Wednesday, 29 September 2010

No drink ban on under 21s: SNP loses another vote on alcohol bill

A Scottish Government plan to allow local councils to raise the off-licence purchasing age to 21 has failed to gain the support of the Health & Sport Committee at the Scottish Parliament.

The proposal is itself extraordinary, as it would have the result of having different purchasing ages in different parts of the country. This carries the clear danger that young people who want to buy off-licence will travel to another district. Importantly, the presumption behind the under 21s ban is that people below 21 are more likely to be irresponsible than their elders. Also, according to Liam Burns of the National Union of Students (reported here) the local measures would not require local consultation prior to decisions and implementation.

A further compelling bonus of this decision is that it simplifies (or halts further complication of) the age of majority. Purchasing alcohol on or off-licence is allowed at 18, when people legally become adults. Making the legal age for off-licence purchasing of alcohol higher than the age of majority blurs the impact of reaching 18, which should be the age when people are considered autonomous, and able to make legal and other significant decisions about their lives. Making people aged 18 to 20 dependent upon their elders for off-sales makes nonsense of this autonomy, and discriminates against the 18–20 year age group.

1 comment:

Eddie Douthwaite said...

This proposal by the Scottish Government to bring decisions down to a local level was no surprise, they already have Local Authorities tied into their Anti-Smoking "denormalisation" campaign.