Minimum drink pricing 'won't work'
Focusing only on alcohol pricing measures will not provide a "magic bullet" to solve all the problems caused by drinking, Home Secretary Alan Johnson has suggested.
He said minimum-pricing could wrongly target responsible drinkers on low incomes and argued for a range of steps to tackle "irresponsible" behaviour and alcohol-fuelled disorder.
Mr Johnson spoke after announcing drinks promotions which encourage bingeing will be banned from April.
Pubs, clubs and bars will be prevented from holding speed drinking competitions and offering "all you can drink for £10"-style offers.
From October, all licensed premises will be required to offer drinks in smaller measures and tap water for free.
Mr Johnson told BBC Breakfast: "The major point here is we are looking to target those who are acting irresponsibly and not those who are responsible drinkers. It's an important step forward because we move from a voluntary code which basically hasn't worked in the past to a mandatory code."
He said a consultation had identified the major issues, but added: "That is not to say that the pricing issue has gone away.
"We will look at that but the problem with that aspect, particularly the argument about minimum pricing... is it means those who are on low incomes who drink responsibly are affected."
Asked about Tory proposals, being outlined by shadow home secretary Chris Grayling, including additional taxes on "problem" drinks such as alcopops, Mr Johnson said: "I don't think that works. If you do it that way there is an issue about youngsters drinking certain drinks and then you raise the price on that they will go to other drinks."
But Mr Grayling insisted the Tory ideas would work, and pledged to "take back control of town and city centres". He added: "We need to scrap the Government's late-night licensing regime, give local people back powers over the number of licensed premises in their areas and introduce charges for late-night licences to pay for better policing. We can't go on with the binge drinking culture that has built up under Labour."