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WSTA condemns Government over alcohol plans

The UK’s Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) k has accused the Scottish Government of punishing Scottish consumers and businesses with its Alcohol Bill, whilst doing little to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse.

The Bill aims to give Ministers sweeping powers to impose minimum pricing, though it doesn't set a minimum price. It seeks to ban all alcohol promotions in shops - a move which would outlaw mainstream discounts such as 3 for 2 wine deals.

It also proposes a new tax on local business with plans for a so-called social responsibility levy on alcohol retailers, yet doesn't set a level or explain how it might work.

In summary the Scottish Government's Alcohol Bill:

• Would give the Scottish Government power to set and raise a minimum price for alcohol but fails to set a price a minimum price

• Bans promotions and punishes customers who seek good value, branding hard pressed shoppers who stock up with 3 for 2 wine deals as irresponsible.

• Ignores the view of the Scottish Parliament by proceeding with plans to allow under 21's to be banned from buying alcohol in shops

• Imposes a new tax on local businesses with plans for a social responsibility levy, but again no detail on how it will work

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the WSTA, said: "The stance by Opposition parties against minimum pricing is to be welcomed but this legislation contains other measures which are equally unwelcome and equally unlikely to address the root causes of alcohol misuse.

"Despite the fact that the Government's own figures show overall alcohol consumption in Scotland is falling, Ministers seem determined to pursue proposals which will hit innocent Scottish consumers and businesses.”

Report James Graham

December 09



1 December 2009 - Felicity Murray