Scotland politics

Health committee opposes Labour MSP's Alcohol Bill

wine shop Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The Alcohol Bill will now be debated by the full parliament, although the committee does not support it

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."

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