British Pubs

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:31 am on 23rd February 2010.

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Photo of Anne Main Anne Main Conservative, St Albans 11:31 am, 23rd February 2010

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. By and large, our pubs in St. Albans co-operate enormously with the local council and residents. The historic street scene means that they sit cheek by jowl with residents, and most pubs try their best to co-operate and to be good parts of the community. Many employ bouncers and doormen-again, at additional cost-to stop the wayward drunks and to ensure that someone who has been thrown out does not come back in if the pub believes that they are drinking irresponsibly.

It is a real shame that the smoking ban, which many people welcomed, has not only hit some smaller pubs disproportionately, but brought them into conflict with some of their neighbours. Pubs have to create smoking shelters, or people have to stand in the pub garden. As a result, doors are opened, and music drifts over to houses that were not previously bothered by noise. There is chatter, laughter and other noise outside in the garden in the winter, which one would never have expected. That causes conflicts with local residents. The legislation, which was introduced for the best possible reasons, has therefore had some unfortunate consequences.

I pay tribute to pubs for the fact that they are not only the heart of the community, but put things back. I have regularly done the prize draw with Cilla in the Three Hammers pub, and all the funds raised go to our local hospice. Pubs are not just drinking dens. Every time a VAT rise goes on to the price of a pint of beer, the assumption is that it will be on the pint in the pub.