Tuesday 10 April 2012

Sunset clause for minimum pricing?

From The Telegraph:

Drinks manufacturers plan to persuade the Government into agreeing a “sunset clause” on minimum unit pricing, which would force ministers to scrap the controversial alcohol policy if it was proven not to work.

Nice idea, but no dice. What could be more reasonable than assessing a law after a year or two to make sure it hasn't failed or back-fired? This is just the kind of thing that a government who claims to hate "unnecessary legislation" would support, notwithstanding that such a government wouldn't contemplate minimum pricing in the first place.

Strangely, we don't have much of a history of using sunset clauses in the UK, which is good news for our many anti-[fill in the blank] groups who might otherwise see their pet prohibitions put under scrutiny. Instead, they concentrate on the next ban and hope the public forgets the extravagant promises they made about the last ban.

I notice that no temperance groups are quoted in the Telegraph article. What can they say? If they support a sunset clause, the government might seriously consider it. If they oppose it, people might suspect that they have no faith in their ridiculous claims, eg. that a 40p minimum price will save 900 deaths a year.

There will be no sunset clause. There will only be calls for the minimum price to rise to 60p, 70p, 80p, and those demands will never end (see Scotland where a "leading public expert" reckons a 60p unit will save—guess what?—900 lives a year). The only hope is for the EU to rule it a breach of free trade. As with plain packaging, it will be for the courts to decide. Ain't it grand that the Conservative party—the party of the free market—are supporting policies which require arbitration from the European Union and the World Trade Organisation?


Curmudgeon said...

If the policy "works" (however defined), then it will be kept. If it doesn't "work", the call will inevitably be for more of the same.

"Doctor, doctor, the medicine isn't working!"

"Increase the dose then, nurse!"

Xopher said...

Still waiting for the promised review of the smoking ban.
Promises, broken and politicians - 3 words, the basis of so many sentences.

Jean said...

Of course, there might be a sunset clause.

How difficult will it be to document the fact that minimum pricing has saved any number of lives?

Jay said...

Can we not have a sunset clause on any politician who votes for minimum pricing? Wouldn't that be the more sensible approach?

If it doesn't work, you get kicked out of Parliament. Anyone with me on this?

Anonymous said...


The smoking ban was reviewed by Prof Linda Bauld and published on no-smoking day last year.


This was f2c's response to it:

Xopher said...

Nice to have got a mention over at Dick Puddlecote's where he's covered the topic thoroughly.
I knew the ban had been declared a success but had missed/forgotten an impartial(!!!) study had been done by data diva Linda Bauld.
Age has its disadvantages but I still know what sh*t is.