The Police Reform and Responsibility Bill seeks several powers to combat alcohol – fuelled crime. There would, for instance, be a ban on below-cost sales of alcohol. CAMRA would like to see this go further with minimum-pricing of alcohol being introduced. This would help level the playing field between supermarkets and pubs as well as enabling the health benefits which would arguably come from cutting out cheap booze. The legislation would also give the Police stronger powers in revoking and granting pub licences.
Before the election the then-government’s briefly-existent Pubs Minister said he would intervene to reform the beer tie in 2011 if the industry did not self-reform. The Consumers Minister, Ed Davey, recently stated that the new government will stand by this commitment. CAMRA wants to see tenants of the larger pub companies given the right to a guest beer of their choice; perhaps this will come to pass.
Also prior to 6 May, 150 candidates subsequently elected as MPs signed up to CAMRA’s manifesto for pub goers. We can presumably count on their continuing support (I know what Jerry Brown would say if he was still around).
This is being written shortly before the emergency budget. Will the Chancellor be able to resist piling yet more tax on poor old beer? [YES - HE DID RESIST!] Frankly I’d be amazed if we ale-drinkers, not to mention our pubs, don’t get hammered once again – though the Lib Dem manifesto did include a promise to review the beer tax system. You never know.