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Scottish Government rules out national debate on licensing reform

25 March 2008 by
Scottish Government rules out national debate on licensing reform

The Scottish Government has ruled out restoring a national forum to debate licensing issues north of the border.

However, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) said the decision to abolish the National Licensing Forum (NLF) appeared to "ignore the reality of licensing reform in Scotland".

Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, told Scottish Parliament members that the current policy was to focus on local licensing forums and defer national debate on licensing reform to the Scottish Ministerial Advisory Committee on Alcohol Problems and the Alcohol Industry Partnership.

"Local licensing forums have already been established, and have a function to keep under review the operation of the legislation in their area," he said. "We are not persuaded that there is a need for another forum at this stage."

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the SBPA, said: "When the NLF was wound up the then Licensing Minister said he intended to replace with a smaller group of key stakeholders that would be focused on delivering licensing reform, but this never happened.

"We believe there would be merit in having a new NLF at this stage to iron out the issues which are emerging with the process of licensing transition."

The transition process for the biggest overhaul of licensing laws in Scotland for 30 years began on 1 February, with pubs across the country required to re-apply for their alcohol licences ahead of legislative changes in 2009.

Licensing laws round-up >>

Licensing transition closes 83 Scottish pubs >>
Scottish licensing laws overhaul to begin today >>

By Christopher Walton

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