Scotland rejects minimum pricing for alcohol
Published:  10 November, 2010

Minimum pricing for alcohol looks certain to be pushed off the political agenda in Scotland later today.

The SNP's plan for a minimum price pr unit on alcohol has been rejected in a final vote at the Scottish Parliament.

MSPs voted 76-49 against the policy, which was part of the Alcohol Bill.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said rejecting the plan was a sad day for Parliament and accused her opponents of crude party politics.

Gavin Hewitt, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said: “The Scottish Parliament is to be congratulated. MSPs have looked carefully at the evidence

rather than listening to the rhetoric on minimum pricing.

“Now that minimum pricing has been rejected, we call on all parties to come together to build consensus around alternative, more effective, legal tax-based measures to address alcohol misuse. Reform of the UK excise duty system so that all alcohol is taxed on a fair and responsible basis, according to alcohol content, offers that opportunity.”

The ruling SNP group had lost previous votes on the issue, but made a last-gasp attempt to introduce a 45p-a-unit regulation as part of the vote on the Alcohol Bill.

Opposition parties have opposed the plans ever since they were mooted by the SNP, even though there is widespread political consensus that Scotland needs to find new ways of tackling its problematic relationship with alcohol.

Other measures in the Bill include a ban irresponsible drinks promotions in off-licences and supermarkets, although plans to raise the legal purchasing age to 21 failed to win support from opposition parties.

Although many in the medical profession have supported the SNP plans for minimum pricing, critics within the trade have argued such legislation would breach European competition laws.

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