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MPs support proposals to make it easier for pubs to open for major occasions

MPs support making it easier for pubs to stay open longer for major occasions (Yui Mok/PA)
MPs support making it easier for pubs to stay open longer for major occasions (Yui Mok/PA)

Proposals to make it easier for hospitality venues to extend their opening hours for major national or local events have cleared the Commons and moved a step closer to becoming law.

MPs heard the current process is a “bureaucratic nightmare”, with Parliament required to approve orders by the Government to relax licensing hours on specified dates and times.

Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck’s Licensing Hours Extensions Bill aims to simplify the “costly, overly bureaucratic, time consuming and restrictive” parliamentary process and make it possible for an order to be approved when Parliament is in recess.

The South Shields MP said there had been a “missed opportunity” when England reached the final of the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia last year, due to Parliament’s licensing rules.

She noted that the final kicked-off at 11am on a Sunday, with pubs losing out on extra revenue as they could not apply in time for an extension to their opening hours.

Ms Lewell-Buck told the Commons: “Love for our pubs is strong across all of our constituencies, if there is one thing guaranteed to unite us it is sporting and royal events.

“We tend to gather for those events in our local pubs, because they are the beating heart of our communities.

“As (MPs) will know, such events don’t always take place when our pubs and hospitality venues are open.”

She added that the Bill will “make a huge difference” to the hospitality industry in England and Wales.

Conservative MP Nickie Aiken said she supported the Bill but raised concerns about the impact on residents who live near pubs and hospitality venues.

The MP for Cities of London and Westminster said: “It is important to not to forget that such extensions will see an increase in consumption of alcohol and therefore likely, as often is the case, sadly result in an increase in anti-social behaviour and disturbances for residents.”

Intervening, Ms Lewell-Buck said: “There will be continued consultation with police and with local authorities even while my Bill is in play.

“We are simply changing the Parliamentary process here, not the process that happens outside of this place.”

Under the existing system, MPs will next week debate a motion to allow pubs to extend their opening hours to 1am if England or Scotland make it to the semi-finals of Euro 2024.

Home Office minister Chris Philp offered the Government’s support to the Bill, joking: “If we’re thinking that this might apply to future England appearances in finals that may be more in hope than expectation, but we should nonetheless legislate in hope.”

The Bill received an unopposed third reading on Friday and will now undergo further scrutiny at the House of Lords.