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11 November 2010

Stevenson Condemns Partisan Posturing As Opposition Parties Let Scotland Down

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has hit out at Scotland’s opposition parties after they gutted proposals to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol from the final stage of the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill which passed through the Scottish Parliament yesterday (Wednesday) evening. Earlier this week, 165 experts from health, justice and other bodies – including former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish – all backed the Scottish Government’s proposals for minimum pricing.

Alcohol costs the Scottish economy £3.56 billion every year in, the equivalent of £900 for every adult in Scotland, with massive bills for the health sector and policing. One in twenty deaths in Scotland are attributable to alcohol and half of all offenders in Scotland were drunk at the time of their arrest.

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“Scotland’s political parties today had the opportunity to make real inroads into tackling Scotland’s harmful relationship with alcohol by being responsible enough to put the needs of people in Scotland first and backing minimum pricing. Shamefully, they failed in that responsibility and opted to put party politics first.

“Health professionals, the police, the licensed trade, the Church of Scotland and even Tesco and Tennents all came out in support of these proposals. The overwhelming consensus has been in support of these measures, yet opposition politicians have simply stuck their fingers in their ears and refused to pay heed.

“The effects of Scotland’s relationship with alcohol costs the Scottish economy £3.56 billion every year and the link between the price of alcohol and its rate of consumption is indisputable. Minimum pricing has never been a silver bullet, but addressing the price of alcohol is an essential part of successfully affecting how much alcohol Scotland consumes. By removing minimum pricing from this legislation, opposition politicians have gutted it of its most important measure.

“If they have a shred of conscience then those who failed to back these measures will find it hard to look themselves in the mirror. They have failed to act as responsible politicians should and people across Scotland have been badly let down by these actions.”
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