Statement on changes to alcohol licensing

Anthea Cox, Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and SocialJustice: 'We welcome the indications from the Government that itmight scale back or even repeal parts of the legislation looseninglicensing laws. The Methodist Church has warned from the start ofthis process that you cannot change social cultures by legislationalone. Although we welcome the intention behind the Act - namely,to reduce binge drinking as people try to fit in as many drinks aspossible before 11pm - the real effect could be to make thesituation worse.

'There is much work needed to change people's attitude to drinking.It is still hard to find good non-alcoholic alternatives, so thatpeople can choose to moderate their alcohol consumption withoutwinding up with a small, boring or overpriced soft drink. OurMocktails competition produced dozens of good alcohol- free drinksthat are fun to drink, and we encourage people to continue to pushpubs and bars to adopt these or others like them.

'In many town centres licensed premises are the only places to goout to, thus restricting choice. This needs active cooperationbetween national and local governments, businesses, the police andall who take care of those with a drink problem. It is a complexmatter, and the drinking culture will take years to change, butthis Act alone is not the solution, and may make mattersworse.'