The key to the off licence door
Turning twenty-one is one of the big events in life. When you can apply for that provisional licence to drive large passenger vehicles; or your flight navigator licence. And if the proposals of the Scottish Government were to be supported it would be the point at which you could purchase alcohol from an off-licence. See here, at para 83.
The SNP Government has expressed concern about the position of alcohol in society (see here for the Justice Secretary’s position on alcohol as a possible mitigating factor in criminal cases). And earlier in the year it issued a discussion paper on Changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol. As well as raising the age at which someone could purchase alcohol at an off-licence from 18 to 21, the discussion paper makes various other proposals. Central to the strategy would be an introduction of various measures in the off sales industry restricting the power to offer promotions on alcohol (para 49), and minimum retail pricing for alcohol (para 55).
The proposals (particularly those in relation to raising the minimum age for off licence purchases) have been controversial and were debated in the Scottish Parliament on 2nd October 2008 in a Conservative party motion providing that
“That the Parliament rejects the Scottish Government's proposals to raise the age limit for purchasing alcohol from off-licences and supermarkets from 18 to 21.”
and was passed by 72 votes to 47. All opposition parties voted against the government.
At the SNP conference in mid-October the SNP youth wing sought to criticise the SNP policy on the issue, but the party voted by 190 to 131 to support the policy.
Given the parliamentary arithmetic it seems likely that if the policy is pursued by the Government, any vote will be lost.