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Scottish minimum price plan defeated

Published:  22 September, 2010

The Scottish government's plan to introduce a minimum price per unit alcoholic drinks was defeated at Holyrood today.

This is the second time the minimum price proposal has been defeated in a Scottish Parliamentary vote and shows the lack of political support for the Bill in Scotland.

It still has to go through a third vote before a final decision is reached.

The Scottish Conservatives laid an amendment to remove "indiscriminate blanket minimum pricing" of 45p a unit from the Alcohol Bill ? which was passed by five votes to three by the Health Committee.

But health secretary Nicola Sturgeon vowed to table another amendment to re-introduce minimum pricing at the third stage of the process.

Mary Scanlon, Scottish Conservative Health spokesperson and a member of the Committee, whose amendment was backed by the opposition parties, said: "Today is a step forward in the debate about how to tackle Scotland's drink problem. It is proof there is simply no political support for the SNP's blanket minimum pricing. These plans would penalise responsible drinkers, harm the Scotch whisky industry, cost jobs and is probably illegal."

She described the SNP's move to re-introduce the minimum price at the next legislative stage as "quite simply stubbornness".

Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said the vote sent the "clearest of signals that it is time to build consensus around alternative, more effective tax-based measures at a UK level to address alcohol misuse".

"Minimum pricing would not address alcohol harm in Scotland but would cause significant damage to Scotch whisky at home and abroad.

Instead Hewitt called for "root and branch reform" of the UK excise duty leading to a ban on alcohol sales below tax.