Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

SNP to work with Labour on drink

bottles of alcohol
Labour still has concerns about ministers' alcohol plans

The Scottish Government is to work with Labour to tackle Scotland's historical problems with alcohol abuse.

There is still disagreement on how to move forward, especially over ministers' plans for minimum pricing - but there are now signs of compromise.

The move came after the government agreed to bring its alcohol plans forward in separate legislation, allowing increased scrutiny.

The Tories will also urged tougher use of existing laws in a Holyrood debate.

The Scottish Government's proposed reforms - including curbs on drink promotion - will now be grouped together in a single health bill, rather than as part of the wide-ranging Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, following opposition pressure.

'Target' drinks

Both the SNP and Labour now seem ready to examine a possible agreed package of action on alcohol.

Labour has remained sceptical towards minimum pricing and wants its own ideas considered, however a senior government source described the development as "encouraging".

The minority SNP government at Holyrood also wants to ban discount deals on alcohol and restrict the display and marketing of drink to specific areas within off-sales premises as part of its proposals.

Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken claimed ministers had come up with the wrong solutions.

"The key is targeting problem drinks and problem drinkers by enforcing existing legislation more strongly," he said.

"We should also create local partnerships to coordinate the police, schools, supermarkets and alcohol groups to work together to create and implement community alcohol action plans."



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