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Minimum Pricing Defeat
An amendment lodged by Scottish Tory MSP Mary Scanlon, removing the “indiscriminate blanket minimum pricing" of 45p a unit from the Scottish Governments Alcohol Bill, was passed by five votes to three by the Health Committee, which sat this morning.This defeats the Scottish Governments intention to introduce minimum pricing in Scotland. However, the SNP said it would table another amendment to re-introduce minimum pricing at the third stage of the Bill’s process.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who hold the balance of the vote on this issue, were “supportive of the public health aspect of the Bill especially the provisions banning irresponsible promotions.” However they were “unconvinced by the Government’s proposals for minimum pricing” as “It impacts heavily on the low paid, has a marginal effect on hazardous drinkers and gives a windfall to retailers”.
Pubs of Ulster are working closely with the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) who have already organised a meeting with Mr. Finnie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson, to discuss these issues surrounding minimum pricing and address, what seems to be one of their major concerns. “a windfall to retailers”.
Both Pubs of Ulster and the SLTA have already stated that “to those who say the introduction of a minimum price on alcohol will simply increase the profits of supermarkets, some say by nearly £100m, the answer is also quite simple: unify the commercial rating system for all retailers of alcohol, and base their commercial rates on alcohol sales turnover.
It must also be remembered that, if a minimum price was introduced, Government tax revenues (vat and corporation) would also increase. With major Government funding cut-backs predicted to be the worst for 20 years, which will no doubt affect all national and local services, the opportunity of retrieving this lost revenue through the introduction of minimum pricing would at least go in some way to maintaining these services, the benefits of which the public might appreciate.
Minimum Pricing is not a panacea, but controls on pricing are the foundation for other complementary policies to be effective”.