Alcohol

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:16 pm on 25th October 2007.

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Photo of Bill Aitken Bill Aitken Conservative 3:16 pm, 25th October 2007

I will explain where my concern lies. Suppose a supermarket does a deal that involves selling 12 cans of lager for the price of six. If an old-age pensioner who typically drinks two or three cans at the weekend goes along and buys 12 cans, he will take four weeks to drink them, and he will save money. Is that a bad thing? Of course it is not.

I turn to the question of licensed alcohol distribution. The cabinet secretary was right to point out that there is irresponsibility in how alcohol is sold by some people. We must therefore focus on that irresponsible minority in the licensed trade who are prepared to sell drink, in particular, to underage people. We must make it clear that continued behaviour of that type will result in the loss of licences and we must demand that licensing boards be much more proactive than they have been until now. People must not be able to sell drink to underage people with impunity and retain their licences. That message must be sent out loud and clear.

As I said, there is a wide consensus around this issue. My one objection is that the innocent are being punished along with the guilty. Nevertheless, we will work with the Scottish Government to achieve a tightening up of the existing licensing regime. I am convinced that a happier position can be achieved if we work together.

I move amendment SM3-681.1, to leave out from "notes the importance" to end and insert:

"and underlines the fact that those who do so should face losing their licences; notes the importance of close co-operation with, and support of, Scotland's police forces and licensing boards in this respect, as well as developing a long-term strategy to tackle the negative effects of alcohol misuse, and further notes the need for the NHS to play its part in early identification and intervention for those individuals drinking at harmful or hazardous levels."