Update: Scottish minimum price defeated

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Minimum pricing, Scotland, Snp

Scotland: minimum price proposals set to be defeated
Scotland: minimum price proposals set to be defeated
The Scottish Government's plans to introduce a minimum price on alcoholic drinks has been defeated at Holyrood today. The Scottish Conservatives...

The Scottish Government's plans to introduce a minimum price on alcoholic drinks has been defeated at Holyrood today.

The Scottish Conservatives laid an amendment to remove "indiscriminate blanket minimum pricing" of 45p a unit from the Alcohol Bill — which was passed by five votes to three by the Health Committee.

That is despite a promise of a "sunset clause" being introduced to force a review of the policy in six years by the Scottish National Party (SNP).

But the SNP said it would table another amendment to re-introduce minimum pricing at the third stage of the process.

"There is simply no political support for the SNP's blanket minimum pricing," said Scottish Conservative Health spokesperson and a member of the Health Committee Mary Scanlon.

"These plans would penalise responsible drinkers, harm the Scotch whisky industry, cost jobs and is probably illegal.

"As the Scottish Conservatives have consistently said, alongside banning below cost price sales, the most effective method is to target problem drinks with extra tax and duty on a UK wide basis.

"This avoids responsible drinkers being penalised, would be more effective at reducing consumption, stop any notion of booze cruises to Carlisle or Berwick and mean that any extra revenue goes to the taxpayer."

Problem drinks

She added: "Some problem drinks will be unaffected, and others such as many whiskies will rocket in price, proving that the SNP policy of blanket indiscriminate minimum pricing is a blunt instrument.

"Far better that we target problem drinks and target help at problem drinkers, rather than costing sensible consumers an estimated £236m a year — the majority of which will be extra revenue for the retailers.

"Common sense, economics, and public opinion have all called time on the SNP's plans. It is time for them to join the growing consensus that there is a better way, which is why I am tabling this amendment to scrap the SNP's blanket minimum pricing. I hope this will be supported by the other parties."

Unconvinced

LIb Dem health spokesman Ross Finnie said all parties must work constructively to curb Scotland's alcohol problems.

"There must be a cultural change in attitudes towards alcohol and a raft of measures must be in place to bring this about," he said.

"We remain unconvinced by the Government's proposals for minimum pricing. It impacts heavily on the low paid, has a marginal effect on hazardous drinkers and gives a windfall to retailers.

"Liberal Democrats support the public health aspect of this Bill especially the provisions banning irresponsible promotions."

The SNP has argued that a minimum price of 45p would mean 1,200 fewer hospital admissions, a £5.5m fall in health care costs, 50 fewer deaths and nearly 23,000 fewer days absent from work in the first year.

Related topics: Legislation

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