Don Foster MP*


Bath’s MP, Don Foster, will today take the fight for Licensing sense to the floor of the House of Commons, arguing that there is every reason to delay the implementation of the Licensing Act and no reason to press ahead.

Main ImageCommenting, Don said,

“Countless people in Bath have serious concerns about the impact of the new Licensing laws.

“I’m calling on the Government to put these plans on ice until binge drinking is under control.”

“The Government has attempted to raise a spectre of chaos should the Licensing Act be delayed. They are entirely wrong to do so.

“Preventing implementation of the Licensing Act 2003 will NOT create chaos since existing alcohol licences will continue in force until February 2007.

“The Government says delaying the Act will delay new police powers. The reality is these ‘new’ powers do little but replicate existing and rarely used powers. The police already have powers to immediately close down pubs where there is disorder or fear of disorder.”

“Experience overseas shows that in the current climate, extending the availability of alcohol will make things worse not better.


Notes to editors

1. The Debate and Vote

Liberal Democrat MPs will be joining the Conservatives in opposing the Government’s Licensing Laws in a debate in the Chamber of the Commons this evening. It precedes a crucial vote on Wednesday on whether or not the Licensing Act is implemented on 24th November.

2. Police Powers

Licensing Minister, James Purnell MP has written to all MPs urging them to support the rapid introduction of the Licensing Act. He cites tough new police powers are the primary reason for urgency.

Yet the case for urgency is far from persuasive:
a. Powers introduced already - some sections of the Licensing Act in relation to enforcement have already been introduced, such as greater powers for police officers to confiscate alcohol from young people (s.155 and s.199) introduced over two years ago.

b. Powers yet to be introduced modest – police powers to shut premises for 24 hours exist already under the Licensing Act 1964 and were even extended as recently as 2001.

c. Existing powers not being used - Under Labour, enforcement of alcohol-related offences has been appalling. Only 11 landlords a year on average have been prosecuted for allowing drunken or riotous behaviour on their premises and similar new powers to tackle binge drinking added by the 2001 Criminal Justice Act have only led to one (unsuccessful) prosecution.

3. A comprehensive review of the research concludes that:

“in those countries with a well established binge drinking culture, increasing access to alcohol has led to increased consumption.”

Longer licensing hours in Iceland, Ireland and Canada produced not a decrease in consumption, violence and drunkenness but an increase.

This article published: 24/10/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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