Gordon Brown has warned the alcohol and retail industries that they must work harder to curb underage and binge-drinking, or face tougher action from the government.

The Prime Minister issued the threat at a Downing Street summit attended by manufacturers and retail industry representatives last week.

Restrictions on the advertising of alcohol, including a possible pre-9pm ban on alcohol ads on TV, were some of the ideas mooted at the conference, as was restricting where alcohol can be displayed in a store.

The government is also looking into introducing tighter controls on price-cutting promotions - an idea that was not well received by independent retailers.

Dean Holborn of Holborns in Redhill, Surrey, said that promotions were vital to his business, as they helped to drive sales in his store. "Controlling promotions would also be hugely unfair to the hundreds of customers who drink responsibly and just want to save a few pounds," he said.

Peter Sichel, who owns a Spar store in Holmer Green, Buckinghamshire, added that today's binge-drinking culture should be blamed on a lack of education, rather than on price.

"This is a cultural, not a pricing issue," he said. "The messages sent out about alcohol consumption are unclear, and many consumers do not understand them."
Meanwhile, Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy called for the onus to be placed much more on parents, by calling for a rise in the age limit for drinking at home. At present, children can drink legally in the home from the age of five.

Leahy's call came as an independent complaints panel found Tesco to be in breach of the Code of Practice for selling and promoting alcohol.

The breach related to a 'buy 12 cans get 12 cans free' promotion that the supermarket ran during the St Patrick's Day holiday period. The promotion encouraged "immoderate consumption of alcohol", the complaints panel said.
Meanwhile, the Home Office unveiled an enforcement campaign to start in the first week of December, which as well as making underage test purchases will target retailers seen to be serving customers who are already drunk.

It will focus on stores in areas where there are high levels of alcohol-related crime and disorder. The Home Office said the campaign would target 1,500 premises in 90 areas.