Code could break Portman

17 October, 2008

Government plans to regulate industry would duplicate watchdog's role and waste taxpayers' money

A mandatory code of practice for alcohol sales would be a waste of taxpayers' money - and duplicate regulations that already exist, according to the drinks trade.

The government has published proposals for a compulsory code

involving widespread health warnings on packaging and at point of sale, restrictions on in-store tastings and controls o ver


The plans place a question mark over the role of the Portman Group, which currently leads the

self-regulation on the naming and packaging of drinks. Like the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, Portman believes a mixture of self-regulation and greater enforcement of existing laws

would be a better solution .

Portman head of communications Michael Thompson said: "We will be arguing very strongly that there's absolutely no need to duplicate the work of the Portman Group because we're here and we're doing a bloody good job. It would be a complete waste of money.

"It doesn't take Hercule Poirot to work out that our regulatory role would be severely diminished but we don't think the government can perform our role anywhere near as effectively as we do it.

"Drinks producers are regulated to a world-class standard. The government should be holding up our code as an example to other industries and saying 'this is what you should be aspiring to'."

WSTA head of communications Gavin Partington added: " What's needed is better enforcement of existing legislation."

The Association of Convenience Stores has rejected the proposals, saying a new code would "just duplicate existing laws". It said local authorities and enforcement agencies need help to use the full range of powers already available to them.

The Police Federation is calling for an end to deep discounting of alcohol. In a presentation to the DCMS it said such pricing "encourages binge -drinking and contributes to the persistence of alcohol abuse among the young and under-age population".

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