Ban on cheap supermarket deals?

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cheap supermarket deals Prime minister of the united kingdom John grogan

Prime Minister Gordon Brown may intervene to stop cheap supermarket deals on alcohol.The issue has apparently hit home with Mr Brown, after Labour MP...

Prime Minister Gordon Brown may intervene to stop cheap supermarket deals on alcohol.

The issue has apparently hit home with Mr Brown, after Labour MP John Grogan was called by a senior adviser at 10 Downing Street to discuss his recent criticism of the retail giants.

Grogan had branded Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy "the godfather of British binge-drinking" during a Commons debate, and was asked by the adviser what he would like to see done to stop the deals.

Tesco hit back at Grogan's comments, branding them "as offensive as they are inaccurate".

"I think Tesco is beginning to feel the heat," Grogan told The Publican.

"We discussed what might be done and I asked for Tesco to make sure this is the last Christmas it sells alcohol below cost and that it signs up to a code of practice similar to the pub trade's.

"I would hope the next time the Prime Minister speaks to Sir Terence Leahy he would have a quiet word that he has got to move over this, otherwise there is the possibility of legislation."

The call from Number 10 came after health minister Ben Bradshaw told the Commons the government would be "prepared to change the law" on below-cost selling depending on the findings of an independent review, due to report in April.

The review will look at the relationship between pricing and promotion of alcohol and the harm to health.

Later during the debate, Grogan told MPs: "Beer is being sold below the cost of water. It is not baked beans we are talking about here; there has to be a totally different attitude."

Eric Illsley, Labour MP for Barnsley, supported Grogan's comments.

He said: "Pricing is artificially depressed in supermarkets and I want to see some kind of re-balance between the supermarkets and the pubs and clubs, which are suffering."

Hopes for new legislation were further boosted by developments in Ireland last week.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Brian Lenihan, said the Irish government would look to ban supermarkets and off-licences selling below-cost alcohol.

"We can't continue having this endless proliferation of the public sale of alcohol at below cost. It's not feasible for us to go on with this as a nation or as a people. We have to regulate it," he told radio station Newstalk 106.

Commenting on this, Grogan added: "This is very encouraging as the UK often follows Ireland in terms of regulation, like the smoking ban."

Related topics Legislation

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