Bootlegging it into Scotland
MINISTERS are to press ahead with a crackdown on sales of cheap alcohol in a move that could be fast-tracked through Parliament in as little as six months, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.
In the biggest shake-up of alcohol laws for years, the Government is expected to confirm tomorrow that cut-price drink offers will be banned, minimum prices on alcohol imposed and a higher age limit set on off-sales.
A minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol, as advocated by health campaigners, would result in rocketing prices. A two-litre bottle of cider, currently priced at around £3, would cost £7.50. Wine would also increase in price, with a £3 bottle of wine possibly rising to a minimum of £5.
The controversial plan to increase the age limit for off-sales to 21 is to remain in the proposals, despite opposition from students.
Scotland on Sunday understands that ministers may seek to place some of the measures – such as the ban on "Buy One Get One Free" deals – in the existing 2005 Licensing Act, which is due to come into force in September.
The Act enshrines "protecting and improving public health" as a key objective of all licensing decisions, so the Government may argue that it gives the power to ban cheap drink offers. The same logic could also be applied to plans to impose minimum pricing.
Another example of a law passed for one purpose being used for another without parliamentary scrutiny.
And how are they going to police cross border sales? Will they confiscate Mr FM's hip flask as he travels north to go shooting?