Lords inquiry into effectiveness of UK licensing legislation

01 July, 2016

A House of Lords Committee, set up especially to look at the Licensing Act 2003, and the liberalisation of opening hours in the UK, has launched its investigation.

The committee is now calling for evidence, and will begin its inquiry next week by questioning government officials from the Home Office, Department of Culture Media and Sport, and the Department of Health, as well as officials from Public Health England.

The Licensing Act 2003 set out to provide greater freedom to the hospitality and leisure industry, as well giving consumers more choice. At the same time the new legislation was intended to grant authorities the appropriate powers to deal with misuse of these freedoms.

The House of Lords Licensing Act 2003 Committee will now investigate the effectiveness of the act, delving into areas such as:

- the balance between rights and responsibilities of both the industry and the public;

- the powers of enforcement authorities, including the police;
·    the impact that any greater availability of alcohol has had on the health of the population;

- whether the Act has made it easier or harder for communities to enjoy activities that have to be licensed under the Act;

- the role of licensing in shaping local areas, for the benefit of the economy and the local community;

- minimum unit pricing and its potential impact;


- fees and costs associated with the act.

Committee chairwoman Baroness McIntosh of Pickering said: “The Licensing Act 2003 enabled premises to serve alcohol for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While many heralded the act as the start of a more continental drinking culture, others predicted round-the-clock consumption, leading to disorder and a deterioration in public health.

"But what has the reality actually been like? Has deregulation allowed the drinks industry to thrive? Have drinkers embraced a more relaxed and healthier approach to alcohol? What happened to the anticipated café culture?

"For good or ill, the Licensing Act has altered the drinking landscape of England and Wales, but an examination of the changes is long overdue. I would therefore encourage as many people as possible to send us written evidence before our deadline of 2 September,” said Baroness McIntosh

Government officials will be questioned in the inquiry’s first evidence session at 11.00am next Tuesday July 5 in committee room 3A.

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