Mandatory code: full plans released

By James Wilmore

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Controversial mandatory code, Free tap water, Alcoholic beverage, Government

The government has unveiled its full plans for its controversial mandatory code of practice on alcohol designed to clampdown on "irresponsible"...

The government has unveiled its full plans for its controversial mandatory code of practice on alcohol designed to clampdown on "irresponsible" promotions - including forcing pubs to offer a 125ml measure of wine and free tap water.

As feared the code appears to focus very heavily on the on-trade, and not the off-trade - although the consultation acknowledges the problem of "pre-loading".

The proposed two-tier code, which will be subject to a 12-week public consultation, includes:

  • Banning promotions in pubs and bars such as "all you can drink for £10", speed drinking competitions and "dentist's chairs" where alcohol is dispensed directly into the mouth of any customer.
  • Ensuring all bars, pubs and clubs offer a 125ml measure of wine and a 25ml or 35 ml measure of gin, rum vodka and whisky
  • Pubs must offer free tap water to customers "where it is reasonably available"
  • All alcohol retailers to display information about the alcohol unit content of drinks and for supermarkets and convenience stores, the health impacts of alcohol under powers from the Food Safety Act

Licensees that breach the code face a fine of up to £20,000, or a loss of licence, or six months in prison.

On top of these mandatory conditions, councils will be able to introduce a secondary set of conditions on two or more outlets in a problem hotspot.

For these crimespots, councils will have the power to ban "irresponsible" bulk buy promotions in the off-trade, but this might only be at evenings and weekends. One promotion given as an example is someone buying more than one 24-pack of lager to obtain a discount.

In detail, if a council decides to take this action, it would prohibit discounts in supermarkets on volumes greater than:

- 12 litres of beer, lager and cider (equivalent to approximately 27 x 440ml cans, 24 x 500ml cans, or 4 x 3 litre bottles);

- 9 litres of wine (equivalent to a case of 12 x 750ml bottles); and

- 2 litres of spirits (equivalent to two large bottles).

Under these secondary measures, councils will also be able to force pubs to operate a Challenge 21 scheme; ban glass and introduce CCTV.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "We do not want to stop the vast majority of people who enjoy a drink responsibly from doing so but this code will crack down on the minority of businesses whose irresponsible promotions fuel the excessive drinking that can lead people into crime and disorder or to risk their own or other's safety.

"It is not about penalising the majority who trade responsibly but the Government has a duty to tackle this issue which affects us all."

The government once again confirmed it is not planning to introduce minimum pricing as it would "punish unfairly the sensible majority of moderate and responsible drinkers".

To respond to the consultation, which closes on August 5, visit: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/haveyoursay/current-consultations/ or request a paper response form either by calling 0207 035 1759 or writing to Senyo Agbohlah, 4th Floor Peel Building, Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

Related topics: Legislation

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