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MPs oppose minimum pricing plans

Published:  31 January, 2013

Conservative MPs have blasted minimum alcohol pricing proposals in the same week the WSTA launched a campaign to stymie the government's plans.


David Cameron has championed plans for minimum pricing at 45p per unit and a ban on multibuy deals in a bid to tackle binge drinking. The proposals form part of the Alcohol Strategy consultation, which closes next week.


The WSTA's Why Should Responsible Drinkers Pay More campaign, backed by major retailers and drinks suppliers, is an attempt to raise consumer awareness about the subject and encourage them to ask their MPs to vote against the proposals.


A number of Tory MPs told Harpers they are already opposed to the plans. "The teenagers who drink grossly to excess on a Friday or Saturday night would still do so - they would 'preload' and carry on regardless or, worse still, turn to illegal drugs which are often cheaper already," said Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West.


Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, said he was "opposed to government pricefi xing in principle". "I also do not like the idea that we are trying to clamp down on poorer people drinking excessively, but are happy to allow richer people - who already pay more for their alcohol than the proposed minimum price - to carry on as before," he said.


Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda also backed the WSTA's campaign. "We take our position as a responsible retailer seriously but believe the government's plans on minimum unit pricing will punish those customers who consume alcohol responsibly," said Morrisons head of corporate aff airs Guy Mason. "The evidence suggests that the issue of alcohol abuse will not be eff ectively tackled with this measure and the social aspects at the root of the problem should be addressed."


However, leading independent wine merchants have backed the plans. The Oxford Wine Company managing director Ted Sandbach said minimum pricing would give his company a better chance to compete with the supermarket as they would "no longer be able to promote at silly prices."


Chris Piper, chairman of Christopher Piper Wines in Devon, said minimum pricing "discourages the high street suppliers from selling off cheap alcoholic drinks at prices that are subsidised by suppliers and are not sustainable in the long term."


Under 45p minimum unit pricing, a bottle of wine at 13% abv would cost at least £4.39, and £4.88 if the minimum unit price was 50p. A bottle of 70cl vodka at 37.5% abv would cost at least £11.81 under 45p and £13.13 under 50p minimum unit pricing.


Three quarters of the consumers surveyed on the WSTA's site so far believed minimum pricing to be unfair.

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