Government plans to tackle cheap supermarket alcohol prices have been branded a “huge disappointment” by a senior Liberal Democrat.
Bath MP Don Foster said efforts to deal with “pocket money-priced” drinks had not gone far enough and called for a Commons debate on the issue.
Mr Foster insisted that Home Office ministers needed to face up to questions about their decision to only ban the sale of alcohol below cost price – defined in coalition proposals as duty plus VAT.
The move was seen as a retreat from the Government’s pledge to set a minimum price for the alcohol itself, and campaigners have argued that it will have little if any impact on cut-price supermarket deals.
Under the plans, a can of lager would cost at least 38p and a litre of vodka at least £10.71.
Asking Commons leader Sir George Young for a debate in the chamber, Mr Foster said: “Huge problems are created for the police, our health service and local communities by binge drinking, fuelled by pocket money-priced alcohol in supermarkets.
“Given that there was huge disappointment on both sides of the House by the written statement on minimum pricing, would you agree to an oral statement so we can share our disappointment with ministers and persuade them to go further?”
Sir George replied: “I understand the concern. There is a Bill going through the House at the moment, there is the Police Bill. And I ask you a rhetorical question: “Whether measures relating to alcohol appear in that Bill and would be relevant when that Bill comes back to the House?”
“In the meantime I will pass on your request for an oral statement to (be made to) you or encourage you to find some other opportunity to have a debate on a very serious matter.”
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The problems have escalated not since the price of alcohol has come down (it hasn’t) but since the introduction of 24 hour licensing – should this not be addressed in the first instance.