Top Tory against "hefty" alcohol tax increase

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcohol disorder zones Andrew lansley Alcohol health alliance

Tory Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has called for the government to avoid increasing tax on alcohol to combat drink-related issues. Speaking...

Tory Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has called for the government to avoid increasing tax on alcohol to combat drink-related issues.

Speaking on Radio 4's Any Questions, Lansley also came out against alcohol disorder zones (ADZs), due to come into effect this month.

"All of us need to start to think about how we can achieve changes, positive changes, in behaviour without having to have an endless succession of laws by government, whether it's alcohol disorder zones or whatever they might be or what would come after it which would be hefty increases in taxation on alcohol," he said.

"Let's try and avoid those things."

Lansley's comments go against a report by the Conservative's Social Justice Policy Group, published last summer, which recommended an increase on alcohol tax, which would add 7p to the cost of a pint.

Anti-alcohol campaigners, including the Alcohol Health Alliance, a group of 24 leading health bodies, are pushing hard for a 10 per cent increase in alcohol tax to address the issue of excessive consumption.

But trade groups, including the British Beer & Pub Association are strongly opposed to such measures.

On issues surrounding the Licensing Act, Lansley admitted "most of the 24-hour licences that have been granted aren't for pubs, they're for large shops and supermarkets".

Labour's John Denham, secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills, told the audience there was "clearly a major problem of binge-drinking", but "it existed before the change to the licensing legislation".

He also gave hope to the trade over the government's review of the Act.

"There are issues that are also being looked at in the review about the supply of alcohol through supermarkets and very heavy discount promotion that is in your face every time you go into a supermarket," he said.

Denham also defended the idea of ADZs.

"It's about making sure that people who profit from the sale of alcohol pay part of the costs of all the policing and everything else that goes into it," he said.

"And from this month alcohol disorder zones will become available to local authorities where they will actually be able to levy money off the pubs and clubs in areas where they don't have proper strategies in place for dealing with binge drinking."

Related topics Legislation

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