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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 10:15 GMT
Do we need more drinking time?
Pubs could be open 24 hours a day as part of a plan to reform licensing laws in England and Wales.

And restrictions on the sale of alcohol in stores may also be lifted.

Proposals are due to be put forward by the government early in the new year, reports say.

Critics of the country's antiquated drinking laws say it's about time. Where else in the world do the shutters come down at 11pm?

Longer hours are already well established in Scotland.

But opponents fear increased drunkenness and rowdiness.

What do you think? Do we need more drinking time?

Your Reaction

In a modern day society, working hours are no longer standard and so if pubs stayed open 24 hours a day it would accommodate this. 'Brits' only drink in excess to take away the fact that they live in an antiquated country. My only question is when is 'happy hour'?
Andrew Reader, UK

I've just got back from a weekend in Hamburg, where they don't even have a 'Polizeistunde'. But no, not every pub is open all night - the demand simply isn't there. But for those who want it, there's beer all night out on the Reeperbahn and thereabouts. If I want to stay out till 7am in the morning I will, and if I don't I'll go home. No problem. And no patronising and aggressive bar staff telling me to "drink up NOW" at five past eleven. The sooner the English licensing laws undergo a thorough liberalisation the better.
John King, England

People will get drunk wherever they wish, in a pub, at home, etc. Having the pubs open longer, 24 hours even, won't change British drinking habits that much, and perhaps given that folks no longer have to "rush" to buy and drink their last pint or two before the legal time limit is up, they might drink more moderately in their new found leisure time.
Steve Kenney, USA

Surely there can be little argument against changing the licensing laws? For those who worry about an increase in drunkenness on the streets, the fact that at least this drunkenness should be dissipated over a longer period, rather then emerging all at once at 11.00pm should be reassurance enough. And for those of us mature and responsible enough to enjoy the benefits of later drinking hours without going to excess, the sooner the law is changed the better.
Dan V., England

The licensing laws in Scotland are atrocious especially where I live. Pubs are generally shut before 1:30am. "The Church" dictates the law. Getting home is a taxi or walk, because there is no public transport. I reckon England has it very easy.
Marina, Scotland

I am a 19 year old American who spent most of my life living in England. I miss British pubs, as here in America the legal drinking age is 21. This is the most ridiculous law ever and I find it quite insulting that at my age I can get drafted into the military and die for my country in a war, but I am too young to have a drink! America may have the most pathetic drinking laws in the world, but at least the pubs and bars here are allowed to stay open as long they wish!
Jonathan, USA

Longer opening hours would surely benefit everyone. The trouble in pubs and clubs starts because people go out between 8pm and 9pm knowing that they have a fairly short period of time before these establishments close. Relaxed restrictions would mean relaxed drinkers and less trouble.
David Green, England

There should be less time made available for drinking. Fewer drink-driving deaths would be the primary benefit of fewer hours for drinking.

Doug, USA
Only in the UK would this be an issue. Honestly, as an American who's visited the UK just once and been to American bars since then, I do not know how you folks in England and Wales could possibly do any more drinking than you already do. It's no wonder the British have a reputation for drinking like fish.
Sara, USA

...If Londons pubs stayed open, could we get the tubes to run all night, too? Didn't think so. Sorry to all the non-Londoners for whom this is a no-point point, but to me, it's a crucial issue. I need to leave London pubs well before closing time to ensure I can get a ride back home to the sticks rather than spend the whole night on some grotty Night Bus.
Pete Burrell, UK

There is only one reason that I can think of in favour of longer opening hours. How about for the people who don't work 9 - 5 hours. I'm sure they wouldn't mind going for a pint after work with their colleagues and wouldn't particularly want to go 'clubbing' just to get a beer?
Nicola, UK

Longer licensing hours doesn't seem to be a problem across the rest of Europe and I don't see why they need to be a problem in the UK.

Alister McClure, UK
Longer licensing hours doesn't seem to be a problem across the rest of Europe and I don't see why they need to be a problem in the UK. Although, licensees in predominantly residential areas should be mindful of the needs of local residents too and keep control of their noise levels.
Alister McClure, UK

It's a shame, that fully-grown citizens are kindergarten-ed. Everyone should have the possibility to open his pub as long as he or she wants. We are forcing people to drink within a certain time limit, which is also not helpful. Sitting and chatting without the closing pressure is definitely more relaxing, (also for the bar staff). Time to wake up...
Michael Langer, UK

The English can't take their booze so it would be a mistake to allow them more drinking time, just look at them when they go abroad. You can tell a Brit a mile off, when they travel they are always drunk! Also, most pubs in England are in residential areas, 11.00pm is late enough. What about the poor people who are trying get some sleep and will be kept woken up by a bunch of lager louts in the early hours of the morning.
Graham Watson, USA

Yes, we would like longer drinking hours, but take in to account the people who work in the industry and not force it upon them

Beverley Gould, UK
London and the rest of the UK is an embarrassment when it comes to an evening's social drinking.I have had numerous overseas visitors come to London - the capital of all capitals some might say. Rubbish - London and the rest of the UK is an embarrassment when it comes to an evening's social drinking - I do not wish to introduce my foreign friends to the sweaty, disgusting, after hours establishments which go under the guise of "nightclub" and are full of sad alcoholic losers, when all I'd like to do is have one more drink - in a place which doesn't smell of urine.
Jack Russell, UK

Let's hope the Publican has the final choice if licensing hours are extended. I can think of a few publicans who must heave a sigh of relief at chucking out time, and who won't see greatly increased income by opening later. My student son will happily stay in the bar until 4 am, but will his spending cover the cost of employing bar staff to work extended hours? And will the bar staff want to do so?
Diana Pinnell, UK

The licensing laws are out of date and need changing. The current laws encourage binge drinking and there's always the race for last orders. Pubs need to be able to close when they want to. By doing this big crowds of people will not be thrown out onto the street at the same time, which will result in fewer brawls.
Katherine Turner, Hungary

It very much depends on the location of the pub, especially how near the closest houses are. Pubs in or near residential areas should close early - those in urban centres or the middle of the country need not do so. Think of the noise!
Stephen Tilley, England

Hard to believe you Brits need MORE time to drink.

Rath Andor, USA
In my time in London, I didn't notice any problems getting a drink in London. Hard to believe you Brits need MORE time to drink.
Rath Andor, USA

Great idea. How long will it be before someone opens a cyberpub?
Simon Tiffie, UK

If you have later opening hours, people will just go out later like here in the Netherlands, and that fantastic London post-work drink culture will disappear.
Pascal, Netherlands

I think people's attitude to drink, especially among the young is appalling; this obsession with going out and getting intoxicated is stupid. I don't see how this would reduce the problem of crime.
Richard Reid, England

Today's licensing laws are obviously too harsh. If people wish to socialise then it should be up to the individuals when their evening comes to an end, not the pub landlord, or hired bouncers. We English do have a reputation for drunkenness, but hopefully this situation could be alleviated by longer more relaxed drinking hours.
Will the transport infrastructure be changed to cope with the late opening of pubs? At present you can't easily get home from London's West end after midnight using public transport, surely it's time for all night train services as well.
chrs harket, England

Maybe we should be asking the families of alcoholics what they think of the new rules?

Becky White, UK
Overall, the change seems like a good one - the 'more choice for the consumer' argument is represented here by the majority. But I have to say, my main concern is for people so totally addicted to alcohol that would spend even more time and money in the pub than they do currently.
The main factor in domestic violence (whilst, I grant you on a positive note, this law would keep such offenders away from their homes for longer) would only get worse. Maybe we should be asking the families of alcoholics what they think of the new rules?
Becky White, UK

The reason why England is the least civilised country in Europe is because it treats its population like children. The 11pm pub closing time law is just another example of this. As well as being a thorn in the side for pub owners, police and ordinary people it is also a clear example of how backward thinking the English are compared to those across the water.
This law creates more crime, encourages alcoholism, takes the fun out of going out and makes the whole 'leisure' experience farcical. If New Labour can do anything 'New' and positive, then they should do at least one thing and kick this law into Victorian history's rubbish skip forever - Believe me, everyone would drink to that!
Maz, UK

If we are going to extend our opening hours like the Europeans have done for some time - could we also have European drink prices!
Wendy Girling, UK

If I were able to stay out longer I would probably drink less, and would almost definitely avoid that 11o'clock feeling of wanting a punch-up with the first person that crosses my path.

Aiden, UK
It may sound odd but if I were able to stay out longer I would probably drink less, and would almost definitely avoid that 11o'clock feeling of wanting a punch-up with the first person that crosses my path, when I get chucked out of the pub at closing time.
Aiden, UK

I note that no mention is made of the timetable for implementing the proposed changes. I understand that a white paper is being put before parliament in Spring 2000, but that implementing any changes won't occur until 2001 or 2002. Isn't this a bit slow? (or is my information incorrect?)
Gordon, UK

I live 50 yards away from a pub. I am regularly disturbed between 11.30 pm and midnight by people leaving. I've always followed the doctrine of 'live and let live' but not when it comes to damaging my car and property, urinating against my front door, throwing bottles at my windows, etc, all of which I have experienced in the last few years. Changing the licensing laws will just mean that this performance will go on well past midnight.
Andy, UK

It's about time we caught up with the rest of the western civilised world - pity its taken over 50 years!
David Warburton, United Kingdom

10 Years ago, when pubs were allowed to open "All Day", the critics against the scheme claimed that all day drinking would cause drunkenness and trouble throughout the UK. However they were proved wrong when the UK Public responded with a very sensible attitude towards it.
Forcing people to drink up at 11pm and leave at the pubs at same time causes drunkenness, trouble and sometimes violence. I personally believe that things will get much better. Another prime example of the UK as a "Nanny State".
Simon R, United Kingdom

Your British Pubs are a national treasure unlike any drinking establishments anywhere else in the world. Although I, like most others, would welcome the opportunity to spend longer hours in them, I hope longer open hours won't serve to diminish their character.
Mick De Mario, USA

If British people were used to the idea of late closing hours, we wouldn't get so excited at the prospect and drink ourselves stupid

Tim , Japan
Well, since moving to Japan I've found longer licensing hours (read: when they feel like shutting) to be a mixed blessing. It's great to stay out and have a good time but of course that hurts the wallet and the brain cells. However, perhaps if British people were used to the idea of late closing hours, we wouldn't get so excited at the prospect and drink ourselves stupid. I mean, they have 24hour beer vending machines here in Japan; Can you imagine anybody in their right mind trusting the British populous with that?
Tim , Japan

I feel that once established you would see a marked decline in late night troubles. People going home at different times will stop trouble at taxi ranks, late eating places e.t.c. I have been working In Germany for the last 8 months and many other European countries for the past 10 years. While I am no fan of a Federal Europe, I have to say drinking here and other counties outside Britain leaves us with a lot to learn. People will not feel pressured to get those extra pints 'down there necks' before the pubs close. Extend the drinking times and reduce the trouble its that simple.
Craig Jones, Germany

On my last visit to London, I attended 10 shows, spent lots and lots of money over there, but alas, was only once able to enjoy a "pint" after the show - - ridiculous pub hours!! Get with it!!

Ron Warwick, Canada
If Publicans can choose the hours that they wish to open their doors, then this is a great idea. If 24 hours opening in mandatory, then I think that this is a seriously ill considered move.
John Atkins, Singapore

With the amount of tax brought from alcohol, I am surprised that it has taken this long for the Government to consider changing the laws on opening hours and when one can purchase alcohol from shops. It is possible in HK to drink and buy alcohol 24hrs a day all year round. Street brawls are few, absenteeism from work is very low, no body complains and we all have a great time. So why has it been an issue in England and Wales?
Colin Ip, Hong Kong

Even the Americans who have such conservative views when it comes to drinking (21 as the legal age!!!) don't have a ridiculous rule like this.
K. Singh, India

I was completely shocked to learn about 11 o'clock closing time when I first visited England. It's time to come out of the middle ages and join the rest of the world!!!
Bogi Kalasz, San Francisco, USA

I can't believe that it has taken since the First World War to get these oppressive and ridiculous licensing laws sorted out!
Andy Hope, UK

Pubs are open long enough already. Who wants to drink after 11pm anyway? It will just mean that you forget half the night, and have a monster hangover the next day.

Chris Diffley, England
It's about time. It'll do no harm and may do some good. Closing at 11PM is ridiculous because it means if you want a decent drink you have to go out at 8PM. 24HR opening will meen an end to closing time scuffles and problems.
Karl Hadman, Isle of Man

It's about time drinking laws are reformed. Hopefully we will see an end to the 'mad rush' for last orders mentality.
Nick Jones, Wales, UK

About time too. Can we not make a decision ourselves as to when we want to go out or come in without the nanny state blowing the whistle and telling us "it's time for bed children!"

Richard Bell, UK
Good idea. Let pubs merge with existing bookmakers too...So I can drink and bet and 'girl watch' all at once - heaven.
John, UK

By all means let the landlord open for whatever hours he/she may wish to - as long as it is economically viable and practical. To blame pubs for drunken brawls seems to remove any blame from the drunkards themselves.
Mike, England

The English do not have to worry about the relaxation of the pubs opening hours because they cannot possibly increase the level of alcohol in their bloody vases, given that the above mentioned population is addicted to drunkenness and rowdiness. From a person who does not want to get addicted to the English.
Stefano Mastro, USA

Travel to any other European country and you will find a much more relaxed pub and bar environment, where you can unwind with a drink. The current English licensing laws mean that going out for a drink with friends can end up as a race to get drunk before "Time" is called. This attitude has also meant that the large British brewers are able to produce poor quality brews when compared to those available on the continent. Totally reforming our outdated, ill-concieved licencing laws is long overdue.
Mike Hughes, UK

Pubs do not need to be open 24 hours a day. But let the pubs have their own say in what hours to open. Some pubs in the country can only survive on certain hours.

Ernest Barrow, USA
The British licensing laws surely contribute to, rather than remove the risk of brawling. People come home from work wanting to go out and need to rush to get ready, then rush to the pub and then only have 2 or 3 hours to have a drink and socialise. It just encourages binge drinking.
Michael J Pope, Wales

I am at university in Edinburgh and fortunately have had the opportunity to experience the Scottish drinking laws. These appear to work well and do not seem to cause any further problems. I have actually seen more trouble when coming out of pubs at closing time in Belfast. I reckon this is due to people still wanting to drink. At least if the pubs are open to 3am, when most people come out they will want to go home.
Shane Rountree, Ulster

Compressed drinking times encourage amongst other things 1) rapid consumption and 2) large amounts of drunken people arriving on the streets at the same time, at closing time. The law is outdated, surely it is time to bring UK licensing laws in line with the rest of the world. A change in law will not alter the overall amounts consumed but longer drinking hours will dilute the concentration of that consumption.
Philip Carr, UK

This change can only be for the better. 11pm is a ridiculous time to close pubs. It means drunkards looking for a fight all go out at the same time. Madness. Let the landlords open when they like.
Richard Chapman, England, UK

Even here in the home of beer, Germany, pubs don't stay open 24 hours a day. Most of the federal states have a so-called "Polizeistunde" police hour. But they do stay open much later than in the UK. I don't think there is even as much drunkenness as in the UK. Most people who go for a drink stay as long as they want and then go home.

Roger M Pring, Germany
I think relaxing the drinking laws will mean no huge rush into the street at 11:15pm by drunk fools looking for a fight. In the smaller towns of the UK this must be a contributing factor to post pub brawls. If people could go home when they felt like it and not when they were forced to by overhanded bouncers surely the trouble would decrease. Just my humble opinion.
Gabriel Swartland, London

The present licensing laws in this country are ridiculous and outdated. What is the point in throwing people out into the streets if both the publican and customers wish to stay longer? It will also cut down on the amount of people leaving pubs at the same time.
Chris Sloane, England

There are a number of places where you can drink after 11pm if you have the cash - private clubs, night-clubs and hotel bars. The most accessible, night-clubs, see an opportunity to charge exorbitant prices compared with pubs. I believe that the reform of the licensing laws in England and Wales is long overdue. I say, let the pubs open when they feel there is a need, and at the same time challenge the outrageous prices in night-clubs. I do not see a long-term increase in rowdiness will result. It is time that a more mature approach is taken by the community at large and by the law-makers.... I fear that any extension of hours will produce extra pressure on the bar staff to work those extra hours and they have little option to refuse.
Alan Davidson, London

In the name of free enterprise, all pubs should be open as long as the pub keeper wishes or there is a customer who is still capable of contributing to the business.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

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12 Dec 99 | Politics
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