A group of hospitality trade groups have written an open letter to the Scottish Executive expressing opposition to plans to allow the early introduction of the Test Purchasing of alcohol north of the border.
Test Purchasing, targeted at licensees who sell alcohol to under-18s, will be implemented in full in 2009, but legislators have proposed bringing it in early.
In the letter, addressed to Lewis Macdonald, the deputy minister for health and community care, Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association confirms support for the legislation, but outlines a number of concerns over the proposals to go live early.
"Primarily, the fact that many of the new requirements of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 on issues like, for example, the mandatory training of staff and a mandatory condition of ‘no proof no sale' will simply not be in place," the letter says.
"Similarly, as you may be aware it is currently lawful under the terms of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 to sell alcohol to 16 to 18 year-olds in licensed premises in certain specific circumstances, namely with the consumption of a meal.
"This will remain the case until the introduction of the new licensing regime amends the law to make it unlawful to sell alcohol to under-18 year olds, although again it will still be lawful for them to consume it in on-licensed premises under certain limited circumstances where the alcohol is ancillary to a meal."
Browne also highlights the lack of success of a similar scheme for tobacco purchases, and contrasts this with the 360 offences for underage alcohol sales achieved in 2005-06 with existing police powers.
He calls for a meeting to discuss the matter prior to the Executive taking any final decision on any early implementation.
The letter was countersigned by Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, BEDA Scotland chairman Eddie Tobin, John Loudon, legal adviser at the British Hospitality Association in Scotland, and BII Scotland's Janet Hood.
By Daniel Thomas