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30 Jan 2008 : Column 317

Points of Order

12.31 pm

Mr. Boris Johnson (Henley) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since I am sure that the Prime Minister inadvertently misled the House when he said I wanted to cut spending on— [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. I need to hear the hon. Gentleman’s point of order. I am the only one who has to stay and listen to it.

Mr. Johnson: I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for staying. Since I am sure that the Prime Minister inadvertently misled the House when he said that I wanted to cut spending on the Metropolitan police, and since that is the exact opposite of the case—I want to get more police officers out on the beat to reverse the rise in violent crime over the past eight years and to restore to our streets, buses and station platforms a sense of safety and security—will you, Mr. Speaker, ask him to come as soon as possible to this Chamber to rectify that mistake?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has put the record straight—and very swiftly at that.

Mr. Neil Turner (Wigan) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance on the actions of Members in relation to the work they do in other Members’ constituencies, and in particular on the actions of the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Wallace) in relation to the Tote in the Wigan constituency. The hon. Gentleman approached the Wigan Evening Post representative in the Press Gallery, and the paper ran a story about 650 job losses in Wigan because of the Tote being auctioned off to the private sector. I understand that the hon. Gentleman lists the Tote as paying him money in order to— [Interruption.]—bat on its behalf in his entry in the Register of Members’ Interests, but on the Monday following the story the Tote main board issued a statement refuting what the hon. Gentleman had said and saying that the story was untrue. Therefore, he was clearly not acting on its behalf at that time. At that time—

Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman must give me clarity: what is his point of order? I have to be careful that a Member is not being attacked through the method of a point of order.

Mr. Turner: The point of order is whether or not it is right for an hon. Member from another constituency to brief the press about a false story, which has put fear into people and has undermined my work and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) in our constituencies. That is interfering in the actions of my constituency, and it is against the rules of this House.

Mr. Speaker: Having heard the circumstances, I must say that that is not a point of order—it is not a matter for the Chair. I make an appeal to hon. Members. I receive correspondence about comments made regarding one another’s constituencies, but it is best if the Speaker is not drawn into those matters. It is best if
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local MPs, regardless of party differences, can resolve the matters themselves without raising them on the Floor of the House. The matter ends there. It is not a point of order.

Ms Dawn Butler (Brent, South) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order. I hope that the hon. Lady is not telling me about points of order, because I have forgotten more than she will ever learn about these matters.

Ms Butler: Sorry, Mr. Speaker. It is just that Opposition Members do not listen to the rules of the House. I concur with my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Turner) about Opposition Members coming into my—

Mr. Speaker: Order. Let me stop the hon. Lady there, because some of the correspondence to which I was referring is about wee local difficulties just north of this House, and I do not want to know about them. That is what I am trying to tell hon. Members—do not draw the Chair into these matters.

Mr. Ben Wallace (Lancaster and Wyre) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: In fairness to the hon. Gentleman, I shall hear what he has to say.

Mr. Wallace: I am sure that the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Turner) did not mean to mislead the House, but he made an allegation that I received payment from the Tote and that that was in the Register of Members’ Interests. Of course when he examines the register, he will see that no such entry exists—nor did I receive any such payment. Would he perhaps take the opportunity to withdraw that scandalous allegation?

Mr. Speaker: I consider that the hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre has put the matter straight.

Mr. Wallace: He should withdraw it.

Mr. Speaker: Order. As I said, it was not a proper point of order, but the hon. Gentleman has put the matter clearly on the record.

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is right, is it not, that no Member should attempt to mislead this House? The hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson) commented on what the Prime Minister said, but it should be recorded that in fact it was the Conservatives in the Greater London authority who opposed the introduction of safer neighbourhood teams.

Mr. Speaker: Order. What the hon. Member for Henley said was perfectly in order. He said that the Prime Minister may have “inadvertently” misled the House. Often it is the words that we use in this place that keep us in order, and he used the term “inadvertently”.

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Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister reiterated his intention that the European Union treaty should be debated at length and line by line—

Mr. Speaker: Order. We are not going to extend Prime Minister’s Question Time—try that one next week, and who knows.

Mrs. Claire Curtis-Thomas (Crosby) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like to draw your attention to the fact that during International Development questions we only got as far as Question 6. Would you try to do what you can to ensure that we make progress in these matters?

Mr. Speaker: I always do. Of course, the hon. Lady will know that I called her on a supplementary, and that takes up time. If she did not stand, I would move on quickly, but that is not the point of the House, is it? The point of the House is to find a balance between getting through the Order Paper and allowing hon. Members to have their say.

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab) rose—

Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield) (Lab) rose—

Mr. Speaker: I hope that the right hon. Member for Makerfield is not going to bring up the Tote again. I call Mr. Dismore.

Mr. Dismore: Further to the point of order made by the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson), Mr. Speaker. I believe that I first raised the question of cuts in the police according to his policy, and that was based on a report in the Evening Standard

Mr. Speaker: Order. We are not getting into that.

Mr. McCartney rose—

Mr. Speaker: Mr. McCartney, I hope that we are not going the re-open the matter of the Tote. I know that you are a constituency neighbour of the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Turner), but if this is not a point of order, I shall stop you, albeit reluctantly.

Mr. McCartney: May I reassure you, Mr. Speaker that the way in which I will put this matter is in order? It is in order to raise this point of order. The hon. Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Wallace) is not a constituency—

Mr. Speaker: Order. It is not a point of order.

30 Jan 2008 : Column 320

Sale of Wine (Measures)

12.39 pm

Greg Mulholland (Leeds, North-West) (LD): I beg to move,

The current regulations state that wine that is not pre-packed must be sold by the bottle, by the glass in measures of 125 ml, 175 ml or multiples thereof, or by the carafe. The Bill would simply require all licensed premises to offer a 125 ml measure in addition to the other sizes specified in the legislation. That is important because there has been a move in recent years to serve only larger sized glasses of wine in bars and pubs.

I used to work in marketing, including for several leading marketing agencies, among whose customers were several leading pub companies, including bar and pub chains, so I know from my own experience that some of them made a deliberate policy decision to get rid of the 125 ml size and serve only the larger 175 ml and 250 ml glasses. Increasingly, therefore 175 ml has become the standard size or—awful word, but now often used in our increasingly Americanised language—regular size. The 250 ml measure then becomes a large size.

The introduction of the larger glass sizes has had something to do with changing wine-drinking habits, as wine drinking in pubs has become more popular, and indeed we have seen the quality of wine improve dramatically in the licensed trade, which is a very good thing. But it is of course also about money. If people can be persuaded to “trade up”, to use the business term, bigger glasses equal higher prices and greater profit.

The psychology is clear. People do trade up. Often people order “large” as the default measure—a group of young women egging each other on Friday night after work, a boss not wanting to look stingy buying drinks for his staff or a man wanting to impress on a first date. The trend is not universal, and 125 ml glasses are still served in many individual licensee pubs and in many community pubs, but the serving of only the larger measures has become standard practice and actual policy. The introduction to the “The Good Pub Guide 2006” says:

There are two issues at the heart of this Bill. The first relates to alcohol awareness and health, and the second is consumer choice. The 2006 survey by the Office for National Statistics said that 36 per cent. of people who had heard about the Government’s guidelines on drinking could not say what they were. About a third of frequent beer drinkers and a quarter of frequent wine drinkers are not aware of the number of units that they are drinking.

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The rules of thumb, on which people used to rely, have become increasingly outdated. People often wrongly assume that a glass of wine is about a unit. That was based on a 125 ml glass, but when that is not offered, people think that a glass of wine is the standard measure available, now usually 175ml.

Wine is also stronger than it used to be. A new way of representing alcohol consumption has been introduced, and that is a positive step. Now, a 125ml glass of 12.5 per cent. wine is deemed to be 1.5 units, a 175ml glass of the same wine is 2 units and a 250ml glass is 3 units. However, when the smaller glass sizes are not on offer, people fall into the trap of thinking, “I just had a few glasses of wine last night,” when, in fact, if they had three large glasses, they had a whole bottle of wine. Alcohol Concern backs that up, saying:

In the context of recent surveys and figures showing increasing health problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption, particularly of wine, women are of particular concern. Sixty-nine per cent. of women in this country drink wine and 55 per cent. of wine purchased in pubs in the UK is bought by women. Women are drinking more than ever before and it is having an effect on their health. Cases of liver disease in women aged 25 to 34 have doubled in the past decade. Alcohol Concern suggests that drinking two to five units per day increases the risk of breast cancer to 41 per cent. The incidence of breast cancer has increased by 12 per cent. in the past 10 years, with alcohol related to 4 per cent. of cases.

The Bill is also about choice. If a wine-drinking customer wants to have only a small glass of wine, just as someone may want only half a pint of beer, he or she will be able to do so. If customers want the larger sizes, they will be able to have them, but at least they will have the information that they are larger. Consumer education is also important, and many pubs and bar chains clearly advertise how many units are in each glass size, which is to be commended.

Let me say what the Bill is not about, lest there be any misrepresentation of it. It is not a means to stop licensed premises serving larger glasses, or to say that customers should not be offered a choice of sizes. It will not require pubs and bars to invest in new glasses: a 125 ml measure can be, and indeed often is, served in a 175 ml glass. Nor will it—or should it—stop customers who wish as a group to buy a bottle of wine, with a glass for each of them; that might give them the choice of having six 125 ml glasses, rather than four 175 ml. The Bill is not about decreasing choice for customers; it is about increasing choice for customers,
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as well as giving them better, clearer and more standardised information about what they are consuming.

I am delighted to have the support not only of right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House, but of related organisations. Tacade, which promotes the health and well-being of children and is at the forefront of alcohol education, fully supports the Bill, saying:

Alcohol Concern states:

The editor of “The Good Pub Guide”, Fiona Stapley, says

I believe that this House and, indeed, the Government are committed to encouraging responsible drinking and to tackling the problems that arise when the guidelines are not followed. I therefore hope that the Government will genuinely embrace my Bill. There is no quick fix for the problems that we have seen recently in our towns and cities, but the Bill proposes a simple measure that could contribute to better awareness of alcohol consumption and the need to monitor it. That problem has already been highlighted by the Minister of State, Department of Health, the right hon. Member for Bristol, South (Dawn Primarolo), who said:

I hope that the Government will listen to the organisations that have backed the Bill and to the various experts from the licensed trade and the health sector, and that they will seriously consider incorporating the Bill into the Government programme.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Greg Mulholland, Dr. Richard Taylor, John Thurso, Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mr. John Grogan, Lorely Burt, Peter Luff, Mr. Don Foster, Dr. Howard Stoate, Kelvin Hopkins, Mr. Nigel Evans and Peter Bottomley.

Sale of Wine (measures)

Greg Mulholland accordingly presented a Bill to require licensed premises which sell wine by the glass to offer measures of 125ml: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 20 June, and to be printed [Bill 64].

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Treaty of Lisbon (No. 2)

(2nd Allotted Day)

Mr. Speaker: I inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague).

12.50 pm

The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Mr. John Hutton): I beg to move,

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