A Conservative peer - also a former brewery boss - has been labelled "ridiculous" for blaming Britain's Muslim community for the collapse in pub numbers.

During a House of Lords debate, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, who was a director of Marston's brewery in Burton Upon Trent for 12 years, said that "socio-economic factors", including a growing number of teetotal Muslims, were more responsible for dwindling pub number than "rapacious"  pub chains.

Speaking in defence of the major pub chains, the former MP said: "In areas of Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham the increase in the Muslim population who don't drink leads to many pub closures. It is exceptionally hard for a publican who has put 10 years of his life into trying to build up a business to accept the inevitability of these tides of history."

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