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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 475 & 532 - Alcohol pricing [20824/16, 20823/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 475 & 532 - Alcohol pricing [20824/16, 20823/16]. (12 Jul 2016)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20a...


475. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if he or his Department have assessed the ramifications and the impact, if any of the ECHR's Advocate General's comments made in September 2015, about prescribing a minimum price for alcoholic drinks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20824/16]

 

532. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if he or his Department have assessed the ramifications and the impact if any of the ECHR's Advocate General's comments made in September 2015 about prescribing a minimum price for alcoholic drinks could only be justified to protect public health if no alternative measure was found; if he still intends to introduce the public health alcohol Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20823/16]

 

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 475 and 532 together.

 

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill remains a priority for this Government. The Bill is part of a suite of measures agreed on foot of the recommendations in the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy. The Government approved the publication of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and the introduction of the Bill in the Houses of the Oireachtas on the 8 December 2015. The Bill completed Second Stage in the Seanad on the 17 December 2015. The Bill has been restored to the Seanad Order Paper and it is expected that it will commence Committee Stage early in the next term.

 

The European Court of Justice ruled on 23 December 2015 on proposals by the Scottish Government to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP). The Court judgment is broadly in line with the Advocate General’s opinion in October last year when it states that the legislation may be justified on the grounds of the protection of health if it is proportionate to the objective pursued, and cannot be achieved by other measures such as taxation.

 

My Department and the Office of the Attorney General are considering the implications of the judgement. A strong and convincing case can be made in favour of MUP over other measures. I believe that MUP is a proportionate measure and the only measure that would effectively target the widespread access to alcohol that is very cheap relative to its strength. This was backed up by the research conducted by Sheffield University which showed that MUP changes behaviour in those most at risk.

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