Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Drinking Laws & Culture

In the course of our work we obtained a certain amount of information about the law and practice relative to liquor licensing law in other countries. A number of our consultees drew our attention to the fact that in some countries, such as those in southern Europe, there appear to be very liberal regimes but with few obvious signs of public drunkenness or disorder among local residents. We have given careful consideration to such evidence as we have about the law and practice in such countries. However, we are of the view that great care must be taken before one can safely proceed on the basis that a system which appears to operate successfully in one country can simply be replicated here with the same results. In our opinion cultural backgrounds and norms probably play a much larger part in determining social behaviour than any laws regulating the sale and consumption of alcohol, and we therefore doubt whether it can safely be assumed that what works in, for example, Italy or Spain will necessarily work here.

On the other hand, we have obtained some assistance from an examination of current, and proposed, law and practice in countries where, so far as we can determine, cultural and other considerations are not significantly different from those in Scotland. We have already made reference to the Republic of Ireland and to the Isle of Man. We have also had regard to current proposals for reform of licensing law in England and Wales. For some time those proposals were to be found only in a White Paper issued by the Home Office.

However, in November 2002 legislation which builds on the proposals in the White Paper was announced in The Queen’s Speech, and since then we have been following the progress of the Licensing Bill with interest. In addition, we have become aware of certain practices which are followed in the Province of British Columbia in Canada.

Source: The Nicholson Report

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