Drinks industry bodies have welcomed a report that the UK Government is set to shelve plans to introduce a mandatory code of practice on alcohol retailing.

Government business secretary Lord Mandelson is in favour of delaying implementation of the code until at least April 2011, according to a report in the Times newspaper today (17 September).

The code is one of several "anti-business" measures that should be shelved due to the economic climate, Mandelson reportedly wrote  to the Cabinet sub-committee, one of the most high-powered committees in Westminster.

Drinks industry bodies cautiously welcomed the report.

"Delay would be good news for the trade, abandonment would be better," said Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) spokesperson Gavin Partington.

"We've always been clear that now is not the time to be adding another raft of rules and regulations, particularly when police and enforcement agencies have made clear during consultation that they believe they already have the powers they need to clampdown on irresponsible promotions and anti-social behaviour."

Mark Hastings, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: "We are very pleased the Government has listened and responded to our compelling arguments on this unnecessary and disproportionate legislation - and recognised the damage that it would do to Britain's pubs."

Treating the reports as correct, Hastings added: "While the code is now shelved, we have made clear to Government we would continue to support specific targeted action on irresponsible promotions."

Yesterday, WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles said that he expects the Scottish Government's plans to restrict alcohol sales and promotions will lead to legal challenges