Labour’s 24-hour drinking laws were a “terrible mistake” and have taken a devastating toll on society, according to a Labour Party grandee.
Labour introduced 24-hour drinking in 2005 amid hopes that the new laws would create a continental style ‘café-culture’ in the UK.
But Roy Hattersley has slammed the naivety behind the move, saying it was a “fashionable theory of the time, no doubt very popular at North London dinner parties”.
But he added: “For every family shopper who takes home a bottle of Beaujolais to enjoy with Sunday lunch, several teenagers prepare for a riotous night out by buying whatever is on ‘special offer’.”
Lord Hattersley, writing in the Daily Mail, laments the devastation wrought by 24-hour drinking, saying: “During the first year of 24-hour drinking, violent, drink-related assaults increased by 64,000 to a record total of 1,087,000 and deaths caused by drivers above the alcohol limit rose to the highest level for 30 years.
“But the tragic situation that those figures reveal tells only a small part of the sorry tale.
“Thousands of families are having their lives made hideous by the brawling, drunken hooligans in their streets.”
Lord Hattersley, former Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, also called for action, such as minimum pricing or excise tax, to be taken which would stop supermarkets selling booze at below cost price in a bid to curb teenage drinking.
Lord Hattersley also said that the failure to realise the danger posed by drunken yobs was a “terrible indictment” of the politicians who called for the relaxed licensing laws.
He added: “Enthusiasts for 24-hour ‘liberation’ argued that ‘closing time’ produced a rush of drunks onto the streets at 11.30pm.
“Their ‘reform’ has simply resulted in some places simply being littered with fighting, vomiting drunks for most of the night.”
The Labour Peer also warned that the coalition Government’s clampdown on binge drinking must not be diverted by those who insist they should be free to drink alcohol as they please.
He said: “In the words of a real philosopher, ‘freedoms collide’. One man’s right to drink himself into an aggressive frenzy denies another man the right to walk home safely.
“Freedom to drink into the small hours is often inconsistent with the freedom to enjoy a good night’s sleep without the fear that some hooligan is being sick on the front door step or tearing plants out of the garden.”
Last week it was revealed that Labour’s disastrous 24-hour drinking laws looked set to be ditched under new coalition Government plans.
Home Secretary Theresa May released a consultation document which could help councils tackle the problems caused by 24-hour drinking.
“The whole point of this move is that unregulated 24-hour drinking is brought to an end”, an unnamed Whitehall source told The Daily Telegraph.
Under the plans, councils would be given powers to introduce a ban on drinking after midnight in entire streets or towns.
The plans also reportedly included shutting down pubs which repeatedly sell alcohol to children.
They will also bar supermarkets from selling booze at less than cost price, according to the Daily Mail, which says a Parliamentary bill will be introduced after the MPs’ summer recess.