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Should we call time on cut-price booze?

MPs are calling for an end to happy hours and cheap supermarket alcohol. Is it using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, or the only way to curb Booze Britain?

Published on November 18th 2008.

Should we call time on cut-price booze?

The Results..

Yes: - 24%
No: - 76%

IT could be the end of three-for-a-tenner on your Blossom Hill from Iceland, and you might have to say goodbye to all the half price Cosmopolitans you can irresponsibly neck before 8pm.

As reported earlier this week, ministers are considering a compulsory code for pubs and bars that would outlaw discounts and happy hours. Supermarkets would also be prevented by law from selling alcohol at a loss to encourage people into their stores.

A group of MPs, led by Keith Vaz is urging the measures, so to speak. Citing research that showed the real price of alcohol has fallen dramatically since the early 1980s, when the only Bucks Fizz people knew was the Eurovision winning one, the Home Affairs Select Committee urged ministers to clamp down on irresponsible bars and pubs.

They found the "whole focus" of police shift patterns was in targeting booze-fuelled and football violence, meaning officers were "hitting their targets but missing the point".

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, has said that alcohol is a factor in over 30 per cent of city centre arrests.

Is it time to call time on all this? Has the British drinking culture got out of hand and do punters need saving from themselves. Or is this just another example of a nanny state trying to punish the cash-strapped majority of responsible drinkers for the behaviour of a few.

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30 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mr TNovember 11th 2008.

It's about tax, nothing more. With more and more people finally starting to give up smoking they need a new income, booze is an easy target.

AnonymousNovember 11th 2008.

Hear hear. There is nothing more infuriating for people than being told what to do. Nanny state.

AJNovember 11th 2008.

I agree to a reasonble annual tax increase on booze, however this recent discussion is due to increased admission to A&E of kids with alcohol related illnesses. Its down to parenting (or lack of it) really. Why don't parents know where their 10 year old child is? In my day it was a bottle of Old English Cider or Martini with my mates on the park bench, be sick then go home! I don't think its fair to raise prices arbitrarily, the licenced trade is under enough pressure at the moment and we don't want any more decent pubs being closed.

AnonymousNovember 11th 2008.

I am sick of the nanny state; why penalise the majority for the problems caused by the minority. Those who become alcoholics clearly have other problems anyway and would turn to any vice, likewise those who are violent use the booze as an excuse. I am hard working, law abiding and deserve to be able to afford to blow off some steam with my friends.

leeNovember 11th 2008.

im afriad sometimes an umberella solution has to be brought in otherwise theres no other way of tackling it, yes some of us would be a bit pissed off but if it tackles the problem, is that such a bad thing to put up with?

Charlotte StreetNovember 11th 2008.

Too right, AJ! The parents of children taken to hospital with alcohol-related illness and/or injuries should be publicly humiliated (I suppose a flogging or a pillory is out) thrown into gaol and the children taken into care. Repeat offenders will lose their children permanently to adoption agencies.

DigNovember 11th 2008.

The parents should be sterilised

AnonymousNovember 11th 2008.

The parents should be used for medical experiments

Joan BakeliteNovember 11th 2008.

If it's football violence, then why not ban football? That would make far more sense than taxing a sweet stout out of reach of a pensioner who has worked all her life, paid tax and perhaps even fought in the war for this country.

V. I. Lenin AirportNovember 11th 2008.

Another good thing about illegal drugs is that you're not expected to go outside the oub in the freezing cold pissing rain to enjoy them!

Arthur GuinnessNovember 11th 2008.

Isn't Keith Vaz a teetotaller on religious grounds? Surely that should disqualify him from inflicting laws related to alcohol onto the normal population?

The Real DigNovember 11th 2008.

That wasn't my comment above. Who is pretending to be me? I won't stand for it. I can't stand for it. If I could stand I would but I've drank 3 bottles of White Lightning. 3 for £5 in my local offy. What a bargain!

Bargain BoozerNovember 11th 2008.

Well now, we proletarians have to endure our happy hour's during the day. Which is a godsend to the retired and the aged who have no wish to be in the company of the morons who want to get smashed out of their brains in the evenings. Unlike the parliamentarians who have had liberal drinking regulations, in subsidised bars since Adam was a lad, which still permit smoking by the way. Unfit to drive home through drinking (cheaply) all day . But deemed fit enough passing legislation which determines our lifestyles. Maybe they should be breath tested before voting.

John E. WalkerNovember 11th 2008.

This is a disgrace!We already pay more tax on our alcohol than anyone else in Europe.Raising taxes will simply lead to an increase in the consumption of contraband alcohol, garden shed vodka and poisons like methanol sold by spivs.

BeatlesGuruNovember 11th 2008.

I certainly agree that those who are to be violent on booze are just as likely to be violent stone cold sober. So therefore legislation to stop cheap booze and happy hours is not going to make the slightest difference. It is only a small minority that spoil it for the majority who cannot always afford the full price and normally drink responsibly.Keith Vaz should stop being such a kill joy to the vast majority, who know how to drink responsibly.I live in the South of England and enjoy visiting Liverpool for Beatle Week in August which certainly involve some drinking I can tell you, in the afternoon, evening and wee small hours. It is all about knowing how to pace yourself and drink responsibly.I think some people just keep on drinking and forget to eat some food now and again to absorb the alcohol.

AnonymousNovember 11th 2008.

Loss leader booze in supermarkets and off licences IS adding to alcohol related problems, while pubs and bars are being more and more regulated, and threatened with fines and even closure if they allow drunkeness! Meanwhile we are losing many wonderful pubs due to the cheaper alternatives. A bargain appeals to us all but at what real cost?

keaevertonNovember 11th 2008.

Why should the majority of responsible drinkers who enjoy their tipple sensibly be penalised for the minority of mindless morons who get themselves drunk by the smell of a barmaids apron.If everybody had to produce documentary ID if under the age of 21, to enable them to purchase alcohol or face a refus to being served, both in off-licenses, supermarkets, and public houses it would soon help to prevent drunkenness and violence

honeydragon_1stNovember 11th 2008.

On a more important note. Why is everyone happy to call it a 'Nanny state' when what we are really becoming is a police state?

DigNovember 11th 2008.

Does anybody want to buy a litre bottle of Glens or Kirov vodka? Got a load in my shed. £6 a bottle or 2 for a tenner. You'll be blind drunk after 3 glasses. Well, maybe not drunk... What's going to happen to companies producing cheap alcolhol if taxes go up and cheap alcohol is no longer cheap? Defeats the object of producing it in the 1st place. What would happen to the Lambrini factory in Halewood and its employees? There needs to be a scale and range of every type of product for every consumer. From houses and cars to booze and, well, absolutely everything. It's a simple concept. People need to be able to live within their means.

Stanley StreetNovember 11th 2008.

The idea of producing identification up to the age of 21 is foreign (puritanical American) and ridiculous. Like most people I starting going in pubs well before I was 18, so the pressure was on me to act as much like an adult as I could manage and not draw attention to myself amongst all the other adults in there. I think that it was a positive influence on my learning of social (“interpersonal”) skills in my teenage years. Like most people who went through this rite of passage I have become a pillar of society with a responsible job who pays taxes, votes in elections and obeys the law who likes a tipple at the weekend.Also silly arbitrary age limits do nothing to keen thugs and antisocial types out of pubs who happen to be over 21 years old, which is most of them. Anyone who has had to endure the obscene bellowing of geriatric lout Allan Williams in the same pub will appreciate my argument.

John Lennon AirportNovember 11th 2008.

Ah yes, memories of Allan in Keith's wine bar. A perilous mistake to look at him the wrong way. I remember doing so once. "What the feck are you looking at?" he screeched. Before proceeding to instruct everyone in the room to "feck off, feck off, feck off!" He then went outside, gave the lamppost the full attention of his ablutions before standing, baffled, in Lark Lane, trousers at half mast to the somewhat shock of passing students. Happy days. Look after yourself Allan.

DigNovember 11th 2008.

Last weekend I ended up in a pub keeping the old 'pre smoking ban' spirit alive. It was in Walton and as rough as any pub I've ever been in, but at least there's still some places flying the flag for what traditional pubs used to stand for. I don't understand why the landlords don't have a choice. Why not allow them to opt out of the smoking ban if the majority of their regulars are smokers? Punters have a choice which pub to go in so why not allow the landlords to make the decision whether smoking in their pub would be beneficial or detrimental to their takings, livelyhood and the pubs very survival?

Rum CoveNovember 11th 2008.

Nice work, Dig! Such a pity you can't tell us where it is!

DigNovember 11th 2008.

If you fancy going on a pub crawl and finding it yourself it's on Rice Lane. It's hardly worth finding it for the sake of an indoor bifter with your pint. Is it? If you do find it conceal your scarf well. My friend had his stolen!

DigNovember 11th 2008.

I haven't named anybody or specified any pubs. My conscience is clear. Even though I'm sure you're right about Storeys secret police! So you're going on a pub crawl down Rice Lane to discover said establishment are you? Can I join you? I could give you clues of hotter and colder and defend you from the infamous 'Rice Lane Scarf Crew'.

The Blue PeriwinkleNovember 11th 2008.

Be careful which night you choose to go on a crawl Diggety Dig. When the raid is carried out on the smoking ban bandit bar and the Landlord is up in court wondering who to thank for bringing this to their attention (how long will it take to visit the pubs on Rice lane) it might be wise to ask Liv Conf to take down your mug shots form an earlier feature. Although the landlord, like one of those villains in The Avengers may already have the entire pub covered in giant posters of you as he activates the Cidernaughts who strike through one of your lifesize cardboard cut-outs. Remember, liquid plastic stopped them, 1001 uses - 1002 said Steed triumphantly. I wouldn't want to be in your Tartan shoes Dig. You could end up with a Brazilian yourself.

ZarinNovember 11th 2008.

Aaagh! Masterspy! We are doomed!

Dig the MasterspyNovember 11th 2008.

No 'we' just you for bringing that up again my doomed friend! My agents are closing in.

Mike MercuryNovember 11th 2008.

Not so fast, Masterspy!

Dig the MasterspyNovember 11th 2008.

Blast you Mercury and your Supercar! Stop thwarting my cunning schemes. No wait stop... I don't want to be part of this Masterspy nonsense again. It is an insult to me! Chucklebutty help, where are you?

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