Higher prices for cheap alcohol

The price of some alcoholic drinks is to be raised as part of the Government's attempts to get to grips with Britain's addiction to binge drinking.

A Home Office review this week will admit that the longer drinking laws have failed to persuade Britain to adopt a more Continental café culture approach to drinking alcohol.

However, Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, will resist calls tomorrow by doctors and police chiefs to reverse the 24-hour drinking laws.

Instead, prices are to be raised to dissuade young people from binge drinking. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, is under pressure to use his Budget on 12 March to raise duty on cheap cider and alcopops designed to attract young people.

Ministers are also ready to change the competition laws to allow supermarkets to raise the price of some cheap beers in unison, following criticism that they were selling strong larger and white cider more cheaply than water.

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