§ 2. Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
What steps she is taking to ensure that consumers receive a full pint in public houses. 
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Nigel Griffiths)
One in five pints currently contain less than 95 per cent. of capacity. That is clearly unacceptable. On 18 March, we issued a consultation document to tackle this. We are committed to giving short shrift to short measures, and our proposals should guarantee beer and cider drinkers 60 million extra pints a year.
§ Mr. Winterton
I am most grateful to the Minister for that positive, if not frothy, response. I would like to declare an interest from the past. I was, for 10 years, non-executive chairman of CAMRA Real Ale Investments, which then became Midsummer Inns before it was bought out and we were all made redundant by the new company. Is the Minister sure that what the Government are doing will ensure that beer drinkers receive a full liquid pint without having to ask for a top-up? The Campaign for Real Ale feels very strongly about this, as do those who support traditional pubs and brewers. I make no criticism of the smaller brewer, but it is, unfortunately, not untypical that too many people have to ask for a top-up in the beer outlets run by the bigger companies. Will the Government look at this again, perhaps a little more seriously?
§ Nigel Griffiths
CAMRA's loss is Parliament's gain. We have listened to representations from all the interested parties in this matter, including the hon. Gentleman's constituents. I spoke this morning to Hugh Thompson of Storm Brewing in Macclesfield, who welcomed the proposals in the consultation document. He is also full of praise for the 14p a pint reduction announced in the Budget, which will help nine out of 10 brewers—350 in total. Let me add to the hon. Gentleman's comments by saying that anyone who seeks to short-change Britain's drinkers will be left with a bitter taste in their mouth, because, with fines under our proposals of up to £1,000 per short measure and, in the case of repeat offenders, the loss of their licence and their livelihood, I think that we shall see effective action taken for the first time to tackle the short-measure culture.
§ Mr. Martin O'Neill (Ochil)
Does my hon. Friend agree that there are dangers in half-baked consumerism? If the glasses are to be bigger, we shall have to pay for those bigger glasses, and if the amount of liquid in them is to be greater, the brewers and the publicans will find ways of charging us for it. It will be of little consolation to beer drinkers if we end up drinking slightly more beer out of bigger glasses at far greater expense. Those are the dangers of half-baked consumerism, and many of us who 1031 like a pint of beer are very wary of them because we know that consumerism has rarely been recognised by brewers and publicans in the past.
§ Nigel Griffiths
My hon. Friend is perfectly correct. That is why there is nothing half-baked about these proposals. They are for consumers and drinkers in Britain, and they will ensure that there are stiffer penalties than ever and that the equivalent of about 60 million extra pints a year will go to the drinkers and not back to the breweries.
§ Richard Younger-Ross (Teignbridge)
I hope that that promise will be delivered. Will the Minister enlighten us about when he will deliver the promised licensing law reform rather than just the half-baked attempt on licensing for new year's day?
§ Nigel Griffiths
That is out for consultation and clearly there are diverse interests in the House and in the country on licensing laws. I hope that it is possible to reach a compromise that is agreeable to local communities up and down the country, which differ as to how much those laws should be expanded to allow round-the-clock drinking. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that, in cities such as Edinburgh, it is acceptable but in other parts of the country it is not. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.