Yesterday I didn't write about the ludicrous proposal in Iain Duncan Smith's report to put up taxes on alcohol. I wanted to find out what the status of these proposals were. To all those who have frothed at the mouth you should know that they have NOT been accepted by David Cameron, and I hope they won't be.
Like many of you, I am fed up with politicians whose knee jerk reaction to a problem is instinctively to suggest putting up taxes. There are often far better actions one can take. Adding a few pence to a pint of beer will do absolutely nothing to stop binge drinking, but it will of course provide extra tax revenues for the Treasury to squander.
Iain Duncan Smith's aim is to raise £400 million to build new drug and alcohol treatment centres, a laudable aim in itself, but quite achieveable without putting up taxes. For God's sake, we're Conservatives. We do not believe in putting up taxes. If one is serious about curbing binge drinking we could ban 'happy hours' or 'two for one' offers. At least these would address the problem, even if I might have sever reservations about interfering with a pub's right to run its own affairs.
Having been round a drug treatment centre with IDS in North Norfolk I know how passionate he is on this issue, and rightly so. But surely there are £400 million worth of government funds which can be reallocated without introducing further regressive taxation. To pretend that it will have any effect on binge drinking is patent nonsense given the disposable income of teenagers and twentysomethings noawadays.
IDS's report has made more than 200 suggestions and I hope the sensible ones won't be overshadowed by this one. His report is a fantastic piece of work and he should get a lot of credit for it.