Problem drinking is back on the political agenda. Yet again.

Both Labour and the Conservatives made high-profile stump speeches this week, promising action to tackle binge drinking and alcoholism.

Despite the lack of evidence, all the proposals involved making drink pricier, either by raising tax or introducing minimum pricing. But is the industry ever-more irresponsible on price? New research by The Grocer suggests otherwise.

Not only did the big retailers discount booze less for Christmas 2009 than the year before, they gave less featured shelf space over to drink. What did they put in the space they saved? Fruit, veg, meat and fish.

Of course, there are still places where finding below-cost booze is easy. The House of Commons is one.

The six bars in the Palace of Westminster serve some of London's cheapest drinks. Beer is £2.10 a pint, while spirits start at just £1.35 thanks to (indirect) taxpayer subsidy. Last year, £6.1m of public money was spent subsiding MPs' dining and bars. If MPs are truly eager to end the era of cheap booze, they might want to start closer to home.

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Booze deals out of favour despite spin (23 January 2010)