A plan, which has the potential to increase crime, violence, poverty and
 ill health, was recently announced by the government to general applause.

The Home Secretary wants to introduce 24 hour boozing to a country
which cannot hold its drink.

He put forward the idea that as a nation we are more grown up and
better able to handle ourselves. Is he so out of touch with what is going on?

Mass unemployment, together with the decline of the family unit and expansion
of universities with their cheap alcohol and lack of adult control, have brought about
a vast rise in the numbers of irresponsible young and not so young folks.

The standard argument that a set pub closing time leads to last minute over-
indulgence and a concentration of trouble and that staggered hours will end this,
is in my opinion, hokum.

I believe the trouble will go on longer and later and that we will be forced to
live with a generally lower standard of behaviour.
It seems to me that if some people have more time to drink, they will drink more
and get more drunk.

Why set aside laws that have served us well in the past? Are we superior to our
forebears? I think not!

Besom

I am sufficiently cynical to feel sure that vested interests are at work in all this, and to feel that Jack Straw's statement to the effect that we are more mature is either born of his ignorance (no doubt due to having been misinformed by a government 'expert'), or is most ignobly disingenuous. Neither explanation would surprise me, I'm sad to say, although I'm inclined to suspect it is more like that both are true.

On the other hand, I believe one might be forgiven for wondering if the whole thing has been devised as a means of buying cheap popularity, immediately before the local elections, among that section of the community from which Tiny Blurr's government imagines it gets most votes.

Whichever of these (if any) may be true, I confess to doubting that 24 hour-a-day opening of pubs is likely to make much difference, even if it happens. After all, alcohol is already freely available in supermarkets and off licences.

As I understand it, the proposal is not to enforce long opening hours; rather it is to allow publicans the freedom to stay open for as long as they want. Now, I can understand that this might have the effect of increasing overall takings in a city pub, but then the landlord will have to pay overtime to staff for working unsocial hours and, inevitably, this will be recouped in price increases.

I should emphasise that none of this means that I am in favour of extending opening hours; I am not.

It will surprise greatly me if it ever becomes law, and I live in hope that boozing will soon become as Politically Incorrect as smoking. Were the drinker to suffer the same social ostracism as the smoker, I'd hazard a guess that many lives and serious injuries would be saved on our roads and the cost of treating alcohol-related illness would decrease markedly, as would that of policing.

Curmudgeon

"Sometimes too much to drink isn't enough."