The industry has welcomed news that the government plans to delay the implementation of controversial laws aimed at curbing binge drinking.
Business secretary Lord Peter Mandelson has ordered a cabinet-wide clear-out of "anti-business" measures including the mandatory code on alcohol until 2011.
In a letter to members of the cabinet sub-committee reported in the Times, Mandelson wrote: "I support the approach that where measures appear without a planned implementation date we commit to not imposing these measures until after April 2011."
The British Beer and Pub Association said it was very pleased that the government intended to shelve the code - which had been predicted to cost the industry up to £58m. Other controversial measures of the code included a ban on irresponsible alcohol promotions and giving customers the choice to buy the smallest alcohol measures available.
James Anderson, a partner at licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen, advised caution on "such a momentous u-turn" from the government but said there was no doubt about Mandelson's significant role in the current administration.
"For once, both the industry and the authorities involved in the licensing process were all telling the Government that these steps were unnecessary and that other existing enforcement measures were significant. It may be that the Government has at last decided to listen to the almost universal disapproval of the proposed code," he said.
But the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) warned that Mandelson's announcement was at this stage nothing more than a recommendation for delay.
"We welcome the news that the government is prepared to listen to the arguments being put forward by the trade and that Lord Mandelson has recognised the commercial imperative. But it will mean nothing unless it is translated into actual practical action," said ALMR chief executive Nick Bish.
By Emma White
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