Thursday, 4 November 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
156. Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the practice of some supermarkets in selling alcohol at exceptionally low price levels; if below cost selling is permitted; if there is any policing or inquiries into same; if the relevant price is the invoiced price or if transportation, warehousing, profit are considered to judge the base price; if there are health concerns regarding the level of alcohol now being consumed at home; if a minimum floor price for the sale of alcohol can be set to control consumption, improve tax take and provide fair competition with pubs; if trends in this direction in Scotland are being monitored; if an all-Ireland policy can be implemented. [40904/10]
Minister of State at the Department of the Health and Children (Deputy Áine Brady): The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment revoked the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order 1987 with effect from March 2006. This resulted in the removal of price control on alcohol products. Information available from the alcohol industry would indicate that there has been a reduction in recent years in the sales of alcohol in the on-trade sector. I am concerned at the resultant increase in the amount of alcohol sold in the off-trade sector for home consumption as the overall level of alcohol consumption in the population is still too high.
In March, 2009 the Government agreed to include alcohol in a National Substance Misuse Strategy (NSMS) that would be coordinated jointly by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and my Department. A Steering Group has been established to develop proposals on the alcohol element of the NSMS. The NSMS Steering Group is examining a wide range of issues in relation to alcohol policy such as pricing (including minimum pricing), availability, treatment, prevention and marketing. The NSMS Steering Group is due to report on its findings by the end of the year. I look forward to receiving the Report from the Steering Group and considering the recommendations around the price at which alcoholic drinks are sold. My Department is continuing to monitor developments on alcohol policy in Scotland and in Northern Ireland particularly in relation to any proposals on the pricing of alcohol products.
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