The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has said it will work with the government on its proposal to implement a mandatory code of practice for retailers selling alcohol.

A mandatory code for retailers, unveiled today (3 December), forms a central pillar of government plans to tackle excess drinking and alcohol-related harm.

Under the plans, revealed in Parliament as part of the government's legislative programme, police and local authorities would also gain extra powers to clamp down on "irresponsible" practices in pubs and bars.

Ministers' proposal for a mandatory retail code, although largely expected by the trade, represents a shift away from self-regulation for the UK alcohol industry.

Jeremy Beadles, head of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said this afternoon that ministers have "pledged to consult" on the plans.

He added: "We will work with government to ensure that a retail code tackles the minority of irresponsible premises and doesn't just create new layers of bureaucracy and red-tape for the majority of responsible businesses, local authorities and our over-stretched police forces."

The British Beer and Pub Association has indicated that it would be willing to accept restrictions on promotions in the on-trade, as long as these were applied on a sector-wide basis.

However, it has repeatedly warned the government that the trade remains under severe economic pressure, with five pubs closing every day on average.