HL Deb 31 January 2005 vol 669 cc15-6WA
Lord Hanningfield

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What estimate they have made of the cost to (a) the National Health Service, and (b) the police of the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003 and of the possible impact of 24-hour drinking. [HL612]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey)

The Licensing Act 2003 imposes no new burdens on the National Health Service. The cost to health of alcohol misuse was estimated in the alcohol harm reduction strategy as up to £1.7 billion per annum and we do not anticipate that the implementation of the 2003 Act will fundamentally alter these figures. The implementation of the 2003 Act is expected to help reduce levels of binge-drinking which currently occur as a result of fixed closing times for on-licensed premises. We are also confident that the measures in the alcohol harm reduction strategy, published on 15 March 2004, will significantly reduce alcohol-related harm. The regulatory impact assessment presented to Parliament when the Licensing Bill entered the House of Commons in March 2003 indicated that there should be no additional costs to the police in terms of enforcing licensing law generated by the reforms. Once the Act becomes fully operational, the saving to the police in respect of administrative activity is estimated to be £15 million annually, which can be redeployed to frontline police work. The 2003 Act does not introduce unrestricted opening hours for 24 hours a day. An applicant's proposal for any variation of his hours will be subject to scrutiny by a range of responsible authorities such as the police and interested parties such as local residents and the hours may be restricted if necessary.