PM 'drops' minimum drink prices

Conservative backbenchers have expressed concern amid suggestions that David Cameron has been pressured into dropping plans for minimum pricing of alcohol by senior Cabinet ministers.

Latest ITV News reports

Theresa May 'hiding' from minimum drink prices debate

The Home Secretary has been accused of hiding from her responsibilities as ministers refused to confirm if plans for a minimum price on alcohol had been scrapped.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said both Mrs May's reputation and David Cameron's authority were in "tatters" amid reports of Cabinet in-fighting over the policy.

Theresa May is alleged to have led opposition to the policy, for which her department has responsibility, and had "overruled" the Prime Minister, according to Ms Cooper.

Theresa May looks on as Labour party leader Ed Miliband spoke during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday
Theresa May looks on as Labour party leader Ed Miliband spoke during Prime Minister's Questions yesterday Credit: PA

Crime Prevention Minister Jeremy Browne was forced to come to the Commons to respond to an urgent question on the state of the plan.A base price of 45p per unit in England and Wales had been suggested in an effort to tackle problem drinking.

Mr Browne said a consultation had closed and there were "powerful arguments on both sides of the debate".

A decision would be announced once "careful evaluation" was completed, he added.

But Ms Cooper said: "I feel sorry for the minister, who has been sent in here to waffle to the world while the Home Secretary hides."

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Cabinet split over alcohol is 'dereliction of responsibility'

The issue of minimum alcohol pricing has split the Conservatives in the Cabinet.
The issue of minimum alcohol pricing has split the Conservatives in the Cabinet. Credit: David Jones/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Scottish National Party MSP Bob Doris, who is deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee, has criticised the Government over reports which suggest there is a Cabinet spilt over the minimum price of alcohol.

He said: "If the reports are true that the coalition has abandoned minimum alcohol pricing because of a Cabinet split, it is a serious dereliction of responsibility which will cost lives south of the border."

Read: More on the reported Cabinet split over minimum alcohol pricing.

Health Secretary in favour of minimum alcohol pricing

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is in favour of the Government's plans to set a minimum price for alcohol, but said "it is normal" for cabinet ministers to have differing views on the issue with reports suggesting it is to be scrapped in next week's budget.

Like the Prime Minister I believe there is a case for minimum pricing, but we must wait for the results of the consultation (from the Home Office). When we have released those results the Government will announce its decision.

It is normal for cabinet ministers to have differing views.

Read: More on the reported Cabinet split over minimum alcohol pricing.

Read: Labour leader Ed Miliband makes a joke at the Prime Minister's expense over his reported decision to scrap the minimum alcohol pricing.

Govt highly unlikely to introduce minimum alcohol price

The Government looks set to abandon plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol in England and Wales.

Scotland are still pressing ahead with the plan but divisions within the Cabinet showed the Prime Minister, who is in favour of the legislation, could not carry the policy in Parliament.

ITV News political correspondent Alex Forrest said "the idea of legislating for a minimum price for alcohol looks highly unlikely."

Here is her report:

Watch: Miliband asks Cameron if he could organise anything in a brewery.

'Is there anything you could organise in a brewery?'

Labour leader Ed Miliband made a joke at the Prime Minister's expense over his reported decision to scrap the minimum alcohol price.

Mr Miliband asked David Cameron in Prime Minister's Questions whether there was "anything he could organise in a brewery."

The Labour leader then said Home Secretary Theresa May had overruled the Prime Minister on the minimum alcohol price amid speculation she could be the next Conservative leader.

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Health bodies urge PM to 'stand firm' on minimum drink price

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) and the Royal College of Physicians, has urged the government to "stand firm" on introducing a minimum unit price for alcohol amid reports that David Cameron is considering dropping it.

The only opposing force that has emerged against MUP (minimum unit price for alcohol) in recent times has been a high profile, well-funded campaign led by the global alcohol producers. This is a group with a clear interest in prioritising profits over public health.

We urge the government to stand firm on MUP in the confidence that the evidence gets stronger, and the support base wider, for this policy by the day.

– Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the AHA and Royal College of Physicians

Your views on 'scrapping' minimum drink prices

ITV News' Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg asked her Twitter followers whether the reported scrapping of minimum alcohol prices was a victory for the drinks industry or common sense prevailing.

Here is a selection of your responses:

Quill_normal

@itvlaurak Common sense prevails. Govt's job is to take care of the big stuff we can't do as individuals and leave us to run our own lives.

3028048e3f2ea00bd4242168e7721aea_normal

@itvlaurak victory for drinks industry; 2000 lives over the next decade sacrificed; burden on NHS; more crime; trebles all round.

Ef86189341af3cd0fd3547bfdf3ae814_normal

@itvlaurak Min unit pricing a bad idea. Easy for politicians but alcohol abuse needs thoughtful policies about the reasons and culture in uk

Consumers would 'welcome' minimum drink price drop

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association told the BBC that consumers would "welcome" plans to drop the minimum pricing of alcohol in England and Wales.

Consumers will welcome the report that the prime minister is reconsidering plans to hike up the cost of alcohol.

Minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge-drinker.

– Miles Beale, Wine and Spirit Trade Association chief executive
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