Labour and Tories go to war on alcohol

The price of a pint: Neither party supports minimum pricing for alcohol, as is currently being debated in Scotland
The price of a pint: Neither party supports minimum pricing for alcohol, as is currently being debated in Scotland

By politics.co.uk staff

Cut-price drinks nights and 'irresponsible promotions' were in the firing line of both the main parties today.

Labour and the Tories turned their sights on the drinks industry this morning, as the parties struggled to dominate the media spotlight in the early stages of the general election campaign.

Labour demanded that bar staff and retailers require proof of age for anyone who looks under the age of 18, a ban on "irresponsible" promotions, such as 'all-you-can-drink', and the provision of free tap water in bars and clubs.


Pubs would be forced to provide smaller measures of beer, wine and spirits.

The Tories proposed a duty increase on problem drinks, such as extra-strength cider or alcopops, a policy first announced during the party conference last year.

"We're particularly concerned about super-strength alcohol," shadow home secretary Chris Grayling told the Today programme this morning.

"Where a drink is particularly strong there will be a much higher duty.

"We are not using this as a revenue-generating measure. The goal is to bring down the strength of alcohol."

Councils would be given the power to charge a levy on premises which often cause problems at night, including late-opening off-licences and pubs. Pubs which repeatedly break the rules could be permanently shut down.

"We think the best place to take decisions about licensed premises is in local authorities," Mr Grayling added.

Home secretary Alan Johnson defended the government's 24-hour drinking move, which saw pub licensing times relaxed, arguing it was not the cause of chaotic British high streets on Friday and Saturday nights.

"It's not 24-hour licensing [that is the problem]," he told BBC news.

"The average extra amount of time that pubs and clubs are open is 21 minutes.

"The introduction of that was not a measure to reduce alcohol consumption. It was a measure to stop everyone spilling onto the streets at 11 o' clock at night and the disorder that arose from that."

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