SO the UK government has U-turned on minimum pricing, shelving proposals to introduce a 45p a unit price in England and Wales.
Crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne delivered the news, telling MPs there was ‘not enough concrete evidence’ that the policy would be effective in reducing alcohol-related harm. For a similar reason, the UK government has also canned plans to ban multi-buy promotions.
The climb-down was off-set with a pledge to ban ‘below cost’ (alcohol duty plus VAT) selling.
The Scottish Government quickly seized the opportunity to reiterate its commitment to introduce a 50p per unit minimum price.
Pointing out that “we’ve already introduced a multi-buy ban”, health secretary Alex Neil said Holyrood “will not turn its back” on minimum pricing, adding that the UK government’s decision will have “no impact” on Scottish ministers’ approach to the policy.
But it’s not quite as simple as that.
Attempts to introduce minimum pricing in Scotland are currently the subject of a legal challenge after the Scotch Whisky Association appealed against a Court of Session ruling that minimum pricing is legal.
And so it remains to be seen if Scotland does indeed ‘go it alone’ on minimum pricing, or whether the proposal will be shelved on this side of the border too.