Alcohol Problems (Action Plan)

Scottish Ambulance Service – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 7 February 2002.

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Photo of Keith Raffan Keith Raffan Liberal Democrat 2:30, 7 February 2002

To ask the Scottish Executive what additional financial resources it will make available for the implementation of action points identified in its "Plan for Action on Alcohol Problems" and how such resources will be distributed. (S1O-4633)

Photo of Mary Mulligan Mary Mulligan Labour

The Executive has made an additional £1.5 million available for a national alcohol problems communications strategy. NHS boards are being given an increase of £550,000 to support local alcohol action teams. That funding, together with additional resources to improve information required to plan local alcohol problems strategies, is coming from the £1.8 million central budget for tackling alcohol problems.

Photo of Keith Raffan Keith Raffan Liberal Democrat

Does the minister agree that a serious imbalance exists between the Executive's spending on tackling drug misuse—£141.5 million on specific and generic programmes—and the much smaller amount that it is spending on tackling alcohol dependency. Given that the number of alcohol-related deaths is at least three times that of drug-related deaths and that alcohol dependency affects an estimated five times as many people as does drug addiction, what are the Executive's plans to redress the balance?

Photo of Mary Mulligan Mary Mulligan Labour

I recognise that a discrepancy exists between the moneys that are available. However, that is not the result of a lack of commitment to dealing with alcohol problems. The alcohol strategy sets out proposals to tackle alcohol misuse. By working up local plans, we are assured that we will be able to tackle alcohol misuse in a meaningful way.

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

Smuggled alcohol is of great concern when dealing with alcohol misuse—by definition, there are no controls on its sale. What measures are in place to measure the effectiveness of the extra resources that are being given to HM Customs and Excise, as set out in the plan? In particular, what are the plans to measure the 10 per cent year-on-year reduction in smuggled goods? That figure is set out in the plan under the heading "It's happening already".

Photo of Mary Mulligan Mary Mulligan Labour

The problem of smuggling alcohol into Scotland is known. It is difficult to know how large the problem is, but local teams are tackling it. As the member said, additional resources are being given to HM Customs and Excise to tackle the problem.