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24-hour drinking law ‘was a mistake’

The Labour party was wrong to bring in reforms to licensing laws that allowed for 24-hour drinking in England and Wales, the party’s health spokesman has said.

Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, made the comments during a BBC debate on health policy (Photo: Wiki)

Andy Burnham, who was shadow health secretary until parliament was dissolved ahead of next week’s general election, said it was a “mistake” for the former Labour government to introduce the Licensing Act in 2003.

The law paved the way for some on-trade venues in England and Wales to apply for 24-hour alcohol sales when it came into effect in 2005.

He said Labour was wrong to have supported the policy because of the alleged affects it has had on health and anti-social behaviour.

He made the comments during a BBC debate with the now former Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Liberal Democrats’ care minister Norman Lamb, who all agreed with him.

All three suggested a review of 24-hour drinking laws may be necessary in the new parliament after the general election on 7 May.

A Labour spokesperson told the Telegraph: “The last Government acknowledged the impact of the rules.

“That’s why they were tightened before the last election to ensure councils had the power to take licences away where needed.”

Former Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell, who himself had issues with alcoholism and has since become a mental health campaigner, said in 2013 that Labour oversaw a massive growth in alcohol availability over their time in government between 1997 and 2010.

He told Total Politics, “A proper alcohol strategy would cover a review of it [24 hour drinking].

“There are now twice as many places where you can buy alcohol than there were in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of that’s down to the 24-hour licensing: The licensing regulations don’t have to take in the impact on public health. They should.”

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