Politicians delay minimum price debate

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Related tags: Minimum price, Public house

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Delays to Scotland's new Alcohol Bill mean the crunch debate on minimum pricing could be shelved for months.

Lawyers at the annual Big Licensing Conference in Glasgow last week heard how MSPs do not feel they have enough information to draft a report.

They have called for specific details - such as what the likely level the government would set a minimum price at.

They also want to know the basis for the claim that minimum pricing would be legal, and to assess how it would affect low income families.

The new hitch also snags plans to bring in a controversial social responsibility levy on "some" on-licences, and a scheme which could raise the age for buying alcohol from off sales to 21.

Meanwhile a separate piece of licensing legislation, within the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, has similarly been snarled by "a large number" of last minute proposed amendments from MSPs.

Archie Maciver of Glasgow firm Brunton Miller said: "We're now talking of adding more legislation to a Licensing Act which does not have secure foundations, and that can only lead to further problems."

He said a case where a mother being offered a free glass of champagne with her meal on Mothers Day was deemed "an irresponsible promotion" showed the system was badly flawed.

Lawyer John Loudon said: "Change after change to the 2005 Act and its various regulations means we have already ended up with a complete dog's breakfast of new licensing legislation, and this is being further messed up with the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill to which we will eventually turn."

He said the wording of the new draft legislation means a 20-year-old could have a pint inside a pub but not in a beer garden - as that would then qualify as an "off sale".

Related topics: Legislation

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