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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 September 2005, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Drink law critics face deadline
Tessa Jowell insists extended opening will reduce binge-drinking
The deadline for people objecting to pub and club applications to extend licensing hours expires on Sunday.

The Licensing Act, allowing 24-hour drinking, is due to come into force in November, despite fears the change will prompt a rise in alcohol-fuelled crime.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has said violent binge-drinkers will be "severely punished".

Around two thirds of England and Wales' 190,000 licensed premises are expected to apply for extended hours.

Ms Jowell has insisted that the new laws will promote sensible drinking and lead to a more civilised atmosphere at night in major towns and cities.

However, she stressed that there will be a crackdown on bad behaviour.

She told BBC News: "The majority should not be punished and subjected to a licensing curfew because of the bad behaviour of the minority.

Under age drinking

"But the minority will be severely punished for the behaviour that destroys the peace and quiet enjoyment of a night out of everybody else."

Despite judges and police chiefs expressing concerns about the wisdom of the changes, Ms Jowell argued that the new legislation will help to combat drinking among those who are under age, and older problem drinkers.

She said: "What the new Licensing Act will do to tackle binge drinking specifically is to toughen the law about access to alcohol and young people.

"After all, these kids who are getting drunk are getting the alcohol from somewhere.

"The new Licensing Act will make it a criminal offence to sell alcohol to a young person under 18."

Opposition plan to halt drink law
11 Aug 05 |  UK Politics

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