Daily Archives: 29/01/2015

Labour MP Bill Esterson’s Ten Minute Rule Bill on alcohol labelling

This was covered in the BBC News earlier in the month and was reporting on Labour MP Bill Esterson’s Ten Minute Rule Bill on alcohol labelling.

You can watch the footage of his presentation to Parliament here

Introducing his bill in the House of Commons, Mr Esterson it was known heavy drinking during pregnancy increased the risk of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, but there was “a lack of consensus” on the potential effects caused by a small amount of alcohol.

“Much scientific evidence suggests that there is no safe limit when it comes to drinking in pregnancy but sadly not everyone is aware of the dangers,” he told MPs, and warned that small amounts of alcohol could cause “mild brain damage” in an unborn child.

But Mr Esterson raised concerns about the “apparent contradiction and advice given by the chief medical officer”.

He said: “Now not everyone whose mother drinks during pregnancy suffers damage that affects their life chances and this is certainly not an attack on women.

“But the damage done by alcohol to too many children shows the need for action and shows that too many of us do not understand the potential risks of drinking alcohol at any point during pregnancy.”

His bill, he explained, would avoid “confusing or conflicting advice, whether from government or elsewhere” and introducing mandatory “clear” labelling “that cannot be easily missed and that gives the best advice”.

“That advice must be not to drink at all while pregnant or trying to conceive. Such a system of labelling should be designed to help cut the number of children damaged at great cost to themselves and to society,” he added.

However, the Labour MP also counselled that better labelling was “only part of the answer”, and stressed the benefits of education.

Citing Canada as an example, he told MPs children as young as four are taught about the harmful impact alcohol can have on unborn babies, and that posters about Foetal Alcohol Syndrome are displayed in shops, train and airports and surgeries.

Mr Esterson called on the drinks industry to make changes to their labels without legislation, and urged the government to update its guidance.

His bill received an unopposed first reading – allowing it to proceed to the next stage – and is scheduled to be debated by MPs on 6 March 2014.

However, it is unlikely to become law due to lack of parliamentary time.

Nice try Bill ……