A planned minimum price for booze has been criticised by a Birmingham MP who claimed it would hit responsible drinkers in the pocket.
David Cameron has published proposals to put an end to cut-price alcohol in a bid to prevent anti-social behaviour and domestic violence.
He has launched a consultation on imposing a minimum price of 45p per unit, which could mean a four-pack of beer with an alcohol content of five per cent would cost a minimum of £3.95.
But the plan was attacked by MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak), who said: “I know there is a view that this will improve people’s health but I am dubious.
“I don’t think there is evidence to show it will change the behaviour of binge drinkers or problem drinkers, but it will mean that ordinary, responsible drinkers have to pay more.
“It could well lead to an increase in alcohol being bought in to the country from overseas.
“One result of that would be that the Exchequer loses money because duty isn’t being paid in the UK, at a time when budgets are already squeezed.
“This looks to me like another way of hitting the squeezed middle.”
The proposals are designed to stop supermarkets and off licences selling heavily discounted drink.
The consultation is expected to ask for opinions on a minimum price ranging from 40p to 50p per unit but is likely to suggest a minimum of 45p.
This could push up the price of a two-litre bottle of supermarket own-brand cider from £1.20 to £3.75, while a bottle of gin currently costing £6.95 would rise to £11.85.
Ministers are also planning tough curbs on multi-buy discounts which could affect people who, for example, buy wine by boxes of six.
The Prime Minister is thought to be personally committed to the idea but the drinks industry is lobbying against it.