Thursday, 18 October 2012

Minimum Pricing Halted



My views on a minimum price for alcohol in Scotland haven't changed since I wrote this post and the weekly propaganda fed to us through the media, although that particular article had to alter its figures.  In an earlier scaremongering article it was claimed that 50,000 elderly people in England and Wales were dying each year from the effects of alcohol.  However, the BBC has been forced to amend the figure to 11,500 'after it emerged that there had been an error in the calculations carried out for Panorama by the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield'.

Sheffield University compiled the report for the Scottish Government and the result was a Bill proposing a 50p minimum price per unit of alcohol.

I've long argued that this policy will not be the panacea our politicians will have us believe and would much prefer for existing legislation to be used before adding another tier to the present laws.

Also it concerned me the speed at which the policy was to be introduced with little or no examination.

Therefore, I welcomed the challenges made by the Scotch Whisky Association and others, because the court procedures would ensure the details of the Bill were examined thoroughly.

Earlier this week the Scottish Government announced it will not be introducing the new law until the various legal cases brought against it are settled in court.  The decision means that the law, which was supposed to come in to force in the spring, as now been postponed with no date set for its introduction.

There is no doubt Scotland has a problem with alcohol consumption and I admire the Scottish Government for highlighting the problem, but such a singular solution such as increasing the price, will make little difference to the amount consumed.  Those who do have a problem with drink regardless and others who enjoy a social drink will continue to do so.

The SWA will shortly pursue a judicial review of the legislation in the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The results may change my opinion as I'm happy to be convinced my present stance is wrong.

17 comments:

Dick Puddlecote said...

That error by Sheffield University for which the BBC published a retraction was a small victory for the blogosphere, doncha know. ;)

All those clever journalists just printed it verbatim, whilst Panorama even hired Joan Bakewell to voice it for them. No-one double-checked it though.

In fact, the 'evidence' overall for MAP is so shoddy and based on wild presumptions that it would be an abuse of power to pass the law regardless.

Great that it's been shelved, but it doesn't say much for our politicians that they're still determined to bludgeon it through despite there being no realistic chance of it working.

English Pensioner said...

When Scotland gets its independence, it will be able to set the excise duties on alcohol to whatever it chooses, just as the Chancellor does now in the budget.
Have patience and wait a couple of years and your government will be free to do as it likes.

JRB said...

We all realise that our modern society has, in many quarters, a problem with the appropriate consumption of alcohol.

But for our politicians to attempt to introduce a socially engineered indirect punitive tax is/was a misguided and inappropriate measure to address the problem.

I wonder how much has been spent (/wasted) on this issue and how much more is still to be spent (/wasted) before this issue is settled.

How refreshing it would have been if politicians had stood up and admitted they had under estimated opinion and legal advice, and had simply got it wrong.
By simply admitting to a little human frailty we just might think that bit more of our politicians, and have constructively worked with them towards a positive and beneficial outcome for all.
… but of such are fairy tales created.

Rather, the politicians prefer to 'save face' by saying that their plans are merely being postponed to some unknown date in the infinite future.

Oldrightie said...

Hurrah, something worth toasting!

Key bored warrior. said...

In the meantime how to we deal with the horrible effects of alcohol abuse and the cost to the public purse?

JRB said...

@KBW
Firstly – there is within the existing legislation sufficient powers to deal with any criminal or anti-social behaviour resulting from alcohol misuse. It only remains for the powers-that-be and the courts to implement such powers with due diligence.

Secondly – and it may come as a surprise. That the greatest cost to the NHS resulting from alcohol misuse, by a staggering factor of x12 times, comes not from the young or from the socially deprived but from the well-to-do middleclass baby boomers who are already happily paying far in excess of 50p per unit for their alcohol.
So a pricing policy will make absolutely no difference to them or to their consumption.
But as these are the people who are costing you, me and the NHS all that money, we must therefore seek alternate methods to influence and reduce their consumption.

Joe Public said...

Northumberland & Cumbria Off-Licences Association confirm they still wholeheatedly support the issue!

Brian said...

If people are deemed old enough to buy alcohol then they are old enough to know their limits and take responsibility for their regular over-indulgence. Perhaps alcohol-related hospital admissions could trigger DNR slips to be inserted in patients' records. That would sober up all but the incorrigible soaks.

btw If 16 year olds are old enough to vote on their nation's future or sign a valid contract, should they also be allowed to drink or drive?

btw #2 in England GPs are being asked by the Illiberal Eurocrat Helealth Minister Norman Lamb to nominate the 1% on their lists whom they expect to die this year - not that treatment is rationed of course. Lamb To The Slaughter?

Sean O'Hare said...

I doubt anyone in Scotland, or England for that matter, has a problem with drink as such. The problem they have is with themselves and the life that that they lead. Both due largely to the problems created for them by the political class.

subrosa said...

Thanks for all the information Dick. Much appreciated.

I agree. The SG were warned the policy may not be legal but went ahead at, I suppose, huge financial unnecessary cost.

subrosa said...

That's a good point EP.

subrosa said...

It is another tax JRB but won't be going to the Treasury. All I can think is that it's a 'replacement' for the supermarket tax imposed last year.

Indeed that would have been refreshing and the SNP would have gained many supporters if they could have behaved in a open manner.

subrosa said...

It is OR, but not a drop of Tio Pepe in the house. :(

subrosa said...

As I said in the post KBW, we have laws which deal with problems but they've never been enacted for years. Now drunks are taken off to fill up A & E departments rather than put in a cell to sober up.

When I was young it was the fear of being drunk in public and if found by the police the humiliating aftermath.

Now no one worries at all. The state will look after them.

subrosa said...

So that means England's going for it too then Joe and will wait for a challenge?

subrosa said...

Brian, I don't believe the ages should be changed for drinking and driving. Maybe I'll do a post about it.

subrosa said...

The sadness is the dwindling lack of 'community' these days Sean. Churches no longer provide the services they did 50 years ago and nothing has replaced that.

We now have a mass of agencies but none provide an antidote to loneliness.

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