HC Deb 23 January 1997 vol 288 cc735-6W
Mr. Couchman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to extend licensing hours at weekends; and if he will make a statement. [12849]

Mr. Kirkhope

We have been giving very careful consideration to the result of the public consultation about extending the normal permitted closing times on Friday and Saturday nights, from 11 pm to midnight.

We received a very large number of responses to the consultation exercise—some 700 responses in all. The views expressed by respondents varied considerably, and there were significant amounts of support for, and opposition to, the Government's proposals.

The responses to this consultation exercise have also brought into sharper focus some concerns about overlapping aspects of the licensing system, as between licensing justices and local authorities, and their current effectiveness for an industry in which internal boundaries between different types of premises are increasingly blurred.

Individual aspects of the licensing system are often presented as being self-contained, and proposals for change are commonly put forward on the basis that they can be tackled separately, but the licensing regime is a complex one, and invariably there are implications for other parts of the system.

We have therefore concluded that it would be right to take forward the consideration of extending normal licensing hours in the broader context of the particular issues which I have set out. I expect this consideration to be concluded during the spring.