§ Lord Hooson
asked Her Majesty's Government:
In the light of the decision of the National Assembly for Wales in favour of ending septennial voting on whether public houses should remain open on a Sunday or not, and in view of the fact that the next vote is due to be called in 2003, whether they can give any indication on when the necessary legislation will be introduced into the Westminster Parliament to abolish the necessity for this poll. [HL933]
§ The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone)
The abolition of the Welsh Sunday opening polls requires the repeal of Sections 67 and 68 of, and Schedule 8 to, the58WA Licensing Act 1964. Polls only need to be held in 2003 if 500 electors in any Welsh district requisition one. It has been the policy of successive governments to abolish these polls and we have indicated our readiness to do so as part of the general reform and modernisation of alcohol licensing law. However, as it was not possible to include a licensing reform Bill in the legislative programme announced on 20 June for this Session of Parliament, it may not be possible to abolish the polls by means of primary legislation before they are next due in 2003. The Government are therefore presently considering whether or not it would be lawful and appropriate to amend the law by means of a regulatory reform order under the terms of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001. However, no final decision has yet been made as to whether to seek such an order.