Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Price controls on booze

The Scottish government is contemplating price controls on alcoholic drinks. Unlike most price controls around the world these will be intended to keep prices up rather than down. The figure being mooted is 40p per unit of alcohol - this means it will cost £1.20 to go over the drink-drive limit.

The motivation is to reduce the ever growing hospital case load, ease the pressure on the police and courts from drunk and disorderly or incapable persons (these are two distinct crimes; being drunk by itself isn't a crime at all in the UK) and reduce alcohol-related school and work absenteeism. These have all gone off the scale in recent years due to retailers using 'special deals' on booze to gain market share; drink is now easily affordable even by children.

The trouble is the Scottish government doesn't actually have the power to impose price controls, and if they enacted legislation to give themselves such a power they would be dragged through every court in the land by those who think it's their inalienable right to get paralytically inebriated and lie puking in the gutter before being scooped up and cosseted at the taxpayers' expense.

But if they can pass such a law and make it stick it sounds like a brilliant idea. Even a modest fall in consumption is expected to reduced sick days by a million, hospital admissions by several thousand and court cases by several hundred. The retailers are bleating about their sales but by and large what they lose in volume they will regain in the profit margin.

And of course the 40p floor will only really affect the cost of the roughest ciders and maybe some lager. The new law will not have the slightest affect on anyone with any discernment in what they drink - so I'm all in favour.


Rufus said...

For once, I find myself supporting a Government measure. I fear that across the border in England, the Scottish law may also be embraced - but at a much higher cost. Bravo Scotland. Once again, the sensible legislation coming from the MSPs in Edinburgh has put to shame their colleagues in Westminster.

Unrepentant British Nationalist said...

I am sorry, I disagree.

I work and pay my taxes - I pay income tax, and then VAT on the goods I choose to buy, already. I believe I am a responsible person when under the influence, so why should I be penalised?

With all the crap we suffer under the rule of this regime is it any wonder people choose to get paralytic?

Nationalist said...

Hello UBN! I can see your point of view, but bear in mind a lot of your taxes are currently being spent on mopping up after alcohol-related events: police time, court time, hospital costs etc.