Cameron mulls minimum price for alcohol in England

A minimum price for alcohol could be imposed on shops and supermarkets under Government plans to tackle binge-drinking, it emerged last night. David Cameron is understood to have instructed officials to develop detailed proposals to ban the sale of drink at below between 40p and 50p a unit.

The scheme would be modelled on proposals by the Scottish Parliament to fix a minimum price of 45p a unit. Alternatively, officials are examining the feasibility of a tax system related to the number of alcoholic units in a drink. The Prime Minister has condemned major retailers that sell alcohol drinks at below cost price in an attempt to attract shoppers.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, favours a voluntary approach to alcohol pricing, but the Daily Telegraph reported that that the Prime Minister had come down in favour of a radical "big bang" approach. It is will be included in the Government's forthcoming alcohol strategy, expected in February.

A recent study suggested that a minimum price of 50p would prevent more than 2,000 deaths a year.