Daily Archives: 27/02/2016

Health committee opposes Labour MSP’s Alcohol Bill

opposes buckfastI was saddened to read this on the BBC about the Scottish Alcohol Bill and how the health committee opposes it 🙁

The picture refers to Buckfast wine which is a favourite in Scotland despite originating in Devon!   Labour Party spokesperson on public health Dr Richard Simpson launched the attempt to ban caffeinated alcohol drinks, like Buckfast and some alcoholic energy drinks, in a Member’s Bill that’s said to be the biggest ever introduced to the Scottish Parliament (Scottish Grocer).

A majority of MSPs on Holyrood’s health and sport committee have not supported a bill aimed at tackling alcohol abuse.

The Alcohol Bill was introduced by Labour member Dr Richard Simpson in a bid to cut drink-related offending.

MSPs on the committee backed the aims of the bill, but convener Duncan McNeil said the group “couldn’t support the detail of the proposals”.

The Scottish government has also indicated it will not support the bill at the next stage of debate.

The bill includes measures such as minimum pricing for packages containing more than one alcohol product, community involvement in licensing decisions, restrictions on alcohol advertising within 200 metres of schools, and banning orders which could bar people from drinking.

Sections about banning alcohol advertising around children won support from the British Medical Association, although the body expressed concerns over other measures.

The bill will now be considered by the full parliament, although public health minister Maureen Watt has told the committee the government will not be supporting it.

At an evidence session in November, she said she welcomed the bill’s “overarching aim of tackling alcohol misuse”, but said there were “difficulties” with individual measures.

‘Unhealthy relationship’

MSPs on the health committee were split on many of the bill’s provisions, and wholly opposed to one about age discrimination in off-sales.

Committee convener Duncan McNeil said: “There is no doubt that Scotland has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and we should not be complacent about how we tackle the detrimental impact this has on people’s health and our wider society.

“This bill contains a wide range of measures, from restrictions on advertising alcohol to introducing drink banning orders. Having looked at all these in detail it was clear there were a wide variety of views expressed about the effectiveness of these proposals, which is reflected in the committee’s report.

“As a committee, the majority of our members, whilst supporting the aims of legislation, couldn’t support the detail of the proposals.”

We’ll have to see how the MUP bill fares as it is re-presented to the Scottish Parliament ……

And in the UK:

EU Alcohol Strategy report debated

The debate follows a Government response to the Committee’s report which considered whether there should be a new EU Alcohol Strategy. The report was published on 6 March 2015. The Committee’s main conclusions included:

  • The 2006-12 strategy, while well-intentioned, did not concentrate on what the EU itself can act on. Consequently it achieved little. In developing any new action the EU should therefore concentrate on what it can do, over and above any initiatives the Member States can take on their own. In particular, the EU should ensure that its own policies contribute to the reduction of alcohol-related harm and excessive drinking.
  • The current EU alcohol taxation regime prevents Member States from raising duties on the most harmful substances, and provides incentives to purchase drinks with higher alcohol contents. This illogical taxation structure must be reformed.
  • The EU rules of food labelling must be amended to include alcoholic drinks. These labels should include, as a minimum, the strength, the calorie content, guidelines on safe drinking levels, and a warning about the dangers of drinking when pregnant. Voluntary commitments are not enough.

If we vote to leave Europe in the EU referendum later this year I wonder where this will leave us as regards alcohol policy?