MPs to renew minimum price plea

By Martyn Leek, M&C Report

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Minimum price, Alcoholic beverage

Parliament: new report on minimum pricing in January
Parliament: new report on minimum pricing in January
The issue of the minimum price of alcohol is to return to the fore next month when a committee of influential MPs is set to publish its findings on...

The issue of the minimum price of alcohol is to return to the fore next month when a committee of influential MPs is set to publish its findings on the controversial issue.

The House of Commons health select committee is set to reiterate a call by Sir Liam Donaldson and the British Medical Association to impose a minimum price per unit - despite the move being ruled out in the past by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

In a strongly worded report on alcohol, the group of MPs is set to accuse the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) of "extraordinary naivety" over the introduction of so-called "24-hour drinking".

Their report is particularly critical of the DCMS, which sponsored the Licensing Act 2003.

The 120-page document, which was finalised last week and is out on 7 January, says: "The department has shown extraordinary naivety in believing that the Licensing Act 2003 would bring about a civilised cafe culture."

The report is understood to also call for a clampdown on alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

The MPs suggest bringing in a new rule, to be included in advertising codes of conduct, which would stop a drinks company from advertising in the media or sponsoring events involving sport or music, for example, if the audience is likely to contain at least 10% of people who are too young to legally buy alcohol - under-18s.

In the report the MPs:

• claim that the drinks industry has not been properly reined in for its promotion of alcohol

• criticise supermarkets for contributing to alcohol-related harm by selling drink at less than cost price as a loss leader

• highlight young people's vulnerability to excess alcohol by saying that drink is involved in 25% of deaths involving young men aged 16 to 24, through car crashes, accidents and violence

• suggest greater rights for local councils and residents affected by drink-related anti-social behaviour to challenge the right of premise

• urge the Treasury to reduce the duty on drinks which contain less than 2.8% alcohol by volume, to encourage greater consumption of lower-strength wines and beers

The committee's three Conservative members are believed to have disagreed with the call for minimum pricing. Their party leadership is opposed, although it backs tax rises on alcopops, strong beer and cider, a tougher licensing regime and a ban on below cost-price selling by supermarkets.

Related topics: Legislation