The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron has told he will “deal with” cheap alcohol being sold in supermarkets in England and Wales. His remark follows unofficial statements that the government plan for a 45 pence per unit minimum alcohol price has been dropped.
When Tory Member of Parliament Sarah Wollaston called on Cameron to stick to the plan, the Prime Minister said the government was considering the outcome of a consultation but said sales of “20p cans of lager” had “got to change”.
“There is a problem with deeply discounted alcohol in supermarkets and other stores and I am absolutely determined that we will deal with this,” he told MPs, according to the BBC News website.
The BBC reports that Cameron has long supported minimum alcohol pricing but has clashed with cabinet colleagues, including Home Secretary Theresa May, whose department is responsible for the policy, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Commons leader Andrew Lansley on the issue.
The Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable confirmed that the policy has been dropped in an interview with BBC Radio 4. Cable stated that the minimum unit pricing was a “good concept”, which he “would have liked” to have seen become law. However, he pointed out that his party was in a coalition and there would have to be compromises.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson also said that while there had been no official confirmation the plans would be dropped, sources involved in the discussion said the policy was “in its death throes”.
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, who backs the plan for a minimum alcohol price, told the BBC: “This is about political manoeuvrings perhaps rather than actually looking at the long-term health of the nation.”
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, director of professional activities at the British Medical Association, said she was surprised to hear rumours of the climb-down as she believed Mr Cameron was “quite clearly in favour of it”. She added that this is a once in lifetime opportunity to save lives and save the country money.”
In addition to the 45p consultation in England and Wales, in Scotland a 50p price is set to be introduced. Scottish ministers have already pointed out that they will persevere in their plans despite the possible change of course in England and Wales. Northern Ireland is yet to put forward a specific proposal, although it is reported to be reviewing pricing.
Source: BBC.co.uk 03/13/13