During their term of office, New Labour have toyed with this idea on several occasions without ever putting it into effect. Indeed, after the 1997 general election, it seemed for a while that it was inevitable, but those plans were eventually quietly dropped. It is my suspicion that it is the privately-expressed scepticism of senior police officers that has kept the plan from being implemented. However, given that it has been made abundantly clear over the past twelve years that New Labour hate pubs, hate motorists and hate the countryside, what’s not to like with a policy that kills three birds with one stone?
Of course these plans will run into the sand with the General Election being imminent, and there is no guarantee that a new government will implement them, but this is a clear indication that the threat to pubs from a lower limit has not gone away.
Another interesting aspect of the report I link to is how the amount of alcohol represented by the current limit seems to have been deflated over time. I have in my possession an CAMRA publication from about 1980 called 100 Classic Pubs in the Heart of England that explicitly states “the limit equals three pints”. Now, that might be taking a rather optimistic view, but it has always been my understanding since I passed my driving test over thirty years ago that if a man of average build consumed two pints of sub-4% beer he would stay comfortably within the limit – something that is borne out by this TRRL publication from 1986.
However, the report states that “the current 80mg limit equates to one-and-a-half small glasses of wine or one-and-a-half pints of normal strength beer,” which is not the case. In reality, it equates to roughly 5-6 units for a man, and 4-5 units for a woman. A 50 mg limit would still allow someone to legally consume one pint of ordinary-strength beer, or glass of wine, although whether they would think that was worthwhile is of course a moot point.
And, as often stated before, wouldn’t it make more sense to enforce the current limit more effectively rather than impose a lower limit which in practice people will all too often be able to flout with impunity?