Last week my Licensing Hours Extension Bill moved another step closer to becoming an Act of Parliament, passing its second reading.
The Bill will ensure that we never again have a situation like last summer where many pubs weren’t able to open earlier for us to show support for our Lionesses in the women’s world cup final.
Pubs and other licensed venues can only extend their opening hours by either individually applying to the local council at a cost of £21 and waiting up to five days at a minimum for their application to be approved or the Government issuing blanket relaxations for all premises.
The Government can only do this when Parliament is sitting, and best practice is for the Home Secretary to complete a public consultation and a debate to be had in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This can take up to six months to be approved.
Under my legislation the Government would no longer have to go through this long process and Parliament would not need to be sitting. Instead, the Home Secretary or a Minister will have the power to grant blanket license extensions in brief consultation with the relevant bodies, such as the police.
I know how much the hospitality industry contributes to our economy and how hard those in the industry work, I worked in it myself. Many are still struggling recover after the pandemic where it is estimated in 2020 that £200 million was lost every single day.
I know my Bill won’t solve all the problems facing the industry, the VAT hospitality rate needs to be put back to 12.5% and businesses rates need an urgent review – which the Labour Party has promised if elected – as well as other measures.
But it is something the industry has long been asking for and if approved it will make an impact, ensuring that our locals, the beating heart of our community are always able to welcome us through their doors at times of national pride and celebration.