Supermarket giant Tesco and distiller Whyte & Mackay are being asked to re-appear before the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee on 17 March to clarify the oral evidence they gave this week on the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill.
The committee has written to John Beard, chief executive of Whyte & Mackay, and Tony McElroy, corporate affairs manager of Tesco, calling on them to clarify a number of issues.
Mr Beard is being asked to explain Whyte & Mackay’s position in relation to estimated job losses at the company.
In its written submission to the Health and Sport Committee on the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill, Whyte & Mackay indicated that the introduction of a minimum price of 50p per unit for alcohol would result in estimated 300 jobs being lost at the firm.
In the letter to Mr Beard, Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP said: “During your oral evidence to the Health and Sport Committee on 10 March you highlighted this fact in response to a question from Mary Scanlon MSP.
"Following your appearance at the committee, Whyte and Mackay issued a press release clarifying that this was based on the estimated financial impact of the introduction of a UK-wide minimum price for alcohol.
"At no point during your oral evidence on Wednesday 10 March, or in your written submission to the Committee, did you clarify that this estimate was based on a potential UK-wide minimum price and not on the proposals of the Scottish Government as set out in the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Bill for a minimum unit price for sales in Scotland.
"Given the importance of this distinction I am of the very strong view that Whyte and Mackay must clarify the evidence it has given to the committee on this issue.
"The evidence presented by Whyte and Mackay to the committee to date does not make this clear.”
Tesco’s Mr McElroy is being asked to re-appear before the Committee to clarify its position on minimum pricing in light of an apparent contradiction in evidence supplied.
In the letter to Mr McElroy, Christine Grahame said: “During evidence to the committee on 10 March, Michael Matheson MSP raised the issues of the support expressed by Tesco plc in its evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee inquiry on alcohol.
"This evidence would seem to be at odds with the views you expressed during your oral evidence session with the committee on 10 March in relation to Tesco’s view on the possible introduction of minimum pricing.
"I have now had an opportunity to examine the report of the House of Commons Select Committee on this issue. According to that report on 14 May 2009, Mr David North, Tesco’s Community and Government Director, stated that Tesco was in favour on minimum pricing.
"Given the importance of this issue it is felt strongly that Tesco must clarify its position on minimum pricing in light of the apparent contradiction between this evidence.”
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