18 January 2011

Pointless alcohol price law

Unfortunately, pointless and wasteful nannying is back.

The tendency for governments to intefere through pointlessly legislating was epitomised by the 13 years of Blair/Brown and I was hopeful that the coalition might end their legislative diarrhoea. So I was saddened to read that the coalition is going to introduce a new law to ban the sale of alcohol below the cost of the tax and duty on it.

The Royal College of Physicians, told the BBC, it will have 'no effect at all on the health of the nation' and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, admitted the amount of alcohol sold at below the level of duty and VAT was 'fairly minimal'.

Now estimates suggest that 99% of alcohol is sold above this level and one can assume that those retailers who do sell at below cost only do it as a short term 'loss leader' (otherwise they'd go out of business), why is the government bothering to legislate at all?

If the legislation passes who will enforce it? Will hard pressed local authority trading standards officers be expected to take on new duties (or god forbid new staff to help them cope)? Or will it simply be ignored while they get on with more important duties?

Whatever the result this proposal is utterly futile and pointless. It's time the coalition made good its promise of 'one in one out', so that for every new law an old one is repealed. In fact I'd go further and make it 'one in two out'.

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