The second part of the controversial mandatory alcohol retailing code is set to be scrapped — but the pay-off will be the new late-night levy, writes Ewan Turney. The next part of the code, to come into force on 1 October, requires pubs to offer drinks in smaller servings and ask anyone who appears underage for ID. The coalition government is understood to view the code as an easy win for its “one in, one out” approach to regulations. And it has asked the trade for its views on the necessity of the code as part of its consultation on the Licensing Act review. The scrapping of the code could save the on and off-trades an estimated £41.3m (£650 per pub). A source close to the process said: “There is a strong hint that the second part of the mandatory code will go.” Trade bodies have been lobbying the Reducing Regulation Committee, chaired by Business Secretary Vince Cable, arguing there is little point in introducing the second half of the code because most customers choose a 175ml glass for wine and most venues already have an age verification policy. Neil Robertson, BII chief executive, said: “The BII has spent the past two months focusing on persuading the regulation executive and the Home Office that the mandatory code is the right one not to implement.” Robertson said the idea had received a “positive” response. “You can tell the idea has mileage. There is a chance it won’t happen.” But he added: “It is not inconceivable the remainder of the mandatory code will be out, but the late-night levy will be in.” The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) welcomed the news on the mandatory code and stressed it provided a real opportunity to re-consider how best to tackle promotions. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “We do however want to keep a ban on irresponsible promotions, as we believe that is important in tackling the few rogue traders who can all too easily tarnish the reputation of the industry. “Perhaps this is an opportunity to re-think how best promotions could be tacked right across the retail sector. Any proposed trade-off between the Mandatory Code and proposals for new regulations in the licensing consultation will need careful consideration to ensure they do not add additional regulation and costs to the running of a pub.” While the pay-off may not be viewed as a great result for the trade, it is believed the government is determined to press ahead with some form of change to late-night licensing. Suggested closing times, after which the levy would apply, have varied from anywhere between 10pm and 1am, with fees collected by local authorities. Paul Smith, executive director of Noctis, said he felt the government was “committed” to the levy. The levy is due to be discussed at five Home Office workshops in August, which hosts can apply to attend, on plans to reform licensing. Banning below-cost sales and giving councils and police extra powers are also on the agenda.