There was an encouraging outbreak of common sense recently from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in his evidence to the House of Commons Health Committee on the issue of minimum alcohol pricing:
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has again ruled out minimum pricing, arguing it would have an “unwelcome” impact on low-income families.Good to see that he recognises that a minimum pricing regime which sought to increase the price of everyday off-trade alcohol purchases would have a negative impact on responsible drinkers on low incomes.
Giving evidence to the Health Committee yesterday, Lansley admitted the idea that the price of alcohol affected demand was unquestionable.
But he added: “The evidence does not support minimum unit pricing as the mechanism to deliver a price adjustment that best impacts on demand and does not as a consequence have unwelcome, regressive impacts in terms of low-income households.”
Given that he recently also said that people had to take responsibility for their own health rather than being told how to live by government, this gives mild grounds for encouragement.
It’s interesting that his inquisitor was Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Tory MP for Totnes and a former GP, who was selected by an “open primary” of all electors and on this issue at least does not appear to have very “Tory” instincts.