There has been a lot of talk lately about the high level of alcohol abuse in our society.
The last Labour Government asked the Law Commission to report on this issue to determine the best course of action.
Alcohol is a key factor in many cases of violence, criminal activity, and abuse.
Concern about this matter has been extensively reported in the past issues of Indian Newslink. There is a growing public awareness that alcohol is a major problem and that the Government should act decisively on this issue.
The Law Commission recommended a comprehensive set of changes and last week, Justice Minister Simon Power announced recommendations that he intended to take forward. He left the drinking age and increasing the age of purchase (off-licence) to 20 years to a conscience vote by Members of Parliament.
But he did not consider the recommendations on the availability of alcohol, leaving it to local authorities to determine the concentration, location, and hours of business of alcohol outlets. He did not pick up the recommendations of the Law Commission on advertising and displaying alcohol in supermarkets and related issues.
The Minister focused on the youth but left out of his proposals to increase the tariff on alcohol as a way of reducing the amount that is bought and consumed.
There is a lot of alcohol-fuelled abuse of women and children in our homes but the Government’s proposals do not address this problem.
One of the decisions an MP has to make on this conscience issue is the minimum age for purchase of alcohol in a bar and at supermarkets (an off licence).
I will be pleased to hear from Indian Newslink readers about the following:
1. Should the age at which people can purchase alcohol at a bar be kept at 18 years? People can drink at a bar but not take alcohol away.
2. Should the age at which a young person can purchase alcohol at a bottle store increased to 20 years? This is an off-license and people can only take alcohol away and not consume at the premises.
I will be pleased to hear from you on the above and other broader alcohol issues at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Rajen Prasad is Member of Parliament and Labour Party’s Associate Spokesman for Ethnic Affairs and Social Development (Child, Family & Youth). The above article is exclusive to Indian Newslink ©