MPs have renewed calls to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in a parliamentary debate yesterday, following a January report from the Health Committee advocating the move.
Kevin Barron, the Labour MP for Rother Valley, who led the debate said: "We believe that alcohol duty should continue to rise year on year, but unlike in recent years, duty increases should predominantly be on stronger alcohol drinks, notably spirits.
"Beer under 2.8%. ABV can be taxed at a different rate. We recommend the duty on that category of beer be reduced."
"The aim is to attack binge drinking, and minimum pricing is one method," he said.
Only one type of beer, Welton's Pride ‘n' Joy, is currently below 2.8% ABV.
Barron's comments were echoed by Labour MP for Luton, North, Kevin Hopkins who accused successive Governments of "pussyfooting" around the issue of alcohol abuse.
"We have heard some warm words about the drinks industry, but the malign influence of that industry on Governments has deterred them from taking the problem seriously and from taking proper action. I hope that the report, which I greatly welcome and strongly support, will help to press the Government to do the right thing…The minimum price argument is overwhelming," Hopkins said.
He added: "The great majority of moderate drinkers would not be affected at all and it would help the pub trade because people would not get tanked up on cheap alcohol before going to the pub-they would be drinking in the pubs instead."
But Conservative MP for Shipley Philip Davies attacked MPs for attempting to micro-manage the lives of voters: "The report is certainly a useful contribution to the debate on addiction-not, unfortunately, on addiction to alcohol, but on this Government's and the Health Committee's addiction to the nanny state. They have already helped to dismantle the pub and club industry with their smoking ban. Pubs are closing at the rate of 50 a week-many because of the ban on smoking in public places-and the same fate is being felt by many clubs, such as working men's clubs," he said.
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