Licensing reform bill is 'vital', says Howells

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Related tags: Minister dr kim, Isle of man

It is vital that a licensing reform bill is included in the next Queen's Speech, according to licensing minister Dr Kim Howells.Speaking on the Pub...

It is vital that a licensing reform bill is included in the next Queen's Speech, according to licensing minister Dr Kim Howells.

Speaking on the Pub Channel's Insight programme, Dr Howells said: "A reform bill for licensing is absolutely vital as far as the next Queen's Speech is concerned. In the meantime, if there is a gap in the legislative programme, we'll pitch very hard for it. We'll get on with regulatory reform orders which allow us to do things like grant extensions at New Year's Eve in order to help the industry in whatever way we can."

The television programme was looking at how a reform of licensing laws would affect the trade.

Industry figures including Isle of Man home affairs minister Alan Bell, licensing law expert Peter Coulson, Georgina Wald from the British Institute of Innkeeping and Garry Shewen from Manchester Police contributed.

During the programme, Dr Howells confirmed once again that licensing reform would pass to local authority control but assured the trade that strict guidelines would be issued.

The subject of the Isle of Man, where a complete deregulation of opening hours six months ago has been very successful, was also discussed.

Alan Bell said: "We allow licensees to choose their own closing times. Drinkers are now treated in a far more civilised manner and are allowed to set their own pace."

Dr Howells said: "We're looking very hard at the Isle of Man. It looks like a very successful experiment."

However, he ruled out a complete deregulation of licensing hours. "I think the question of such a relaxation of hours on a permanent basis is far too controversial," he said. "It would never get past the House of Lords."

Related topics: Licensing law

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