As my hon. Friend knows, last May I announced a comprehensive review of liquor licensing legislation, with the aim of producing a simpler and more effective system. We have been having useful discussions with a wide range of interested parties including the trade, courts, police and residents associations. We aim to produce a set of balanced proposals for public consultation by early next year.
Does my hon. Friend agree that a more flexible and more liberal liquor licensing system, with longer opening hours, has been a resounding success in Scotland for the past 25 years? Does he also agree with those senior police officers who argue that a more modern system in England and Wales could help to cut crime by abolishing for ever the 11 o'clock rush, which leads to so many people spilling out into our streets at exactly the same time in search of food or transport home?
My hon. Friend is quite right. As often happens, the Scottish experience leads us to draw many interesting conclusions. I hope that what emerges from the review process is a properly balanced system, whereby the rights of consumers to have access to entertainment and alcohol at a suitable time for them are properly balanced by the need to provide protection for residents who live near licensed premises. If we achieve a system that meets both those tests, which I believe is possible, we shall have done a good job.