Written evidence submitted by Richard
Williams (AG 03)|
1. Having read that the BMA Guidance for alcoholic
intake is being reviewed, to seek evidence for their current advice
and to compare this with other countries' advice is perhaps long
overdue. To suggest that as a result their advice to increase
duty on alcohol however is not.
2. Conflicting evidence as to the harmfulness or
otherwise of moderate drinking ie three to four pints per day
for men, appears to be recommended elsewhere. Be that as it may,
obviously those with addiction will endeavour to source their
supply whatever the price, as will some teenagers with high disposable
income. However if this is designed to stop anti social behaviour
amongst the group known as binge drinkers it will have, if anything,
a negative effect on their behaviour.
3. Although largely an urban problem, we already
have sufficient law (some would argue too much) to "police"
this problem, but magistrates differ in punishing the offenders.
Similarly we have many feral gangs developing who feel they are
immune from prosecution, behave how they wish, and escape any
serious clampdown on their behaviour. These, mainly youngsters,
are sometimes drunk and often have been using drugs.
4. The net effect of increasing duty on alcohol will
be threefold at the supermarket level: a) If it is a significant
increase, there will be a proportional increase in crime to fund
the difference; b) An increase in White Van man selling cheap
alcohol; and c) A much higher level of drug taking as it becomes
increasingly cheaper than lager etc.
5. The smoking ban has significantly increased pub
closureswhich was the UK's clever and traditional way of
alcohol control. That it is now impinging dramatically on the
rural environment is undoubted, and patently at its current rate
will alter our heritage and cause social unrest.
6. There might be an argument for two tier taxation
whereby cheap lager etc. would be taxed at supermarkets, but if
applied to brewer's the effect will be catastrophic for publican's
already reeling from punitive duty, business rates etc. Such a
structure would cost more to introduce than it would net the exchequer,
but if a Reduction in duty on pub alcohol could have a better
7. It would be criminal to penalise the whole country
by increasing taxes when everyone is feeling the effects of a
serious economic downturn, when it is highly dubious that anyone
would live significantly longer. If they did the cost to the Health
Service would only increase accordingly as our population ages,
and costs more to keep healthy. One could argue we should not
view this as reasonable but we are talking about very dubious
marginal returns, and in France this would be discredited and
not even discussed. Remember that in most European countries alcohol
is vastly cheaper already compared to the UK but they have far
8. Far from recommending that parents should stop
children drinking until they are 15 the BMA should suggest that
children drink "small beer" or watered down wine with
their meals as they grow up. As in France this instils responsible
drinking, an appreciation of the merits of social behaviour, and
patently stands them in good stead into adulthood. In Britain
girls become pregnant sometimes when drinking through limited
appreciation of alcohol's effects, and we have semi riots in town
centres at weekends.
I have no vested business interest or otherwise in
any pub, club or sale of alcohol. I am just concerned like thousands
of others by increased taxation, a willingness to listen to "experts"
and subsequent actions which in fact do much more harm than good.