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Alcohol law: Minimum-pricing legislation will be ditched if it fails

Scottish MPs have agreed that the law relating to the setting of a minimum price per unit of alcohol will include a clause allowing it to be repealed after six years if the policy fails.

The so called 'sunset clause' was negotiated into the legislation by Conservative MSPs as a bargain for gaining their support for the deal, which has now passed the second stage of parliamentary approval.

Under the proposed plans, retailers in Scotland will be obliged to sell alcohol for a minimum price per unit. The hope is that the law will result in a price rise for the cheapest forms of alcohol, including cider which is often sold in high strength and in large quantities for relatively low cost.

The aim of the law is to reduce alcohol consumption in Scotland, and in turn the hope is that the law will help reduce the number of alcohol-related health issues.

Speaking about the clause to MSPs, Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The sunset clause is a response to concerns from some members that minimum testing hasn't been tried elsewhere. I think that is a perfectly reasonable and legitimate position to take."

Jackson Carlaw is the Conservative MSP who suggested the clause.

"This is a crucial moment for Scotland in battling its problems with alcohol, which are deep-rooted and unacceptable. This process has also shown how the Scottish Conservatives can deliver for Scotland in the face of a majority SNP Government," he said.

Scottish Labour is the only party not supporting the legislation. They have argued that raising the price of alcohol will result in a cash windfall for retailers which they say should be clawed back through a special legislative provision.

It is thought that retailers could make an extra £103m a year if minimum pricing is implemented.

The amount will depend largely on the minimum unit price, which the Scottish Government has not yet decided upon.

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Read more on the story (Press Association)

Alcohol and crime (FindLaw)