Minimum Alcohol Pricing: Anger Over U-Turn
David Cameron has insisted he will still clamp down on the sale of cheap alcohol after criticism over an apparent U-turn to impose a minimum price on drink.
Sources have told Sky News that the Government is planning to ditch plans for the 45p minimum, prompting anger from supporters of the move.
The Prime Minister had personally backed the proposal for England and Wales, which experts argue would save lives and cut crime.
But it has been blocked by senior Tories, with opponents said to include Home Secretary Theresa May who has been at the centre of recent leadership rumours.
Education Secretary Michael Gove and Commons leader Andrew Lansley also signalled their doubts amid fears about the effect on responsible drinkers already battling the rising cost of living.
Labour leader Ed Miliband suggested at PMQs that the Prime Minister had been overruled by Mrs May.
To roars from his own benches, he asked: "In the light of his U-turn on alcohol pricing, can the Prime Minister tell us is there anything he could organise in a brewery?"
Tory MP Sarah Wollaston also directly challenged Mr Cameron later in the session, warning that abandoning the policy would "critically undermine" attempts to tackle problem drinking.
Earlier the Totnes MP had told Sky News: "We know that when alcohol is too cheap, people die. That is the bottom line. This is about saving lives."
Mr Cameron pledged to take action but notably failed to commit to bringing in a minimum price.
"There is a problem with deeply discounted alcohol in supermarkets and other stores and I am absolutely determined that we will deal with this," he said.
The Government has held a 12-week consultation on the policy, which ended in February, and is now looking at the results before issuing its formal response.
An announcement is expected in the next few weeks.
Senior Tory backbencher David Davis said he would welcome the abandonment of what he called a "blunderbuss of a policy" doomed to failure.
"It will hit poor people, it will hit people in the north, it will hit the pensioner having their one bottle of wine a week, it'll hit the hard-up couple doing the same," he said.
"It will transfer £1bn from the public to the people who sell alcohol and it's not going to work."
But fellow Tory Tracey Crouch insisted the base price would not hit responsible drinkers, who would still be able to buy a bottle of wine for £5.
She said: "We know that the Prime Minister is personally quite committed to this policy so I think we need to continue to press our case."
Campaigners also warned that a change of heart would be a mistake and urged the Government not to give into pressure from the drinks industry.
Eric Appleby, from Alcohol Concern, said: "All the evidence shows it will save lives and reduce crime - and we mustn't allow the interests of big business to derail this important policy."
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore from Alcohol Health Alliance UK added: "We are seeing admissions to hospital rising, we are seeing deaths rising every year. If the Government caves in to pressure from the global drinks industry it will be a disaster.
"At the moment, the UK is being praised around the world for taking tough action and to see a U-turn would be very sad indeed for everyone."
But Miles Beale, the chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said consumers would welcome the move.
"Minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge-drinker," he said. "Evidence has also shown it will do little to tackle problem drinking."
Introducing a 45p base price per unit would mean a can of strong lager could not be sold for under £1.56 and a bottle of wine for under £4.22.
Last year, ministers claimed the change would cut the number of crimes by 5,000, slash hospital admissions by 24,000 and lead to 700 fewer alcohol-linked deaths annually.
Scotland is already set to introduce a 50p minimum price but is facing legal challenges due to claims the price floor could breach EU free trade rules.
Northern Ireland is still examining the issue.
what do you think?
we cant have the rich paying more for there champers now can we
How would a minimum price on alcohol effect the rich?
Lets not fool our self's this has nothing to do with saving lives or reducing crime because quite simply it cant and wont this is simply another tax to pull more money out of those with little as it is. For those on a low income and that drink responsibly cheap alcohol is there only option so putting up the price forces these people to pay more to enjoy the same couple of cans or drink of whisky or vodka and then on the other side we have those that abuse the alcohol be it depression / i don't care attitude / alcoholic's and those in gangs that like to party and loose control it does not really mater because these people are locked into a situation and much like a drug they may be addicted and much like a drug when the price goes up usage does not go down because people find away to maintain the levels that they are used to and in the case of drugs we see people borrowing cash / spending cash meant for other things / robbing from other people to pay for there addiction and i suspect with alcohol we will see people spending more of what little cash they have for the same amount or resorting to crime to pay for the extra cost so if anything this may even increase crime
Tory donaters put the financial squeeze on then? Supermarkets are killing the pub trade.
And the no smoking ban, or at least its closef pubs in my area
It would have no effect on MPs with their taxpayer funded subsidised bar. There should be a minimum price, that is just common sense.
Don't be daft. And that's coming from a non-drinker.
Justify that reply.
The minimum price should be dictated by cost not by self serving nanny politicians. We see an increase in pricing of alcohol and along side it you will get an increase of crime- burglary, muggings, beggers etc. People will chose alcohol over food. People will even chose alcohol over their kids. So whos gonna suffer?
Grow up, shops selling booze cheeply is a problem, so setting a minimum price is sensible. Pubs have suffered for years with trying to compete with supermarkets. If people choose alcohol over their kids then that isn't my problem, but only goes to show how irresponsible people are, and shouldn't have kids in the first place. Smokers get hammered with taxes, so a minimum charge for alcohol is only fair.
This really annoys me, I work for the supermarket Lidl, all our alcoholics are on benefits anyway as they can't have a job drinking all day, so they don't care that much about cost as its not their money. Customers come into my store with leaflets from Lidl in Spain/Portugal and the same £5 bottle of wine is ?1 or 6 for ?5! It's a joke!
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" Labour accused Mr Cameron of weak leadership " ? so they want to see booze priced off the market as well ! Is there anything these two parties disagree on ?
il drink to that ! about time something went our way
Why would someone qualified to be a doctor want to be an MP ? because she`s bone idle ! So who wants to listen to her ?
People look at this in only two ways the health and crime or taxation. Pubs are closing at an alarming rate they aren't just a place to go to have a drink in many cases they act as a social meeting place alcohol is under priced in the supermarkets and the big booz shops and I think the price should go up in the shops but go down in the pubs snd balance things out so we can get back to drinking responsibley and the upside this would create jobs
MPs should lead by example and close the many subsidised drinking dens in their place of "work".
From alcohol to meat, if your poor your getting conned both in price and quality. My advice to poor people st k to healthy living water and vegetables. Cause soon their will no no NHS either. Slow and painful death.
If the aim is to reduce boozing - the old system of restricting sales from off-licenses and revert to restricted pub opening times worked..........but that requires radical thinking, which is alien to government
I have no problem setting a minimum price for a sensible reason such as using the cash to fund health or pensions but as a measure to tackle yob culture it is just another idiotic soft option that is totally misguided and inept. When will someone be brave enough to tackle yobs head on with the toughest measures and let normal people just enjoy a drink and a laugh. Two simple delights left in this insane uncaring world!
NHS and pensions are supposed to be f*nded by NI contributions.
My local newspaper publishes a daily report of the cases handled by the magistrates courts, the majority of the crimes are thefts from shops of drink, food and motoring offences. Putting up the price of drink will have no effect on the troublemaking yobs who nick their booze.
Quite correct John, They have been increasing the price of cigarettes for fifty years or more and people are still smoking. The only person that can stop someone smoking (or drinking) is that person themselves. Putting up prices never solved any problem, it merely provides extra revenue for the taxman............
I look forward to them removing the subsidies in House of Commons bars. Another example of school teacher justice. Can't pucish the culprits so the whole class gets it. What a maroon, if he can't handle this problem what hope have we got.
Governments do not introduce new taxes for health reasons, they do it to raise revenue. These so called "health reasons" are used as an excuse in the hope that people will not protest in the same way they would about other tax increases. They have been getting away with this sort of thing for years with cigarettes and tobacco tax increases..................
budget next week
Putting the unit price up wont affect those who sit on the bru an drink themselves stupid on a daily basis just the working class people who reward themselves wit the odd nite out as usual