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Public Houses: Rural Areas

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will commission research into the number of rural public houses which are due to close; whether he has made an estimate of the number of rural public houses which closed in 2008; and if he will make a statement. (257307)

DCMS does not collect statistics specifically on public house closures. The Department's Statistical Bulletin on Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment counts the number of premises authorising the sale or supply of alcohol by means of a premises licence or a club premises certificate. These figures apply not only to public houses, but also to other licensed premises such as hotels, off licences and convenience stores. Figures on closures of licensed premises relate to the specific exercise of powers under the Licensing Act 2003 and not to closures for other reasons.

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will commission research into the social benefits provided by rural public houses. (257310)

There are currently no plans to undertake research into the social benefits provided by rural pubs. However the Government are fully aware of the valuable role pubs can play at the heart of rural communities and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced on 5 February a number of new initiatives to support rural businesses, including pubs. These new schemes will complement existing initiatives such as ‘Pub is the Hub’ which was set up in 2001, through the Rural Action Programme of Business in the Community, to encourage breweries, pub owners, licensees and local communities to work together to help retain and enhance rural services in isolated rural areas.