Cross party support for ‘Minimum Price for Alcohol’ stops at border

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The news that ten local authorities in Greater Manchester are pushing to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol has caused major embarrassment to Holyrood’s Unionist parties who continue to block the SNP from introducing the policy in Scotland.

The plan by the English local authorities to set the minimum price at 50p has cross party support and Conservative PM David Cameron has said that it would be looked at ‘very sympathetically’.

 

The news that ten local authorities in Greater Manchester are pushing to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol has caused major embarrassment to Holyrood’s Unionist parties who continue to block the SNP from introducing the policy in Scotland.

The plan by the English local authorities to set the minimum price at 50p has cross party support and Conservative PM David Cameron has said that it would be looked at ‘very sympathetically’.

It is hoped that raising the price of cheap alcohol will address Manchester’s public disorder and health problems caused by problem drinking.

The proposal would require that pubs, restaurants, supermarkets and off-licences priced alcoholic drinks based on the number of units they contain.  The suggested minimum figure of 50p a unit of alcohol is supported by the UK Government’s former chief medical officer, Liam Donaldson.

Like Scotland minimum pricing has the backing of health experts and doctors, who say it could save more than 3,000 lives a year in England.  However unlike Scotland there is now a clear political will to tackle the problem.  The House of Commons Health Select Committee and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence are among the bodies that voiced strong support for minimum pricing.

The Scottish government has welcomed the Prime Minister’s support for the Greater Manchester plans.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:
“I welcome David Cameron’s comments in support of Manchester’s plan to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol. It is encouraging that the Prime Minister is willing to keep an open mind and recognises particular solutions may be right for different parts of the UK.

“The Prime Minister joins a growing number of people and organisations, including doctors, nurses and the police, who accept the link between price and harmful consumption. We believe that minimum pricing will effectively target problem drinkers who favour high-strength, low-cost alcohol and help address the country’s unhealthy relationship with drink.”

In Scotland minimum pricing is backed by health professionals, the police, brewers, supermarkets and the voluntary sector.

With Labour controlled local authorities now embracing minimum pricing and a Conservative PM also willing to back the move the Holyrood trio of Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems are looking increasingly isolated.

SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell a member of the Parliament’s Justice Committee has written to David Cameron urging him to call on the Scottish Tories to back minimum pricing.

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