Health minister quizzed on alcohol guidelines

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Guidelines: Mulholland called on the health minister to speak with the DCLG regarding alcohol guidelines
Guidelines: Mulholland called on the health minister to speak with the DCLG regarding alcohol guidelines

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

Save the Pub Group MP Greg Mulholland has quizzed health minister Nicola Blackwood on the chief medial officer’s alcohol guidelines which were issued earlier this year (January).

The advice recommends both men and women drink no more than 14 units per week, the equivalent of six pints of beer.

Mulholland asked Blackwood if she would speak with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) as they “continue to preside over a system in which profitable, wanted pubs are demolished and in which supermarkets are built on the sites against the wishes of the local communities”.

Blackwood responded, calling the self-proclaimed “pub champion” a “dogged campaigner for the pub” and said social drinking was not the target of the “low-risk” guidelines. She added that she would be happy to speak with her colleagues at DCLG.

Advisory guidelines

Blackwood emphasised the guidelines​ are advisory as she acknowledged drinking alcohol is part of most people’s normal social lives.

She added: “They are in place to help people make informed decisions about how they drink and decide whether they want to take fewer risks with their drinking.

“They are not designed to label everyone who drinks as a problem drinker or to prevent everyone who wants to drink from drinking but I point out, Rochdale has more than double the number of admissions to hospital where alcohol is a factor than the best authorities in England.”

MP for Gower, Byron Davies asked Blackwood for reassurance that public health guidance given to drinkers is realistic and will not undermine responsible drinking campaigns, penalise responsible drinkers or damage the vital role that pubs play in communities.

She responded by reiterating that the guidelines​ are intended to be advisory and to give people the best information and advice possible in order to make the best possible decisions with their drinking.

MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk said: “There is an overwhelming scientific evidence base that shows the health benefits of moderate drinking – something to which I can attest.

“Does the minister not agree that the chief medical officer should highlight those benefits more?”

Blackwood again reiterated that for many, drinking alcohol is part of their normal social lives and emphasised the guidelines are advisory.

Last month (September), beer writer Roger Protz slammed the guidance​ and called them 'bad science'.

Related topics: Legislation

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