On the Politics Show, Sunday 15 March 2009, Jon Sopel interviewed Andrew Lansley, Shadow Health Secretary.
Video: The Andrew Lansley interview
JON SOPEL: Let's stay with that story now because we can speak to the Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, he joins us from Cambridge. Mr Lansley, what do you make of that.
ANDREW LANSLEY: Good afternoon. Yes, I think Liam Donaldson, what he had to say frankly, was an implied criticism of the government's whole alcohol strategy. Because I don't think any sensible person would make a proposal like the one Liam Donaldson has done, unless he felt a whole range of other approaches weren't having the desired effect. Frankly, I think he's wrong to reach that conclusion. There are many things we could do that are not being done by the present government, that would have an impact upon the abuse of alcohol and James Purnell I think simply wasn't right. There isn't proper enforcement of the legislation at the moment, but there are schemes that show how that could be done better. The licensing laws, for which he was responsible, the change in 2003, has led to a 25% increase in A&E-related attendances at Accident and Emergency Departments, so we need to review the licensing laws. There's much more we can do. I mean when he says, don't penalise the responsible majority because we need to focus on an irresponsible minority, that's actually my view entirely. So why have we got a position where the government's Chief Medical Adviser, appears to be taking a different view from the government itself.
JON SOPEL: Well that is indeed an issue but it does look as though the government, I mean isn't the job of the Chief Medical Officer to come up with proposals, his ideas and then it's up to you know, in that … phrase, it's for Ministers to decide.
ANDREW LANSLEY: Well, it's the job of the Chief Medical Officer to come up with views related to medicine. Frankly, the proposal that Liam Donaldson appears to be putting forward, is one that is more to do with economics than it is with medicine and Liam Donaldson is a Doctor and not a lawyer, and frankly, I think it is also legally highly questionable, whether the United Kingdom unilaterally can distort the drinks market to the extent that this would imply.
JON SOPEL: I know we're sometimes accused of trying to create argument when they're not there. It seems to me that what you're saying absolutely accords with what James Purnell has just said. It seems like you're on exactly the same page.
ANDREW LANSLEY: Well, I have said very clearly from the moment that this became something that Liam Donaldson was going to say last night, I said, don't penalise the responsible majority in order to try and constrain an irresponsible minority. And if the government now agree with me, that's absolutely fine. I have no problem about that. But I'm afraid that is not the end of the story. The issue is, well how do we constrain an irresponsible minority and for example, in the last budget, George Osborne said, let's raise the tax on the highest strength alco-pops and ciders. Let's have an impact on those that are being used precisely for this kind of loading people up with alcohol and frankly the government didn't do it.
JON SOPEL: All right. Andrew Lansley, thanks very much for being with us.
ANDREW LANSLEY: Thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW LANSLEY
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NB:These transcripts were typed from a recording and not copied from original scripts.
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The Politics Show Sunday 15 March 2009 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.
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