Weekly Parliamentary Briefing

News from 31st March - 4th April
Dear Directors of Public Health,

The alcohol agenda hit a bit of a lull last week in Westminster, but there were still some fine contributions from stalwart alcohol campaigners, including Baroness Hayter and Jim Shannon MP. The Home Secretary also confirmed that the Government will utilise special powers to relax licensing hours across the country when England play in the World Cup in Brazil this summer – this is on top of international pressure from the gargantuan global brewers resulting in Brazil suspending a law which bans alcohol sales inside football stadiums. We suspect Industry has already won more games than England will manage!

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Did the DoH advise the Treasury on budget ramifications?
All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse Vice-Chair Baroness Hayter (Lab) challenged the Government to publish advice given by the Department of Health to the Chancellor on the health impact of removing the alcohol duty escalator in the recent budget. Earl Howe (Con) responded by declining the request, citing ‘confidentiality’.
Read more.
Duty on super-strength white cider
Baroness Hayter (Lab) again got to the point with her question asking whether the Government have frozen the duty level on [dirt cheap] white cider as a result of the budget. Lord Deighton (Con) responding for the Government stated that ‘white cider’ with less than 35% fruit juice is treated as wine and as such duty will increase by the rate of inflation this financial year.
Read more.
Will the budget increase alcohol consumption?
For Baroness Hayter’s third important question of the week she asked the Government for their estimates of increased alcohol consumption following the budget, which saw a lowering of beer duty and scrapping of the duty escalator. Lord Deighton (Con) presented Government estimates, which shows they expect consumption to increase by almost 1% per year for the next five years – a cumulative increase in consumption of 220,000 hectolitres of alcohol.
Read more.
Government/Industry binge drink meetings
Parliamentary alcohol champion Jim Shannon MP (Strangford, DUP) asked the Home Office what meetings have been held with the retail sector on measures to reduce binge-drinking. Home Office Minister Norman Baker MP (Lewes, Lib Dem) declined the opportunity to elaborate and merely directed the member for Strangford to this web address detailing meetings.
Read more.
Alcohol smuggling staff numbers
Local MP Jake Berry (Rossendale, Con) repeated a recent question asking how many staff are dedicated to tackling alcohol smuggling by HMRC. The Treasury Minister responding stated that HMRC employs 502.8 staff to tackle alcohol fraud.
Read more.

FIFA World Cup Consultation – any surprise?
Home Secretary Theresa May MP (Maidstone, Con) published the Government’s response to the consultation exploring a national relaxation of licensed hours during England’s World Cup matches. The Government rather predictably agreed to the relaxation. The full response can be found here.
Read more.

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