Davis: Licensing law 'could aggravate mayhem'

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Pub licensing hours should stay as they are until the "mayhem" caused by binge drinkers in city centres has been properly addressed, the Tory leadership contender David Davis says.

His remarks yesterday were calculated to put distance between himself and leadership rival, David Cameron, who had said the previous evening that licensing laws should be made more liberal - though not in the period before Christmas.

Mr Davis criticised the changes in 1998, which led to extended opening hours and so-called pub alleys. He said: "The combination of these things has caused mayhem in some of our cities and town centres. Until we have fixed that, we shouldn't even consider licensing reform. We should fix problems we have already got."

He added: "The Government's proposed actions on alcohol disorder zones look to be quite likely to make the problem worse because they are going to make people travel to other areas, drink too much and travel back."

Mr Cameron told BBC's Newsnight that licensing reform was "a good idea" but "the idea of introducing this reform just before Christmas wasn't sensible".