§ Mr. Biffen
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement on the action to be taken following the Monopolies Commission Report on the supply of beer.132W
§ Mr. Ridley
The Commission's sole recommendation was that the licensing laws in England and Wales should be substantially relaxed, with the general objective of permitting the sale of alcoholic drinks, for on or off consumption, by any retailer whose character and premises satisfied certain minimum standards. The Departmental Committee of inquiry into the liquor licensing laws in England and Wales, whose establishment my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has just announced, will examine the social implications of the Commission's recommendation.
Meanwhile, I am particularly concerned about places where a large proportion of the licensed premises is owned by the same brewer, and have asked the brewers for information and for proposals to widen the choice available to the public. The Brewers Society have informed me that they are conducting a study of the matter and will send me the results in due course. I shall keep a watch on the situation and it will remain open to me to take further action, if I am not satisfied with the progress being made. Finally, I would draw my hon. Friend's attention to a statement issued by the Brewers Society which describes some of the steps which the brewers are themselves taking to meet points of criticism made by the Monopolies Commission.