Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Health Committee 1

Health and economics experts clashed over the impact of introducing minimum unit pricing on alcohol, on Tuesday 10 January 2012.

The Health Committee was taking evidence on the Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill at stage one of its scrutiny.

Benjamin Williamson from the Centre for Economics and Business Research told MSPs retailers stood to make windfall profits from minimum pricing "at the expense of poor consumers in Scotland."

However, Dr Evelyn Gillan from Alcohol Focus Scotland argued for minimum pricing saying "the people who stand to gain the most in this country are those on lowest incomes" because she said they stand to be the biggest health beneficiaries as "alcohol drives health inequalities".

Scottish Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw questioned the panel over whether minimum pricing could have a negative effect on culture, with the resulting message that this was a "poor people's problem."

Dr Gillan disagreed with this assertion, maintaining instead minimum pricing was a "whole population measure."

Dr Peter Rice, Consultant Addictions Psychiatrist at NHS Tayside backed the bill and agreed minimum pricing would have "an impact on drinking right across all income groups" and, while other measures should be introduced in conjunction with the policy, it was ""a very important bit of the overall jigsaw."

He also commented on any proposed cost per unit saying it should be set "as high as can be without leading to considerable negative health consequences" such as home distilling and the setting of the price was "an ongoing process".

Professor Anne Ludbrook from the University of Aberdeen and Dr Jan S Gil from Queen Margaret University also added their support for minimum pricing.

Later, as can be viewed below, MSPs heard from Professor Timothy Stockwell from the University of Victoria who said introducing minimum pricing would be "courageous and brave":

Health Committee 2

Health and Sport Committee

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