Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams MP has expressed disappointment at indications that the UK Government intends to abandon plans to implement a minimum alcohol pricing policy that would have targeted the most toxic end of the alcohol market following a revolt among Cabinet ministers.
Mr Williams, who has campaigned at length for the introduction of a meaningful minimum price, said that the announcement signals a step back in efforts to improve public health and raise awareness of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
He joined leading health experts such as the British Medical Association in calling on the Chancellor to heed their warnings and announce in next week Budget that this life-saving policy will not be abandoned.
Mr Williams said:
"It is disappointing to see the Government hinting at dropping this long over-due policy that holds the potential to save lives and money. Ministers who have joined the Cabinet revolt have turned this from an issue of policy to one of politics - a deeply irresponsible move.
“Binge-drinking is a serious problem throughout the UK and it is time for politicians and legislators everywhere to follow the lead of the SNP government in Scotland and the clear policy laid-out by Plaid Cymru.
“The introduction of a minimum pricing policy would target the most toxic end of the alcohol market and hopefully lead to people returning to the local pubs, to support small businesses in their areas and break what many see as the stranglehold of the supermarkets.
“Yet again we see the Coalition failing to heed the many warnings issued by leading health experts and researchers within the field who have repeatedly highlighted the benefits of a minimum pricing policy - namely improving public health and easing some of the huge pressure put on our health services.
“As the Chancellor delivers his Budget next Wednesday, it is vital that he ignores party in-fighting and announces plans to introduce this policy which has the potential to halt the supermarket monopoly by encouraging people to spend in their local pubs, signal tougher action on alcohol abuse, and ultimate save lives.
“If the Chancellor fails to take this opportunity, then the power to make decisions on this matter should be transferred from Westminster to Cardiff Bay so that the people of Wales can benefit from this progressive policy.”