Are minimum alcohol pricing plans a national emergency?

Minimum alcohol pricing Photo: ITV News

Lots of speculation about why the government decided to launch the alcohol strategy today.

Labour's Yvette Cooper has just asked the Home Secretary Theresa May that very question.

It is very unusual for the government to make oral statements to MPs in the House on a Friday. There have only be three in the last ten years - and all of them on national emergencies (two on war and one on swine flu).

Ms Cooper just asked, "What's the national emergency today?"

Labour's Owen Smith said in the chamber it was a "diversionary tactic."

Minimum alcohol pricing Credit: ITV News

Why might the government want one of those?

They might one after two days of bad headlines over the Budget.

But we also should be clear that the timing of these announcements do sometimes change and the Prime Minister's spokesperson just told us they often "move around for perfectly valid reasons."

There are suggestions that the minimum pricing launch had been scheduled for Monday. MP's were in the middle of a debate over the Finance Bill this morning and had to pause the debate for this statement from the Home Secretary.

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