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A cautious welcome for minimum alcohol prices

Thursday 29th November 2012 (Andrew Griffiths)

THE Government has announced a wave of measures to tackle binge-drinking, including a ban on massively discounted alcohol.

It will become illegal to sell a unit of alcohol for less than 45p if the proposals become law.

Multi-buy promotions would also be banned.

The pub and brewing industry has offered cautious support for the Government’s plans, which are now subject to a 10-week consultation.

Brigid Simmonds of the British Beer and Pub Association, which represents Burton-based industry giants such as Molson Coors, Marston’s and Punch Taverns, said: “It is good that the Government acknowledges that responsible drinking supports pubs as part of our community fabric.

“We strongly believe that alcohol should be priced in a way that is socially responsible, but there are concerns that minimum pricing would penalise a sensible majority of people who drink in moderation.”

Under the minimum pricing proposals, the lowest legal price for a can of larger or cider would be around £1.12, and for a bottle of wine it would be approximately £4.40.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, chairman of the parliamentary beer group, said: “Nobody wants to penalise the responsible drinker, but the supermarkets have acted irresponsibly in using alcohol as a loss leader to get people in to their stores.”

He said hugely discounted alcohol had encouraged a binge-drinking culture and left pubs unable to compete with supermarket prices.

“This will not affect the price of a pint of beer or a glass of wine in your local pub,” he said. “It will only impact the ridiculously cheap prices in supermarkets and some stores.”

The Government claims irresponsible drinking costs the taxpayer £21 billion a year. There were nearly a million alcohol-related violent crimes and 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions last year alone.

The proposals will also see licensing conditions reviewed in an attempt to make them more health-focused. The Government will also try to reduce bureaucracy for responsible pubs and bars.

Policing Minister Damian Green said: “The availability of cheap alcohol contributes to harmful levels of drinking.

“It can’t be right that it is possible to purchase a can of beer for as little as 20p.”

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