28 December, 2011

David Cameron today declared he would overrule Cabinet colleagues to push through plans setting a minimum price for alcohol, it has been reported. Officials have been ordered to draw up proposals for a 40-50p unit floor price in English shops and supermarkets, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The move was in response to a letter to the newspaper from health experts and academics, including IAS, calling for the Government to take bold action on the issue of cheap alcohol.

Scotland’s administration is pushing through legislation for a minimum unit price, though Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon admits it is “almost certain” to meet a legal challenge.

Westminster Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has previously warned that such a move would not meet European competition rules. That view has been echoed by the Business department but the Prime Minister favours a radical “big bang” approach, according to the Telegraph.

A Whitehall source told the newspaper: “The Prime Minister has decided that when it comes to alcohol, something pretty radical now has to be done and he is keen on the minimum price.

“It is complicated how this can be delivered, particularly under European law, but it is clear that the voluntary approach has not worked.”

A Government spokesman said: “The Government will continue to review all available evidence. Our alcohol strategy, which we will set out shortly, will outline what further steps we are taking to tackle this problem. No decisions have been made.

To see the full article in the Telegraph click here.

To read the letter submitted by health experts and academics click here.