Written Answers. - Liquor Licensing Laws.

Enda Kenny

Question:

30 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will appoint a Minister of State to co-ordinate the Government's response to the abuse of alcohol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15218/03]

The position is that while I have general responsibility for the liquor licensing laws in my capacity as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, certain other Ministers and their respective Departments have responsibilities in relation to particular aspects. For example, the Minister for Health and Children has responsibilities in relation to public health policy, while road safety legislation comes within the remit of the Minister for Transport. As the Deputy is aware, the allocation of responsibilities to Ministers and Ministers of State is a matter for the Taoiseach.

As regards my responsibilities in relation to the liquor licensing laws, I am pleased to say that the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2003 has been published and has already been presented in the Seanad. Second Stage has been completed and I am hopeful that the remaining stages will be concluded today.

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2003 to respond to certain recommendations of the Commission on Liquor Licensing and to concerns outlined in the interim report of the strategic task force on alcohol. Also relevant in this context is the special initiative on tackling alcohol misuse set out in chapter 2 of the current social partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress.

Following a discussion of the general scheme of the Bill with the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights last week, I adapted the content of the Bill to take account of certain concerns expressed by the members of the committee.

I expect that the Bill will come before the Dáil next week and am hopeful that it will be enacted before the summer recess.