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Ineffective authoritarianism: Councils to have more power to ban cheap alcohol

Following the report in August that a group of councils in Greater Manchester are seeking a by-law to impose a minimum price of alcohol, an indication from the Daily Mail that they will be allowed to proceed and that other parts of the country may follow. The group Core Cities are producing a report into it.

To allow the by-law, the first one giving councils price fixing powers, would require legislation "ripping up Competition law." In Manchester they propose a rule that alcohol should be sold at a minimum of 50p per unit.

I suppose localism means allowing councils to have by-laws that others might not wish to have. I think the illiberal proposal from Manchester would be expensive to enforce with armies of jobsworths scouring the shops. It would not the rich (who would typically be spending more than £5 for a bottle of wine anyway). But it would hit the poor - the vast majority of whom drink responsibly. Why should  granny in Bolton, living in a council flat on a state pension, be made to pay price twice as much for her bottle of stout, her once a week treat as she settles down to watch Strictly Come Dancing?

The proper way to tackle the drunken yobs is to arrest them. Not make everyone else pay more for their drinks. Price controls would be an unjust way to address the problem. Also I suspect ineffective - with the gap for an illicit market created.


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