Under plans to be unveiled by the Home Office today retailers will be banned from selling drinks for less than the value of duty and VAT owed on them.
But the announcement means the Government has stopped short of setting a blanket minimum unit price for alcohol – such as 50p per unit – which would have pushed up the average price of all products.And there's a very good reason for this, a blanket price per unit would have been challenged in the European Courts as I blogged here and here. Don't expect the Telegraph to mention this though:
It is understood officials were concerned such a move would run in to legal difficulties. Similar proposals in Scotland were dropped.No elaboration on what those legal difficulties are, and not for the first time has the Telegraph stayed quiet. In contrast even the BBC managed to get around to mentioning the EU in its report, albeit briefly:
Last September, the Scottish Parliament rejected plans for a minimum price per unit of alcohol of 45p, after opposition MSPs said the move would penalise responsible drinkers and could be illegal under European competition law.Predictably the usual fake charities are not happy:
Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "Duty is so low in the UK that it will still be possible to sell very cheap alcohol and be within the law.How about the evidence based approach that our real government lies in Brussels not in London?
"The government needs to look again at a minimum price per unit of alcohol. That is the only evidence-based approach that will end cheap discounts once and for all."