Minimum pricing meeting blasted

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Minimum price, Prime minister of the united kingdom, Government

Bill was unveiled at No10 today
Bill was unveiled at No10 today
One attendee has blasted the meeting at 10 Downing Street on minimum pricing as "nothing more than a tea party" — the meeting was called to discuss a new Alcohol Sales Bill, which proposes minimum pricing.

One attendee has blasted yesterday's meeting at 10 Downing Street on minimum pricing as "nothing more than a tea party".

Trade representatives were among those invited to a reception at 10 Downing Street this afternoon for the unveiling of the Alcohol Sales Bill by Labour MP Sally Keeble. Gordon Brown was also in attendance.

The private members' bill calls for the setting up of a Drinks Industry Council (DIC), made up of representatives from the industry, producers, police, health care, youth sector and consumers, which would advise Government on a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, promotions and set codes of conduct.

The minimum price would be set by the Government after advice from the DIC with different prices being set depending on product, alcoholic strength, region and the type of establishment selling it. The minimum price would be reviewed every year.

The Bill also calls for limits on alcohol advertising by supermarkets and the areas in which alcohol can be displayed and the introduction of a standard warning label for all drinks.

However, one attendee blasted: "On a day when the country is in real economic trouble, the Prime Minister was busy having photos with school kids. It was nothing more than a tea party."

Minimum pricing

Noctis executive director Paul Smith was more positive about the Bill. "It's good that the issue has been brought up but it is hard to know how high it is on the agenda.

"I think there would be a problem in the industry being involved in setting a minimum price because of competition rules. If the industry was involved, wouldn't that be a cartel?

"We are in favour of minimum pricing — we welcome anything that closes the gap between the on and off trade prices. But I think it must be the Government that sets that price.

"We need to see what happens next with this Bill and how the details pan out. At the moment there are too many grey areas."

Smith also questioned the effectiveness of having a different minimum price in different areas. "You could get that ludicrous situation where one side of the street is in Camden and has one price while across the road is in Westmister and drinks are double the price."

Only a minority of private members' bills become law but by creating publicity around an issue, they may affect legislation indirectly.

The Alcohol Sales Bill will next be debated in Parliament on 17 October.

Related topics: Legislation

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