Written Answers. - Liquor Licensing Laws.

Conor Lenihan

Question:

793 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether full deregulation of the pub trade would have serious implications for public order and staffing requirements for An Garda Síochána. [1069/99]

Conor Lenihan

Question:

794 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the Competition Authority's report on the licensing trade; and the plans, if any, he has to introduce legislation in view of its recommendations. [1070/99]

Conor Lenihan

Question:

795 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the submissions, if any, he has received from Garda management in relation to longer pub opening hours. [1071/99]

Conor Lenihan

Question:

796 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the implications for public order if pub opening hours are to be extended. [1072/99]

Conor Lenihan

Question:

797 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to introduce legislative measures which will allow for the extension of pub opening hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1073/99]

Conor Lenihan

Question:

798 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has to extend pub opening hours in view of newspaper reports and comments over the Christmas period. [1074/99]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 793 to 798, inclusive, together.

I have already informed the House, on a number of occasions, that a review of the licensing laws is currently taking place in my Department arising from the publication of the report on liquor licensing laws by the Sub-Committee on Legislation and Security of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Rights. The interim report of the Competition Authority forms part of that review. It is my intention to bring forward the heads of a Bill for the Government's consideration at the earliest possible opportunity this year.

I am conscious of the need to update the law generally in the intoxicating liquor area so as to achieve a balanced package of measures. The review of the licensing laws takes into account the many submissions which have been received in response to the invitation, by way of advertisements placed by my Department in the national and local press on 4 August 1998, for comments on the Oireachtas report. I can confirm that my Department is having ongoing discussions with the Garda authorities on relevant issues and that their views are being taken into account.

I previously indicated to the House that I intended to make regulations to provide for the introduction of a national voluntary age card scheme. I am glad to be able to say that those regulations were made by me on 19 January 1999 and that they will come into effect on 19 April 1999.

The details of the legislative proposals will be announced in the usual way following their consideration by the Government.