UK cabinet play catch up with Scots plans on alcohol pricing

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Commenting on reports on Sunday that David Cameron wants to follow the Scottish Government’s lead and introduce a minimum price for alcohol, SNP MSP Jim Eadie has said that there was now no excuse for the Tories in Scotland not to back the Scottish Government’s own proposals.

According to the Sun newspaper, Mr Cameron is preparing plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol in order to tackle the social and health problems associated with binge drinking. 

The plans are expected to be unveiled shortly before this month’s budget.  The Coalition government hopes to introduce minimum pricing by April 2015, just before the date pencilled in for the next Westminster General Election.

The Scottish Government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol are already being copied by the governments of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, who recently announced a joint initiative to introduce the measure throughout the island of Ireland.

As Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee finalises its Stage 1 report on the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill, Mr Eadie highlighted the Scottish Tories’ previous demands that alcohol pricing be tackled on a UK-wide basis.

Mr Eadie, a Member of the Health and Sport Committee, said:

“David Cameron’s u-turn is extremely welcome.  He has finally brushed aside the lobbying of the alcohol industry and instead listened to the over-whelming support amongst police, the medical profession, the churches, all four chief medical officers across the UK, alcohol charities and many more.  It is time that the Scottish Tories did the same.

“While Health Spokesman during the last Bill’s passage through Parliament, Murdo Fraser repeatedly claimed there would be ‘booze cruises’ if it was introduced in Scotland and not in England – now, if he had his way, the alleged booze cruises would be travelling in the other direction.

“Every single argument that the Tories have made against minimum pricing has been comprehensively rebutted.  Their opposition to this ground-breaking policy is looking increasingly absurd – this is another line in the sand that Ruth Davidson should definitely be prepared to cross.”