Public Health England to review evidence on minimum unit pricing for alcohol
Public Health England will review the evidence for minimum unit pricing for alcohol in England, a health minister has said, telling MPs he would watch how the policy unfolds in Scotland "like a hawk".
Steve Brine said that while a previous consultation found the evidence was not conclusive, the policy was kept under review as part of efforts to tackle alcohol abuse.
This month the Scottish government introduced a new minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol, becoming the first country in the world to introduce such a policy.
Mr Brine told MPs at Health questions: "The Government remains committed to tackling all alcohol-related harms. That's why we're developing a new alcohol strategy.
"And as part of this, I am commissioning Public Health England to undertake a review of the evidence for minimum unit pricing in England."
SNP social justice spokesman Neil Gray said it was "very welcome news" and questioned when further progress would be made.
"The previous consultation in 2013 found that the evidence, as it stood at the time, wasn't entirely conclusive," Mr Brine replied.
"That's still the case. That's why the Government intends to keep the policy under review.
"And to be fair, many times in this chamber, we are given the benefit of the experience north of the border as to where a policy has been a success.
"Not always strictly spot on, but I would say given the policy only came in last week, it probably is premature.
"So we welcome to see the evidence emerge from Scotland's implementation of MUP and we'll be watching very closely."
The minister went on to say: "Many of our constituents, the vast majority of our constituents, enjoy a drink and have a healthy relationship with alcohol.
"But that isn't the case for everybody, and they can harm themselves, society and as we've heard, their children.
"So look, what's happening in Scotland north of the border is very welcome. I think they're going to make an early evaluation at the one-year point, and we'll be watching that like a hawk."