Examination of Witnesses (Questions 460
TUESDAY 3 JUNE 2008
HAYWARD OBE AND
Q460 Chairman: You all welcome that?
Second, in terms of the consumption of alcohol Channel 4 obtained
information about the number of women who had been detained for
alcohol-related offences. There were 5,891 women detained for
such offences compared with 3,847 three years ago, so there has
been an increase in the number of women drinking alcohol despite
the overall consumption figures. It was suggested by another senior
police officer, the chief constable of Northumbria, that discounted
drinks, happy hours and alcohol advertising should be banned.
Does anyone disagree with that?
Mr Lowman: I think that the banning
of alcohol advertising is a very heavy-handed blunt instrument.
I want to see the evidence that that move would tackle the particular
forms of alcohol harm that we are talking about today and elsewhere.
Q461 Chairman: Do you all agree with
Mr Chester: I would agree with
Mr Brown: I think there is room
for a responsible approach to the advertising of alcohol and perhaps
the trade should contribute to, say, one in six adverts as promoting
responsible drinking or giving that message that runs through
all alcohol advertising. It is important that people are aware
of what choice is available to them to enable them to make their
own shopping decisions.
Q462 Chairman: Mr Hayward mentioned
various issues that had been taken up by his association. What
about the banning of discounted drinks and happy hours?
Mr Hayward: I indicated that I
would make available to the Committee our policy in relation to
responsible promotions including happy hours. That is the actual
phrase we use. We do not ban them but believe that there are ways
to restrict them so they produce responsible behaviour in general
terms. This is something on which we have worked both with ministers
and the police. In relation to alcohol advertising, I do not believe
there should be a ban. One must have a dynamic market. There are
new productsthis is true of any industrywhich are
subject to all sorts of restrictions in terms of advertising and
that should be the case.
Q463 Mr Winnick: If the advertising
of alcohol should not be bannedthere may well be a case
for taking the same position you adoptwould there not be
an argument that on bottles there should be a warning about excessive
drinking? I have in mind what happens with cigarette advertising
where for many years there have been warnings about the danger
Mr Chester: Every single Asda
beer, wine and spirit product has clearly marked on it the units
and a message about responsible drinking.
Q464 Chairman: Does it have on it
the warning "Don't drink"?
Mr Chester: No, it does not say
"Don't drink" but that you should enjoy drink responsibly.
It is made clear the number of units one will consume if one drinks
Q465 Chairman: Does Tesco have that
on its bottles?
Mr Brown: We do. We put on it
the alcohol content and what it means in terms of units in fairly
simple graphics. That is supported by what we call shelf-talkers
and Tesco TV in the particular aisles to promote the need to drink
Q466 Mr Winnick: Could it be given
a higher profile?
Mr Brown: It is difficult to see
how it could get a higher profile in those specific areas. It
is very apparent to shoppers that there is a need to enjoy this
Mr Hayward: I led the negotiations
on the question of labelling for the whole sector. There are five
requirements which we agreed with the Department of Health. It
has just undertaken a benchmark survey to establish the current
position and there will be a review later this year as to what
has changed, and the products to which my colleagues refer will
be included in that. Those five requirements include a warning
about consumption during pregnancy.
Q467 Mrs Cryer: I understand that
in Canada every bottle of beer or any form of alcoholic beverage
that is sold must have a health warning similar to that put on
packets of cigarettes. Would all four witnesses oppose its introduction
Mr Chester: I would unless there
is any evidence that drinking one bottle of beer will do you any
harm at all. As long as there is clear information to the consumer
about alcohol content and drinking responsibly I believe that
Mr Lowman: I think the challenge
is about communicating properly the message about responsible
drinking. I agree with Mr Winnick that there is scope for us to
do more to get that message across.
Mr Hayward: I echo the comments
that have been made.
Mr Brown: I agree.
Q468 Chairman: Mr Chester, Asda's
president Mr Bond wrote to the Prime Minister on 25 February saying
that Asda would be donating £1 million to youth projects
aimed at reducing underage alcohol consumption. How much money
has been donated so far?
Mr Chester: We are currently working
with Business in the Community to devise how we will spend that
money and there are ongoing meetings.
Q469 Chairman: So, no money has been
Mr Chester: We want to make absolutely
sure that it is properly targeted in the right areas. The idea
is to identify projects and discussions are ongoing.
Q470 Chairman: So, all five of the
points about which you wrote to the Prime Minister are being actioned?
Mr Chester: Absolutely. We have
stopped selling in all our town centre stores between 12 and six;
we have adopted challenge 25up from challenge 21in
all stores. Forgive me if I do not mention the others, but they
are all implemented.
Q471 Chairman: I ask you finally
about the youth action plan published yesterday by the government
which states that parents might face a ban on giving alcohol to
young children in households. Do you agree that more responsibility
should be placed on parents to ensure that they prevent their
children from drinking?
Mr Chester: Parents have a very
tough job, but it is clear from research done both by government
and Asda that parents are a very likely source of alcohol for
children, unfortunately. Clearly, they need to be part of the
Q472 Chairman: Mr Lowman?
Mr Lowman: Yes.
Q473 Chairman: Mr Hayward?
Mr Hayward: Yes. Parents must
accept some responsibility. The police are being asked to cope
with nightmare circumstances. For example, over the previous weekend
parents were driving 13 and 14 year-olds to a beach party in Hampshire,
dropping them off and handing them multi-packs.
Mr Brown: We would align ourselves
with the need for people to drink responsibly. We have a responsibility
to ensure they know what that means.
Chairman: We may write to you asking
for further information as the inquiry progresses. I thank all
of the witnesses for coming to give evidence today.