Sources have confirmed that the Coalition will not attempt to implement the Prime Minister’s plan for a 45p per unit minimum price.
Mr Cameron had argued that making drinks more expensive would curb problem drinking, while several ministers argued that the minimum price would only serve to penalise responsible drinkers. The minimum price was also opposed by the Treasury, where officials argued that it would reduce tax revenues at a time when the public finances remain strained.
One Treasury source described the Prime Minister’s plan as “a remarkably stupid idea”.
Government insiders suggested the Chancellor is considering using the Budget to impose higher taxes on some drinks and argue that doing so will address problem drinking.
There were also concerns that a minimum alcohol price in England and Wales would be subject to legal challenge. A plan to introduce a 50p minimum price in Scotland is being considered by a court in the country, after a claim that it infringes European Union competition laws.
A successful challenge would have led to similar cases in England, Home Office sources had feared.
A spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “Minimum unit pricing would penalise responsible drinkers and treat everyone who is looking for value in their shopping as a binge drinker.”
The Home Office conducted a formal consultation on the pricing plan earlier this year and has yet to respond formally on the issue.
Source: The Telegraph