Following the success of the recent legislation, does my hon. Friend consider that there is a case for taking modest steps towards further liberalisation in the near future?
Does the Minister agree that what is needed now is not a further liberalisation of the licensing laws, but a tightening up of efforts to stop people who have been drinking in licensing hours from driving on our roads? Instead of introducing more time in which people can drink, should not more steps be taken to prevent them from endangering the lives of others and killing on the roads after drinking?
Is my hon. Friend taking steps to establish from the police the exact results of the liberalisation of licensing laws? Is he aware that—certainly in the south-west, and in particular in my constituency, where there have been a few moments of disorder at closing time in the past—the liberalising of licensing hours has been of enormous benefit, not only to people who have indulged in recreational drinking but to the police? Will he assure the House that he will report on the police attitude to the liberalisation that has already taken place?
The police attitude has been broadly favourable and along the lines outlined by my hon. Friend. That is also the feeling of the justices, in so far as they are able to make an assessment at present. The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys will be conducting a survery of alcohol consumption and drinking patterns for the Department of Health in the autumn against which to measure the effects of longer opening hours, and I imagine that a summary of its conclusions will be made available to the House in due course.