Over the years, every time I have begun to enjoy or appreciate something about our great nation, it has been either replaced with something inferior or abolished for good. Our great British pubs up and down the country are facing the same fate. A staggering 16 pubs closed each week until the end of December last year according to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Something should be done as a matter of urgency.
Our pubs are a quintessential part of our national character and way of life. We should be proud of them, nurture them and protect them, for if they are to disappear altogether, we will deeply lament their loss. It should be in the Conservative Party's DNA always to long for the preservation of our pubs - a cornerstone of British culture.
It is not the city centre pubs that are necessarily facing closure. They always benefit from people who pop in for a drink on their way home from work. It is mostly the old fashioned back street and suburban locals that are under threat which are the focal point of so many communities. Not only are they part of our heritage, but they perform an important community function; bringing people together, having a conversation, looking out for one another. These are the characteristics which aid social cohesion.
We have a problem with alcohol abuse in the UK. There is no doubt about that. But in addition to other measures that are being considered, keeping our pubs open is very much part of the solution. A pub is a controlled drinking environment where bar staff can monitor individual alcohol consumption and turn away anyone who is on the way to becoming incapable. In addition, it is much harder to drink a vast quantity in a small period of time. The environment is more conducive to having a conversation with each other. Talking takes place between sips and there is a delay between drinks when queuing at the bar to purchase the next one. Many pubs have also been successful in introducing food and snacks, which undoubtedly alleviate the effects of continuous drinking over a long period of time. That is why I believe that any increase on beer duty for example should not be a blanket application but that it should be weighted more on supermarkets and off licenses which sell poor quality ultra-high strength alcoholic drinks at an abhorrently low price.