Britain's high streets could be dealt a hammer blow if proposals to ban the sale of alcohol in new town centre supermarkets are given the green light.

The proposals were debated in the House of Lords this week, where members demanded laws to combat the "staggering" and "damaging" rise in UK alcohol consumption.

During the debate on the Social Responsibility Bill, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff called for legislation to address the "specific problem of supermarket sales". She blamed the increase in liver disease on the rise in alcohol consumption "to which the supermarkets have greatly contributed". "Young people tank up because it is far cheaper than buying it on licensed premises," she said.

The current guidelines were not enforceable and easily overturned by legal challenges, she added.

Viscount Astor, who ran a bar business in 1997 with prime minister David Cameron on the board, agreed the "biggest" problem was the supermarkets.

"Supermarkets were selling lager for 50p when we were selling a pint for up to £5," he said. "People would go to the supermarket, buy alcohol and end up on the street causing a much greater problem. In 1990, 70% of the drinks sold in the UK were sold in pubs, bars and clubs with 30% sold in retails outlets. The reverse is now the case."

The proposals were part of a group of amendments that was withdrawn. ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan said he was "glad that these probing amendments were not taken up". However, the proposals relating to supermarkets could be re-tabled at the next stage of the Bill.