ABANDONING plans to ban cheap booze would be bad for ‘pubs, brewers and society’, Burton’s MP has claimed.
Andrew Griffiths, who chairs the parliamentary beer group, spoke after reports that the Government had shelved plans to introduce a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol sold.
Prime Minister David Cameron was in favour of the move, but he has reportedly come under pressure from senior members of his cabinet who claimed a minimum price would breach European competition laws and penalise responsible drinkers.
Mr Griffiths said: “I would be hugely disappointed if the Government abandoned its plans for minimum pricing because I think it would be bad for pubs, brewers and society.”
Mr Griffiths accused supermarkets of undermining pubs and breweries by selling alcohol at below-cost prices — a practice with ‘horrific consequences’ because it has driven business away from pubs and encouraged binge-drinking in the home.
Mr Griffiths said: “Minimum pricing would stop supermarket promotions which see strong cider sold for less than water or Coca Cola.”
Medical groups have backed minimum alcohol pricing on public health grounds, but legal challenges were brought when the Scottish government attempted to introduce a 50p-per-unit cap last year. The Home Office says it is currently considering the results of a recent 10-week consultation on the issue held last year.
“We must ultimately choose what is right for British society,” Mr Griffiths added.
Critics of minimum pricing argue it will hit shoppers in the pocket at a time when the cost of living is rising while doing little to tackle binge-drinking.