Welsh Government to press ahead with minimum alcohol pricing


The Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association to Scottish Government plans to introduce minimum pricing. Similar legislation may also now be considered across the United Kingdom as well. They ruled the measure was a "proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim".

She added that she would make a statement to the Scottish Parliament shortly setting out the Government's next steps, which will include a more precise timetable.

"We will now look to the Scottish and UK Governments to support the industry against the negative effects of trade barriers being raised in overseas markets that discriminate against scotch whisky as a outcome of minimum pricing", SWA's Chief Executive Karen Betts said in a statement. Any extra money raised, however, will not benefit the official financial coffers - instead the extra cash will go to the retailer as it is not a tax or duty increase.

A typical litre of vodka, for example, would have to cost more than £20.

The Scottish Government argues the policy is needed as nearly a fifth more alcohol is sold per adult in Scotland than in England and Wales, while alcohol-related deaths have increased by 10 per cent over the previous year.

'Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families'.

Seven Supreme Court judges voted unanimously on Wednesday to back the unprecedented legislation, which will impose a minimum price on alcohol in Scotland of 50p per unit.

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Their decision was hailed by the Scottish Government as a "landmark moment" for public health, with ministers saying they aimed to implement the plans "as quickly as possible".

The legal arguments aside, the premise for Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) is flawed - based as it is on an untested forecast model that believes that the heaviest drinkers are very sensitive to price increases.

"Although the majority of Scots enjoy alcohol responsibly, we are concerned about the availability of strong, cheap alcohol and its correlation with harmful drinking that causes misery across Scotland".

Under the plans a bottle of wine could not be sold for less than £4.69, a four pack of 500ml cans of beer would cost at least £4 and a bottle of whisky would cost at least £14.

Ministers will now conduct a consultation on the proposed 50 pence per unit price and refresh the Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA) that is required by Parliament.

The Scottish Licensed trade Association, which represents pubs and clubs, also welcomed the policy, with chief executive Paul Waterson stating: "Cheap priced alcohol has turned Scotland into a nation of stay-at-home drinkers".