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Beer group wants minimum price on all alcohol sales

27 March 2008 by
Beer group wants minimum price on all alcohol sales

The pub industry must unite with brewers, supermarkets and the health lobby to agree a minimum price for the sale of alcohol, the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group has said.

John Grogan, Labour MP for Selby, North Yorkshire, told Caterer that a pub industry currently reeling from the chancellor's hike in alcohol taxes should look to build a consensus in order to maintain a dialogue with the Government on alcohol pricing.

The call came after above-inflation rises in alcohol taxes were set out for the next four years in the Budget earlier this month.

"The key now is how we take it from here," Grogan said. "How do we adapt to this changing environment?

"We need to try to build a coalition beyond the industry. The likes of the British Beer & Pub Association and Camra are not enough to win the argument."

Grogan is organising a seminar on reference pricing, a minimum price for the retail of alcohol, and looking for cross-industry support.

The reference pricing model is already in operation in Quebec, Canada. There the state sets a minimum price with all retailers and raises the price according to increases in the retail price index each year.

However, Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, warned such proposals could encounter problems with the Resale Price Act of 1964, which considers all retail price agreements to be against the public interest.

A spokesman for the Treasury said that, although there were no laws in place around minimum pricing, under European competition laws any price fixing was tricky.

A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association said they would "certainly want to know" about such a proposal but would wait until it was officially launched to comment.

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By Christopher Walton

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