Skip to main content

Licences and Licensing

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 8 July 2021

I apologise for the hoarseness of my voice, but this is what happens when you shout at a television for however long it was. It seemed like an eternity, but it was well worth a shout. I shall be doing exactly the same on Sunday.

I call Victoria Atkins to move the motion.

I beg to move,

That the draft Licensing Act 2003 (2020 UEFA European Championship Licensing Hours) Order 2021, which was laid before this House on 7 July, be approved.

It is somehow fitting that you are in the Chair for this particular statutory instrument, Mr Deputy Speaker, because I suspect it may be the most popular statutory instrument of my entire career. It will enable pubs, restaurants and hostelries around the country to roll out the barrel and welcome in fans, friends and families to cheer on our great team. These regulations enable them to stay open until 11.15 pm on Sunday. We have tried to give enough time for extra time, to ensure that fans can celebrate wholeheartedly.

The technical description in the Licensing Act 2003 is that we can extend hours for occasions that have

“exceptional international, national, or local significance”.

I believe all three of those boxes are ticked. Just to give an indication of how much that might mean for our publicans across the country, the British Beer and Pub Association has estimated that 50,000 pints were sold each minute last night, which on my very quick reckoning means an extra two and a quarter million pints in the 45 minutes that we are going to be introducing. [Interruption.] Mr Deputy Speaker has just said that most of that was him—I wanted to make sure I got that in Hansard.

In conclusion, will you allow me, Mr Deputy Speaker, to mangle the words of our greatest wordsmith, William Shakespeare, in “Henry V”? The game’s afoot: Follow your spirit; and upon this charge, Cry, “God for Harry, England and Saint Gareth!”—I mean Saint George.

I don’t think we are going to expect a Division on this, are we? I think this will be the most popular motion the Minister has ever moved.

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Lady. I apologise to you and her for not being in the Chamber in person, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I came to St Helens last night to watch the game with my kids. As rare as English football success is, sadly the failure of the west coast main line is all too frequent for us in the north-west, as you will know, Mr Deputy Speaker, so I was unable to be there.

It strikes me as something approaching cruel and unusual punishment to ask an Irishman to support opening pubs for longer hours, but only on the basis that England are in the final and could win the Euros. Of course I and the Labour party are delighted to give our wholehearted support not just to the order, but to Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane and the entire squad. If I might be allowed to abuse my position on the Front Bench, I particularly want to say how proud I am that Conor Coady from Haydock in my constituency is in the squad. I know that his family and the whole local community are right behind him.

I do not intend to detain the House or strike any discordant note, but I would just like to ask the Minister a few questions. Will she ensure that local licensing teams, alongside the police and businesses themselves, have all the information and support they require to prepare for Sunday? Will she also ensure consistency in the Government’s messaging in relation to coronavirus regulations and the need for us all to continue to meet our obligations to each other and be responsible, while of course also enjoying the fun we have missed so much over the past 16 or 17 months?

Will the Minister join me in paying tribute to pubs, clubs, bars and the wider hospitality sector for their heroic efforts of late? Is it not great to see them back at the heart of our communities, being the place where we share, together with friends and neighbours, the ups and downs of life, love and the world? Will she also do us a favour and ask her colleagues who have been boycotting the England games to stick steadfastly to their principles and ensure that they do not jinx the team on Sunday by switching from the reruns of “Murder, She Wrote” on ITV4 to the biggest game that the country has seen in 55 years?

I want to say something serious about England and this team, because what has happened over the past few weeks goes way beyond football. Since I came here almost 20 years ago, this country has been very, very good to me; I have made my life here and I have been given incredible opportunities. I think that these young men and their manager are the best of England and everything I have experienced. In fact, they are the best of life itself. They are inspiring all generations, through not only their skill and success, but their values and example. We salute them and we wish them well. In conclusion, it is a pleasure to support this legislation, which means that for millions of people watching the game in pubs across the country on Sunday, when football comes home, they will have a little more time to celebrate before they have to.

It gives me great pleasure to respond to the hon. Gentleman. I am sorry that he is not here in person, but he has been causing those on the Government Benches chuckle away at his many comments. First, I am happy to confirm that the police, the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Local Government Association and the British Beer and Pub Association have been working, alongside UKHospitality, to develop guidance for licensees screening the tournament, very much to help venues make sure that we all end up having a great time on Sunday and celebrating, we hope, together in a safe way. On his other comments, I am going to leave it to his imagination as to whether or not I agree with him on certain points, but I would say that as a mum of a very excited nine-year-old last night I know that mums and dads across the country will be trying to contain young children, as well as perhaps those of an older age, on Sunday night to ensure that we all have a great time. The team were a superb example of sportsmanship and talent last night. They are an absolute credit to our country and we will all be willing them on, whether we are in the pub or not, on Sunday night.

Rather similar to Conor McGinn, this proud Welshman was wearing an England T-shirt last night, cheering on Harry and the team, and consuming some of the beer. As honorary president of the all-party group on beer, I declare an interest there. This proud Welshman will also be at Wembley on Sunday, with my England T-shirt, cheering them on to victory.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended.