Tory tax rises to target young drinkers

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Indy Politics

The Tories today set out plans to increase taxes on super-strength beer, cider and alcopops to stop teenagers getting "very drunk quickly and cheaply".

A four-pack of super-strength lager would rise by £1.33 and a large bottle of alcopop would increase by £1.50, shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said.

He told the Conservative party conference in Manchester the tax rises would not hit "responsible drinkers".

He said: "The ordinary pint in the pub will not be affected and there'll be exemptions for some local traditional products.

"But we'll call time on the drinks that fuel antisocial behaviour."

Mr Grayling also pledged to ban supermarkets from selling alcohol below cost price, warning that this "fuelled Britain's binge drinking culture".

He said that under Labour's "lax" licensing system, "virtually anyone" could get a licence to sell alcohol.

"We even have all night takeaways selling more drink to people as they stagger home from the pub," he said.

"We will change that. Local councils will have the power to stop town centres being taken over by pubs, clubs and off-licences."

The Tories also pledged to introduce "tough new rules" for existing licensed premises.

Councils would be able to limit opening hours, with "strict penalties" for pubs and clubs that flouted the rules.

Mr Grayling warned of "much bigger fines" for venues that sold alcohol to under-age drinkers. If it happened more than once, the place would be closed for a few days as a penalty, he said.

And pubs were warned that if they continued to sell to under-18s, their licence would be permanently removed.

He told the conference that areas dominated by pubs, clubs and off-licences were building up "huge costs" in policing.

"Under a Conservative government late night problem premises will pay more for their licence," he said.

"So we can pay more for policing in our town centres to tackle the blight of antisocial behaviour after closing time."

Mr Grayling added: "I know some of those in the drinks industry will complain about the impact of these changes.

"But I think there are times when it's right to put the interests of communities ahead of the interests of business."