Bill proposes minimum price for alcohol units

12 June, 2008

A bill proposing a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, devised to combat drink-related health and social problems, has passed through Parliament.

A bill proposing a minimum price for a unit of alcohol, devised to combat drink-related health and social problems, passed through Parliament on Tuesday.

Labour MP Sally Keeble said her Alcohol Sales Bill would force retailers to put drinks in separate aisles. It would also combat discounting by introducing a minimum price for a unit of alcohol.

A new council representing both the drinks industry and members of wider society would act as a watchdog for alcohol sales.

Keeble introduced her bill using the Ten Minute Rule – in which bills are normally a means for backbenchers to provoke debate rather than push through legislation.

The bill's chances of becoming law may be remote, but it comes as the government approaches the end of wide-ranging reviews on alcohol pricing and marketing.

"There is a strong sense that it is time to set some real boundaries around the sale of alcohol, which is what this Bill seeks to do," Keeble told fellow MPs.

A second reading of her bill has been set for October 17th.

Competition experts believe minimum prices for alcohol would be unworkable and out-of-step with economic policy in the retail sector.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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