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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Caton.
As a libertarian and a believer in individual freedoms, I had hoped that the country had escaped from the nanny-state health police with the end of the previous Labour Government but, sadly, I was clearly naive in that thought. A great many people in the House seem to want to do nothing else but ban everyone else from doing all the things that they do not happen to like themselves, and I was certainly not brought into politics to do that. I urge the Minister not to be seduced by the reasonableness of my hon. Friend Dr Wollaston, because I assure her that, were she to implement everything that my hon. Friend asked for today, my hon. Friend and the health zealots would still return with another list of things that they want the Minister to do. Such people will never be appeased or satisfied until alcohol has been banned altogether.
I want to focus on two points—the futile proposal on minimum pricing, and advertising and marketing. The very principle of minimum pricing goes against all my Conservative instincts and beliefs—the free market and freedom of choice. The process of setting a minimum price is predicated on the assumption that raising the price of alcohol will make those who misuse alcohol behave differently. However, that is an incredibly simplistic belief. It is worrying that people in the Chamber think that, by increasing the price of a bottle of wine by 30p or 40p, or of a can of beer by 40p, all the problems associated with drinking would at a stroke disappear. People who think that minimum pricing will stop young people going into town centres on Friday and Saturday nights with the intention of getting bladdered, or whatever the current term is, are living in cloud cuckoo land.