Minimum pricing of alcohol “remains under active consideration”, according to Home Office minister Norman Baker.

He was asked in Parliament about plans to introduce a minimum unit price. Last year the Government stepped back from earlier plans to introduce minimum pricing, in favour of a ban on sales below the combined total of duty and VAT.

Baker said: “Minimum unit pricing remains a policy under active consideration but is on hold while we assess the response of industry to our alcohol strategy, which we have indicated we expect to be a positive one.

“In the meantime we are introducing a ban on alcohol sales below the cost of duty plus VAT from April 2014. This fulfils the coalition Government’s commitment and will stop the worst cases of very cheap and harmful alcohol sales.”

William McCrea MP, the Democratic Unionist representing South Antrim, also asked the minister about what recent discussions have taken place between the Government and the devolved administration in Northern Ireland on a minimum unit price for alcohol.

Baker replied: “Home Office ministers have regular meetings with ministerial colleagues and others as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous administrations, it is not the Government’s practice to provide details of all such meetings.”