§ Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
asked Her Majesty's Government:
If they will make a statement on the future of licensing laws in the light of the published report of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys on drinking in Scotland.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)
The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys report, which was published today, compares levels of alcohol consumption and patterns of drinking in Scotland before and after the passing of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976, which introduced a closing time of 11 p.m. on weekdays for all licensed premises in Scotland and allowed licensed premises to apply for weekday extensions enabling them to open outside the permitted hours. The report also examines public attitudes to the 1976 Act and the use which licensees have made of the opportunity to open for longer hours.
The study concludes that there is no evidence that the 1976 Act has caused an increase in alcohol consumption, and there are signs that it has led to more leisurely and responsible drinking. The main use made of extensions has been to allow afternoon opening on weekdays. The change in the law is generally popular, but public opinion is less favourable towards late evening extensions than towards afternoon opening.
The report provides a detailed picture of experience in Scotland. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary will want to consider it, and public reaction 1128WA to it, carefully—bearing in mind continuing public concern about the misuse of alcohol—before reaching a decision on whether the law in England and Wales might be changed on similar lines so as to allow more flexibility in opening hours.