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The historical burdens of regulation – we can lighten the load

On 09/05/13 by Gareth Barrett

Beer’s first clear mention in regulatory history was in, none other than, the Magna Carta, when, in 1215, standard measures were first introduced. Pubs got their first mention in 1285’s Statuta Civitatis London, which restricted opening hours.

Regulation is not consistent either. Put aside drink driving there were 30 pieces of major legislation directly aimed at pubs and alcohol between 1285 and 1990. 715 years – 30 pieces. One new piece every 20 years. Whilst there were legislative surges in the 19th and early 20th century, brought on by the temperance movement and Winston Churchill losing an election to a Prohibition Party candidate(with full prohibition ongoing in the United States) the rate of legislative implementation has at its peak been one new piece of legislation every three years.

However in the last 20 years we’ve had ten. One every two years. Higher than the rate when the temperance leagues had more than 100,000 members, higher than the times of Hogarth and even the entire era of American prohibition. This is before other legislative creep on food standards, planning, smoking, environmental issues, responsibility etc. are accounted for.

There is opportunity in this environment. There exist simple opportunities for the Government: requirements for wine measures hardly anyone uses, the burdens of the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order on pubs with rooms, the compulsion for an advert in the local paper for variations in licenses or even that brewers still have to complete a paper form to submit their returns on beer duty! These simple changes alone could save the industry almost £20 million every year.

There is a real possibility that Government proposals for a new deregulatory effort may bear fruit – we must make sure to actively push industry interests – because, frankly, we’ve got a lot that can go.


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