MSPs Reject Alcohol Abuse Laws

13 January 2016, 07:55

Proposed legislation aimed at tackling alcohol misuse has been rejected by a Holyrood committee.

Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson's Alcohol Bill does not offer an "effective and workable package'' of measures to address the issue, the Health Committee has reported.

Instead, the majority of the committee said they believe the Scottish Government's forthcoming alcohol strategy offers a more effective route.

Dr Simpson's members' bill includes proposals to put a minimum price on multipacks, regulate alcoholic drinks containing caffeine, introduce a scheme for container marking for off-sales, restrict advertising of alcohol and bring in drinking banning orders.

During its evidence-gathering sessions, the committee heard from some witnesses the proposals were at times unworkable, could fall foul of UK and EU legislation or were better dealt with under existing legislation.

Committee convenor Duncan McNeil said: "There is no doubt that Scotland has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and we should not be complacent about how we tackle the detrimental impact this has on people's health and our wider society.

"This bill contains a wide range of measures - from restrictions on advertising alcohol to introducing drink-banning orders.

"Having looked at all these in detail it was clear there were a wide variety of views expressed about the effectiveness of these proposals, which is reflected in the committee's report.

"As a committee, the majority of our members, whilst supporting the aims of legislation, couldn't support the detail of the proposals.''

Deputy convener Bob Doris said: "The Scottish Government has shown that they will legislate when needed in order to protect public health.

"However, we heard during evidence that some of the Bill's proposals may not require legislation as voluntary schemes could achieve the same outcomes.

"We ask the Scottish Government to address the merits of all the proposals in the bill as part of their wider strategy on alcohol regardless of the progress of this bill.''