Conservative Diary

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Conservatives will use tax and fines to address alcohol-fuelled violence

NoMany ConservativeHome readers were unhappy at David Cameron's suggestion in the summer that "very cheap drink" was too widely available and that he would increase the price of super strength alcohol and alcopops.

Speaking to the Manchester Party Conference this morning Chris Grayling has put some flesh on the bones of that suggestion:

  • Higher prices on 'anti-social alcohol': "We will increase the price of a four pack of super strength lager by £1.33. We will more than double tax on super strength cider. And our planned increase on alcopops will raise the price of a large bottle by £1.50. These tax changes will not hit responsible drinkers. The ordinary pint in the pub will not be affected and there’ll be exemptions for some local traditional products. But we’ll call time on the drinks that fuel antisocial behaviour."
  • New powers for local communities to stop late night licences: "Then there are supermarkets which boost the sales of other products by selling alcohol below cost price. That also fuels Britain’s binge drinking culture. So we will ban them from doing so. We’ll tear up this Government’s lax licensing regime. Right now virtually anyone can get a licence to sell alcohol. We even have all night takeaways selling more drink to people as they stagger home from the pub. We will change that. Local councils will have the power to stop town centres being taken over by pubs, clubs and off-licences. We’ll give communities a right of veto over new licences in their area. There’ll also be tough new rules for existing licensed premises. Councils will be able to restrict opening hours."
  • Picture 45 Pubs and clubs will be made to pay for policing anti-social behaviour: "There’ll be strict penalties for pubs and off-licences that break the rules. Much bigger fines if they sell to under age drinkers. If they do it again, we’ll close them for a few days as a penalty. And if it still happens, we’ll strip them of their licence permanently. There’s also the huge cost of policing areas that are already dominated by pubs and clubs and off-licences. Under a Conservative Government late night problem premises will pay more for their licence. So we can pay more for policing in our town centres to tackle the blight of antisocial behaviour after closing time. I know some of those in the drinks industry will complain about the impact of these changes. But I think there are times when it’s right to put the interests of communities ahead of the interests of business."

On the whole these are sensible measures and will be greeted positively by the nation at large.

Tim Montgomerie


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