Alcohol-related Antisocial Behaviour

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 7th November 2011.

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Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South 2:30 pm, 7th November 2011

What steps she is taking to reduce alcohol-related antisocial behaviour.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government are bringing forward a package of measures to ensure that alcohol is no longer the driver of crime and disorder that it has been over the past decade. Measures range from giving more powers to local communities over licensing decisions, to cracking down on those selling alcohol to children and trialling a sobriety scheme to reduce offending. Those provisions are in addition to the introduction of wider measures to address antisocial behaviour.

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

In 2007, just five people were prosecuted for attempting to buy alcohol under age. Will my hon. Friend set out in a bit more detail what steps he is taking to restrict the sale of alcohol in retail outlets to those who are under age?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

My hon. Friend has raised a very important point on the whole issue of the irresponsibility of alcohol being sold to children. We have taken steps to double the maximum fine to those who are selling alcohol persistently to under-age children to £20,000, and to increase the powers of the police and local councils to close such premises down permanently. We are working with other Departments, and the Department of Health is leading on an alcohol strategy that will take into account further issues. I am under no illusions about the important role that parents and schools also have, which is why further action is being taken.

Photo of Nick Smith Nick Smith Labour, Blaenau Gwent

Will the Minister update us on the Government’s plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol to reduce alcohol misuse and antisocial behaviour?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Yes. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Government have stated clearly their intention to ban below-cost sales, with the first measure being the banning of sales below duty plus VAT. I can confirm to him that those proposals will be implemented on 1 April next year.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

May I urge the Minister to concentrate on tough penalties for people who get involved in alcohol-induced antisocial behaviour instead of introducing this rather soppy, wishy-washy, nanny-state nonsense of minimum pricing of alcohol?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I thank my hon. Friend for his typical contribution to these debates. In dealing with issues of alcohol, we need to ensure that we have robust powers to deal with alcohol-related antisocial behaviour, as we are doing. We also need to deal with pricing, which is why we are banning below-cost sales, and with prevention, which is why we will be taking further action in relation to schools, parents and the health service.