The Tories have promised a clampdown on cut-price supermarket booze if they win the next election, writes Ewan Turney. However, they have refused to outline how this would be achieved. Tory shadow culture secretary Tobias Ellwood, who met recently with the Save the Great British Pub campaign headed by Inez Ward of Mavericks in Newquay, said that there was a “desire” to help the pub industry. “After consulting with the industry we would take action to prevent the sale of cut-price alcohol,” he said. The Conservative Party wants a "three strikes and you're out" rule for underage booze sales with fines doubled from £10,000 to £20,000 as well as a ban on cut-price booze. The Scottish Government has already announced plans for a minimum price on alcohol while the Government here is waiting for the publication of a report in to Price, Promotion and Harm. However, Ellwood said the Tories would not necessarily reverse the Chancellor’s decision to increase duty on beer 2% above inflation for the next four years. “In the current climate, promising any tax cuts would be foolish, but there is a desire to help the pub industry,” he said. The Tories put forward proposals to treble tax on alcopops and high strength beers and ciders before last year’s Budget. The extra money raised would have been used to cut duty on lower strength beers and cider. Ward, who has been involved in a high profile on-running dispute with landlord Enterprise Inns, stressed the meeting was not about her personal circumstances but general difficulties facing the trade. On the agenda for the day were discussions over cheap supermarket deals, the credit crunch, Government legislation and the state of relations between pubcos and tenants. The campaign aims to unite all facets of the trade from licensees, trade bodies, pubcos, suppliers and the general public to help stop pubs closing. Ellwood added: “The more unified the trade, the simpler it is to agree a way forward.” Ward said: “We had a very constructive meeting and I hope we can meet up with other parts of the industry to join our campaign. "We have already held discussions with some of the pubcos and have also held a meeting with Camra."

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