Binge drinking: Booze price law 'watered down too far'

THE COALITION's watered-down plans to ban the sale of alcohol below cost price will not resolve the problem of binge-drinking, campaigners have warned.

Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said yesterday that the coalition was taking an important first step towards banning below-cost sales of alcohol.

Critics said, however, the proposals did not go far enough and were a "green light for supermarkets to keep selling booze at pocket-money prices".

The ban was promised as part of efforts to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder which costs the taxpayer up to 13bn each year.

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, chairman of the all-party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, criticised the Government's ban for only preventing the sale of alcohol at prices below duty plus VAT.

He said: "The Save the Pub Group and I are pleased that the Government has taken action but very disappointed by the definition used and I am afraid this move will achieve very little."

The proposals were attacked yesterday as a new study by academics at a Yorkshire University claimed that increasing the cost of alcoholic drinks leads to a drop in crime.

Health and legal experts from Sheffield University's findings were based on a review of all published studies on the direct effects of pricing and taxation on alcohol-related crime.