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Trade welcomes government price pledge

Published:  20 May, 2010

A coalition government proposal to ban below cost-price selling of alcohol has been welcomed by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.

The government's alcohol policy, published today, also includes a commitment to "review alcohol taxation and pricing to ensure it tackles binge drinking without unfairly penalising responsible drinkers, pubs and important local industries".

This appears to rule out minimum unit pricing as an option.

WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "The WSTA supports a ban on selling alcohol below the level of duty plus VAT, on the basis that these are both consumer taxes and, therefore, the cost should be passed on to the consumer.

"While the WSTA remains opposed to minimum pricing we are keen to work with government on the issue of below cost selling to ensure any future legislation does not discriminate against any particular section of the drinks industry.

"However, we do not believe that alcohol pricing and taxation provide the solution to alcohol misuse. What's needed is education and rigorous enforcement of laws to address misuse and related anti-social behaviour."

The Scotch Whisky Association said it "warmly welcomed" the government plans.

Chief executive Gavin Hewitt said: "The UK's discriminatory system is no longer fit for purpose and undermines the Scotch whisky industry's competitiveness.

"It is time for a fairer and more responsible system that taxes all alcohol on the same basis, according to alcohol content."

He said a ban on below costs selling would offer "a legal, proportionate alternative to stalled minimum pricing proposals in Scotland."