Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy was singled out for particular criticism in Parliament on Thursday, in a debate on cheap alcohol sales.
John Grogan, who chairs the all-parliamentary beer group, told fellow MPs: “It is with regret that I say this, but I want to charge Terence Leahy, the boss of Tesco, with being the godfather of British binge drinking. I do not make that claim lightly.”
His comment came during a debate on UK supermarkets selling alcoholic drinks below cost, following renewed concern over excess alcohol consumption.
Grogan, the Labour MP for Selby in Yorkshire, backed up his rhetoric with figures from the Competition Commission, which found Tesco had underpriced beer and lager during last year’s football world cup by £15m.
Below-cost selling is not illegal in the UK unlike in several other European countries, but has drawn criticism from some drinks makers and sections of small retailers.
Last year, Scottish & Newcastle used a submission to the Competition Commission to publicly criticise supermarket discounts on alcoholic drinks.
The brewer warned this practice was “not consistent with the promotion of responsible drinking. For example, there is now firm anecdotal evidence that drinkers are consuming cheap alcohol at home prior to crossing over into the on-trade for a night out."