James Wilmore: Fasten your seatbelts

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Price, Government, Weather

So, silly season is nearly at an end for another year. Frivolous stories about the weather and cheeky chimpanzees will make way for tales from...

So, silly season is nearly at an end for another year.

Frivolous stories about the weather and cheeky chimpanzees will make way for tales from Westminster, as MPs and their sidekicks return from their summer hols. A case of spot the difference you may say?

But, on a more serious note, what's next for the pub trade? Well, the issue of supermarket pricing - specifically irresponsible loss-leading deals - should at last be officially exposed… we hope.

The second part of the Sheffield University review into pricing and promotion will, you would assume, zero in on the big chains and their naughty practices.

At the same time, the government will be collecting submissions to its consultation on how to deal with the "evils" of alcohol.

The interesting question is what will it do from here? A Westminster Health Forum in October could give an indication.

But the talk is that government departments are at loggerheads over whether to introduce a minimum price on a unit of alcohol.

For the Department of Health this may seem like a great idea, in the belief that it will cut alcohol-related "problems". But clearly for the competition boffins at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform this would be a real headache.

Added to that, the top man himself, Mr Brown, would be reluctant to push up the price of booze when people are already facing rising costs all over the place. Tricky one eh?

However there's the feeling the powers that be are keen to get tough on booze, so may shove through legislation in the new year.

But though minimum pricing will initially be seen as a positive for the pub trade, some feel it could be the "thin end of the wedge". The thinking could be that higher prices - and may be higher taxes - will be seen as the answer to alcohol problems.

Still, hopefully our MPs will use common sense if they do legislate. Mmmm…

Related topics: Legislation

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