Welsh government welcomes minimum alcohol price plans

Critics say the UK's binge-drinking problem is cultural, not financial

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The Welsh government has welcomed minimum pricing plans for alcohol announced by its UK counterpart.

The UK government is proposing a minimum price of 40p per unit of alcohol in Wales and England to try to "turn the tide" against binge drinking.

It believes the move could transform the behaviour of people who cause the most problems for hospitals and police.

The Welsh government said it was not a devolved issue, but it had consistently called for minimum pricing.

A new alcohol strategy by the UK government also aims to help local areas tackle problems and work with the drinks industry to encourage responsible drinking.

The industry said a minimum price was misguided and would hit consumers hard.

Similar proposals are already being considered by the Scottish Parliament.

Start Quote

The power to do this currently lies with the UK government but we would welcome any move towards making minimum pricing on alcohol a reality”

End Quote Welsh government

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: "The Welsh government has consistently said that we would like to see a minimum price per unit of alcohol introduced in Wales.

"The power to do this currently lies with the UK government but we would welcome any move towards making minimum pricing on alcohol a reality.

"We have also requested power to legislate on alcohol licensing on a number of occasions and these requests have been repeatedly rejected by the UK government."

The spokeswoman said the Local Government and Communities Minister Carl Sargeant had written to Home Secretary Theresa May as recently as last month again seeking devolution of these powers.

"Once again this request was declined," she added.

Under the UK government's proposal, a minimum price, such as the proposed 40p per unit, would act as a floor and retailers would not be allowed to offer alcohol below that level.

In effect, it would not alter the price of most drinks but could significantly alter the price of heavily-discounted ciders, super-strength lager and cheap spirits.

Mrs May said that just under the cheapest fifth of all alcohol sold would be affected by introducing the 40p minimum.

"Too many people think it's a great night out to get really drunk and have a fight in our streets," she told BBC Breakfast.

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