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MP wants to see an end of superstore bargain booze

Friday 30th December 2011 (Andrew Griffiths)

ANY minimum pricing on alcohol should target cheap booze in supermarkets rather than hitting breweries with further tax hikes, Burton’s MP has warned.

Conservative Andrew Griffiths said any minimum price should be a set ‘floor price’ rather than an added tax burden on Burton’s breweries.

Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated he would support a minimum alcohol price, with one suggestion pointing towards a sophisticated tax arrangement based on the number of alcoholic units in a drink.

Mr Griffiths, who is chairman of the parliamentary beer group, said: “The supermarkets are using alcohol as a ‘loss leader’ to tempt people into their stores.

“This sends completely the wrong message to young people and it is also a danger to our pubs and breweries.

“I want to see a minimum price introduced.

I will be arguing that this should be a floor price rather than a tax.” He said a minimum price would prevent supermarkets from selling below-cost booze.

As well as pushing for this measure, the backbench MP said he would also support an examination into alcohol taxation.

Currently, different levels of duties are charged for different types of drinks.

“We need a long, hard look at the taxation system,” Mr Griffiths said.

“In recent years it has encouraged people to drink stronger and stronger drinks such as vodka, as well as super-strength lagers.

“This has disadvantaged beer which is an important Burton product. I think there should be a sensible revision of taxation to increase taxes on higher strength drinks.”

Scottish proposals will see a ban on alcohol being sold for less than 45p a unit.

Mr Griffiths said he wanted to put a stop to shops selling a can of strong lager more cheaply than a can of cola.

He spoke in the House of Commons earlier this month in a debate on alcohol taxation, debating whether a minimum price should be legislated.

The Government was due to publish a strategy on alcohol next month, but this has now been put back until February.

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