Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Tories fear drink price plan axe

Tory backbenchers fear the coalition is set to drop plans for minimum pricing of alcohol

Tory backbenchers have expressed dismay amid suggestions that plans for minimum pricing of alcohol are being dropped.

David Cameron had thrown his weight behind the policy, which medical groups argue would save lives.

A consultation document issued last year floated a base price of 45p per unit, and the Government has yet to release its conclusions.

However, a number of Cabinet ministers including Theresa May, Andrew Lansley and Michael Gove have made clear they harbour doubts.

Speculation has been growing for some weeks that the proposals will be shelved.

Posting on Twitter this evening, Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston - a former GP - wrote: "Very concerned about suggestion that minimum pricing to be dropped from alcohol strategy."

Fellow Conservative Tracey Crouch said: "I really hope rumours of u-turn on minimum unit pricing for alcohol are not true. We must tackle problem of easily accessible cheap alcohol."

But Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said consumers would welcome the move.

He said: "Minimum Unit Pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge-drinker. Evidence has also shown it will do little to tackle problem drinking."

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