Speculation that pubs will be faced with capacity restrictions similar to clubs and other late night venues has been welcomed by the British Entertainment and Discotheque Association.

It is thought that such measures could be art of the government's proposed licensing reform.

John Hayes, the chairman of the BEDA, said: "Our members have made it clear to me that BEDA's support for licensing reform should depend on whether the new system has at least as many safeguards for the public as at present.

"Capacity lies at the heart of members' concerns. It is the bedrock on which successful reform should be founded. Without it we will have instability, a lowering of operational standards and over-reliance on price promotions. It provides the only practical basis to determine risk, and from that, appropriate conditions to protect safety such as fire exit and door supervisors.

"Without the capacity on every licensed premises, the government's aims for reform will not be met - disorder and disturbance will increase and customers will be exposed to unacceptable risk."