The government’s changes to the Licensing Act were dealt a fresh blow yesterday after data from the Office of National Statistics revealed that alcohol-related deaths have increased by 18.4% in the past five years.

The data, released by ONS and obtained by the Liberal Democrats, found that in England and Wales in 2004 there were 6,544 alcohol-related deaths, compared with 5,525 in 2000.

The biggest increase was revealed in Yorkshire and Humberside where alcohol-related deaths increased from 428 in 2000 to 627 in 2004 - an increase of 46.5%.

Lynne Featherstone, home affairs spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I am worried that the proposed change to licensing laws will add to this startling increase in drink related deaths. The government should pause for more thought before it brings in changes to the licensing laws in November.”

From November, pubs, clubs and retailers will be permitted to serve alcohol round the clock if they have applied for a licence.

Last week the police and senior judges claimed that any extension to alcohol licensing hours would increase crime and would not lead to a reduction in binge drinking.