Herald Scotland (Scotland) – Plan to ban off-licences selling alcohol to under-21s is defeated

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Plans to allow councils to ban off-licences from selling to under-21s in areas where drunk youngsters cause trouble have been defeated at Holyrood.

Despite an 11th-hour appeal by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, the proposal was thrown out by opposition parties.

The defeat is the latest blow to the Government’s flagship alcohol legislation, but unlike last week’s defeat on minimum unit pricing, which Ms Sturgeon is fighting to the final vote in the parliament chamber, yesterday’s setback is the end of the road for the plan.

Ms Sturgeon said more than 2000 under-20s were discharged from hospital with an alcohol-related diagnosis in 2007-08.

She also said it was important to see the Alcohol Bill as a series of measures to tackle drink-related problems.

She said: “We should not see any particular initiative as a magic bullet – we need a strong package of measures. This initiative is simply another tool in the box.”

Labour, Tory and LibDem members came together to vote down the proposal by five votes to three, the same margin as last week’s minimum pricing defeat.

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation welcomed the decision to reject the plans.

John Drummond, chief executive, said: “Banning the sale of alcohol in off-sales to under-21s is counter-intuitive to other Government legislation which permits an 18-year-old to sell alcohol, obtain a personal licence as a designated premises manager, train others to sell alcohol responsibly and vote, marry or join the armed forces.”


Source: Herald Scotland (Scotland), 30/09/10
Journalist: Robbie Dinwoodie, Chief Scottish Political Correspondent