MSPs reject pub promos ban but fears remain

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Scottish national party Scotland

Scotland: alcohol restrictions
Scotland: alcohol restrictions
MSPs have rejected new restrictions on pub drinks promotions in Scotland but paved the way for the controversial social responsibility fee and...

MSPs have rejected new restrictions on pub drinks promotions in Scotland but paved the way for the controversial social responsibility fee and compulsory Challenge 25.

Meanwhile, off-trade deals such as "three for two" or "25% off when you buy six" will be outlawed, and supermarkets will be banned from advertising deals in store or within 200 yards of the premises.

While the rejection of minimum pricing yesterday hit the headlines, other measures in the Alcohol Bill will have a more direct impact on how pubs trade.

MSPs voted against proposed amendments that would ban sampling in pubs and could restrict meal deals featuring alcohol, as well as threaten pub reward cards.

The social responsibility fee - which would see operators pay a charge for the cost of dealing with disorder - was approved.

However, the power can not be enacted until regulations are subject to consultations and have been approved by Parliament.

Possible exemptions and discounts are expected to be discussed as part of the consultation into the regulations.

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, predicted that powers enabling the fee won't be enacted until 2012 at the earliest.

"It could have been worse. We've got another opportunity to make some of the principled arguments about how the levy would work.

"We've still got the opportunity to point out where there are deficiencies about the logic of levies."

He predicted that Challenge 25 could be compulsory from spring 2011 - and warned about a "degree of local interpretation" around how it will be enforced across different areas.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party (SNP) said it will "continue to argue for a minimum price for alcohol".

SNP Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon accused Labour of being "pathetic" - blaming the party for voting against the proposal simply because it came from the SNP.

"Labour should be ashamed by their vote," she said.

"Today could have shown the Parliament at its best taking radical action to protect public health. Instead Labour displayed the worst kind of petty politics putting their own partisan interests ahead of the lives of people across Scotland.

"The bill contains many beneficial steps including ending deep discounting of alcohol however the impact it will have will be reduced by Labour's refusal to accept the importance of public health."

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