Alcohol licensing 'increasingly complex'
This week saw Labour MSP Dr Richard Simpson’s Alcohol Bill get its second evidence session in front of the Health and Sport Committee.
The purpose of the bill is to introduce further restrictions to licensing, advertising and labelling, including the marking of bottles and cans to show which shop it was bought from.
It is hoped the measures would improve Scotland’s troubled relationship with alcohol. Those who appeared in front of MSPs on Tuesday represented industry, licencing and local authorities, so it may not have been surprising there were some concerns.
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“Some of what is proposed is unworkable,” said John Lee of the Scottish Grocers Federation.
He said licensing had become “increasingly complex” for retailers, a position backed up by Archie MacIver, licensing law sub-committee convener at the Law Society of Scotland.
"It is impossible now, being quite candid about it, for the average retailer to keep up with the amount of regulation and legislation that governs this trade,” he said.
MacIver conceded though that the Law Society had been wrong in its written evidence when it said the new laws would criminalise parents picking kids up from school in alcohol branded sports tops.
"Unless you have got a very lazy parent who is standing there for days on end," he added.
Dr Simpson said the evidence had been helpful.
“The central tenet of my bill is that we already deal well with the very serious offenders through the current legislation. Most of what I am proposing, at least on the justice side, would move into the area of people who commit lesser offences,” he said.