UK/SCOTLAND: Parliament committee expected to back minimum alcohol price
A cross-party committee in Scotland's Parliament is set to throw its weight behind plans for a minimum price on alcoholic drinks in the country.
The Scottish Parliament's Health & Sport Committee is this week expected to report its findings on the Alcohol (minimum pricing) Bill put forward by the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), a person familiar with the matter told just-drinks today (6 March). Drinks industry officials anticipate that the nine-member Committee will broadly back plans for a floor price on drinks.
Despite strong opposition from significant swathes of the drinks sector, the SNP is expected to push minimum pricing through Parliament later this year, after gaining a majority of the seats in 2011. As a minority administration prior to this, it failed to gain enough cross-party support for the measure.
Its fresh attempt to introduce minimum pricing comes as the policy is being taken more seriously by the UK Government in London. From a separate source, just-drinks understands that this emanates from concern that a move to ban sales of drinks 'below cost' is not tough enough.
The SNP has yet to publish the fine details of its proposal for Scotland, such as a specific price per unit. The policy would almost certainly face a legal challenge at some stage, possibly from within the drinks industry.
The drinks industry maintains that minimum pricing would be illegal under European Union law and will hit a majority moderate drinkers for the sake of targeting a minority of harmful drinkers.
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