MPs from all three main political parties have criticised a recent proposal by the Government to enforce a minimum alcohol price of duty plus VAT for not going far enough.
In a Commons debate yesterday on the issue of minimum pricing, Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent Nick Smith said: "The Conservative-led Government have certainly made a start on alcohol pricing but it is rather a timid one. I hope they can be persuaded to be bold and to act swiftly."
Meanwhile Andrew Griffiths, the Conservative MP for Burton, said he thanked pubs minister Bob Neill for the work the Government had done so far but it was not enough. "If we agree that cheap alcohol is a problem, the question must arise, ‘How cheap is too cheap?' Is he honestly saying that he thinks we have got to where we need to get when we are still selling cider at 20p a can, beer at 38p and wine at £1.99?"
Liberal Democrat MP and chairman of the All-Party Save the Pub Group Greg Mulholland added: "I share the frustration, as do the majority of the all-party group members, that what the Government have done has not stopped below-cost selling."
Mulholland also called for a freeze on duty in the forthcoming Budget because it would "damage pubs further".
And Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, highlighted the discrepancy in duty between beer and cider. "We have to consider whether the Treasury is taxing these products equally. If we consider beer, at 4.2% alcohol by volume, the duty per unit is 17p; for cider at 4.5% ABV, it is 7p per unit. Beer tax has increased by 50% over seven years and the gap between beer and cider tax widens every year."
By Neil Gerrard
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