Ministers back down over plans to allow late night takeaway drinking

Charles Hymas
·2-min read
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Ministers have climbed down over plans to relax laws on late-night drinking after a revolt by Lords who warned they would park street violence, disorder and drunkenness.  

Home Office minister Baroness Williams said the Government would not now allow bars and nightclubs to sell drinks off the premises to late-night revellers in the street after 11pm.  

The Government had planned to allow pubs and clubs to make off-sales for the duration of a their licensing hours, which could see drinks served until 6am in parts of London.

However after protests that this would make parts of England hard to police, the Government backed down and said it would stop all sales at 11pm.

Announcing the about-turn in the House of Lords late on Monday evening, Baroness Williams of Trafford, a Home Office minister, said the Government would "introduce a standard cessation time of 11pm for operators to trade under the new off-sales permissions.”  

Former home secretary Lord Blunkett and former Tory leader in the Lords Baroness Stowell of Beeston were among critics who had warned the plans could lead to disorder and disruption running through the night.  

Former police chief Lord Paddick and policing leaders had also criticised the proposal in the business and planning bill, which aims to help revive the hospitality industry after the Covid-19 crisis by relaxing licensing rules.  

Lord Paddick put forward an amendment restricting the off sales to 11pm, which Baroness Williams accepted and promised to come forward a Government-backed change.  

The former Met Police deputy assistant commissioner welcomed the move but warned further amendments were needed to combat potential street disorder and violence by on-licence sales which revellers could still buy drink in the street into the early hours due to social distancing rules.  

“I don’t think what the Government has agreed goes far enough in preventing that potential disorder and violence,” he said.  

“Having seen the consequences of people taking pints of beer in glasses out into the street and the injuries that can be sustained, I am going to push the amendments to a vote at the next stage on Monday.”  

The Government is resisting further U-turns, saying there is a fast-track review process for local authorities to suspend or modify pubs’ and clubs’ new off-licences if there is a problem, as well as powers for the police to issue immediate closure notices.