SNP offer ‘sunset clause’ on alcohol minimum price proposal

83
1253


A cross-party meeting aimed at addressing ways of tackling Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol has broken up with no agreement reached between the parties.

The Scottish government has offered to insert a ‘sunset clause’ into their minimum price legislation allowing it to be removed after a period of time should evidence suggest that minimum pricing was having no effect.


A cross-party meeting aimed at addressing ways of tackling Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol has broken up with no agreement reached between the parties.

The Scottish government has offered to insert a ‘sunset clause’ into their minimum price legislation allowing it to be removed after a period of time should evidence suggest that minimum pricing was having no effect.

However Labour’s health Spokesperson Jackie Baillie has indicated that Labour will still vote against the proposal calling it “flawed”.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has agreed to listen to alternative proposals from opposition parties and has asked them to come up with workable solutions.

Speaking following the meeting, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:
“We agreed that action on price was an essential part of tackling Scotland’s alcohol misuse problems.

“The Scottish Government has proposed minimum pricing as the most effective way of doing this.

“However, following today’s meeting we will consider any workable alternatives, and as a result have asked the opposition parties to submit further details on what they have proposed today.

“In an attempt to reach agreement, I indicated that the government would be willing to introduce a ‘sunset clause’ to the minimum price section of the Alcohol Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament.

“This would have the effect of ensuring that the minimum price policy is reviewed after a set period. If minimum pricing proved to be successful the measure would be retained, if not parliament could choose to end minimum pricing.

“Such a measure would allow minimum pricing to be tested and evaluated over time, and I hope would address some of the concerns colleagues have expressed.”

Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “It’s an admission that the evidence is not there, is not persuasive and the cabinet secretary, in fairness, did say that this allowed the policy to be tested and determined.

“The Government is encouraging us to take a leap in the dark with the sunset clause. I don’t think that’s the way to do policy, certainly not legislation.”

In order to defeat the Scottish government’s plans Labour would need the support of other parties.  Labour currently favour placing limits on the amount of caffeine that alcoholic products can contain.

The Conservatives and the Lib Dems are urging the Scottish government to adopt proposals being considered by the Westminster coalition whereby the price of alcohol would be increased through increases in duty.

Tory health spokesman Murdo Fraser MSP said the sunset clause amounted to a substantial concession” from the SNP, adding: “I think they’re accepting there’s a problem with the lack of evidence.”

However, a spokesperson for BMA Scotland said: “The BMA would welcome the introduction of minimum pricing and a review to evaluate the effectiveness of the policy.”

Minumum pricing is supported by police and health organisations as well sections of the volunteer sector.  Supermarket giant Tesco have also given their support as have some drinks manufacturers.  A similar policy is also being considered by political bodies South of the border.

If you found this article interesting why not make a small contribution in order to help keep the site going – see the paypal button on the right.

newsnetscotland.com