Alcohol

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18 January 1996.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr 12:00, 18 January 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to make it an offence for young people under 18 years of age to consume alcohol in public places; and if he will make a statement. [7857]

Photo of Mr Timothy Kirkhope Mr Timothy Kirkhope The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I share my hon. Friend's concern that we must do all that we can to discourage under-age drinking. My right hon. and learned Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are considering what further steps can be taken.

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. May I point out to my hon. Friend that it is illegal for youngsters to purchase drink, it is illegal to sell them drink and it is illegal to buy drink for them? It seems ridiculous that youngsters can consume alcohol without breaking the law. Will my hon. Friend take that on board in his considerations?

Photo of Mr Timothy Kirkhope Mr Timothy Kirkhope The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

We shall certainly take those matters on board in our consideration. Let me mention something that I do not believe is widely known and remind the House that in England and Wales it is a statutory requirement for schools to educate pupils about alcohol misuse. Similar guidelines exist north of the border. Education plays an enormous part in curbing under-age drinking.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Is the Minister aware that, according to the Royal College of Physicians, more than a quarter of 14-year-old boys became violent after consuming alcohol? Does he agree that under-age drinkers often make public parks and shopping areas a nightmare for respectable citizens, who at best suffer from abuse, and in some cases are threatened with violence? Will the Minister monitor the schemes that have been introduced in Liverpool and Coventry and look at some of the experiments that have been conducted in the United States to see what further measures might be introduced to combat a serious and growing problem?

Photo of Mr Timothy Kirkhope Mr Timothy Kirkhope The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank the hon. Gentleman. I am sure that we can take on board all the advice and experience that he relates as well as being vigilant in looking for ways of curbing the problem.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce , South Dorset

Is my hon. Friend aware of the excellent scheme that was on trial in Weymouth, where the police liaised with local television and radio stations to ask parents whether they knew where their children were on Friday and Saturday nights, when many youngsters drink alcohol in the streets? Will he consider making it an offence for an under-age person to be in possession of alcohol in the street and support such initiatives as the one that has worked so well in Weymouth?

Photo of Mr Timothy Kirkhope Mr Timothy Kirkhope The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I compliment that partnership scheme with the local television station. Hon. Members may wish to suggest similar liaisons between the police and their regional television stations. We shall certainly take that experience on board and consider taking action in the way that my hon. Friend has suggested.