'The Government has lost its bottle on alcohol pricing' says Blackburn MP Jack Straw (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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'The Government has lost its bottle on alcohol pricing' says Blackburn MP Jack Straw
BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw has accused the Government of “losing its bottle” amid speculation that plans to introduce minimum alcohol prices are set to be dropped.
Prime minister David Cameron has previously thrown his weight behind proposals to introduce a 45p per unit minimum price, but a number of Cabinet ministers have made it clear they harbour doubts.
Mr Straw said: “I think the minimum price would help to cut down on binge drinking and continual boozing.
“The higher the price, the lower the consumption – we know that from smoking. The government has lost its bottle on this.”
However, David Grant, managing director of Moorhouse’s brewery in Burnley, said the plans did not go far enough.
He said: “What they should do is put the price up at a realistic level because what they’re looking at won’t affect anything other than your two-litre ciders and very inexpensive bottles of vodka. Bottles of beer are sold for more than that now anyway.
“If you’re going to legislate you might as well legislate and make a difference. It would bring the supermarket pricing slightly more in line with the pub pricing.”
Speculation has been growing for weeks that the proposals will be shelved, with criticism that it would unfairly punish responsible drinkers on low incomes. This was echoed by Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for Ribble Valley and honorary president of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group.
He said: “There’s a specific problem which needs a specific solution, and putting the price up to 45p a unit wouldn’t deter binge drinkers.”
Steve Magnall, of Blackburn brewery Thwaites, has previously welcomed the minimum price proposals, saying: “Any move that will begin to align pricing of alcohol between the on and off trade is positive news for pub licensees and consumers, as it will encourage people back into the pubs where they drink in a controlled environment.”