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UK: Lib Dem leader calls for minimum alcohol prices

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The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has rejected calls by Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg for the introduction of minimum prices for alcohol.

Clegg said in a speech on Friday (26 September) at the Sheffield Alcohol Conference that the minimum pricing would form part of a Liberal Democrat policy paper, to be published next month.

The call, from the head of the UK's third largest political party, increases the pressure on drinks firms.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said: "It's odd to say the least that a party committed to cutting taxes now wants millions of consumers to pay more for their weekly shop.

"Minimum pricing set by Government is wrong; it punishes all consumers for the problems caused by a minority and will do nothing to address the real reasons for alcohol misuse."

A special clause in UK competition law enables ministers to bypass a ban on minimum pricing in cases of "exceptional public policy". Experts remain divided on whether alcohol policy would merit such a move, however.

A proposal to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol is currently part of a draft strategy to reduce drink-related harm and crime in Scotland.

 


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