MSPs Vote in Support of Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill

MSPs have voted in favour of the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill. However, key planks including minimum unit pricing and raising the purchase age to 21 for off licence sales were not supported by the Parliament.

John Drummond, Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) said:

“This legislation will mean increased costs for local shops while doing little to tackle the over consumption of alcohol in Scotland.

“Support for a ban on quantity discounts will not stop supermarkets selling alcohol below cost. SGF will continue to lobby opposition parties to ensure commitments made during the debate to work with Westminster to stop this irresponsible practice bear fruit.

“We have campaigned on a number of measures and welcome the introduction of:

  • an additional safeguard which ensures Licensing Boards cannot be given powers to raise the purchase age to 21 years in given areas.
  • a new requirement giving retailers the right of appeal regarding proposed variations to a licence.
  • relaxation of measures to restrict advertising of promotions.

“We welcome the commitment made by the Cabinet Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, during the debate to work with the SGF to develop guidelines relating to promotion activity.

“We are disappointed the majority of MSPs voted in favour of a blanket social responsibility levy but welcome support for amendments which introduce discounts in the levy for licence holders who comply with standards of practice in relation to social responsibility into the legislation. However, we have no idea how a levy will be calculated, how much the levy is intended to raise and how often it will be reviewed, with the result it is impossible to measure the impact on small shops.

“SGF remains committed to addressing alcohol related harm but believes there needs to be a greater understanding of the cultural issues in Scotland which cause people to binge drink together with better education and enforcement.”