asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his assessment of the effects of the introduction of more flexible licensing hours in Scotland over the past three years; and if he will make a statement.
Provisional assessments of the early effects of the later evening hour and the opening of some public houses on Sundays suggest that the changes have not significantly affected average consumption; those drinking have tended to do so at a more leisurely pace. There has been some increase in the number of people drinking in licensed premises on Sundays. Some licensing boards have exercised their powers to grant regular extensions to permit licensed premises to stay open throughout the afternoon; it is not possible to say what effect this has had. Generally these results tend to support previous suggestions that the changes in the licensing laws have had no adverse effect, though they cannot be claimed to have had any major impact on the serious problem of misuse of alcohol in Scotland.