On 28th February 2018, Lord Rennard asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the costs benefit to the National Health Service and police of introducing minimum unit pricing for alcohol in England.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, the report of the University of Sheffield referred to earlier said that the top 30% of drinkers consume 80% of all alcohol consumed, as measured in pure ethanol; and that, of the beer sold in supermarkets, a disproportionately high amount is sold on promotion—and much of that well below 50p per unit. Does the Minister agree that a floor in the unit price of alcohol would help to yield a more orderly, content and healthy society by bearing down on demand?
Lord O’Shaughnessy: The statistic mentioned by the right reverend Prelate is in a way even more alarming because 4.4% of the heaviest drinkers account for a third of all alcohol drunk. A lot of people are drinking sensibly, within the guidelines. We need a system capable of targeting those who are sensitive to both price and health interventions, among those drinking in a way that is very deleterious to their health. We are doing that for a range of interventions—public health and taxation. As I said, we will look at the progress of minimum unit pricing in Scotland as it takes place.