Leading article: Time for a drink

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The Independent Online

Today is the deadline for all alcohol-selling establishments in England to renew their licences. Up to 25 per cent may have failed to do so. We are told this could mean many being forced to shut down in November when permits expire. But this is unlikely, especially since fault lies so clearly with the Government for failing to publicise the change earlier. In any case, this confusion does not seem to have affected pubs: according to the British Beer and Pub Association, all members applied on time. What is more, 90 per cent plan to take advantage of the new laws to close at midnight or 1am on weekends. This is welcome. English bar-goers will soon be able to enjoy a luxury they only previously had on visiting the Continent or Scotland. No more will the 11pm "last orders" signal a rude and arbitrary end to an evening. And, since virtually nowhere has applied for a 24-hour licence, perhaps we will also have some peace from those hysterical doomsayers who predicted this change in the law would lead to all-day binge drinking and the collapse of civilised society.

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