Lib Dems back pricing policy

03 October, 2008

Nick Clegg lashes out at supermarkets amid minimum price proposals

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has backed a minimum price policy for alcohol, to stop supermarkets selling drink

below cost.

Clegg outlined the proposal in a speech at a conference organised by the Sheffield Drugs & Alcohol Action Team.

It will form part of a paper on alcohol and licensing that Don Foster, the party's front bench spokesman on culture, media and sport, will publish in October.

Clegg said: "It is unacceptable for retailers, especially big supermarkets, to run a coach and horses through alcohol duties in order to sell alcohol well below its cost.

"The immediate effect

is to tempt people to buy a lot more alcohol than would otherwise be the case.

"As a rule, I don't believe governments should set prices, but when retailers are deliberately distorting the market we need to take action.

"That is why we should

look to the example of Ontario , Canada, where a

responsible minimum price for alcohol has been successfully implemented.

"Alcohol-related violence, disorder and illness is

one of the UK's biggest problems . If supermarkets are not prepared to act responsibly it 's time they are forced to ."

Clegg's comments were rejected by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.

Chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "It's odd, to say the least, that a party committed to cutting taxes now wants millions of consumers to pay more for their weekly shop.

"Minimum pricing set by government is wrong, it punishes all consumers for the problems caused by a minority and will do nothing to address the real

reasons for alcohol misuse."

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