Close Menu

MacAskill defends minimum pricing stance

Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister leading the crusade for minimum pricing of alcoholic drinks, has defended his stance by saying he is on the side of the traditional British pub.

MacAskill said the increasing trend towards drinking at home off the back of cheap supermarket deals is at the heart of his proposals to price drinks according to the number of units of alcohol they contain.

Speaking at a meeting of the United Kingdom and Ireland Licensed Trade Association (UKILTA), the minister said: “Perhaps the biggest challenge to this trade is the continuing shift towards drinking at home – a challenge made all the more difficult with the continued deep-discounting, loss-leading and irresponsible promotions run by supermarkets.

“Supermarket pricing and promotions means that people are willing to give up the real benefits of the pub and club experience so they can buy more alcohol at 40p a pint or vodka at £8 a bottle.

“Surely it cannot be right that alcohol is available in the big retailers at less than you can get it for at the wholesalers. It cannot be right that cider can be cheaper than water.”

The Scottish National Party wants to bring in minimum pricing next year alongside a raft of other measures designed to tackle alcohol abuse in Scotland, but the plans have been met with mixed opinions among the trade and the public.

MacAskill claims, however, that his plan has the support of both the alcohol sector and health chiefs.

He said: “Our proposals for minimum pricing have attracted support from the health lobby as you would expect but it is also clear that many parts of the alcohol industry and the licensed trade are behind us.”

His remarks came as leading industry figures in England prepared to air their views on the subject at Parliament next week.

Alcohol Concern has organised a debate at Portcullis House next Monday (11 May), which is set to fature Mike Benner, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), David Long, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association and Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

They will be joined at the debate by Sheffield University’s Dr Petra Meier, David Poley from the Portman Group and police chief constable Mike Craik.

Alan Lodge, 06.05.2009 

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No