HC Deb 03 February 1988 vol 126 cc1049-62

`The following section shall be inserted after section 88 of the principal Act— 88A. The Home Office, the Department of Health and Social Security and the Department of Transport shall monitor the effects of changes in licensing hours on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems in relation to public order, road safety and public health in England and Wales.".'.—[Dr. Moonie]

Brought up, and read the First time.

8.30 pm
Dr. Lewis Moonie (Kirkcaldy)

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

I feel marginally—I regret to say, only marginally—warmer towards the Bill than I did on Second Reading and in Committee. It still lacks several essential components, especially in the clause on the monitoring of its effect. It is sad that someone must move a new clause asking the Departments involved to monitor the effects of the changes. Unfortunately, they do not do that in any constructive way, and perhaps hon. Members agree that they should.

The new clause would ensure that the Departments discharged the function that they should, and monitored the effects of this major change—despite the Minister's having called it a minor one—in the licensing laws. The clause in the Bill involves an increase in the time available for the consumption of alcohol on weekdays by 30 per cent., which is a major change. All changes in the law, in price or in the length of time in which there is access to alcohol produce changes in consumption. That has been proved by countless examples that have been quoted earlier in the debate, and I do not propose to go over them again, but merely to mention other countries in which there have been changes, such as Canada, Australia—there have been changes state by state there — and Finland, in which there is interesting parallel of the laws having been tightened up, followed by a fall in problems and consumption, and then liberalised, followed by a corresponding rise.

Scotland has been mentioned at length in support of the Bill. There was evidence after the Clayson proposals were implemented that the consumption of alcohol fell there. However, it has been clearly demonstrated that that fall was spurious; it was caused by other factors and not by the change in licensing laws.

The need for monitoring has, if anything, been underlined by the Scottish experience, by the lack of data on which we can rely and by the ambiguity of the statistics quoted at such great length—

Mr. Menzies Campbell

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it was one of the recommendations of the Clayson committee that there should be monitoring such as he is now suggesting?

Dr. Moonie

I am indeed. Again, it is a sad comment on the state of affairs in Scotland that there has not been adquate monitoring of the effects of the proposals, nor has there been full implementation of the Clayson recommendations. Had they been properly implemented, that might have led to a change of the type for which we were hoping from the Bill.

If the availability of statistics is inadequate, it could be improved. Statistics are available. What is not available is some rational means of collecting and collating them so that they can be compared year by year and their effects noted. Increased consumption means increased problems—of drink-driving, and of injury and death caused by the same, particularly in the late afternoon. That is when a large amount of the extra time will fall—just when our children are returning home from school. That is when drunken drivers will be disgorged on to the streets and into their cars to cause mayhem. That is not an attractive prospect. If we do not bring in new legislation to combat it, we should at least examine it.

I want to quote from a letter to the Home Office from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, commenting on the Government's consultative proposals: Paragraph 10 of the document states that action is more likely to be effective if it is focused on particular problems rather than if it is co-ordinated across a range of policies. At the same time the Government is making a change in one policy, namely, the extension of licensing hours, without any consideration of other policies which are yet to be developed, even though it is acknowledged that licensing controls have played a significant role in preventing nuisance, and in maintaining public order and safety. It is therefore totally inconsistent to introduce one measure, at this point, which will undoubtedly increase the availability of alcohol to the population as a whole There is evidence of a rise recently in overall alcohol intake and in death from cirrhosis. It is at least likely that the increased suicide rate in younger males may be related to alcohol problems, as well as I o unemployment. Many reports indicate that some 15–30 per cent. of general hospital admissions are related to alcohol problems. The present time, therefore, is hardly propitious for an extension of licensing hours. The proposal indicates a lack of concern on the part of the Government about the damage which alcohol does to the community and the individual and also the enormous costs incurred by the Health and Social Services, in terms of disease, morbidity and child care. Those European countries which have more liberal licensing laws also seem to have a higher level of overall consumption of alcohol and a higher level of alcohol related disease. All the evidence points to the fact that increasing the accessibility to alcohol by whatever measure increases its consumption … However, since the extension of the licensing laws in Scotland, there has been a marked increase in the combination of alcohol and self-poisoning. There has also been a recent acceleration, compared with England and Wales, in the rise of female deaths from cirrhosis … We do not accept that the licensing laws are in any way a hindrance to the tourist industry". One of the reasons for liberalising them is the tourist industry. They may indeed be regarded as part of the British scene like 'Beefeaters' and other innocuous eccentricities. We believe that a unilateral act of increasing the licensing hours can only lead to increased problems from alcohol, particularly in those who are most vulnerable, i.e. those who already have a high alcohol consumption and also young people whose drinking is already causing considerable concern. I have quoted extensively from the letter because it underlines the royal college's concern about the effects of the Bill.

Mr. Favell

The hon. Gentleman is a Scottish Member. Scotland already enjoys sensible licensing laws allowing people to drink during the afternoon. I am a regular visitor to Aviemore, where the slopes close at 4 pm. After skiing, people in Scotland can go for a drink during the afternoon. Does the hon. Gentleman think that skiing would be as popular in Scotland if people were given a cup of tea after they came off the slopes?

Dr. Moonie

I shall be happy for English ski resorts to be granted the same privilege. I cannot think of any off-hand, but I am sure there must be one or two. With that in mind, I want to quote from Saunders on licensing laws: A central concern about the extensive granting of 'all-day' licensing is that as with all forms of drug use availability is a key factor in determining levels of harm. As noted above the lesson of Europe is that those countries with little or no legislative controls on alcohol use have the highest rates of alcohol related mortality. All day licensing makes us more like the French not only in drinking style but also in terms of patterns of problems. The French experience is one of infrequent drunkenness but extensive alcohol related mortality (9). It is possible that in Scotland we have created the basis for an explosion of physical damage from alcohol use which will over the next decade become increasingly evident in our general medical wards. With regard to this it is important to note that between 1976 and 1983 alcohol consumption in the UK as a whole rose by 4.5 per cent. but in Scotland per capita consumption increased at a disproportionate level—up by 13 per cent. The enthusiasm with which the Brewers Society is currently campaigning for extended hours south of the Border has no doubt been induced by their appreciation that more hours means more sales. From a public health perspective this inevitably means more harm … In Britain alcohol has never been controlled for health reasons, so it is likely that the Brewers Society will succeed in their campaign. Therefore, the next decade will be one in which Britons"— meaning the English, I presume— consume more alcohol and experience more alcohol-related problems. When this melancholic fact is achieved the alcohol producers will have succeeded in making us more like the French. I ask the Minister at least to accept the premise that there may be ill effects of the Bill. I trust that he does not hope to cover them up by failing to look adequately at the statistics. Will he undertake to instruct the Home Office to work with other Ministries to make a careful study of the available statistics as they arise? Will he assure us that, should there be clear evidence of harm resulting from the Bill, he will think again?

Sir Bernard Braine

The new clause concerns the vital need to monitor licensing law changes in relation to public health and social well-being. It will require the Home Office, the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Transport to monitor the effects of changes in licensing hours on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems in respect of public order, road safety and public health in England and Wales.

The new clause is entirely constructive. It will in no way damage the main aim and purpose of the Bill or provide any impediment to its full implementation. It merely ensures that adequate information about effects is made available. I hope that the House will consent to it. I remind the House that it consented to an identical clause that was moved on the Report stage of the Licensing Bill which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart). That Bill had the Government's approval. The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) put her finger on the crucial consideration. In Committee, she observed that almost all debates had been taken up not with differences of political philosophy or moral points of view, but with arguments about matters of fact. Surely few hon. Members would wish to see extended drinking hours if there were no reasonable doubt that the result of such reform would be more deaths and injuries on our roads, more outbreaks of public disorder on our streets, and even more pressure being placed on the Health Service. Equally, few hon. Members would object to extended drinking hours if there were clear evidence that no harm would result.

Unfortunately, debates on this Bill and on previous Bills — I have taken part in such debates for over 20 years—have been obstructed and prolonged by a lack of basic information. The Scottish experiment has completely failed to produce conclusive evidence on either side of the debate because it was not properly monitored. On Second Reading, the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) said: The Clayson committee was concerned to ensure proper monitoring of the effects of changes in Scottish legislation, but that has not happened. I hope that, recognising some of the apprehensions voiced today, the Government will feel that that should now be done in the whole of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it may be a topic for consideration by the interdepartmental committee." —[Official Report, 9 November 1987; Vol. 1427, c. 63.] That advice should have been taken. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke in favour of the Bill. He was a member of the Clayson committee. I should have thought that his view had added weight, and I endorse it fully.

8.45 pm

In his reply, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said that he agreed that it would be necessary to monitor the effects of the Bill and that the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys had already undertaken an up-to-date survey of drinking habits in England and Wales to provide data against which any changes could be measured. I have had on more than one occasion to point out to the House that that same monitoring did take place, but that the Government sat on the findings for over a year. I am glad that they have now seen the light, but it is not nearly enough. Many other aspects of the matter need to be examined in depth. If the Scottish experiment is any guide, even the OPCS survey, which the Minister mentioned, may turn out to be of only limited usefulness.

I have lost count of the number of occasions on which the OPCS survey, "Drinking and Attitudes to Licensing in Scotland", has been cited as providing conclusive proof that extended drinking hours in Scotland have had no adverse affects but, possibly, some beneficial effects. In the view of one neutral reviewer, Dr. Philip Davies, the study provides very little empirical evidence to support those who wish to see a further relaxation in licensing laws on either side of the border. I do not think that I am distorting Dr. Davies' views by adding that neither does the Scottish survey provide clear evidence against further liberalisation. That is the precise point that I make. For example, Dr. Davies points out that questions about alcohol problems or the abuse of alcohol were beyond the remit of the survey and that, similarly, questions regarding drinking practices in relation to eating out or other social activities were not asked.

Therefore, the survey provides no information about whether married couples are drinking together in pubs more frequently now than they were before relaxation, or whether they are using pubs more frequently for eating out or other recreational activities, with or without their children. In other words, the survey provides no information about whether licensing reform in Scotland has encouraged more civilised drinking, as the Clayson committee had hoped. The fact is, however, that those who drank heavily before the Scottish reform now drink more heavily. There is some evidence, therefore, that the reforms are not all what their advocates had claimed.

Although I am pleased to know that the Government have already laid a small part of the foundations for monitoring licensing law changes south of the border, I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will assure the House that the surveys that are planned for England and Wales will be rather less incomplete and superficial than their Scottish counterpart. I hope that he will also accept that, although drinking surveys are important, they are only one part of the picture. We also need detailed studies of the matters that were excluded from the Scottish survey, for example, alcohol abuse.

The Erroll committee strongly recommended that detailed monitoring of licensing law changes be carried out, and suggested that an interdepartmental working party should be created to direct and supervise the work. That was an excellent suggestion. I spent years advocating something along those lines. The Wakeham committee is now in existence, and I warmly welcome it. If there is one Minister in whose judgment and integrity I have supreme confidence, it is my right hon. Friend the Lord President and Leader of the House. The Government made a wise choice in putting him in charge of the interdepartmental committee.

Mr. Greg Knight

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some hon. Members might support him if he were to state that he supported one of the other recommendations of the Erroll committee, which was that public houses should be open until midnight?

Sir Bernard Braine

I have heard some odd, peculiar and irresponsible suggestions in the years but—

Mr. Knight

It is in the Erroll Committee report.

Sir Bernard Braine

No Government have ever dared to implement the Erroll committee's recommendations. There is now an attempt to move a little in that direction. So far, no Government have ever done so, because of the known and uncontrolled harm that is done. My hon. Friend must not push me too far, or I shall trot out the case in detail. The Erroll committee was not wholly wrong. It was wise in making that one suggestion. We must not take away that little credit. Indeed, the Government and supporters of further licensing liberalisation should welcome the clause. I gave way to my hon. Friend because I thought that he, for whom I have great respect, was going to say that.

There is a direct precedent. Following the passage of the Defence of the Realm Act 1916, some provisions of which this Bill seeks to reform, the Central Liquor Control Board was established to monitor its working and effects. If the changes that are brought about by the Bill are monitored in the same meticulous way as the Defence of the Realm Act was monitored by the Central Liquor Control Board, in five years we shall have the facts and experience to make rational decisions about the role that opening hours should play in national policy.

I stress that between the two wars under that regime this was the most sober country in the civilised world. The deterioration in behaviour with regard to alcohol goes back only 15 or 20 years. During that time we have seen a huge increase in alcohol consumption and a huge increase in harm. That is the lesson that I am trying to put over today. It is a difficult task, but it must be done.

Once we have proper monitoring, we can formulate policy along the lines confirmed by careful social investigation and no longer be in the present position of having to take steps in the dark. I do not deny that the required monitoring system would be extensive. One of the main distinguishing features of alcohol abuse is that it impinges on almost every aspect of social life. That is precisely why we should be so cautious about extending drinking hours. There is no need for me to describe at length all the various manifestations and consequences of alcohol abuse. However, I am bound to say that as a result of the helpful intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight)—

Mr. Douglas Hogg

He did not mean it.

Sir Bernard Braine

He challenged me and I responded.

I remind the House that the Bill is designed to increase the availability of a substance that is already an important contributory factor to approximately one in five admissions to general medical units. It is responsible for 40 to 50 per cent. of violent crime and approximately one third of divorce petitions and cases of child abuse. It is by far the single main cause of death and injury on our roads. Need I say more? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The truth shall make ye free. There are times when it is necessary to say these things so that hon. Members may understand that their liberalising efforts may have worthy objectives, but they carry a heavy price.

Alcohol abuse is a problem for all society, not merely for a small minority of unfortunate individuals. I will not claim that it can be proved in advance that the Bill will make matters worse. I cannot say that. I can merely say that there is an obvious danger that it will do so. We are therefore under a considerable obligation to discover what the effects will be. Special social impact surveys will be needed to provide that information. The monitoring process must be regular and consistent, not spasmodic or erratic. It will also be necessary to ascertain regional variations in patterns of alcohol use and abuse. The effects of the Bill may differ from one part of the country to another. It may differ between urban areas and rural areas and it might vary between the north—which has a tradition for hard drinking — and the south. Those differences must be identified and understood.

While the monitoring process will undoubtedly require considerable activity and expertise, it should not place an impossible burden on the three Departments named in the new clause. Increasingly, data on alcohol-related problems are being gathered, although as I suspect the Wakeham committee has already discovered, the information is far from complete.

Some district health authorities have already begun to measure the incidence of alcohol-related accidental or non-accidental injuries presented to accident and emergency departments in a given locality according to the hour of day and the day of the week. Health authorities are also already improving their capacity to measure by means such as hospital activity analysis data the number of patients being treated for alcohol-related disease and the financial cost to the taxpayer of such treatment.

If the Government are undertaking a review of the Health Service, including its costs, organisation and administration, they should consider alcohol abuse very closely. The cost to the nation as a whole is very high. Similarly, it would not be too difficult for the home accident surveillance system to be adapted to identify the contribution of alcohol abuse to home accidents including fires, the importance of which has been recognised in recent publicity.

I remember the surprise I caused when commending some time ago the practice of one chief constable who listed whether alcohol was related to every charge on his records. That was not then a common practice in the police, but it should have been so that we could understand the total cost of alcohol abuse.

Equally, there is no reason why social services and probation departments as well as the police should not be able to develop systems for the routine monitoring of caseloads and offences to identify the contribution of alcohol abuse. At the moment, individual pieces of research suggest strongly that alcohol abuse is a significant factor in all those areas, but we need to know much more. The Bill is before the House; why is the opportunity not being taken to include such a provision? I am here to help the Minister to move in the right direction.

Whatever form the monitoring process takes, the public health and social well-being of the community requires that the results should be made widely available and of course to Parliament. This may or may not be the last occasion when an attempt will be made to change the licensing law, although I cannot believe that another Bill of this scope will be presented to the House in the foreseeable future. The least that we can do now, if we vote the Bill into law, is to ensure that a comprehensive monitoring process is established to bring the facts to light and inform those who have responsibility for public health, public order and public safety. The new clause can be regarded as a threat to licensing reform.

Mr. Charles Irving (Cheltenham)

I rarely intervene in debates, but it is rather cold at this end of the Chamber. I think that the boiler has fused. I am so interested and excited by my right hon. Friend's dissertation. Is he suggesting that all the new regulations should apply to the House of Commons? As temporary landlord of the bars and facilities here, I should be grateful to know, so that I can make appropriate preparation.

Sir Bernard Braine

I should not be drawn in that direction, but many of our constituents ask why the bars in the Houses of Parliament are outside the licensing law. If the matter rested with me, they would not be. I understand that this has something to do with the fact that we occupy a royal palace which is not subject to the normal licensing laws. I will not defend that for a moment. However, my hon. Friend, who presides as Chairman over the House of Commons Catering Sub-Committee with such grace, charm and high competence—never has the food here been so good—must address himself to that point. I should not tread any further down that inviting but perhaps rather dangerous road.

The least that we can do now if we vote the Bill into law is to ensure that a comprehensive monitoring process is established to bring the facts to light and inform those responsible for public health, public order and public services. The new clause can be regarded as a threat to licensing reform only by those who fear the facts. I cannot believe that the House will take such a view and prefer ignorance to knowledge. I therefore commend the new clause to the House.

Mr. David Hinchliffe (Wakefield)

I shall speak briefly in support of the new clause. My only interest in the debate is to represent the well-being of my constituents in Wakefield. I never cease to be amazed in such debates to see the number of Conservative Members who directly represent business interests. Tonight, Conservative Members have excelled themselves.

9 pm

It worries me that people outside the House assume that hon. Members come here to represent their constituency interests. We know exactly what interests Conservative Members represent in tonight's debate. As the right hon. Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) said, we are debating what is virtually a brewers' charter. The Bill is a brewers' charter. It is in the interests of the brewers and the business people who sit on the Conservative Benches. The Bill is a present from the Conservative Government to those who have loyally supported them in the past. [HON. MEMBERS: "Absolute nonsense."] It is a fact. The right hon. Member for Castle Point virtually conceded that point in his earlier comments. It is amazing that the Government can find legislative time to discuss extending drinking hours but not the real issues that have been touched upon — those relating to the problems of alcohol in our society. Those problems worry me, they worry other hon. Members, and they certainly worry my constituents in Wakefield.

The problem of drunken driving has been referred to in the debate. Every year there are 100,000 drink-driving convictions, and every year accidents involving drivers who are drunk cost the country £89 million. There is a public clamour for random breath tests. We should be discussing those issues instead of extending drinking hours. We should be discussing family problems, marital violence, marital breakdown and child abuse related to drinking. The Government should be giving the House time to discuss those issues instead of what we are debating tonight. My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) has referred to the £2 billion that alcohol-related illness costs the National Health Service.

I should like to say a few words about drink-related crime. It is quite clear that there is a definite connection between offences that occur late at night and the amount of alcohol that people have consumed. I shall not go into great detail on the points that I made in Committee about the concern in my west Yorkshire constituency about drink-related offences which occur late at night, at around the time when pubs and clubs are closing.

Drink-related crime has reached a crisis point in west Yorkshire, and I suspect in certain other parts of the country. The Minister will recall that I mentioned in Committee the police figures for the Wakefield subdivision of west Yorkshire police. My constituency has the largest percentage of offences for violence against the person in the whole of west Yorkshire. That is because there is more drinking in Wakefield than elsewhere in west Yorkshire. It is accepted that we have more late-night licences. People come from as far away as London on trips to Wakefield, which is deemed to be a drinking town. It is not my constituents who are the drinkers. The problem is that people come from outside to my constituency. They come in busloads. Football supporters use my constituency for late-night drinking.

The huge crime figures, which have increased recently within the Wakefield sub-division, clearly correlate with closing time. The police say that around closing time in Wakefield city centre — Wakefield is small, with a population of less than 60,000 people — as many as 6,000 people can be milling around in various stages of intoxication. That is the cause of problems in Wakefield. Shortly before Christmas, 37 people were arrested for drink-related offences in Wakefield city centre in one night. The local police station had great difficulty in accommodating them.

We need to have encompassed in the legislation a review of what exactly is happening as a result of drinking. The local authorities in the Wakefield area are blamed for that problem. We are told — this point was made in Committee—that local authorities can block those late-night licences through their entertainment licensing powers. I made the point in Committee that the authorities in Wakefield attempted to do that, but time after time on appeal they have lost and had costs awarded against them in their efforts to defend the interests of my constituents. The local people are desperate for action, but it will not come from this legislation.

Mr. Waller

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the new restriction orders, which are an intrinsic part of the Bill, address directly the problem of which he has just spoken?

Mr. Hinchliffe

I accept that, but I am concerned about entertainment licences. That problem is not dealt with in the Bill, despite the fact that I raised it several times in Committee. The only way to deal with it is to follow the provisions of new clause 5 and hope that subsequently the Government will realise the extent of the problem in many parts of the country because of drink-related crime. The Government are totally oblivious to this worrying problem.

I want to make three points, to which I hope the Minister will respond. It is vital that the Government examine the evidence from the police in areas such as west Yorkshire about drink-related offences. They will get a message contrary to what they are providing for in the Bill. The problem, which will be evident from the figures provided by the police, should have been tackled in the Bill.

The Government should also take action to curb the increasing problem of late-night establishments which charge inflated admission prices of £4 or £5 and then sell beer or lager at 10p a pint. That is a financial incentive to people to get blind drunk. I accept that the Government do not want to get involved in market forces, but this practice encourages people to get drunk and commit crimes. Local authorities should be given real powers to block late-night entertainment licences and to tackle the problems of late-night drinking in areas such as Wakefield.

The Goverment are unbelievably complacent about the real problems referred to by the right hon. Member for Castle Point and by my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie). The provision for monitoring is essential. It is crucial to ensure that people's real concerns about alcohol are tackled by Parliament.

Sir Dudley Smith

Monitoring would have limited value. I intervene only to answer the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie). While we all accept that alcohol abuse leads to severe illness and death and to big social problems, restrictionism does not always equate with sobriety.

Last week I was talking to a leading Swedish politician whom I know well. He told me that in his country alcohol is extremely expensive and that there are many restrictions. Has that caused a lowering of alcohol consumption? It has not. Alcoholism is on the increase in Scandinavia, and particularly in Sweden. It has reached the stage where large numbers of people, including families, have their own stills to make alcohol. That is against the law, but the Government, presumably abandoning the monitoring that they had undertaken, have turned a blind eye to what is happening. They do not prosecute the individual; they prosecute only when a person gets ambitious and starts selling the product.

I am not suggesting that we will get to that position. Indeed, the liberal and far-sighted approach of the Government in this excellent Bill will assist us in being sensible about the problem. Time and again one hears from the critics a tale of woe and disaster. The one way of countering the problem is to stop drinking altogether or to restricti it severely. In some parts of the world restricton has been attempted but has not worked.

Mr. Anderson

I should like to respond to the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir D. Smith). All the figures that I have seen, both national and international, suggest that there is a correlation between availability and consumption and between price and consumption. I hope that the hon. Gentleman accepts that it is important that the facts be established. I do, and that is why I support new clause 5.

I hope that everybody agrees that we need an informed debate on this vital issue. There must be greater public knowledge about it. We need legislation which is not a stab in the dark but based on the best available knowledge of what the effects of that legislation are likely to be. I hope that the Government will monitor those effects and will publish their findings. The hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington can feed in his own considerations, and we can all come to reasonable conclusions on the basis of knowledge rather than our respective presuppositions.

We also need enforcement and action. Our fear is that the Government may not want too much knowledge as they might be forced, as a result of public opinion, to take some action which they found distasteful. The right hon. Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) observed that if the Government want to save money on the National Health Service, they should address themselves to the enormous financial burden on that service caused by alcohol abuse. That burden can be increased or decreased by Government policy on alcohol.

We need monitoring, as it is quite clear from what the Minister and the Secretary of State have said that the Government take a dynamic view of the liberalisation of the licensing laws. This is only the start. The Secretary of State said on Second Reading that he would go much further. There is a dichotomy between his restrictionism with regard to refugees and immigration and his liberalism concerning the licensing laws. He favours more liberalisation for Sundays and, given half a chance, the Government would add to the liberalisation represented by the Bill. The Government are approaching the matter on an incremental basis. They will go step by step towards, possibly, total deregulation. It is therefore all the more important that we should know what the consequences of such action might be before it is taken.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie) said that the Welsh Office is mentioned in an amendment which we are to consider later. I shall not bore the House with the arguments that I made in Committee, but there is indeed a Welsh dimension. The scale of the problem is much greater in Wales, so I hope that the Welsh Office will take a role in the issue.

If the Government do not want to know the facts, they will continue to stumble along in the dark. It seems that they are unprepared to research the effects of the changes. Perhaps the findings of such research would be unwelcome to them.

9.15 pm
Mr. Douglas Hogg

I do not commend the new clause to the House. My reasons are both broad and narrow, and I shall deal with the latter first. This House should not impose statutory obligations that are incapable of enforcement. The new clause seeks to do just that, because, although it specifies objectives, it does not specify means. Nor does it say what has to be done to comply with a statutory obligation. On those narrow grounds alone, the new clause is defective.

Secondly and broadly, the problem is not lack of information—there is plenty of information—but lack of interpretation of the information. We can have all the information that we like, but I strongly suspect that my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), with all the eloquence for which he is noted, would argue for a different conclusion to be drawn from that information from that which I would draw.

Government Departments such as the Home Office, the Department of Transport and the DHSS accumulate a vast body of information relating to the problems of drink, their consequences and their characteristics. In places like this, we are concerned not with lack of knowledge but with the interpretation to be placed on it. That being so, although I greatly admired my right hon. Friend's speech, I cannot commend his new clause to the House.

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

The House divided: Ayes 69, Noes 270.

Division No. 166] [9.16 pm
Allen, Graham McCartney, Ian
Alton, David McCrea, Rev William
Anderson, Donald McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) McNamara, Kevin
Barron, Kevin Mahon, Mrs Alice
Beggs, Roy Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Beith, A. J. Maxton, John
Bermingham, Gerald Michael, Alun
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Morgan, Rhodri
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Murphy, Paul
Cryer, Bob Paisley, Rev Ian
Cummings, J. Parry, Robert
Cunliffe, Lawrence Patchett, Terry
Dalyell, Tam Pike, Peter
Dixon, Don Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Doran, Frank Richardson, Ms Jo
Douglas, Dick Robertson, George
Duffy, A. E. P. Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Faulds, Andrew Short, Clare
Fearn, Ronald Skinner, Dennis
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Flynn, Paul Spearing, Nigel
Foster, Derek Steel, Rt Hon David
Golding, Mrs Llin Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Hardy, Peter Turner, Dennis
Haynes, Frank Wallace, James
Heffer, Eric S. Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Hinchliffe, David Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Howells, Geraint Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Tellers for the Ayes:
Kilfedder, James Dr. Lewis Moonie and
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles) Mr. Eric Illsley.
Livingstone, Ken
Aitken, Jonathan Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Boswell, Tim
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Allason, Rupert Bowis, John
Amess, David Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Arbuthnot, James Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Brazier, Julian
Aspinwall, Jack Bright, Graham
Atkins, Robert Browne, John (Winchester)
Atkinson, David Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Baldry, Tony Buck, Sir Antony
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Burns, Simon
Bendall, Vivian Burt, Alistair
Benyon, W. Butler, Chris
Bevan, David Gilroy Butterfill, John
Blackburn, Dr John G. Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Carrington, Matthew
Cash, William Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Chapman, Sydney Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Chope, Christopher Hunter, Andrew
Churchill, Mr Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Irvine, Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Irving, Charles
Colvin, Michael Jack, Michael
Conway, Derek Janman, Timothy
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Jessel, Toby
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Cope, John Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Cormack, Patrick Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Couchman, James Key, Robert
Cran, James King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Crowther, Stan Kirkhope, Timothy
Currie, Mrs Edwina Knapman, Roger
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Day, Stephen Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Devlin, Tim Knowles, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Knox, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Dover, Den Lang, Ian
Dunn, Bob Latham, Michael
Emery, Sir Peter Lawrence, Ivan
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lee, John (Pendle)
Evennett, David Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Farr, Sir John Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Favell, Tony Lightbown, David
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lord, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Fookes, Miss Janet MacGregor, John
Forman, Nigel MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Maclean, David
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman McLoughlin, Patrick
Fox, Sir Marcus McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Franks, Cecil Madel, David
Freeman, Roger Malins, Humfrey
French, Douglas Mans, Keith
Gale, Roger Maples, John
Gill, Christopher Marland, Paul
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Glyn, Dr Alan Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Goodlad, Alastair Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gorst, John Mills, Iain
Gow, Ian Monro, Sir Hector
Gower, Sir Raymond Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Moore, Rt Hon John
Greenway, John (Rydale) Morrison, Hon Sir Charles
Gregory, Conal Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Moss, Malcolm
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Nelson, Anthony
Grist, Ian Neubert, Michael
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Nicholls, Patrick
Hampson, Dr Keith Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hanley, Jeremy Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hannam, John Page, Richard
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Paice, James
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Patten, Chris (Bath)
Harris, David Patten, John (Oxford W)
Haselhurst, Alan Pawsey, James
Hayes, Jerry Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Porter, David (Waveney)
Hayward, Robert Powell, William (Corby)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Price, Sir David
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Raffan, Keith
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Rathbone, Tim
Hill, James Redwood, John
Hind, Kenneth Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Riddick, Graham
Holt, Richard Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Howard, Michael Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Roe, Mrs Marion
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Rost, Peter Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Rowe, Andrew Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Thorne, Neil
Ryder, Richard Thornton, Malcolm
Sackville, Hon Tom Townend, John (Bridlington)
Sayeed, Jonathan Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, David (Dover) Tracey, Richard
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Tredinnick, David
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Trippier, David
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Viggers, Peter
Shersby, Michael Waddington, Rt Hon David
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Walden, George
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Speed, Keith Waller, Gary
Speller, Tony Ward, John
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Warren, Kenneth
Squire, Robin Watts, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Wells, Bowen
Stanley, Rt Hon John Wheeler, John
Steen, Anthony Whitney, Ray
Stern, Michael Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Stevens, Lewis Wilkinson, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wilshire, David
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N) Winterton, Nicholas
Stokes, John Wolfson, Mark
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Wood, Timothy
Sumberg, David Woodcock, Mike
Summerson, Hugo Yeo, Tim
Tapsell, Sir Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford) Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Mr. Peter Lloyd.
Temple-Morris, Peter

Question accordingly negatived.

Forward to