand for the services that are offered.

I look at the Bill as a correction to an anomaly in many ways, because if one thinks of an hotel in a tourist area, or even an off-licence—I think of my part of the country, where the hotel is, and of the many campers and caravaners who visit the area—one will realise how stupid the present law is. Think of the scene in our local supermarket, which is small and is open on a Sunday—it has been for some time—and which has an off-licence. Imagine a member of the staff trying to explain to a foreign tourist why, at five past three, he or she cannot buy a bottle of wine to take back to the caravan, whereas 10 minutes earlier they were allowed to buy a bottle or a can of beer. It is absolute folly. Even if the tourist understood what was being said—with all due respect, somebody speaking in a Welsh accent to a foreign visitor who hardly speaks any English may have some problems—he or she looks at us as though we are mad. I believe that it highlights the folly of the present situation.

Mr. Donald Anderson

Does the hon. Gentleman, when he and his wife go on holiday to Spain, look at a Spaniard as though he were mad when the Spaniard tries to explain to him about a siesta, saints' days or the traditions of that country?

Mr. Hawksley

I have never been to Spain and nor has my wife, so that creates a slight problem. I will, perhaps, put it in the context of visits that I have made to France. I never seem to have any problems getting myself a drink in a French establishment whenever I have wanted one, whether or not it was on a Sunday.

Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)

I have seen in my local supermarket on a Sunday, where many retired people and students work, customers abusing and being extremely rude to supermarket staff who are trying to close the section where alcoholic drinks are sold. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Bill is sensible, because it will free up and remove that aggression from society which is absolutely unnecessary?

Mr. Hawksley

I have never witnessed that problem, but I can understand it happening and have been told many times that people who serve drinks up until the 3 o'clock deadline have problems when they have closed and people come in and expect to be served. They just do not understand and cannot believe that, in this country and in this day and age, when we have legislated for Sunday trading, we are pursuing that particular policy.

Mr. Beith

Before the hon. Gentleman gets too carried away talking about foreign tourists, he might reflect that if those tourists come from Norway and Sweden—as many visitors to my constituency do—they will be quite surprised to discover that they can buy alcohol from an off-licence rather than from a Government monopoly, and indeed that they can buy it at weekends at all.

Mr. Hawksley

I am glad that plenty of tourists visit the right hon. Gentleman's part of the country. The tourist industry is important, and the Bill goes a long way to help it by offering the facilities that are expected by many tourists, if not those from Norway.

I want to deal with two aspects of the Bill in detail. First, why do we go only halfway? Why do we not bring Sunday hours into line with weekday hours? The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) about supermarkets could also cause a slight problem in pubs and off-licences: local residents may be surprised to find that they shut at 10.30 pm rather than 11 pm on Sundays. I hope that the Committee will seriously consider extending opening time by, at any rate, that half hour at the end of the day, because if the same hours do not operate throughout the week people may be confused. I question the advantage of the hours specified in the Bill; indeed, I suggest that there are no advantages.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Did my hon. Friend's suggestion that pub opening hours should be brought into line with weekday hours apply both to the extra half hour at the end of the day and to morning opening?

Mr. Hawksley

I would prefer to alter the hours at both ends. I appreciate that the Church might object on the grounds that services are still going on at that time of the morning, so I deliberately avoided making the suggestion, but I support the principle. I suspect that, in any event, pubs in areas where many people go to church would not want to open until the service was over, as few people would visit the pub at that time.

My second point concerns clause 3, which deals with restriction orders. I understand the reasons for the orders, which are similar to those in the legislation allowing all-day drinking. I gather that they are intended to deal with possible problems of nuisance, but I question—with some trepidation, as my own licence comes up for renewal at this time of year—whether we should give magistrates any discretion. I am concerned about the way in which they use that discretion in many cases.

Let me give three examples to show that giving magistrates the power to respond as they wish may result in distortions across the country. Their interpretation of legislation often varies from one area to another, and often does not correspond with what we intended when we introduced the legislation. I hope that the Minister will not suggest that the safeguard lies in the Crown court. Few licensees will be willing to employ lawyers and challenge a magistrate's decision in the Crown court: the process is very expensive for individual licensees.

I know of a court which—under the present system, which enables courts to allow extensions on Sunday afternoons—automatically refuses to allow such extensions, on "special occasion" grounds, to christenings. The court has put its reason in writing: it says that children attend christenings. It is indeed quite likely that there will be children at a christening, but surely a christening is a special occasion. If magistrates say no in one part of the country and yes in another, the discretion that they are given will cause a problem.

My second example relates, I admit, to an application that I made on behalf of a local football club. It was rejected. It was the first time that the Montgomery football club had won the cup—a local cup, I add hurriedly, before anyone forms too high an opinion of what was won. It was by far the greatest day of the club's life, and its members decided to hold a celebratory dinner at the hotel that I own.

When we applied to the magistrates, they said, "That is not a special occasion. You must finish at 11 pm." In fact, as a meal was served, we were able to give members of the club slightly more time in which to drink; but if we had been in the west midlands nearly every magistrates' bench would have allowed a much longer extension.

I hope that the Minister will respond in detail to my third example, as I consider it the most serious. If he cannot do so today, perhaps he will do so in writing. We have talked a good deal about the children's certificates that have already been granted under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, which have been welcomed by most people as a step forward. I am worried, however. The intention of Parliament and the Minister when the legislation was introduced, as paragraph 12 of the guidelines states, was that the certificates should be introduced with the least alteration to the normal operation of pubs concerned". That is fair enough. We did not want too much of an upheaval, and if someone wanted to apply for a children's certificate that was fine. Now, however, we are noticing inconsistencies. In Devon and Cambridge, for instance, licensees are being told that no smoking should be allowed. Parliament did not ask for, or insist on, such a condition. I suppose that on Friday, when we debate the Tobacco Smoking (Public Places) Bill, Parliament will decide whether to legislate in that important regard; but magistrates are currently taking it on themselves to make it a condition of a pub's certificate that there be no smoking in that pub or in the area to which its certificate relates. I accept that that decision could be challenged in the courts, but that would be expensive.

I am even more concerned by my discovery that the Health Education Authority, a publicly funded body, is writing to magistrates and persuading others to do so. It writes: Magistrates can attach such conditions to these certificates as they consider fit. It asks magistrates to make the no-smoking rule a condition of children's certificates.

We can argue about whether that is right, but I feel that such important decisions should depend on what happens in the House on Friday rather than being left to magistrates. I am particularly worried about the possibility of inconsistency throughout the country: some magistrates will think that the law should be applied as the House intended, while others will go further and try to apply it as they wish it to be applied.

Mr. Couchman

Hon. Members on both sides of the House said at the time of that change in the law last year that they hoped that magistrates would not attach unreasonable conditions to children's certificates. Examples of unreasonable conditions have occurred in Scotland, where children's certificates have been the order of the day for longer than in England and Wales. It was suggested, for example, that high chairs and children's special toilets should be provided. Such conditions are unreasonable. My hon. Friend's comment about pubs that have smoke-free areas and that seek children's certificates are in the same sort of league.

Mr. Hawksley

I agree with my hon. Friend. Some magistrates are imposing the condition that nappy-changing facilities must be provided in both male and female toilets. Parliament never intended that such conditions should be put in place. I am concerned, therefore, that we should not allow magistrates to have discretion, unless we are sure that they will use it wisely.

My hon. Friend's point about Scotland is fair. I gather that, in many parts of Scotland, because of the conditions that are being laid down, quite a few people are not applying for children's certificates. Few applications are being made in some of the larger cities. The reason is not that the licensee does not want children in his premises, or that the public do not want that. It is that licensees know that magistrates will impose conditions that are totally unacceptable to them.

In his winding-up speech, the Minister should deal with the question of magistrates' discretion, which is being abused in the case of children's certificates. Magistrates should trade in their prejudices. I hope that, if the Bill receives a Second Reading tonight, as I believe it will, the Committee will consider in detail the question of magistrates' discretion as outlined in clause 3. It is wrong that the personal prejudices of magistrates should, in any way, be reflected in the discretion that Parliament gives them. In supporting the Bill, I hope that the Committee will consider that important point. I look forward to supporting the Bill in the Division Lobby if necessary.

5.11 pm
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Magistrates are not exercising personal prejudice if, in taking into account the appropriate conditions for a children's certificate, they have regard to whether conditions in a room pose a danger to children's health. Now that we know the consequences of passive smoking, that would be the case.

I insist that the Liberal Democrat party regards this matter as a free-vote issue, as do the other parties. Hon. Members will no doubt have different views about it. High politics is involved in the issue. After all, the Prime Minister chose to make it the subject of a key announcement in a major speech on 24 January at the Inter-Continental hotel.

I remember the degree of press interest during the early part of the evening, and the number of requests that I had to comment, because Downing street was guiding the press into thinking that a major announcement was to be made. Sure enough, what was that important announcement about? It was about Sunday afternoon licensing. Clearly, therefore, either the Government regard that as a matter of the highest political import, or the Prime Minister was stuck for something favourable to say in one of his many difficult weeks recently.

The Government had a desire to rush the Bill through, possibly taking all its stages in one day. I am glad that they thought better of that idea, and that they are making arrangements to ensure that the Bill is considered properly and in detail. For the Government, the Bill completes an agenda of making Sunday like any other day of the week, but we have not yet assessed the impact of last year's changes in Sunday trading.

We have not seen the effect of those changes, or tested the various propositions that were made about the Sunday Trading Act 1994, partly because, before Christmas, we went through a period that was not unlike the previous Christmas, when so many large retail chains broke the law. Since Christmas, the recession has still been biting fairly deeply. Many city centre retail chains have no great disposition to stay open extensively on Sunday. The Act may be put to the test only in the warmer weather as we approach the season when retail chains must attract more people. We have not yet assessed the Bill's impact, yet the measure will add to it.

The measure is not being taken as part of a general review of licensing and licensing powers. Some of the Bill's supporters, including the Consumers Association, have spoken about the way in which the licensing system now works. The hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Hawksley) spoke about that, too. Some of the instructions tabled were on that subject. I am not yet persuaded by their arguments. I am still happy for magistrates to exercise discretion and to receive advice from the police on disorder problems that they might expect, or difficulties that are associated with particular licensed premises.

Some people argue that this matter should be dealt with by the planning system, which is more a appropriate system through which to decide whether a premise's long opening hours are an intrusion, for example, on a residential area. It might have been more appropriate, therefore, to consider the extensions as part of a general review of licensing legislation, especially as the Bill effectively gives magistrates important discretion to reimpose the existing Sunday afternoon closing periods if, in their view, it is necessary for reasons of disorder or anything of that sort.

It is not clear from reading the Bill whether the restriction order that magistrates impose will be peculiar to one set of premises, or to several sets of premises in a given area, but that is an important discretion. The Minister has attached importance to it. Again, it makes one think that the matter should be considered in the context of a more general review of how the licensing laws work.

Perhaps the most important problem in relation to the Bill, and the biggest anxiety that I have about it, is its total lack of staff protection. Last year, the Government were forced to include protection for staff in the Sunday trading legislation because of pressure from hon. Members. To many of us, however, that protection was inadequate. In the main, the protection was for existing staff. The Bill, however, contains no element of protection for people who are in a demanding trade and whose ability to have time with their families on Sunday afternoons is being taken away.

I think especially of the effect on licensed house managers and pub staff, but the matter also affects quite a lot of licensees. Some licensees are in favour of the change; others are against it. It will, however, have a powerful effect on the family life of people who cannot afford to employ someone else to do their job on Sunday afternoons. They will lose trade if other premises stay open for the whole afternoon and people choose to go there rather than to a pub that will close.

Peter Love, general secretary of the National Association of Licensed House Managers, said: This government seems intent on introducing Sunday opening without any consultation. The inclusion of Christmas day and Good Friday in these proposals further destroys the family and social life of public house managers. No protection exists for people who work in the licensed trade. Their freedom is at stake. The Minister sought to cast the Bill in terms of the freedom that it would give to people. Whenever he does that, however, he ignores the freedom of people who work in the trade to have some time on Sundays with their families and to themselves. He offers them no assistance in securing that time.

I shall declare a small interest as someone who contributes regularly to the Clubs Journal. My impression is that not much call exists for the change among traditional clubs, but that some of them will feel pressured into Sunday afternoon opening in order not to lose customers to pubs. The Minister said that the Bill would "call time" on Sunday afternoon closures, but what if premises do not want to open and are pressured into doing so because of the competition?

People responsible for the management of a club have to have regard to its viability. That has been difficult to sustain, especially during the long period of recession. Clubs will not necessarily be able to gamble that they can keep their present trade if pubs in the immediate vicinity open for longer periods. There may not be much choice for them.

One prominent leader of the club movement said to me: I don't believe our members will want this. It goes against our tradition of supporting families. Generally, I do not detect in the club movement any desire for a change of this sort.

Greater pressure for change exists in the retail trade and especially among the supermarket chains. I sought to establish from the Minister what precisely was the position with Christmas day when it falls on a Sunday. I am still not sure that that has been made clear. What happens about Easter Sundays?

There should be no doubt that the recent Sunday trading legislation does not allow for large supermarkets to open on Easter Sundays or Christmas day when it falls on a Sunday. The Bill appears to remove the constraint on the selling of alcohol on those days, but it is not clear how the two pieces of legislation are to interact. It might be possible for a new anomaly to be created deliberately in an attempt to drive another wedge into the law. Some supermarkets might open for the permitted alcohol sales period but then claim that there is an anomaly because their customers can buy alcohol but not groceries. One can imagine the exercise in which they will then become engaged—the very reverse of what they did before. Supermarkets are experienced in public relations and are adept at pursuing their own interests, so let us make it clear that the exemptions applicable when Christmas day falls on a Sunday and on Easter Sunday are to remain.

Mr. Couchman

The right hon. Gentleman will remember that we were on opposite sides of the Sunday trading argument, but that we were in the same Lobby when debating Christmas day and Easter. I would be equally unhappy if the Bill were used as a wedge to enable supermarkets to open on Christmas day or on Easter Sunday.

Mr. Beith

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He reflects the views of many hon. Members who favoured more general opening on Sundays but wanted to afford special protection to those two days. However, that leads me to ask why pub Sunday opening hours on Christmas day and Good Friday are included in the Bill.

Christmas day strikes me as especially difficult for those who work in the licensed trade. We should remember that, for licensees and pub managers, the pub is their home. Their only chance of having some peace on Christmas day to enjoy with their families is when the doors are closed and the customers have gone to their own Christmas dinners. They can then have a little peace and quiet in the place which is their place of work and their home. I am surprised that the Government have hooked Christmas day into this exercise, which is supposedly about Sundays. We should consider during the Bill's later stages whether to take Christmas day out of the Bill.

I have already mentioned the discretion afforded to magistrates. It is important that we know how clause 3 will work and in what circumstances the Government envisage that magistrates will place restriction orders and reimpose Sunday closing. For example, will those circumstances extend to circumstances in which people who live near pubs experience a great deal of disturbance on Sunday afternoons? I am not talking about real disorder.

The Minister made it clear that if there is persistent disorder as a result of Sunday afternoon opening in a particular locality, he would expect it to be brought to the attention of magistrates and for them to take it seriously. However, most people experience milder disturbance. Some pubs are situated in residential areas. As happens with Sunday trading, the Bill could mean cars coming and going and doors banging all afternoon. Residents would lose the peace that they want on a Sunday afternoon and some of their liberty would be lost. Will the magistrates' powers be interpreted strictly to cover gross abuse of the Sunday opening provisions, or will they take into account what is perhaps more of a planning argument about whether it is appropriate that a particular activity should continue at all hours of the day and night in a residential area?

The Bill has support from various quarters. It is supported by the Campaign for Real Ale, the Consumers Association, brewers and some people in the tourist trade. It is a limited addition to the changes already made, but I do not detect a great groundswell of opinion among people who feel that this is an important step that should be taken now. The desire to rush the Bill through without proper consultation and without its being examined in the context of licensing law more generally could lead to our passing inappropriate legislation. I do not believe that it has been the subject of adequate consultation. It could have been dealt with much better as part of a wider review. That is the advice that I offer to hon. Members as they consider it now.

5.24 pm
Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)

I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the debate. Before doing so, I should like to declare a residual interest in the licensed trade. Until 31 October last year, my family had been involved in the trade for 100 years. Until that point, I and my wife ran a small family company operating seven public houses in London, of which I was the joint licensee with my managers. On 31 October, my family's public house operating company was disposed of to another small company. Thus, my very long direct connection with the trade came to an end. I remain for one year, and for one year only, a non-executive director of that company, so I have a vestigial interest.

I was recently elected vice-chairman of the parliamentary beer club which now has, I think, 160 members and may be rivalling the clubs all-party group for the title of largest group in the House. It is, of course, a non-remunerated position, and Madam Speaker is our president.

I shall retain my interest in this important sector of the leisure industry. I must disagree a little with my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Hawksley) about magistrates. After 25 years of appearing in magistrates courts for licence changes, transfers and brewster sessions, I have no quibble with the way in which magistrates go about their interests. In that connection, I should add that my wife has served as a magistrate for slightly longer than I have served in the House, so hon. Members will understand my reason for agreeing with magistrates.

Mr. Hawksley

Does my hon. Friend accept that there are inconsistencies in magistrates' decisions and that it can create problems when different benches make different decisions, especially as the House believed that it was legislating in a particular way?

Mr. Couchman

I do not disagree with that, because we allow magistrates a degree of latitude and flexibility in the way in which they go about their business. Different licensing benches will be mindful of the different conditions in their areas. It is a difficult issue but we do not want the magistracy to become a rubber stamp. We must therefore allow magistrates to exercise their duties as they see fit. However, perhaps the Home Office could issue guidance in respect of the vexed question of whether the issuing of children's certificates is being constrained by magistrates exercising their discretion in a perverse way. I shall not say too much more about that, but it is worthy of consideration in Committee.

In response to the comments of the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), let me say that I do not agree that there is any relation between the Bill and last year's Sunday trading legislation, except in so far as supermarkets are affected. Clearly, an anomaly was created last year when supermarkets were allowed to open for six hours between 10 am and 4 pm on Sundays, although their off-license sections were restricted to opening between noon and 3 pm.

We have lately heard a good deal about the problems confronting the pub trade and off-licenses, especially in respect of the damage being done by the legal importation of duty-paid beer, wines and spirits and illicit liquor sales by bootleggers. There is no doubt that some of the latter trade seems to be organised by gangs of criminal who are driving a coach and horses through the single market provisions, bringing in large quantities of duty-paid liquor from France where the duty is much lower.

Mr. Enright

Is not more harm done to the licensed trade by its own practice of making huge profits on soft drinks sold in pubs than by the illicit importation of drinks?

Mr. Couchman

If the hon. Gentleman had come into one of my pubs last year and ordered a pint of beer, he would have enjoyed certain facilities, service and the appointment of the premises. If he entered that pub and bought an orange juice or a lemonade, he would enjoy precisely the same facilities. Pubs sell not only drinks but a service that involves the sale of a drink. Indeed, the retail profit made on the sale of orange or tomato juice is not unreasonable when compared with the profit on a pint of beer. Opposition Members have always got that wrong. I accept that when soft drinks are purchased in an off-licence, there is room for lower prices, but it is different where the on-licensee must take into account the provision of his services and the payment of rents, which have risen tremendously in recent years.

I was discussing the importation of duty-paid liquor and bootlegging activities. Last week, Customs and Excise gave the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, figures to April 1994 in volume 12 of the 1993–94 appropriation accounts, paragraphs 24–30. They suggest that the Treasury receipts on alcohol and tobacco during 1993–94 fell short by some £200 million compared with the figures for 1992–93, which were already short by a fair margin. We can only estimate the extent of illegal bootlegging, but it may account for a further shortfall of some £35 million. The loss to the retail trade will be several times that sum and may reach as much as £1 billion. That is a huge loss of retail trade to the on-licence and off-licence trade.

There is a tendency to blame that serious blow to profits and jobs in the industry on my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His perverse refusal to narrow the gap between United Kingdom and particularly French rates of duty has contributed to the continuing recession in the licensed trade and it will be a long time before he is forgiven for his change of heart between the November and December 1994 Budgets. However, I believe that the reasons for the continuing mediocre trade, particularly in London and the south-east, are far more complex than simply a loss of trade caused by the importation of liquor from France.

Drinking habits have changed, even in the 25 years that I have been involved with the public house trade. Let me offer a few examples of why our nation now drinks less. Lunchtime drinking—the traditional pint and a sandwich or shepherd's pie—is now frowned on by many employers, who are intent on getting the same level of concentration in the afternoon as in the morning. Many Irish workers in the building industry who went home during the recession now return to find that health and safety rule supreme on the building site, and any hint of drinking will lead to instant dismissal. No one can disagree with that on safety grounds, but building workers have traditionally been an important source of income to the publican.

Another example of that practice which, again, one fully understands, is British Rail's setting of a zero limit for its random breath testing of all grades of staff, day or night. Effectively, that means that British Rail employees cannot drink at any time of the working week because of the time that it takes for the body to discharge alcohol. The pub probably no longer represents the warm and comfortable haven from unwelcoming homes that it did in the past. That is certainly the case for many of our citizens. Contrary to the lager lout image of the minority, young people are much less inclined to drink, particularly when driving, than, dare I say, their parents. If they go to all-night raves, they accompany the illicit substances that they take with water, not alcohol.

The recession has been bad for pubs and the recovery is still elusive for most of them. Pessimists, and I include myself, doubt whether the trade will ever recapture the good days of the mid-1970s and late-1980s. Small traditional pubs in a secondary position, for which catering is unlikely to he more than a small part of their business, have been particularly hard hit by the recession and the fact that strong, usually brewery-managed catering pubs offer much greater facilities.

Pubs for which catering is a major part of their business can already open during Sunday afternoons. As a result of the 1988 Act, it became possible for pubs that provide substantial food to continue to serve food and drink throughout the afternoon break. That led to an unlevel playing field because small, traditional pubs for which food was a much smaller part of their business and which provided much simpler food did not qualify. That alone is a good reason why the House should give the Bill a Second Reading today.

Pubs that cannot open on Sunday afternoons are prevented from showing their customers football matches on BSkyB on Sunday afternoons. Many people would like to stay in the pub to watch such matches on television on Sunday afternoons. I agree with the wise words that appeared in The Licensee and Morning Advertiser, the trade paper, on 2 February this year. Mr. Terry Oates, president of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, said: To show Sky TV, landlords have to pay an extra charge compared to residential users. At the moment Sunday hours require them to close when its main attraction, football coverage, begins. The government, along with the federation, is trying to make visiting a pub more family-orientated. Relaxing Sunday hours would allow better trading on what is seen as a day for families. Mr. Oates has got that right.

It is interesting to note that all-day opening will not be compulsory, according to Mr. Oates—he seems to know—and he will not open all day. However, many members of his federation have wanted all-day opening for some time and have been urging the Government to make those changes for the past 18 months. As my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge said, that will be particularly important for pubs in tourist areas.

The Bill will act as a lifeline for small, traditional British pubs and I shall certainly support it in the Lobby. So long as the landlord, whether or not he is a brewer, is not allowed to insist on Sunday afternoon opening and resists the temptation to increase rents in recognition of a supposed new trading opportunity, as the jargon goes, Sundays may once again become a good trading day for traditional pubs. I am sure that few hon. Members, whatever their feelings about drink and drinking, would welcome the death of the British public house, which is unique in the world.

As I listened to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister speak to the British Retail Consortium on 24 January and announce his intention to introduce the Bill swiftly, I thought back to my days in a large south London pub, with a disco and functions suite, which I managed for four years. I remembered just how precious was the Sunday afternoon break as an assured break once a week and wondered whether I should support the Bill, but then I remembered how good trade was at that time, even without Sunday opening.

The House should not stand between a publican and his customers during Sunday afternoons. If I have a complaint, it is that opening time will remain at noon because the best advantage that small, traditional pubs could gain in changing to Sunday hours would be to bring forward opening times from noon to 11 o'clock. My suggestion will no doubt bring howls of derision from certain Opposition Members and will be fought by those who still see that as a conflict with church-going.

However, people who go to those small pubs frequently go home for lunch, so they will not derive great benefits from the proposed opening hours. They would have derived greater benefit from an earlier opening time that made the 11 o'clock opening standard throughout the week. I recognise that that will have to wait and that those darts club committee meetings that are scheduled to start at 11 am on a Sunday will have to wait some time before they are legitimised.

Since I came to the House in 1983, we have had many debates on our obsolete licensing laws. In common with the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), I am a veteran of the Licensing Act 1988. I made one of my first major speeches during the debate on the Consolidated Fund at Christmas 1983, when my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) and I debated our licensing laws at some length at 7 o'clock in the morning. We both decided that our time would probably have been better spent down in one of the early houses at Smithfield market.

Since 1983, I have taken part in most of the debates on our licensing law and the Bill is at least the third piecemeal reform of it since then. Today, we should be discussing a more radical change in the law, for example, a later terminal hour for Fridays and Saturdays, which is one of the trade's great requirements and on which it has been consulted, and the question of dual licensing. In that case, people who manage a pub might have a licence of one type whereas the premises could be subject to another type of licence. Should a licensee disappear all of a sudden, that would avoid an immediate crisis over the licence of the premises.

Like Terry Oates, I welcome the Bill, however limited it is. British pubs are still in grave danger and it behoves the House to support them. That support is offered by the Bill.

To those who think that the Bill is another step on the road to damnation, let me assure them that, in the past, we were told just that not only by the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), but by Lord Braine, then my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point. He was apoplectic at the prospect of doing away with the afternoon break during week days. Of course he was proved wrong, as was the hon. Member for Swansea, East, because a more civilised drinking pattern has followed the abolition of that afternoon week day break. I believe that its abolition has been of great benefit, particularly to older people who like to go out for a drink, who wanted to extend their lunchtime drinking to perhaps four and five o'clock in the afternoon and then to go home and not come out again. They do not feel comfortable coming out at night and prefer to stay in, in front of the television, but they enjoy the sociability and friendship of the pub during the afternoon for a longer time than was once allowed.

As my right hon. Friend the Minister has told the House, little increase in drunkenness or crime has arisen out of the changes brought about by the Licensing Act 1988. I am certain that the Bill will have a similar civilising effect and I hope that the House will give it an unopposed Second Reading.

5.43 pm
Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)

Before I reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) and his remarks about damnation, I should pay tribute to the former right hon. Member for Castle Point, now Lord Braine. I recall that when his colleagues gave a litany of their interests in the trade, he would declare but a general interest. I believe that he made a signal contribution to the debates on licensing matters. He is sorely missed. Alas, attendance in the House today is thin, but when he spoke he always attracted a goodly attendance.

The hon. Member for Gillingham illustrated part of our problem with creeping incrementalism. As he said, we are veterans of the debates in 1988. At that time, he justified the changes to the licensing laws by using the housemaid's argument that the changes went only as far as we wanted to go and that it was only a little baby. He told the House: I should have preferred Sunday lunchtime to be extended from 11 o'clock to 3 o'clock"— to be fair, he advocated that 11 o'clock opening today as well— but if it is to be extended from midday until 3 o'clock I do not believe that the question of licensing hours will return to the House for quite a long time … it will remove the licensing issue from this House for probably a decade. It"— this is the key point— the extension had been from 11 o'clock to 3 o'clock, I suspect that it would probably have removed it for all time"—[Official Report, 27 April 1988; Vol. 132, c. 454.] Now, perhaps because of the possibility of watching Sky television or other cogent arguments that the hon. Gentleman adduced, he believes that the missing incremental gap should be removed.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about the advantages of extended licensed hours to elderly people. That is rather like the argument that one hears from Conservative Members about those elderly ladies on fixed incomes in Cheltenham, when hiding behind those ladies are the larger vested interests that those Members represent. The evidence from the Scottish precedent following the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 and, as far as we can judge, from the Licensing Act 1988, which covers England and Wales, suggests that those who have taken greatest advantage of the liberalisation provisions have not been elderly folk, but younger folk under the age of 35 and the heavy drinkers.

If the damnation predicted by the former right hon. Member for Castle Point has not been visited upon society, that has nothing to do with the civilising effects of liberalisation, but rather the recession. If the hon. Member for Gillingham and others believe that the Government's policies will lead to greater national wealth, that, in itself, will lead to greater consumption. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell me that the key determinant of consumption is not wealth.

Mr. Couchman

We discussed earlier whether there was an increase in heavy drinking immediately after the 1988 Act. I stick by my suggestion that it lasted for about a fortnight. The country was hardly in a recession in 1988–90, so one would have thought that that drinking spree would have lasted for two years rather than two weeks if the hon. Gentleman's theory was correct.

Mr. Anderson

It may have lasted just two weeks in the hon. Gentleman's licensed premises, but the informed view is that it lasted for a year and then the recession took over. The key determinant of consumption is personal wealth.

Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

On the question of vested interests, does my hon. Friend agree that the only communications about the Bill that most hon. Members received were from the Campaign for Real Ale and the brewers? They are particularly anxious because they are losing trade through the import of drinks from Europe. People can now bring back gallons of alcohol in their minibuses, take it home and distribute it locally.

Does my hon. Friend agree that those vested interests who want to extend the licensing hours on Sunday, yet again, are repeating the Government's wishes on Sunday trading? I know that my hon. Friend was a great supporter of my Bill to restrict Sunday trading. The Government may speak about freedom of choice and extending the rights of the individual, but does my hon. Friend agree that just as the retail companies were the vested interests behind the Sunday Trading Act 1994, so vested interests are behind the campaign to open pubs for longer on a Sunday?

Mr. Anderson

Of course, brewers have suffered as a result of bootlegging. That is a factor, but, unlike the Prime Minister, I cannot believe that the public interest is synonymous with the interest of the brewers.

It is highly significant, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe) said, that the proposal to liberalise the hours on a Sunday was pulled out of the hat by the Prime Minister at the dinner of the British Retail Consortium. The context is very important as a clue to the origins of the proposals.

As a result, as my hon. Friend says, of the recession, as a result of the considerable increase in continental imports, and as a result of the mini-Budget in December, when the Government increased the duties on beer, it was obvious that the brewers were becoming pretty unhappy with the performance of what they deemed to be their Government, and the Government hoped to win back the support of the brewers, which, after all, had provided 10 per cent. of Conservative party funds at the previous general election. Several key brewers, including Allied Domeque—a major contributor to Conservative party funds—withdrew their funding from the Conservative party in 1994.

The context therefore makes one slightly suspicious of the Prime Minister's motive in producing the proposal out of the hat, with no consultation, as was said earlier, either with representatives of the clubs or with representatives of the licensed trade.

Historically, the beerage swung from the Liberal party to the Conservative party following Gladstone's Licensing Act 1872. I am rather proud because the Liberal Member—I repeat, Liberal Member—who promoted that Bill, Henry Bruce, was the only other member of my school, Swansea grammar school, ever to have served in the House of Commons. In the 1874 election, as a result, Gladstone complained that he had been washed away in gallons of beer.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (Colchester, North)


Mr. Anderson

Let me continue, if I may.

During the debates in the other place on that 1872 Bill, Bishop Magee of Peterborough commented, "Better an England free than an England sober," sentiments that were echoed on 24 January 1995 by the Prime Minister, who clearly considers that social safeguards against drinking are no more than bureaucratic red tape. "Set the people free," says our Prime Minister to the brewers.

Mr. Jenkin

I intervene simply to point out that, if the hon. Gentleman had met any brewers or publicans recently, he would know that they hardly feel that the Government are in the pocket of the brewing or licensed trades interests. The Monopolies and Mergers Commission review of the brewing industry had them screaming with outrage at the Government. It is outrageous for the hon. Gentleman to suggest that we are somehow in their pockets.

Mr. Anderson

The hon. Gentleman makes the argument fairly. It was precisely for the reason that the brewers were becoming disenchanted that the Prime Minister felt that he had to give them a sop. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the history of those beer orders, which shows that Lord Young speedily retracted much of the effect when the brewers barked. Does the hon. Gentleman deny that 10 per cent. of the Conservative party's funds at the previous general election came from the brewers? Does he deny that, mysteriously, during that general election campaign, advertising hoardings that were formerly used by the brewers suddenly became available for the Conservative party? If he wants to deny that, I am ready to give way. Those are the facts.

It was Lloyd George, after all, from the Liberal party, who used the peerage for party purposes; the Conservative party uses the beerage for party purposes. If the hon. Gentleman has any evidence to the contrary, I should be very happy to consider it.

The only real pressure for longer hours comes from the drinks trade. The only plausible benefit is the increased profits that it hopes to make. That process, as I said to the hon. Member for Gillingham, is incremental. It was forecast, and it is precisely as we feared.

I recall the broken promise made in 1988, when the then Minister of State, Home Office, the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), said that the Licensing Act 1988 would in no wise relate to Sunday; the Government did not seek to reverse the amendment that had been moved in the House of Lords. Now we know that the Government plan to abolish all limits on Christmas day and Good Friday. In my judgment, that is part of a generalised assault by the Government on our Christian heritage, and an encouragement for increasing humanism and secularisation.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

From suggesting that the Government are in the pockets of the brewers, the hon. Gentleman now moves to suggest that we are heathen fanatics attacking Christianity. Has it occurred to the hon. Gentleman that many Opposition Members will support the measure, that it is a deregulation measure, which will greatly enhance the quality of Sunday afternoons, and that it does not help the standard of debate in the House to suggest that the measure is being proposed other than on the basis of removing unnecessary controls that limit people's freedom of choice? Why does not the hon. Gentleman meet the argument head on and explain why he wishes people's freedom of choice to be limited by his opinions of what is an appropriate way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

Mr. Anderson

The Minister must contain himself. I shall come to that.

I am arguing that the Government intend the natural consequences of their actions, and that the natural consequence of what they have done in relation to Sunday trading is that an assault is taking place on the long-held Christian traditions in this country. This incremental measure may be regarded as part of that.

I therefore repeat my general arguments in relation to the value of Sundays to families generally, and more specifically to the lives of publicans and their wives, whose working conditions are often appalling, and who need a break. That is not an idea that I have drawn from the air; it is the result of several conversations with licensees in my constituency.

I confess that, when I began that telephoned public opinion poll, I did so with some trepidation, as I feared that the answers might not wholly accord with what I hoped they might be, but I was not to be disappointed. I shall give the House an idea of the comments that I received from representative publicans—licensees—in my city of Swansea. One said: I am very much opposed to it. I have only just moved to 3 pm. The family and I now have our lunch at 3.45 pm. Another licensee said to me yesterday: I know that this will cream off the licensed trade's leisure hours. Another said: Sunday is the only day we have to spend together and sit down together. Another, rather bigger, business man in my constituency, who serves perhaps 200 meals on a Sunday, said that he was very keen to clear his public House by 3.45 pm so that at last his family could sit down to a meal together.

Mr. John Sykes (Scarborough)

Can the hon. Gentleman explain to us what in the Bill prevents such a publican from closing his doors at 3 pm?

Mr. Anderson

It is exactly the same pressure as will come in respect of Sunday shopping; it is market share. People will find that, simply as a result of competitive pressures, they have to move. May I give the hon. Gentleman another response from a licensee in my constituency, the only one who was fairly neutral on the issue? He said: Yes, I shall open during the Sunday afternoon, if only because shall now be able to do legally what my competitors are doing illegally"— which surprised me a little.

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford)

In the course of asking the publicans for their opinions on those matters— which is a very good exercise to undertake—did the hon. Gentleman ask them whether their regular customers would be likely to come to the pub at that time on a Sunday? If they did not, would the pubs close as a result? Surely they would not stay open if there were no customers.

Mr. Anderson

One of the constant themes that came through the survey—it was not selective questioning, in that I already knew the answers—was a general unhappiness about the state of the trade. The cake is only so big and the licensees wondered whether working longer hours would lead to a greater return. Nevertheless, they said that they would feel impelled to stay open for the reasons that I have given. I did not ask the licensees whether people would come to the pubs, because they would not know the answer. But they felt that they had to stay open, if only because of the current economic pressures upon the trade and their wish to compete.

Mr. Duncan Smith

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Anderson

I have given way once to the hon. Gentleman and I must make progress.

Mr. Duncan Smith


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. It is quite clear that the hon. Member does not intend to give way and, in that case, the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith) must resume his seat.

Mr. Anderson

I pointed out to the hon. Member for Gillingham that there is a key link between consumption and wealth. Therefore, there is a danger that steadily rising incomes will mean greater alcohol consumption. There is also some linkage between consumption and availability. For example, in Finland the 1969 extension of opening hours and the abandonment of various other restrictions led within six years to the virtual doubling of alcohol-related deaths, the incidence of violent crime and days lost at work.

The linkage between alcohol availability and consumption was accepted by the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham, the then Minister of State, Home Office, in debate during the proceedings of Standing Committee H in 1987. He said: If the hon. Gentleman then asks whether it"— that is, the extra hour's trading— would lead to an increase in consumption if we did seek a relaxation on Sunday, the answer is probably yes because the licensing regime on a Sunday is much more modest". He repeated that point about linkage when he said: That will probably lead to an increase in consumption and, if people have to drive there, a risk of increased drunken driving".— [Official Report, Standing Committee H, 26 November 1987; c. 190, 128.] My view would be less hostile if the Government's liberalisation measure was accompanied by any evidence of their serious concern about alcoholism and the problems associated with alcohol consumption. Far more public money is devoted to seeking to combat drug abuse and AIDS than to alcohol abuse. The harmful effects of alcohol are clear in terms of road accidents, domestic strife and street violence.

According to the British crime survey, in about half of all violent crimes, the victims state that the assailant was drunk, and about 25 per cent. of violent crimes occur in, or in the vicinity of, licensed premises. I mention in passing the associated longer national health service queues and the number of working days that are lost every year through alcohol-related absenteeism.

I concede that there is some evidence that the Government have responded to increasing public concern about the multitude of problems related to alcohol abuse. They released the report "Action on Alcohol Misuse" in 1991, set up the Health Education Authority, and established priority areas in "The Health of the Nation" document in 1986.

Yet certain Government activity, such as the introduction of the incremental measure today, flies in the face of their attempts to combat alcohol abuse. The grant to Alcohol Concern was reduced last year and the Government are reluctant to adopt a range of policies to improve the situation.

For example, the Government could introduce a "tax-as-you-drink" system, which would link duty to the alcohol content of drink. They could use taxation to encourage the development of a market for super light beers, with 2 to 3 per cent. alcohol content, and wines, with 4 to 6 per cent. alcohol content. The Government could introduce unit labelling of alcoholic drinks in pubs and retail outlets. In August 1994, the Government issued the "sensible drinking message" that men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week and women should drink no more than 14. Yet brewers have responded by increasing the alcohol content in beer.

Other Government measures could include monitoring the effectiveness of alcohol education, allocating more resources for new health centres and random breath testing. Such measures would show that, while the Government are liberalising the licensing laws and thereby allowing easier access to alcohol, they are also aware of the dangers of alcohol misuse and devoting public money and ministerial attention to that campaign.

The whole point of extending the licensing hours is to increase consumption. The higher running costs associated with longer hours can be paid for only by an increase in sales. The longer-hours lobby has not yet proved that a more permissive regime has any other advantages, whereas the risks are well documented. Tough controls are undoubtedly one of the main reasons why Britons drink less and why Britain has fewer alcohol problems than most western countries. The Prime Minister—a weak Prime Minister addressing the British Retail Consortium and the representatives of the brewing industry—clearly prefers populist gestures to the long-term interests of our nation and a spurious freedom to an attack on the problems of alcoholism.

6.6 pm

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (Colchester, North)

As I listened to the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), I despaired that we are spending so much time discussing a very small deregulatory measure. Given the tone of his warnings about the risks of a "more permissive regime", one would think that we were considering deregulating nuclear power. The moral overtone in the words "more permissive regime" would be more appropriate to a discussion about the deregulation of pornography.

In fact, we are talking about the sort of small deregulatory measure that should not be necessary in a modern, mature and democratic society. I believe that adults are quite capable of making decisions for themselves; they do not need to have their lives regulated to ensure that families sit down to a meal together. People should be free to make natural choices.

The purpose of the debate is to allow people to explore the pace of deregulation and its effects and consequences. Deregulation is sweeping the whole of Europe—the Europe that is so beloved of many Opposition Members. I can see that one, the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright), is about to jump to his feet.

If Labour. Members were to spend their holidays in France, for example, they would find a complete absence of regulation of licensing laws. One can stop at a roadside cafe at 7.30 am, in the middle of the day or in the afternoon and drink any kind of alcohol. I do not see Frenchmen rolling around the streets drunk, crashing their cars, or divorcing their wives as a result. I give way to the hon. Gentleman with enormous pleasure because I enjoy sparring with him so much.

Mr. Enright

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. You will have noted, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I did not "jump to my feet". I hope that I rose gracefully to intervene on the hon. Gentleman. Does he recall the halcyon days of "back to basics" when the Prime Minister mused on the traditional English Sunday of ladies on bicycles of willow and of the green?

Mr. George Howarth

And warm beer.

Mr. Enright

And warm beer, indeed, as my hon. Friend reminds me. Is the hon. Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin) now saying, as appears to be the tenor of his argument, that the Prime Minister, in order to prove that he is at the heart and centre of Europe, is turning to the continental Sunday?

Mr. Jenkin

There must have been some misunderstanding of the Government's "back to basics" policy in regard to Sunday, certainly from the perspective of the hon. Gentleman. The family Sunday was and is intended to be voluntary. There was never anything compulsory or legislated about the family Sunday. Even a Labour Government—who would be committed to much heavier legislation in many spheres of life—might draw back from legislating about family Sunday lunches. We need to keep the matter in perspective.

The hon. Gentleman did not deal with my point about Sunday licensing legislation or the equivalent on the continent. As he is probably even more committed to being at the heart of Europe than the Prime Minister is, one would have expected him to be more committed to continental Sundays.

Mr. Duncan Smith

Does my hon. Friend think that people go to church on Sundays only because 'they cannot go to the pub, that they have Sunday lunch with their families only because the pub is a problem for them around lunch time, that they rule themselves by the inability to get a drink and that as soon as it is all deregulated, family life will break apart, lunches will fall to pieces and people will stop going to church?

Mr. Jenkin

My hon. Friend has inspired me. I have suddenly realised what Opposition policy should be. Pubs should be compulsorily closed between 12 and 2.30 pm to encourage families to go home and have their Sunday lunch. Perhaps that proposal will be made later in the debate.

I return to the comments of the hon. Member for Swansea, East. He has a paranoic terror of what is motivating the Government. It is either money that was paid to the Conservative party to encourage us to behave in a certain way, or money that was taken away from it that was making us behave in a certain way. He could not make up his mind about that. He seems to inhabit a world in which all kinds of motives are imputed to particular circumstances and individuals.

It beggars belief that the Government have caused more disruption in the brewing industry than any previous post-war Government because we have attacked its monopolistic tendencies. If we have paid the price of reduced contributions to the Conservative party, so be it, but that shows the Government's objectivity in the matter and not that we are prisoners of the brewing interest.

We need more deregulation measures. The Prime Minister speaks for the majority of people when he proposes deregulation policies. We should deregulate more retailing and licensing laws in future. It may not be helpful to my hon. Friend the Minister to say that it is likely to happen, but I hold out no long-term prospects for the survival of the present licensing or Sunday trading laws.

The laws simply freeze in anomalies and unfairness to one group or another. It is far better to let individuals decide when they want to shop and when they want to go to pubs to drink. We should allow the market to decide how best to deliver the services that consumers actually want.

Let us take as an example the problem of garden centres under the new Sunday trading regime. Most gardeners like to buy their garden produce early in the morning and plant it during the day, but the current regime does not allow them to go shopping until after 10 or 11 o'clock. If they do their shopping at a filling station or another shop that is not principally a garden centre, they can buy the produce at any time, so we are discriminating against garden centres.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

I know that a number of representations have been made about garden centres in respect of the Sunday Trading Act. My hon. Friend suggested that it might be the Government's fault, but he will recall that it was a matter that Parliament itself determined on a free vote.

Mr. Jenkin


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Before the hon. Gentleman continues, I should say that although I accept passing reference to other matters I hope that he will not expand upon garden centres, remembering the contents of the present Bill.

Mr. Jenkin

I accept your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I apologise.

I raised the matter tangentially merely because I have had representations from garden centres in my constituency. My constituents are particularly concerned that on Easter day, which should be their biggest trading day of the year, they are not allowed to open. I welcome the comments of my hon. Friend the Minister and although the Government may not feel compelled to examine the issue, the House will have to examine it al some time and, on a free vote, eventually we will get it right.

I wish to turn to what are called grey imports in the beverage business and to the serious problem of the differential duties between the United Kingdom and continental Europe. I welcome the Bill as it will help the brewing industry at a difficult time.

I may be rather unfashionable in this respect, but I think that sooner or later, in order to protect our tax base and ensure that our industry continues to prosper, we shall need to reimpose personal limits at points of entry in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Enright

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that at one and the same time we should have deregulation of hours but re-regulation of the stuff that is actually drunk? That seems a little odd.

Mr. Jenkin

There is the small matter of the way in which a country's tax base has developed. The tax base of a nation state represents hundreds of years of inherited cultures and values. It is impossible instantly to harmonise the tax base across the European Union without causing grave disruption.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. We have a long-standing tradition here that the matters discussed should be relevant to the subject of the debate. The hon. Gentleman is now going very wide and I suggest that he draws to a conclusion or gets back to the point.

Mr. Jenkin

I am grateful to you Madam Speaker, and I can hear the words, "closing time" in my ears.

Mr. Duncan Smith

Does my hon. Friend agree that the key problem that he is discussing, which is relevant to whether British pubs will be more competitive, is that the Opposition have consistently opposed any widening of the VAT bands? The fact that our VAT bands are narrow along with our other problems may eventually lead to my hon. Friend's proposal.

Mr. Jenkin

I hear what my hon. Friend says, but I shall not be drawn.

Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

In an attempt to be helpful and to bring the debate back to the original point, my hon. Friend might be willing to hear the history of how Sunday restrictions were introduced and for what purpose. All the original licensing regulations, with one or two exceptions, were the result of an attempt by the Liberal Government—and thereafter a, coalition Government—to stop munitions workers getting drunk during the first world war. The first world war is over and munitions workers are not getting drunk. There is a residual chapel vote, which has just been represented, but there is no reason whatever to have such restrictions.

Mr. Jenkin

I was going to avoid mentioning the war; it is not helpful to blame the Germans for everything. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the measures have long outlived there usefulness and I commend the Bill to the House.

6.19 pm
Ms Janet Anderson (Rossendale and Darwen)

I shall try to be fairly brief. I am the only woman present in the Chamber and I think that it will be self-evident when I finish that women in this place often find it easier than men to make brief contributions.

I shall first declare a registered interest. The Argyll group, which runs a number of supermarkets, makes a small contribution to the running of my constituency office.

As hon. Members will know, I have long had an interest in Sundays and legislation affecting Sundays. Sunday is often the only day that I have with my family—it is often my only free day. I welcome the freedom to shop and to engage in as many activities as I choose. Sunday will always a special day for me as it is the only day when I can exercise those choices.

My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) referred to Sunday as a family day. Families should be free to choose what they want to do on Sundays. One of our favourite family pastimes on a Sunday is to walk in my constituency, through Sunnyhurst woods, up to the Darwen tower, which was built to record Queen Victoria's silver jubilee. It was only possible to build it because, one year earlier, the public gained access to Darwen moors. It is the centenary of the Darwen tower next year.

Our walk usually takes place after Sunday lunch. We walk down from the tower and reach the Sunnyhurst public house at about 5 pm. There is nothing that we would like better than to stop for a rest and a pint, but we cannot do so because the pub is closed. I am sure that many of my constituents who also enjoy that walk on a Sunday—particularly my good friend and patron of Sunnyhurst pub, councillor David Smith—look forward to the ending of the afternoon break.

Those opposed to this modest piece of deregulation may console themselves with one thought: if people do not use pubs during the new opening hours on Sundays, there will be no point in opening then and pubs will not do so. If, however, people want to use pubs then, they will continue to open. The House should vote today to give the public the chance to show what they want.

The hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) mentioned the problems with supermarket staff. I, too, have seen staff on Sundays subjected to aggressive behaviour from customers who have arrived just to late to buy their six pack or bottle of wine. Such scenes could be avoided by removing the restrictions on the sale of alcohol in supermarkets.

One positive aspect is the gradual erosion of the notion that we have to be controlled and prevented from doing things because they might be bad for us—as if we should feel guilty about enjoying ourselves. It is important—I speak as a mother of three teenage children—for people to have a responsible attitude towards alcohol and its consumption. I hope that the Bill will lead to public houses becoming family friendly and women friendly. I believe that it will have that effect as public houses will seek to compete with establishments such as Harvesters, which serve food all day.

Mr. Jenkin

Does the hon. Lady share my concern about existing restrictions on families in many public houses? Should we not modernise the legislation so that all pubs are friendly places for families and we do not have the absurd situation whereby publicans have to apply for a special licence to make their premises available to families? If all drinking establishments were naturally family places, would not some of the more rowdy elements naturally be excluded?

Ms Anderson

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. It is important that public houses should be welcoming places for families so that children do not regard them as secretive places into which they are not allowed. Such an approach encourages inquisitiveness—children want to know what they are banned from. It would be better if pubs were open and easily accessible. I agree with the hon. Gentleman and thank him for his intervention.

Many hon. Members have mentioned the fact that we continually return to this place with little bits of licensing legislation. I agree that it would be nice to deal with all of them in one go. My hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) mentioned one specific anomaly. We are today talking about the deregulation of licensing hours—in stark contrast to the current legislation on casinos.

We often think of casinos as places where people gamble for hundreds or thousands of pounds in the plushest parts of central London, but there are casinos all around the country. Many of them are used for pleasure by people on relatively low incomes who like a little flutter now and then. In the main, casinos cannot serve alcohol after midnight—we should consider that restriction. The industry brings in millions of pounds to this country and employs thousands of people. I understand that the Prime Minister was recently dining in a casino and was shocked when his drink was taken away at 12.30 am. Perhaps that is something that the Minister can consider changing—I am sure that he will have the support of the Prime Minister.

6.25 pm
Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore)

I regret that I have not been present for the whole debate. I represent a Welsh constituency, Ogmore, which has the largest cell of the Klu Klux Klan in the country. The Anti-Nazi League had a demonstration here in London today, and I had to attend to that. I should like to have been in the Chamber for the start of today's important debate.

The Minister—I hope that he is listening—sent a short two-page letter on 9 February which seemed to suggest that the Bill was of little consequence to many people. I do not share the enthusiasm of my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Ms Anderson) for the Bill, and she does not share my enthusiasm for controlling Sunday trading.

I represent a constituency with beautiful views. It contains Ogmore castle and, not too far from it, a pub. Families would probably like to visit the castle and have a drink at 3 pm, when the pub might be closed. Restrictions have been lifted in Wales. Only a matter of years ago, we restricted Sunday opening hours and even prevented a number of pubs from opening at all on Sunday. I well recall going to a pub in Worcester, half of which was open on Sunday and half of which—the part that happened to be in Wales—was closed. If a customer went into one part, he could have a drink on Sunday, hut he could not have a drink in the other half. That was ludicrous and I would not like that to happen today.

I have a fear, which I think is shared by quite a few Christians in the House and throughout the country. We are allowing licensing freedom on Sunday, which has always been a family day. We are allowing shops to open on Sundays and everybody thinks that that is excellent. As the senior Member sponsored by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, I know that, since shops have been legally open on Sunday—they have, for a long time, been opening illegally—USDAW members are finding that our predictions about the promises made to them by some large stores about double-time on Sunday and freedom of choice as to whether to work on Sunday have come true.

The Minister should talk to the licensees who, over the past 12 months, have already suffered the bitter experience of renegotiating their licences with the brewers. They are finding that, even now, they have little time to themselves. It will be worse if they are told that they have to work right through a Sunday. We are talking about giving leisure time to all families, but if licensees want a break to be with their families, they have to ensure that there are staff in the pub so that it can open.

Mr. Hawksley

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Powell

I do not have much time. I have been given five minutes. I have been told that that is all I have, so I had better not give way. I shall have a job getting what I would like to say into five minutes.

I can visualise what will happen in my constituency once we tell licensees that they have to open all day. There is between 15 and 20 per cent. unemployment in my constituency, much of it long term. People have been out of work since 1983–84 and the end of the miners' strike: the Government decided to close every colliery in my constituency and declared 12,000 steelworkers redundant. Fathers without a job and without an interest go down to the pub in the week for a drink. On a Sunday they know that they have to get home at 3 o'clock, not only for their Sunday dinner but because the pub shuts. I know what will happen to their family life. The mother, son or daughter will have to go down to the pub and see if dad will come home at the usual time of 3 o'clock.

It is all right for my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen to talk about her lovely walks with her family and calling into the pub for a drink. Other families in Britain, especially in Wales, are out of work and have no money in their pockets, but they find the money for the man to go to the pub. On a Sunday afternoon, so that he can he go back to his family for his lunch—

Ms Janet Anderson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Powell

No. My hon. Friend knows that I have only five minutes.

I was surprised at the brief letter that we received from the Minister. He said that there should be practically no opposition to the Bill. The floodgates are being opened for all-day Sunday licensing hours.

My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) said that, as the House of Commons defeated their measure on VAT on fuel, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor said, "We will get the money from somewhere. We will get it from the brewers. To console them, so that we keep their contribution to Conservative party funds for the next election, we will extend licensing hours on Sundays so that the brewers can rake some more money in." The effect on family life will be catastrophic. The House would be wise to reject the suggestion and keep the restriction on Sunday licensing hours for as long as possible.

6.32 pm
Mr. John Sykes (Scarborough)

I rise to speak briefly on the Bill as the vice-chairman of the Back-Bench deregulation committee and one who served on the Standing Committee which considered the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill in 1994. I am the Member of Parliament for Scarborough and I also represent Whitby. It is a well-known constituency which relies heavily on tourism for its prosperity. The Bill is a continuation and amplification of the Government's deregulatory moves. The Bill aims to extend choice for both the consumer and the licensee.

In 1989, the Government introduced measures to allow pubs and clubs to open on weekday afternoons. I remember in the months leading up to implementation of the measure the dark warnings about eternal damnation, drunkenness on the street, violence and disorder. All have proved to be unfounded. In Scarborough and Whitby those measures have enhanced the prospects for tourism and, therefore, prosperity and employment for my constituents.

Visitors to Whitby, which is the home of Captain Cook and much else, come from all four corners of the world. Now, on weekdays, they can enjoy a drink in any of the numerous harbour bars, but not on Sunday. The walkers who tramp the glorious north Yorkshire moors can enjoy a drink when they arrive at Goathland—otherwise known as Aidensfield in the famous television series "Heartbeat", which is filmed in my constituency—during the week, but not on Sunday. Why is a Sunday afternoon drink any different from a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday afternoon drink? The Bill will put that right.

The Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 introduced, for the first time, children's certificates for pubs. That was a welcome measure for families with children. Many families, mine included, enjoy going for a drink on a weekday during the recess or on a Saturday, but we cannot do so on a Sunday afternoon. The measure works well, except on Sundays. The Bill will put that right.

Whenever I go to a pub on a Sunday afternoon, there seems to be a polite stampede to the bar at 10 minutes to 3. Blokes line up pint after pint and other assorted drinks to have before closing time. They drink them as quickly as they can get them down their throats, which leads to intoxication. The Bill will help to ensure that that does not happen and that people take a much more measured view of drinking.

At present, the licensing laws prevent shops that open on Sundays from selling alcohol between 3 pm and 7 pm. It is becoming impossible to justify preventing customers who have access to a complete range of goods, including food and tobacco—which, in my book, is far more dangerous than alcohol—from buying a bottle of wine. I do not see anything wrong with being able to buy a bottle of wine at any time of the day.

The measures in the Bill are extremely welcome. They will enhance tourism. I hope that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading.

6.36 pm
Mr. George Howarth

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This has been an interesting and long day for the Minister and for me. We started at 10 o'clock this morning dealing with drugs. This afternoon, we moved on to the problems of Sunday licensing hours. During the debate, we touched on such a wide range of interesting subjects as the origins of licensing controls in the first world war, Europe and the role of Germany in all this. My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Ms Anderson) and I raised the implications for the casino industry. No corner of the entertainment life of the great British public was left out. At one stage, there was even a minor skirmish into the consequences of the "back to basics" debate, but on that subject, the least said, soonest mended.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) expressed a view that is not entirely unfamiliar to the House. He has been consistent and proper in the views that he has expressed. To put the record straight and to show that he is consistent with the debate that has taken place in Wales, I should like to quote from The Guardian of Tuesday 20 August 1968. The article is headed, "For a wet Sunday welcome in Wales". It makes the connection with the points that my hon. Friend made. It begins: Welsh beer is a headier brew than most when there is a suggestion that it should be served on a Sunday: just thinking about the idea is enough to make some heads spin; talking about it triggers the passionate nationalism every Welsh man believes he ought to feel about internal affairs. The lineage of the sentiment has just been expressed again by my hon. Friend.

Help is at hand from my hon. Friend's part of the world. I have before me a letter from the director of leisure of Ogwr borough council, which covers my hon. Friend's constituency. The director of leisure appears to support the idea of Sunday drinking. He says: Without having to express any opinion on the merits or otherwise I do feel that if such changes are to be introduced that consideration at the same time be given to reviewing the law as it relates to public music and dancing. At present there can be no public dancing on a Sunday—which creates particular problems when say New Year's Eve falls or runs into a Sunday (clubs are in the main not affected as they are not 'public'). If the Bill is given a Second Reading and eventually ends up on the statute book, on the first Sunday after that there will be dancing in my hon. Friend's constituency.

In certain contexts, the question of Sunday being a special day has been irredeemably changed. The argument about Sunday trading was the watershed for that. Until then, a number of other hon. Members and I had clung to the Keep Sunday Special position, but we have now moved beyond that—perhaps for good, perhaps for ill. This Bill is a tidying-up measure rather than a great issue of principle that should divide the House. Of course, I am not suggesting that there should not he a Division, if that is what some hon. Members want.

There is now trading on a Sunday and Sundays generally are viewed by the majority of people more as days of leisure than as days of worship. As someone who regularly attends church, I thought it wise to speak to my local vicar, Rev. Tom Steele, on the telephone yesterday. His view is that the argument is more or less in the past and that we cannot defend the historic position. He also said—this is' characteristic of him—that he had spent many happy hours in a pub on a Sunday.

Mr. Enright

After services.

Mr. Howarth

It is as my hon. Friend says.

For those who want to worship on a Sunday—I am one—it is not impossible to enjoy a day of leisure, which might include a visit to a pub and Sunday worship, all within the one day.

Some hon. Members have raised important points that should be either answered by the Minister when he replies or, as some of them are quite detailed, dealt with in Committee.

The first point relates to the rights of those employed in the industry, whether they be bar staff, tenants, managers, licensees or others. It is important that those currently employed should not be expected, as a matter of course, to work additional hours. They should not be subject to any disciplinary action if, as is perfectly reasonable, they choose not to work additional hours on a Sunday. At a later stage of the Bill's passage, we shall seek reassurances on that point. Another point of concern is the lack of consultation on the proposals. That was mentioned by several hon. Members, including my hon. Friends the Members for Leigh (Mr. Cunliffe), for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) and for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson).

It is odd that, only a month or six weeks after the announcement was made in a great flourish of prime ministerial activity, the Bill has reached its Second Reading stage. Between now and the Bill going into Committee there should be further consultation on exactly how the proposals will affect all those associated with the industry.

All the anomalies in the licensed trade will not be sorted out by the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Leigh and many others who are involved in the all-party non-profit-making clubs group and those who are associated with the club industry feel that things need to be changed. I understand that, in due course, they hope either to introduce a private Member's Bill in this place or to follow the applicable procedure in the other place, and I hope that the issues can he dealt with in that context.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen said, it would have been both proper and useful to bring all those matters together in this one Bill so that they could be dealt with at the same time. Those issues remain to be resolved and there are some anomalies that need to be dealt with.

One of my reservations has been mentioned by several hon. Members on both sides of the House: although we welcome the move towards pubs becoming more family friendly and are glad that the new system has been introduced, there is clear concern that the trade has not risen to the challenge. All too often, pubs and clubs are not attractive to families. No one wants to return to the archetypal image of pubs which was so unattractive that children were often left on the pub steps with packets of crisps and bottles of lemonade while mum and dad were inside having a drink. Those days were most undesirable.

The challenge for the trade is to make pubs attractive, bright, clean, decent places where families want to go, rather than, as all too often happens, places where no person would want to take his family for a couple of hours' entertainment. All the issues need more time given to them and more detailed investigation.

Mr. Ray Powell

Does my hon. Friend really think that children should be taken into a pub at 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon when that pub might already have been open for three or four hours? Most of the people there would have been drinking for three or four hours. Is my hon. Friend suggesting that it would be ideal to take children into that sort of place?

Mr. Howarth

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but I do not think that his question was intended to make me feel that way. It would be inappropriate to take a young family into many establishments. The force of my argument is that we should make more establishments family friendly. I have three children—a teenage son and two children under the age of 10. On occasions, my wife and I have taken them into pubs that serve food on a Sunday. It has been an enjoyable experience. Some pubs cater specifically for children and they provide special facilities such as colouring-in books. I would never want to take any of my children—or, indeed, even my wife—into a pub where people were drunk and there was violence or other difficulties. People make a choice and generally they would not take their families into that sort of establishment.

All these issues can be raised at a later stage in the Bill's passage, but they certainly require further discussion. It is a free vote tonight, so my hon. Friends will make their decisions on which way to vote. Having listened to their speeches, I know that how they will vote is fairly predictable. I do not mean that in any way as a criticism; I happen to think that the Bill deserves a Second Reading and we can discuss our reservations at a later stage. I shall vote in favour of the Bill.

6.48 pm
Mr. Michael Forsyth

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am delighted to respond to this useful debate. I very much welcome the support of the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth). As he said, we began our day this morning on drugs and we have ended up on drinking on the sabbath day. There has been a surprising degree of consensus on both those matters. I hope that it will not be long before we can find matters on which we disagree because so much consensus in one day is ruining my reputation.

Mr. George Howarth

May I reassure the Minister that, although we have managed to reach some consensus on two issues today, we shall return to battle tomorrow?

Mr. Forsyth

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I: am sorry that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is not here, but I hope that the message will go out to every miners' welfare in the land that the hon. Gentleman is the man who wants to stop miners being able to drink there on Sunday afternoons. Indeed, he told us that there was no demand for this measure. I do not know where he spends his time these days, but it is obviously not in the clubs and pubs around the country—

Mr. David Evans (Welwyn Hatfield)

In Belgravia.

Mr. Forsyth

My hon. Friend suggests that he knows. The hon. Member for Bolsover obviously does not spend his time in the miners' welfares or in the other establishments that will benefit from this legislation. Meanwhile, with some trepidation, I give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Evans

I just thought the Minister might like to know that the hon. Member for Bolsover spends a good deal of his time in Belgravia, in disguise, waiting for his American friend to summon him to her presence.

Mr. Forsyth

I shall not follow my hon. Friend down that path.

The hon. Member for Knowsley, North referred to employment protection and drew a parallel with the provisions of the Sunday Trading Act 1994. There is a distinction: that Act created a situation in which people would be required to work on Sundays when they had every expectation that that was not a possibility, given the nature of the law. This Bill does not do that; it merely extends Sunday working hours, so I do not see a parallel. I am sure, in any case, that we can discuss the matter in Committee—the hon. Gentleman gave notice to that effect.

The hon. Gentleman was also concerned about consultation. I do not know whether I am allowed to say this, but the fact that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that this measure would be introduced as part of the deregulation exercise has helped no end in ensuring the necessary agreement to bring the Bill before the House. I believe that the country will welcome that.

The hon. Gentleman feels that there has been so much speed about the process that there has not been enough time for consultation. We shall welcome any views expressed on the implementation of the Bill, but it does extend people's freedom and I think that it will prove popular. There has been widespread bewilderment on the part of the general public when they, able to shop for the first time on Sundays, have found partitions put up at certain times of the day in supermarkets, screening off the sections that sell alcohol and deal with licensed sales.

The hon. Gentleman also expressed anxiety at the fact that, when the 1988 Act was passed, there was no mention of any wish to liberalise Sunday hours—a fair point. The explanation is that the Government at the time had just had something of a setback on the issue of Sunday trading. Many of those who had signed early-day motions did not actually support the findings of the Auld report when it came to voting in the Division Lobbies. It would not have been right to introduce such a measure while the issue of Sunday trading was still up in the air.

In 1988, Sunday drinking hours were extended from 2 pm to 3 pm. That became known as the Ferrers hour, after my right hon. and noble Friend. I understand that the Ferrers hour has met with general approval throughout the land. This measure provides for a further popular extension of hours. I have no idea whether anyone's name will be attached to that extension, but we all live in hope—

Mr. George Howarth

The Forsyth extension?

Mr. Forsyth

I was thinking more in terms of the Howarth extension.

The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) got himself into a real tangle. Let me have a third go at explaining the position. He asked, I think, whether supermarkets would be able to trade on Sundays when Christmas day is a Sunday, and on Easter day, as a result of the measure which provides for the sale of alcohol on those days when shops are able to trade. The answer to his question is no. The Sunday Trading Act specifically prevents large shops from trading on Christmas day when it falls on a Sunday, and on Easter day. I hope that that reassures the right hon. Gentleman and that he may even feel disposed to support the Bill tonight.

My hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Hawksley) asked about licensing committees and the exercise of discretion. I was concerned to hear what he had to say, based on his experience, about what is happening in respect of new children's certificates and the conditions that are being implemented. I can assure him that I will get Home Office officials to monitor carefully what is going on. It is early days yet, and I very much hope that this will be a real opportunity to create the family pub which most, if not all, hon. Members would like.

Worries expressed about the exercise of discretion by magistrates do not appear to be reflected in the decisions that they have taken in respect of afternoon openings and their ability to control them when problems have arisen and there has been a need for restriction orders. I am not sure whether it is right not to allow magistrates some element of discretion.

The right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed suggested that the protections in clause 3 would be limited to disorder—not so, as I explained in my opening speech.

The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) made an extraordinary speech in which he detected all kinds of conspiracies behind the Bill. That was unworthy of him, but I do agree with his remarks about alcohol misuse and the dangers that it represents to our society. Part of ensuring responsible drinking is encouraging people to see pubs as family places, not restricting their hours unreasonably.

My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin), who apologised for not being present at the end of the debate, made a moving plea for what I can only describe as the harmonisation of our licensing laws with Europe's—an interesting reversal of the position that he usually adopts in the House. I expect that, if he were here, he would intervene to tell me that at least this decision would be taken by the House of Commons.

The hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Ms Anderson) made an excellent speech which stood in contrast to the one by the hon. Member for Swansea, East. She described finding herself after a Sunday walk outside a closed pub at 5 o'clock. Hundreds of thousands of people in this country have had a similar experience and will benefit from the legislation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman), with his considerable experience in the licensed trade, gave us an insider's view of how this legislation would benefit the licensed trade, which is experiencing some difficulties at the moment.

The hon. Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell) made the speech that we would expect of him and came up with the extraordinary proposition that pubs should be closed to stop people going who do not have the money to go to them. That is ludicrous—why should the rest of the population who want to spend their leisure time as they choose have restrictions placed on them so as to deal with those who run their lives less responsibly?

My hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Mr. Sykes), in an excellent speech, underlined the importance of the measure for tourism and described how jobs and prosperity depend on the removal of petty restrictions of the sort with which the Bill deals. He said that he wanted it pushed through the House as quickly as possible.

If the House gives the Bill a fair wind and it completes its stages here and in the other place, it will be possible to implement its provisions rapidly after Royal Assent. Whether the tourist and leisure industries have the benefit of the legislation in the coming summer season is in the hands of hon. Members. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided; Ayes 304, Noes 116.

Division.74] [6.59 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Dowd, Jim
Alexander, Richard Duncan, Alan
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Duncan Smith, Iain
Ancram, Michael Dunn, Bob
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Durant, Sir Anthony
Arbuthnot, James Eagle, Ms Angela
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Eggar, Rt Hon Tim
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Elletson, Harold
Ashby, David Etherington, Bill
Ashton, Joe Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Atkins, Robert Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Austin-Walker, John Evennett, David
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V) Faber, David
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Fabricant, Michael
Baldry, Tony Fatchett, Derek
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Barron, Kevin Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bates, Michael Fisher, Mark
Bayley, Hugh Forman, Nigel
Bellingham, Henry Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)
Beresford, Sir Paul Forth, Eric
Bermingham, Gerald Foulkes, George
Betts, Clive Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Booth, Hartley Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Boswell, Tim French, Douglas
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Gale, Roger
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Gardiner, Sir George
Bowis, John Garnier, Edward
Bradley, Keith Gerrard, Neil
Brandreth, Gyles Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Brazier, Julian Gill, Christopher
Bright, Sir Graham Gillen, Cheryl
Browning, Mrs Angela Godsiff, Roger
Bruce, Ian (Dorset) Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Budgen, Nicholas Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Burden, Richard Gordon, Mildred
Butcher, John Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Butler, Peter Gorst, Sir John
Butterfill, John Grant, Sir A (SW Cambs)
Byers, Stephen Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Cann, Jamie Grylls, Sir Michael
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carrington, Matthew Hague, William
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hall, Mike
Chidgey, David Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald
Chisholm, Malcolm Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Churchill, Mr Hampson, Dr Keith
Clapham, Michael Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy
Clappison, James Harris, David
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Harvey, Nick
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hawkins, Nick
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif) Hawksley, Warren
Coffey, Ann Hayes, Jerry
Colvin, Michael Heald, Oliver
Congdon, David Heathcoat-Amory, David
Conway, Derek Henderson, Doug
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hendry, Charles
Couchman, James Hicks, Robert
Cummings, John Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Dicks, Terry Home Robertson, John
Donohoe, Brian H Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Howarth, George (Knowsley North)
Dover, Den Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W) Oppenheim, Philip
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Ottaway, Richard
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Page, Richard
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Paice, James
Hunter, Andrew Patnick, Sir Irvine
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hutton, John Pearson, Ian
Jack, Michael Pickles, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Pickthall, Colin
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Pope, Greg
Jenkin, Bernard Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Johnston, Sir Russell Radice, Giles
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rathbone, Tim
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Rendel, David
Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr) Richards, Rod
Key, Robert Riddick, Graham
king, Rt Hon Tom Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
kirkhope, Timothy Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kirkwood Archy Roche, Mrs Barbara
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Knox, Sir David Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Sackville, Tom
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Shaw, David (Dover)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Legg, Barry Shepherd, Rt Hon Gillen
Lidington, David Shersby, Michael
Lightbown, David Sims, Roger
Lilly, Rt Hon Peter Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Litherdand, Robert Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Livingstone, Ken Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Soames, Nicholas
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Soley, Clive
Luff, Peter Speed, Sir Keith
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Speicer, Sir Derek
McAllion, John Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
MacKay, Andrew Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McKelvey, William Spink, Dr Robert
Maclean, David Spring, Richard
McLoughlin, Patrick Sproat, Iain
McWilliam, John Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Maddock, Diana Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Madel, Sir David Steen, Anthony
Mahon, Alice Steinberg, Gerry
Maitland, Lady Olga Stephen, Michael
Major, Rt Hon John Stern, Michael
Malone, Gerald Stewart, Allan
Mandelson, Peter Stott, Roger
Mans, Keith Streeter, Gary
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sweeney, Walter
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Sykes, John
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Maxton, John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Temple-Morris, Peter
Meale, Alan Thomason, Roy
Mellor, Rt Hon David Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Merchant Piers Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thurnham, Peter
Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants) Tipping, Paddy
Monro, Sir Hector Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Tredinnick, David
Moonie, Dr Lewis Trend, Michael
Moss, Malcolm Tyler, Paul
Mowlam, Marjorie Viggers, Peter
Needham, Rt Hon Richard Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Nelson, Anthony Walden, George
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Nicholls, Patrick Wallace, James
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Waller, Gary
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Ward, John
Norris, Steve Waterson, Nigel
O'Neill, Martin Watts, John
Wells, Bowen Wood, Timothy
Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John Wray, Jimmy
Whitney, Ray Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Whittingdale, John
Widdecornbe, Ann Tellers for the Ayes:
Wiggin, Sir Jerry Mr. Sydney Chapman and Mr. Simon Burns.
Willetts, David
Alison,Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Loyden, Eddie
Alton, David Lynne, Ms Liz
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) McCartney, Ian
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) McCrea, The Reverend William
Barnes, Harry Macdonald, Calum
Battle, John McFall, John
Beggs, Roy Macinlay, Andrew
Beith, Rt Hon A J McMaster, Gordon
Benn, Rt Hon Tony MacShane, Denis
Boyes, Roland Madden, Max
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Martin, Michael J (Springburn)
Callaghan, Jim Martlew, Eric
Cohen, Harry Michael, Alun
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Corbett, Robin Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Cormack, Sir Patrick Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Corston, Jean Morgan, Rhodri
Cousins, Jim Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)
Cox, Tom Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Mudie, George
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Mullin, Chris
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Neubert, Sir Michael
Day, Stephen O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire)
Devlin, Tim O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Dixon, Don O'Hara, Edward
Dunnachie, Jimmy Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Dykes, Hugh Pawsey, James
Eastham, Ken Pike, Peter L
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Porter, David (Waveney)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Purchase, Ken
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim) Quin, Ms Joyce
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Raynsford, Nick
Fraser, John Redmond, Martin
Fry, Sir Peter Robathan, Andrew
Galbraith, Sam Rogers, Allan
Galloway, George Rooker, Jeff
George, Bruce Rooney, Terry
Godman, Dr Norman A Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Golding, Mrs Llin Sedgemore, Brian
Graham, Thomas Sheerman, Barry
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Skinner, Dennis
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Griffiths, Win (Blidgend) Smyth, The Reverend Martin
Grocott, Bruce Snape, Peter
Gunnell, John Spearing, Nigel
Hanson, David Speller, John
Hardy, Peter Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Hinchliffe, David Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Timms, Stephen
Horam, John Turner, Dennis
Hoyle, Doug Vaz, Keith
Jamieson, David Wicks, Malcolm
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon) Wigley, Dafydd
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Williams, Rt Hon. Alan (Sw'n W)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Young, David (Bolton SE)
Khabra, Piara S
Klfoyle, Peter Tellers for the Noes:
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Mr. Ray Powell and Mr. Derek Enright.
Lewis, Terry

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).