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Trade praises absence of minimum pricing in Queen's speech

Published:  09 May, 2013

The government's decision not to include alcohol minimum pricing in the Queen's speech has been praised by the trade.

The government's decision not to include alcohol minimum pricing in the Queen's speech has been praised by the trade.

The Scottish Grocers' Federation said the government has taken "a very commonsense step in dropping potential plans for both the minimum pricing of alcohol and plain packaging for tobacco products" from the speech.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said it was good news for the "majority of us who are responsible drinkers".

"The WSTA remains opposed to minimum unit pricing, particularly as alcohol consumption has been on a sustained downward trend in the UK, down 16% since 2004," he continued.

"It is now time for the government to focus on proven and effective measures to tackle problem drinking, including locally targeted solutions such as Community Alcohol Partnerships, more and better education and tougher enforcement of existing legislation. The drinks trade remains committed to working in partnership with government to tackle alcohol misuse including through our work on the Responsibility Deal."

Earlier this month, a court ruled out trade objections to Scotland's plans for minimum pricing.

The Scottish Court of Session dismissed the petition for judicial review of minimum unit pricing brought by the Scotch Whisky Association and European wine and spirits trade bodies.

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "We are disappointed our petition for judicial review has been refused. We are surprised at the ruling in light of 30 years of European case law on minimum unit pricing (MUP). We will be appealing against this decision and we remain confident of our position.

"The view from Europe is very different to that expressed by the court and we are not alone in having concerns about the legality of MUP. We are joined in our legal action by spiritsEUROPE and Comité Vins. The European Commission and more than 10 member states have expressed their concerns that MUP contravenes European Union trading rules and their opposition to the Scottish proposals.

"We have consistently opposed MUP so our decision to appeal should not come as a surprise. The Scottish government has agreed to not introduce MUP until the legal process, including appeals, is complete."