SNP Alcohol Bill Passed Without the Minimum Pricing Plan

The SNP Alcohol Bill, the plan put to Members of the Scottish Parliament in an attempt to tackle Scotland’s increasing relationship with alcohol, is to be passed by the government, but without the controversial Minimum Pricing plans. Proposals to introduce a 45 pence minimum price on alcohol per Unit have met opposition from all sides and have been scrapped from the final Bill, alongside plans to raise the purchase age for off-license sales. What the bill remains tough on is what it calls ‘irresponsible’ drink promotions at nightclubs and in supermarkets. It also looks to introduce a ‘social responsibility fee’ on all retailers that sell alcoholic beverages, in order to bolster public finances beaten wafer thin by alcohol related violence and health problems. The focus on supermarkets is to discourage what are referred to as ‘loss leaders’, promotions where-by a supermarket reduces the price of a popular product, in this case alcoholic beverages, to very nearly or sometimes less than the cost price. This is done in the hope that it will encourage people to visit the store for this one product and continue to complete their general grocery shopping in-store. Of course, the strategy, which is perfectly legal and within European competition laws, can be misused by problem drinkers that will only visit for the low cost alcohol and nothing else. The Alcohol Bill’s aim to raise the age at which alcoholic beverages can be sold was also attacked as possibly being ‘discriminatory’, and coupled with the minimum price hike it was feared would end in cross-border criminal behaviour. What the Bill does represent is a decisive move towards tackling Scotland’s alcohol abuse crisis. The Bill will come into effect in the New Year 2011, with a ‘sunset’ clause allowing it to be amended and altered after the initial trial period. Representatives of the Coalition government have voiced concern over some aspects of the Bill. The Lib Dem health spokesman, Ross Finnie, was quoted as saying the social responsibility fee was only a “punitive” measure. The Conservatives have already questioned making alterations to the bill in order to protect the interests of shop keepers that do act responsibly. Deputy Scottish Tory Leader, Murdo Fraser: “There is no ‘silver bullet’ for Scotland’s over consumption of alcohol and the most pressing need is a change of culture.” Return to Abbeycare News. Go Back 1 : Go Forward 1

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