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Purnell defends new licensing regime

12 August 2005
Purnell defends new licensing regime

Licensing minister James Purnell has again robustly defended the new licensing regime in England and Wales, despite a barrage of criticism from political opponents and the media.

Purnell said the new laws would help tackle alcohol fuelled violence and reiterated the start date for new licensing laws would remain 24 November.

His stance goes against calls from the Conservative party and Liberal Democrats to delay.

The latest media frenzy on binge drinking was stoked up after comments made by the Council of Circuit Court Judges in a submission to the Home Office's Drinking Responsibly consultation at the start of the year were released publicly on Tuesday (9 August).

A spokesman for the British, Beer & Pub Association branded fears of 24-hour drinking as wide of the mark.

"We acknowledge that there is a problem in society with binge drinking but it's a much wider one than simply pubs. Off-trade sales have grown relentlessly in the last few years while on-trade sales have remained static."

The Department for Culture Media and Sport, which is overseeing the move to the new laws, said criticism of disorder and drunkenness in town centres proved that a change to existing laws was over due.

"The new act brings in new powers to deal with this situation," said a spokeswoman. "The vast majority of people are law abiding and should be trusted to have a drink after 11pm."

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