HC Deb 18 May 1995 vol 260 c454
2. Mr. Fabricant

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what analysis he has made of the incidence of crime arising from uniform night public house closing hours; and if he will make a statement. [23547]

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

A number of studies show that violent and disorderly offences occur near pubs and clubs at closing time, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Mr. Fabricant

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the changes that he has made to the licensing laws, permitting drinking in the afternoons and introducing the Licensing (Sunday Hours) Bill, which is currently proceeding in the other place and which will allow drinking on Sunday afternoons. Does he not think, however, that it is about time that we considered evening closing times?

Does my right hon. Friend agree that people living in towns and cities such as Lichfield are terrified to go out late at night on Fridays and Saturdays, when drinkers all pour on to the streets at the same time because all the pubs close at the same time—11 pm? Should it not be left to the local licensing justices to decide when pubs should close?

Mr. Forsyth

We are currently considering whether pubs should be allowed to remain open later on Friday and Saturday evenings. I agree with my hon. Friend that there may be merit in allowing magistrates discretion, but he is making the case for staggered hours, which is not the same as the case for extended hours.