The conference 'Modernising Scotland's Licensing Laws' was organised by the Scottish Forum for Modern Government in association with McGrigor Donald Solicitors. The issues highlighted were:
* licensing red tape
* pubs, clubs and societies
* fitness to hold a license
Deputy justice minister Iain Gray said the executive had set up a committee under Sheriff Principal Nicholson to review licensing laws and that it had issued a consultation paper on the subject. He said:
'We are committed to improving Scotland's health and tackling the root causes of violence and one of the ways of doing this is through improving our licensing laws. That is why we have set up the Nicholson committee to review all aspects of liquor licensing law and practice in Scotland and it has been asked to pay particular attention to health and public order implications.
'Holding a licence in Scotland is a privilege and mis-management can have dire consequences. It is vital therefore that licensing laws take account of changes in society and we must strike a balance between the right of individuals to enjoy a drink, the need to discourage them from excessive drinking and the rights of communities not to be disturbed by licensed premises.
'The review being carried out by the Nicholson committee will examine how we can promote healthy drinking patterns and how to break the links between binge drinking and street violence.'
The appointment of the committee on liquor licensing law, chaired by Sheriff Principal Nicholson, was announced by deputy minister for justice, Iain Gray.
The Nicholson committee met for the first time on the 1st August this year and will not report before early 2003.