Page last updated at 01:14 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 02:14 UK

Warning over alcohol price plan

whisky
Ministers say minimum pricing will not affect 'premium' products

Plans for minimum alcohol prices could destroy the Scotch whisky industry, the Scottish Conservatives have warned.

Tory chief whip David McLetchie challenged ministers to "come clean" about what pricing levels would be set.

The proposals form part of the Scottish Government's strategy for tackling Scotland's drink problem.

A government spokesman said the Tory claims were "ridiculous" as the plans were aimed at cut-price promotions rather than "premium" products.

Mr McLetchie said a minimum price of 40 pence per unit could cost hundreds of jobs in the drinks industry.

He said: "He needs to come clean and tell Scotland what his plans are and how high drinks prices will go.

"Alex Salmond is the destroyer, not the saviour, of Scotch."

Minimum pricing will not affect such premium products and is instead aimed at ending the pocket money prices which are fuelling binge-drinking
Scottish Government spokesman

He said research by the British Medical Association and the University of Sheffield suggested the price should be at least 50 pence per unit of alcohol and that Mr Salmond was "terrified" of making a decision.

A spokesman for Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said Mr McLetchie's comments were "ridiculous and untrue".

He said: "Scotch whisky is a premium product which Scotland is proud of and belongs to an industry which this government fully supports.

"Minimum pricing will not affect such premium products and is instead aimed at ending the pocket money prices which are fuelling binge-drinking and adding to this nation's unbalanced relationship with alcohol."

Alcohol abuse costs the Scottish taxpayer around £2.25bn a year, he added.



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SEE ALSO
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Scots plan to stop cheap alcohol
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Cheap drinks promotions face ban
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