Scottish opposition slams minimum pricing

02 March, 2009

Plans by the Scottish government to introduce minimum pricing and a ban on BOGOFs to tackle alcohol misuse will not work, according to the Scottish Labour Party.

The ruling SNP executive is due to outline a new Criminal Justice & Licensing Bill this week but some reports suggest they will try to push through the measures as an amendment to the 2005 Licensing Act, to head off opposition.

Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Baker said: “Labour has never shied away from taking action on alcohol but if these reports are to be believed the SNP appears hell-bent on forcing through changes with no proper debate.

“We need to establish if the minimum pricing model proposed is workable or even legal before going ahead.”

A measures to ban off-sales to under-21s could be included in the new legislation, but is likely to struggle to win the support of MSPs, who voted against it in a Conservative party motion last autumn.

“We will not support a scheme that criminalises 20-year-old adults for buying a bottle of wine,” said Baker.

“There is nothing in the plans that remotely tackles alcohol-fuelled crime and anti-social behaviour.”

The publication of the Bill move comes a week after new statistics showed a 17% increase in alcohol-related hospital admissions in Scotland over the last five years.

People over the age of 16 consumed 20% more alcohol on average per year than those in England and Wales.

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