Retailers already have a proud record as responsible sellers of alcohol, says the British Retail Consortium, in response to the start of the Home Office alcohol consultation.

The consultation, Rebalancing the Licensing Act, starts today. It will discuss issues such as below-cost selling and increasing fines for under-18s.

Talking about below-cost alcohol sales, BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “We understand the public concern regarding low-priced alcohol, although we have still seen no firm evidence of a link between price and irresponsible consumption.

“Any statutory controls imposed by the Government should not be overly bureaucratic or impinge on the vast majority of consumers who do, of course, drink responsibly.”

On increasing fines for selling alcohol to under-18s, he said: “The scale of the fines is not the issue for supermarkets, as they’ve already got the best record of any type of retail outlet in tackling under-aged alcohol sales.”

Asda last week vowed to ban below-cost alcohol sales. Prior to that, Morrisons called on the Government to ban below-cost alcohol sales, and Tesco also said it would support this bid.