Saturday, 7 March 2009

Holyrood Screwed?

Oh dear. There we were debating whether the EU would have something to say about the Scottish Amish's Assembly's booze hike, when it looks like they may have to get past Mandy and his chums first.

SERIOUS concerns have been raised in Whitehall over the legality of plans by the Scottish Government to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.

The Scotsman has learned UK ministers have been briefed that the proposal announced by the SNP on Monday breaks European competition laws.

And with at least two major trade organisations preparing legal challenges to minimum pricing, there is concern that the Scottish Government's actions might see UK government ministers dragged through the courts.

A pleasant thought, but anyway ...

Scottish ministers argue they would be using existing laws and devolved government statutory instruments to impose minimum prices as a mandatory condition for a licence. And they still plan to have the proposal in place in time for Christmas.

But a senior Whitehall source told The Scotsman: "Basically we have been told minimum pricing is completely illegal.

"We are worried this will mean we will be taken to court as the responsible authority.

"The Scottish Government's proposal appears to be ill-thought-out and we don't even think it will work, because what is needed is a cultural change in Scotland and that is not going to be effected by making booze more expensive."

Hang on a cotton-picking minute. This quote has made-up by some bored hack at the Scotsman. There is no fucking way any Labour adviser would have the common sense to work that out.


Curmudgeon said...

I'm not too bothered how it comes about, but I would LOVE IT to see egg on the faces of the prohibitionist Scottish scum over this.

banned said...

Minimum of 40p per unit ? = 80p for a double Laphroig, I could live with that.

They will just have to try harder to provoke me into civil disorder this summer.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Curmudgeon & ors flagged up EU law as a stumbling block, but to which particular article or regulation or directive are they referring?

As mentioned, Art 81 only says that minimum prices or other anti-competitive rules agreed between businesses are illegal, not minimum prices as such, or how the heck does Finland get away with it? Further, such rules are only illegal if they affect trade between Member States. But I might be wrong in which case I'd love to know.

Pop quiz - which was the first country to join the Euro?

Curmudgeon said...

I note what you say, Mark, but from the report obviously people in the UK government see it differently. And surely Finland has increased alcohol taxation rather than imposing a minimum price as such. You can easily get a minimum price of 40p a unit by setting alcohol duty at 35p a unit.