“Do you have the power to bring in minimum pricing?”

At the end of Brian’s post on proposals for a minimum price per unit of alcohol he asks “Where does the Assembly stand?” The UK government is, officially, lukewarm on the idea but Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, the UUP’s Michael McGimpsey, was enthusiastic on Stormont Live yesterday. He thinks he’s spotted a potential pot o’ gold. But such a stealth tax would, apparently, also depend on stealth legislation through the UK Parliament rather than the NI Assembly. Wouldn’t that income then go directly to the UK Treasury? And would Parliament accept such an amendment after rejecting the fundamental argument? And has alcohol become “too cheap”? [Or is bottled water just too expensive? – Ed] Indeed.

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