DTI officials told legislation for a full liquid pint is unnecessary
Government officials have clashed over proposals for a compulsory 100 per cent liquid pint.
The regulations, proposed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), are understood to be opposed by the Small Business Service (SBS), which is itself part of the DTI.
Insiders revealed last week that the SBS, which protects the rights of small businesses including pubs, had made a submission to the DTI arguing the move to regulate over the full pint was unnecessary.
A spokesman for the SBS said: "We have put forward our views on the full pint proposals and the discussions are ongoing."
There is also understood to be concern within the Prime Minister's office over the proposals, which would force licensees to serve a 100 per cent liquid pint over a minimum sample of 20 pints.
The DTI has so far refused to back down despite criticism from key government advisory body the Better Regulation Task Force.
But news of the SBS submission indicates a split within the government itself and has been welcomed by the trade.
Mark Hastings, spokesman for the Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association (BLRA), said: "It seems that within government there has been an outbreak of common sense and we can only hope that the DTI decides to drop these proposals."
Hastings also criticised the DTI for continuing to openly support the proposal during a consultation.
He said: "It is interesting that the department chose to let it be known it was minded to push ahead with this before the end of the consultation period, especially since the government as a whole, including Tony Blair, has made it clear it wants a consultation to be just that."
Task Force chairman Lord Haskins has advised ministers that the move is disproportionate to the number of complaints from customers over short measures.
Industry leaders fear the plan could cost the trade thousands of pounds and would be almost impossible for trading standards officers to enforce.
Many pubs would need to introduce oversized glasses in order to keep serving beer with a head and it could mean a rise in wasted beer through accidental overfilling.
As The Publican Newspaper went to press, Chris McCabe, licensee of two pubs in Redruth, Cornwall, was due to present a petition and specially branded beer glasses to Number 10 Downing Street in protest over the proposal.
McCabe said: "It is the licensees and not the pub customers that are being short measured by the government, with all the regulations and red tape it keeps bringing in."
But the DTI has claimed that regulation is necessary to stop the "widespread inconsistency" in measures served across the country.
It claims research has showed as many as one in five pints contain less than 95 per cent liquid.
A spokeswoman for the DTI said: "We are looking at the results of the consultation and will be publishing our response shortly."