Blog: Chris MercerMinimum pricing saga continues

Chris Mercer | 24 May 2010

The Conservatives lack the will to impose a minimum price on alcohol in the UK.

Last week's policy statement by the Conservative-dominated Coalition Government outlined a range of measures, such as a ban on 'below cost' sales and an "overhaul of the Licensing Act". But, there was no mention of minimum pricing for alcohol.

The Tories have opposed the policy all along, more forcefully so in Scotland where the ruling Scottish National Party still harbours hopes of implementing a base price on drink.

Any Government wishing to introduce minimum pricing in England will have to take on a majority of the drinks industry, the national competition watchdog - the Office of Fair Trading - and, possibly, legal challenges at the European level.

Liberals in the Government may force a consultation on pricing, but there has been nothing so far to suggest that the Conservative-led administration has the stomach to win that fight.

More likely is that the industry and the Government will settle on some way of curbing 'below cost' sales.


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