Scottish government defends silence over minimum pricing

21 December, 2011

The Scottish health minister has come under fire for failing to declare the government’s preferred level for minimum alcohol pricing.

Nicola Sturgeon has been grilled by MSPs who want to know why the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill makes no mention of what the price will be. The figure 45p is widely used for illustration purposes but some campaigners say it should be 50p.

Sturgeon said: “Whatever price is set initially, that price will not stay as set forever and it is likely to change over a period of time ...  I guess I am just not convinced it is the right approach to set the initial price in primary legislation.”

Although she said she was convinced the plans complied with the law, she accepted that it was “almost certain” that opponents would mount a legal challenge.

Critics believe the plans breach EU competition laws. Any challenge would have to be aimed at the Westminster government, rather than Holyrood.




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