Minister says minimum pricing is not gone

The health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the decision not to include minimum unit pricing for alcohol in today’s Queen’s Speech, does not mean that the measure has been abandoned.

Jeremy HuntIn March it was reported that prime minister David Cameron had been forced for drop plans for minimum pricing in the face of opposition from senior members of his cabinet.

But Mr Hunt today insisted that no final decisions had been taken yet.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Just because something is not in the Queen’s Speech does not mean the Government can’t bring it forward as law, but we have not made a decision.

He added that the ongoing legal challenge to an alcohol pricing law in Scotland meant it “wasn’t possible for us to consider what course of action to do” in time for today’s speech.

The Scotch Whisky Association has vowed to take its case to the European Court of Justice after Scotland’s highest civil court ruled last week that the measure was compatible with UK and European Union law.

Hunt dismissed a suggestion that the absence of the measures was down to concerns about the surge in popularity for the UK Independence Party (Ukip), whose leader Nigel Farage is well known for his like of a drink and firmly opposes such moves.

Mr Hunt added: “We have not made our decision. And when we have made our decision we shall see if Mr Farage has a smile on his face or not.”

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