Pubs demand minimum alcohol price

  • Post category:World News

The heads of pubs, nightclubs and breweries are pleading with David Cameron to stick to his plans to introduce a mininum alcohol price.

From the Telegraph

In recent weeks, sources have indicated that the Prime Minister has bowed to pressure from the Treasury, which opposes plans for a 45 pence per unit minimum price which would reduce tax revenues.

Mr Cameron had argued that making drinks more expensive would curb problem drinking, but several ministers said that a minimum price would only serve to penalise the responsible majority of drinkers.

Now the chief executives of 12 pub chains, nightclub groups and brewers have written a letter to The Daily Telegraph, urging the Prime Minister to “stick to his guns”, saying that the proposed measure would “save lives and protect great British pubs”.

The executives say that the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol would protect society from “irresponsible” drinking blighting Britain’s streets.

In the letter, they say: “Minimum unit pricing will not solve all our alcohol-related ills but it will help to encourage responsible drinking and curb excessive drinking.”

They urge Mr Cameron “not to waste this opportunity and ask that he continues to show courage and strong leadership in these difficult times, by sticking to his guns.”

The introduction of a minimum price would not increase prices at pubs and nightclubs, who charge more for their drinks than off-licences and supermarkets, some of whom have been criticised for selling beer more cheaply than water.

Rooney Anand, chief executive of Greene King pub chain and brewer, one of the signatories to the letter said the easy availability of “excesssively cheap alcohol” was causing “devastating” effects across society.

Peter Marks, chief executive of the Luminar Group, which runs 56 nightclubs in England, said too many town centres were now suffering the consequences of binge drinking, especially from young people who “pre-loaded” by drinking cheap alcohol at home before arriving in pubs and nightclubs. .

He said: “What we are finding more and more is that when people arrive at our venues, there are too many who arrive having had too much to drink, having drunk spirits and wine at home before they go out. We will people away if they are worse for wear – but then we are left with people causing trouble in high streets and town centres all over the country.”

According to research by the Wine and Spirits Trade Association a 45p increase would bring the minimum cost of a bottle of wine to  £4.39 and a bottle of vodka to  £11.81.

The Treasury has opposed the plans, on the basis that they will reduce tax revenues, while several ministers have argued that the plans would penalise the majority of drinkers who consume in moderation.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary, are all understood to have put pressure on the Prime Minister to abandon the plans.

There have also been concerns that a minimum alcohol price in England and Wales would be subject to legal challenge.

A plan to introduce a 50p minimum price in Scotland is being considered by courts, after a claim that it infringes European Union competition laws.