Scotch Whisky distillers have urged MSPs to reject minimum pricing for alcohol when the Scottish Parliament votes at the final stage of the Alcohol Bill’s parliamentary process tomorrow (10 November 2010).
Distillers believe minimum pricing, as proposed by the Scottish Government, would have little impact on alcohol harm but would violate EU and international trade rules, leading to copycat trade barriers in export markets. This would undermine the industry and its Scottish supply chain at a time of economic uncertainty.
At 45p a unit, the cost of an averagely priced bottle of Scotch Whisky in Scotland would increase by 16% to £12.60, reducing the domestic market by nearly 13%. Value and own-label Scotch Whisky brands would be particularly impacted.
The SWA called on political parties to seize the opportunity of a current UK Treasury review to argue for a fairer and more responsible excise duty system where all drinks are taxed on the same basis. In tandem with a ban on alcohol sales below tax, a legal and transparent ‘floor price’ for alcohol could be set, addressing issues around the pricing of certain drinks.
Gavin Hewitt, SWA Chief Executive, said:
“We urge MSPs to reject a minimum pricing proposal that simply will not work, fails to meet the basic tests of EU law, and which would significantly damage Scotch Whisky at home and abroad.
“Political parties should instead look at an alternative UK-wide solution to concerns around the pricing of certain drinks. Excise duty reform so that all drinks are taxed on the same basis, according to alcohol content, and a ban on sales below tax, is a fair and socially responsible way forward. It would also secure over £1bn a year extra revenue for the public finances.”