Labour rejects minimum alcohol bill

By Joanna Park & Natalie Deacon

A Labour MSP has condemned the SNP minimum alcohol pricing bill as ‘unworkable.’

Labour MSP John Park said: “The proposal brought to us by the SNP was unworkable and unfortunately while labour did suggest the idea of a commission, this was rejected by the SNP, so unfortunately we are in the position we are today.

“We intend to work closely with the SNP combat Scotland’s binge drinking culture. ”

The SNP set out proposals yesterday, backed by health campaigners, police and publicans, claiming the measure would saves lives. 

The bill, which the Tories and Lib Dems have previously rejected, aims to tackle the binge drinking culture in Scotland.

The plan proposes to introduce a minimum price of 40p per 10 millilitre unit of alcohol for drink sold in supermarkets and off-sales. 

It is estimated that minimum pricing would lead to a bottle of own-label supermarket vodka rising from the £7 to around £10.50 and an average bottle of wine would cost at least £3.60.

Christina McKenzie from the charity Alcohol Focus Scotland said: “We are disappointed at the position Labour has taken in advance of evidence to the Health Committee. This flies in the face of all the advice and evidence from Public Health and other experts who have to deal with alcohol related harm.

“We strongly believe that establishing a minimum price for alcohol is the most important element of the range of proposals by the Government in the Alcohol Bill, and its rejection by Labour is a major blow which could set back attempts to make a positive change to Scotland’s drinking culture.”

Scotland has the eighth-highest level of alcohol consumption in the world and alcohol misuse is thought to cost the country £2.25billion a year in services and lost production.  Scotland also has one of the fastest growing chronic liver disease and cirrhoses rates in the world