Thursday, 10 July 2008

Drink Laws

I was interested to read the press release below from the Scottish Government about Scotland's drink problem.

I was perhaps more interested in what it did not say rather than what it did say.

Some of the Governments proposals to tackle excessive drinking have had better reviews than others, but the one that seems to have attracted the most flack is the proposal to ban under 21's from buying alcohol from off licenses but not from bars and clubs.

Two of the measures are mentioned twice, with one other measure also mentioned in the press release, but but not that one. Given the wide opposition to this move, is the Government getting cold feet?


The Scottish Government's consultation on tackling the country's problem with alcohol misuse is attracting international interest.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill today met with his counterpart from the New Zealand Government Lianne Dalziel to bring her up to speed with the proposals, including minimum pricing, banning irresponsible promotions and introducing a social responsibility fee.
Mr MacAskill said:

"Scotland has an unenviable reputation as a hard drinking nation that's proud to be able to drink others under the table. For many years this has been seen as a source of pride to many Scots.

"We are now beginning to start a different international reputation on alcohol. That of a country that admits it has a problem with alcohol misuse and is taking bold action to tackle it.

"That's why I was pleased to meet with the New Zealand Associate Minister for Justice Lianne Dalziel who wanted to discuss our proposals. We had a very helpful discussion and Ms Dalziel was very interested in the action being considered in Scotland.

"We've had other requests for more details and information about our plans - including minimum pricing and irresponsible promotions. I hope other countries will consider following Scotland's lead."

Lianne Dalziel said:

"I congratulate the Scottish Government for taking on this important issue and taking action to tackle. It is clear that doing nothing is not an option.

"In New Zealand we are facing similar challenges to Scotland on alcohol issues. I will be returning to New Zealand with some good ideas to assist in our law reform work."


BenefitScroungingScum said...

Sigh. Nothing is going to change until the general public no longer see binge drinking as the best form of entertainment. I suspect that if other activities were relatively as cheap then people would choose to participate more often, but whilst theatres, cinemas, sporting activities etc remain so expensive this problem will get worse, particularly now people are being hit by cost of living increases.

The Aberdonian said...

BSS -so true.

New Zealand early last century actually considered prohibition but the measure I believe was narrowly defeated in a referendum.

I remember reading that like Australia, in New Zealand alcohol for many years could not be sold after 6pm - yes that is right - 6pm.

This meant people (well men) during the working week would leave their work en masse at 5pm and knock back as much alcohol between then and "time", earning the name the "six o'clock swill".

This practice remained in force till the 1960's in some parts of the Antipodes.

Makes MacAskill look like a pussycat in comparison.

I am fascinated (with reference to my earlier comments on drink laws in North America) that alcohol abuse was recognised as problem in the English-speaking "New World" and the implementation of draconian laws that would not be tolerated in the "Mother Country". Obviously happy to import liberty but not the social problems.

Jim said...


I have to agree. I'm really not certain that the answer to such a complex issue lies in simplistic legislation.


Jim said...


Thanks for stopping by.

I forgot to mention in my last response to you, that before I went to Canada with the armed forces, we received a very lengthy lecture on just how stringent the Canadians were with alcohol, even to the extent of legislating how it could be transported in vehicles.

We were told that it could only be transported in the boot of the car so that the occupants could have no access to it.

Alcohol could only be bought on Sunday if it was with a meal, and when we got there we quickly saw just how different our attitude to booze was in comparison to the Canadians (bearing in mind I served in the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards which I think had a different attitude to alcohol than just about everywhere!)


The Aberdonian said...


Presume you were based at Cold Lake - I heard about this place about the size of Britain near Calgary devoted to manouvres.

Yeah, the thing about booze having to be kept in the boot is also practiced (surprise) in the USA. The legislation is commonly called "Open Container" laws. Basically you can be lifted for driving with an open container of booze in your vehicle. The driver has the onus to prove that he/she did not intend to drink it, even if he did not personally have it in his hand but rather a passenger had it.

Jim said...


Yes, the place is known as BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield).

It's the only place where the army can carry out manouvres with live firing.

It's also a nature reserve with herds of wild horses roaming free. Despite the amount of noise we made, the animals didn't give us a second glance!

During the time off we had afterwards, some of us went to a place called Sylvan Lake which was fantastic.

The locals did seem a bit surprised at the volume of drink we packed away though, even though to us we were behaving well and just having an ordinary night out. The Canadian approach to alcohol was simply entirely different to our own.