Llandudno Lord: Wales Has Too Many Underage Drinkers

A teetotal peer wants to ban outdoor boozing to stop spiralling alcohol problems across Wales – which have got worse since the smoking ban, he claims.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno claims drink sales have doubled over the past decade and the country has the highest rate of underage drinking in Europe.

The Lib Dem said schools must do more to tackle the problem by educating pupils about the dangers of drink.

He also called for drinking on the streets to be outlawed, insisting the problem had got worse since the smoking ban was introduced.

Lord Roberts told the House of Lords: “I am not quite sure how accurate this is, but it is thought that 1,000 premature deaths a year in Wales are alcohol related.

“One cannot assess the degree of trauma among families and children resulting from excessive drinking – the child brought up in a home where there is domestic violence and needless poverty because of the money spent on alcohol.

“One figure that I am sure is utterly reliable and alarms me tremendously relates to drinking by 11 to 15 year-olds in Wales. Wales has the highest level of underage drinking of any European country.”

Lord Robert quoted a report of the Directors of Public Protection Wales that claims alcohol consumption in Wales costs £1bn a year – £320m on working hours lost, £365 million on drink-related crime and disorder, £85m on healthcare costs and £230m on tackling family break-ups.

He added: “It has been agreed that tackling this growing problem does not lie in 24-hour pub opening hours and round-the-clock availability of alcohol, which perhaps has changed the pattern of drinking.

“The minister might correct me, but I would suggest that it has not led to a reduction in alcohol consumption or related disorders. Is the minister able to say whether it is time to outlaw drinking on the streets?

“Following the smoking ban in buildings and pubs, there is more such drinking with tables outside public houses and hotels. We must look at that problem.

“We should also look at the deep discounting of alcohol sold in off-licences and supermarkets, and at banning special promotions.”

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon told the Lords the government was developing information and advice aimed at people who drink at harmful levels.

She added: “The Department of Health has invested £3.2 million to facilitate the development of the most effective and appropriate screening tools and brief intervention techniques. These will help to identify people who are drinking at harmful or hazardous levels and offer them help and advice to reduce their alcohol consumption.”