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Government introduces another counterproductive policy

This is from Yesterday's Hansard (see link for full details). The government are trying enforce a law so vague that people (including the police) don't understand the limits.

John Hemming: Obviously, this Christmas the Government are discouraging people from going to pubs and clubs, and encouraging them to drink at home by penalising such drinks as the yard of ale. People are likely to face a fine for drinking a yard of ale in any pub or club outside the House of Commons. Does the Minister not accept that it is better to encourage people to drink in controlled circumstances? Under what the Government call the responsible alcohol sales campaign, if people are argumentative—that includes a lot of hon. Members, I presume—they are deemed to be drunk, so serving them would be an offence punishable with a fine of up to £80.

John Hemming: My hon. Friend said that there was too much drinking in the home. Does he share my concern that someone who recently drank a single pint in Birmingham was told that he was drunk and threatened with a fixed penalty notice? That drives people from a controlled drinking environment into the home, where they drink cheap alcohol in larger quantities.

John Hemming: With his expertise from dealing with the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, I am sure the hon. Gentleman has heard the concerns of members of that association about the uncertainty of the definition of the word “drunk” in the 2003 Act. According to the guidelines issued by the Home Office, difficulty in paying attention and not understanding what is said is a sign of somebody being drunk and could therefore result in a fixed penalty. I would argue, although the hon. Gentleman may not agree, that that could be said of many Ministers, who cannot understand what is said. The difficulty is that in Birmingham, very low level drunkenness has been deemed sufficient for fixed penalty notices.

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

I have only just found this one which I think is accurately reported below (but if it is not please give me an accurate report).

KING’S BENCH DIVISION

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

Here, the magistrates’ clerk retired with the bench when they were considering a charge of dangerous driving. The clerk belonged to a firm of solicitors acting in civil proceedings for the other party to the accident. It was entirely irrelevant that there had been no evidence of actual influence brought to bear on the magistrates, and the conviction was duly quashed.

LORD HEWART CJ:
It is clear that the deputy clerk was a member of the firm of solicitors engaged in the conduct of proceedings for damages against the applicant in respect of the same collision as that which gave rise to the charge that the justices were considering. It is said, and, no doubt, truly, that when that gentleman retired in the usual way with the justices, taking with him the…