A Greater Manchester MP is not convinced that the minimum price per unit of alcohol is the way to tackle binge drinking.
Prime Minister David Cameron today announced the plan in a bid to combat a perceived culture of binge drinking and reducing alcohol-related violent crime on the streets.
Yet John Leech, Manchester MP for Withington, expressed doubts about the effectiveness of a minimum price per unit of alcohol in England and Wales.
Mr Leech said: “The problem of binge drinking would not be solved by minimum pricing alone, because cheap alcohol would still be available in supermarkets.
“I would like to see differential duty between on and off sales to level the playing field for pubs, discourage drinking at home before a night out, and encourage responsible drinking in pubs.
“This would be a massive boost to local pubs, which cannot compete with supermarket prices and still won’t be able to even with a minimum price per unit,” he added.
The Prime Minister announced a minimum price of around 40p per 10-millilitre unit of alcohol. A cider would now cost around £1.80 and a glass of wine – around £1.20.
The government is still consulting on what the minimum price should be not ruling out a price higher than 40p a unit. The alcohol strategy would prevent retailers from selling alcohol at anything less than 40p a unit.
Mr Cameron expressed optimism that the strategy would help stop the ‘scourge of violence’ in town centres and cut alcohol-related deaths.
“Binge drinking isn't some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country.
“The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities,” Mr Cameron said.
The government also plans to ban supermarket multi-buy discounts and introduce a ‘late-night levy’ forcing pubs and nightclubs to contribute to policing costs.
Home Secretary Theresa May also defended the government plans to end the 'drunken mayhem' in Britain's towns.
Mrs May said: “We need to deal with the dangerous drinkers, crack down on irresponsible businesses, and stem the tide of cheap alcohol.
“Just under half of all violent crime is connected to alcohol, and drunken brawls have made many town centres no go areas for law-abiding citizens.
“Most people have no problem with alcohol, they enjoy a drink - indeed it's one of life's pleasures.
“But we all know there is a significant minority in this country who drink dangerously and who cause disproportionate harm. Drunken brawls and disorder have made many town centres no-go areas for law-abiding citizens,” she said.
However, Mr Leech expressed doubts that the plans will have the desired effect of putting an end to excessive alcohol consumption.
Commenting on irresponsible drinking in Manchester, Mr Leech said: “I don’t think that Manchester has ANY more of a binge drinking problem than any other big town or city.
“It is very busy at the weekend, especially in the city centre, which proves that it is not all about the cost of alcohol,” Mr Leech added.
Retailers and drinks companies have opposed the proposal stating it would punish people who enjoy alcohol responsibly while failing to tackle binge drinking.
According to the Home Office, excessive alcohol consumption costs Britain an estimated £21 billion a year and the NHS – around £2.7 billion a year.