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Alcoholic Drinks: Prices

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what assessment he has made of the relationship between the price of alcohol and drinking behaviour; and if he will make a statement; (227293)

(2) what plans he has to regulate the sale of low-cost alcohol as a loss leader in supermarkets; and if he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.

The Department commissioned the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), at the university of Sheffield to produce an independent review on the effects of alcohol price, promotion, consumption and harm. The review has two phases:

Phase 1 systematically identified, appraised and synthesised international evidence on the relationship between alcohol price, promotion, consumption and harm. Summary of the first phase, published on 22 July, found significant links between price and youth and heavy drinkers but it has less of an impact on moderate and occasional drinkers; and

Phase 2 explored the potential impact of potential policy changes in this area, especially the population-based impact on health, crime, and wider economy for the population as a whole and also with a focus on: young people under 18 who drink alcohol; 18 to 24-year-old hazardous drinkers; and, harmful drinkers whose patterns of drinking damage their physical/mental health or causes substantial harm to others.

Findings from the review are expected to be published this year and are intended to inform understanding of retail practices, whether they are linked to excessive drinking, and whether Government intervention is likely to be proportionate and have a significant beneficial impact.