In recent times it has been very difficult to find reasons to praise the Government, but the changes just announced to our licensing laws are worth at least two cheers.
The biggest cheer must surely be for the plan to allow drinks to be sold without meals between 3pm and 7pm on Sunday afternoons in bars in England and Wales. It is hard to believe that it has taken so long for the law to catch up with the way society lives.
With only 3% of the population now attending church, Sunday has long been a day of leisure for the bulk of the population (apart from many working in hospitality). And yet an outdated legal system has continued to prevent one of the most popular leisure activities from taking place.
While this has been frustrating for residents, it has been baffling for overseas visitors. Without a doubt the proposed change will create more jobs in this industry and boost tourism.
A slightly more muted cheer must go to the Government for introducing Children's Certificates. Regular readers of Caterer will have noticed the heated debate in the letters column over children following Mike Brearey's Viewpoint (5 January).
While there are strong views in both camps, the industry will surely welcome the fact that it will now be easier for establishments to get permission to admit children. The reason the cheer is muted is that the certificate system still has an element of bureaucracy attached.
It seems that many bar operators could be forced into making a difficult choice: go all out to attract families or stick to being an old-fashioned boozer. Yet this choice is not what many bar operators want.
There is a middle ground where places want to keep the atmosphere of a pub but also want to attract families. One hopes that the licensing authorities will be flexible on this matter. Unfortunately, history suggests that despite sensible guidelines from the Home Office, magistrates will still be able to impose onerous conditions.
The third cheer will only be due when the Government recognises that the only people really qualified to decide when a bar should open and who should or should not be allowed in are the licensees themselves.