Scotland bans multibuy deals

The Scottish Parliament has finally rejected minimum unit pricing for alcohol but has accepted a ban on multibuys, which will effectively outlaw three-for- £10 deals and BOGOFs.

The Alcohol Bill as passed by MSPs will also make Challenge 25 schemes compulsory and paves the way for introducing a social responsibility levy to be paid by all licensed premises.

Discounts will be given to licence holders who meet best-practice criteria on social responsibility.

Health minister Nicola Sturgeon has offered to work with the Scottish Grocers’ Federation to draw up guidelines for off-trade promotions. She said the bill was “an important milestone towards changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol”, but expressed disappointment that it was “not as strong as we would have liked, or as it could have been”.

As well as minimum pricing, MSPs also rejected a move to give local licensing boards the power to increase the minimum age for buying alcohol from 18 to 21 in off-trade outlets. A Labour proposal to ban high caffeine alcohol products such as Buckfast was also thrown out.

SGF chief executive John Drummond said: “We welcome the commitment made to work with the SGF to develop guidelines relating to promotional activity.”?But he added: “Support for a ban on quantity discounts will not stop supermarkets selling alcohol below cost.”?Drummond welcomed a measure to give retailers the right of appeal over proposed variations to a licence but said the overall package of legislation meant “increased costs for local shops”.

He added: “We have no idea how a levy will be calculated, how much the levy is intended to raise and how often it will be reviewed, with the result it is impossible to measure the impact on small shops.”?Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the

Scotch Whisky Association, said: “The Scottish Parliament is to be congratulated. MSPs have looked carefully at the evidence rather than listening to the rhetoric on minimum pricing. Now it has been rejected, we call on all parties to come together to build consensus around alternative, more effective, legal tax-based measures to address alcohol misuse.”