Scottish Minimum Pricing Bill published today

By Adam Pescod

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcohol misuse Scotland Scottish government

Proposals: The Scottish Government has published its bill on a minimum unit price for alcohol today
Proposals: The Scottish Government has published its bill on a minimum unit price for alcohol today
Minimum pricing on alcohol is unlikely to reduce alcohol misuse, is probably illegal and threatens one of Scotland’s key industries. That is the Scotch Whisky Association’s (SWA) view on the controversial policy set out in the Alcohol Bill, published by the Scottish Government today.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) failed to push through a similar proposal in May after it was rejected by MSPs, but its victory in the Scottish Election placed the issue firmly back on the agenda.

A minimum unit price of 45p was put forward then, but it is unclear what that has now been revised to, with a new figure expected early next year.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the SWA, said: “The Scottish Government’s fixation with minimum pricing as the solution to alcohol-related harm is misguided. The impact of recent legislation has not yet been fully felt and many other measures to address alcohol misuse remain untested.

“Only last week the UK government confirmed thatminimun pricing is probably illegal. A legal alternative would be to work with the UK Government on a UK basis to remove tax discrimination between different drinks and to introduce a ‘floor price’ for alcohol based on the revised duty rates and VAT.”

Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) chief executive Jeremy Beadles added: “There is no evidence minimum pricing will address the problem of alcohol misuse and the most recent Government figures show alcohol consumption per capita fell in Scotland last year.

“The Scottish Parliament should insist on its right to review the policy and its impact on cross-border shopping, internet sales of alcohol and any evidence of illegal trade of alcohol in Scotland.”

However, Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand believes a minimum price on alcohol could help reverse the slow death of pubs, and believes the Scottish Government’s plans would work across the UK.

“A minimum price for alcohol would target irresponsible retailers and consumers. If it is not introduced, I fear the UK government will continue to use duty to try to raise prices,” said Anand.

Related topics Legislation

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