Brighton MP calls for measures to protect pubs

Posted On 20 Oct 2011 at 3:12 pm

Brighton MP Caroline Lucas has called on the government to rethink the way alcoholic drinks are taxed.

Dr Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, wants ministers to bring in minimum pricing and to use different rates of VAT to tackle Britain’s drink problem.

She wants pricing measures to prevent supermarkets from offering heavy discounts on drink which would also ease the pressure on the licensed trade and help to protect local pubs.

She said that government must overhaul its “ineffective and incoherent” policy on alcohol.

This was necessary, she said, to get to grips with Britain’s drink problem, reduce the long-term social and health impacts of alcohol, and protect the hospitality trade.

Dr Lucas has tabled two early day motions on the subject.

One of them highlights a loophole which allows super-strength white cider to dodge the stricter tax regime that applies to high strength beer.

She said that white cider is often sold cheaper than bottled water.

Early day motions are rarely debated but give MPs a chance to bring issues to the attention of ministers, fellow MPs and the wider public.

Dr Lucas, who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug and Alcohol Harm Reduction, said: “Alcohol has become such a common feature of everyday life that it’s easy to underestimate the profound impact it has on our society.

“But it’s clear that the UK does have a drink problem – with excessive drinking being a key factor in many crimes ranging from violent disorder and anti-social behaviour, to domestic violence and sexual assault.

“The costs of alcoholism in terms of lost productivity at work, together with the bill for criminal justice and health, are a vast burden on the budgets of local authorities and on public services across the country.

“In Brighton and Hove, home to my constituency, we face an annual bill of £100 million for dealing with the impact of alcohol abuse.

“But while good work is being done at the local level to open up a debate on the problem – such as the Alcohol Programme Board’s Big Alcohol Debate which kicked off in Brighton earlier this month – the government is stalling on an effective national alcohol strategy.

“The motion I’ve put down this week directly targets the ultra low priced alcohol in supermarkets and off licences which fuels our binge drinking culture.

“Pricing measures to prevent irresponsible retailers from offering heavy discounts would also reduce the pressure on the licensed trade and help to protect local pubs from closure.

“I’m also calling for super-strength white cider to be brought under the same tax regime as beer, and for local authorities to be given far more control over licensing.

“Such moves can help reduce the long-term financial burden of dealing with serious alcohol abuse and end the misery of those whose lives are blighted by it.”

  1. Charles1V Reply

    Since the smoking ban more people are drinking at home. Buying alcohol from supermarkets is cheaper and people tend to drink more at home. Drinking at home is unsupervised unlike drinking in pubs and clubs.
    We need the smoking ban amended to get more people drinking in pubs and clubs.

  2. Phil Johnson Reply

    What a silly woman! She moans about cheap supermarket beers (which have always been there) but fails to take onboard who actually promoted the sales of such! Caroline, think back if you can to the so called “free” vote in 2006 and then you’ll understand who caused all the hospitality trades problems-the SMOKING BAN! Simples.
    Do you seriously think that the serious drinkers are going to flock back to the pubs after the treatment they have received from our so called democratic rulers? Denormalisation, stigmatisation, leperisation, is it any wonder that 68% of the pubs one time best customers have stuck two fingers up them!
    “In Brighton and Hove, home to my constituency, we face an annual bill of £100 million for dealing with the impact of alcohol abuse.”
    So tell me again Caroline, the truth this time please, why do you want to save your local pubs if they are costing so much?

  3. Dave Atherton Reply

    Writer and broadcaster James Delingpole quite rightly described Dr. Lucas as a watermelon, green on the outside and red on the inside.

    Dr. Lucas maybe in favour of Marxist control of the supply of alcohol, but the 99% of us who drink responsibly do not see the need to be penalised for the sins of the irresponsible 1%. Secondly like Prohibition in the USA from 1919-1933 was a criminal, social and economic disaster. Also what right does Dr. Lucas have to dictate to private companies what they sell their drink at? By the way brew your own home beer works at at 15p a unit or 30p a pint.

    If Dr. Lucas really wants to improve the lot of pubs then she should be pushing for separate smoking rooms for pubs, 10,000 have closed since the ban came in.

  4. F Wilson Reply

    Once again we have an MP who talks about saving our Pubs yet fails to mention the Real cause of Pub closures, there is no doubt that the Smoking Ban is the major cause of Pub and Club closures and those closures Will continue until common sense is shown. A Reform of the smoking ban will give both Business and the Public CHOICE. Separate smoking rooms or venues would give All adults the same choice as to which venue to visit or indeed work in. Prohibition and Discrimination is Not the way forward and must end.

  5. Aaa Reply

    More Green Party taxation. Now Its on having fun.

    As she’s the only Green MP how many signatures did the two EDMs attract?

    Note to Val – other anti Lucas comment not mine

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