David Cameron says he is “very supportive” of a plan to introduce minimum pricing for the sale of alcohol in the Greater Manchester area.
Cut-price booze has long been blamed for fuelling the devastating effects of binge-drinking on the nation.
A group of ten local authorities in and around Manchester is hoping to introduce a by-law which would make it illegal for pubs and shops to sell booze for less than 50 pence per unit.
During a tour of the Greater Manchester area Mr Cameron said: “I think the idea of the councils coming together on this is a good one and we will certainly look at it very sympathetically.”
The Prime Minister, who remains opposed to the introduction of minimum pricing at the national level, added: “I think if what you’re trying to do is stop supermarkets from selling 20 tins of Stella for a fiver that’s what we’ve got to go after.
“Where I want to try and help is ending the deep discounting on alcohol; people going and ‘pre-loading’ having bought from a supermarket where they were attracted by a price designed to bring them into the store.”
Before such a by-law could be introduced it would have to be approved by the Government.
Mr Cameron, speaking to the Manchester Evening News, said: “Where there can be local decisions we are very happy for that to happen.
“It may be that we need to do something to help the localist answer.”
The plan, which would affect almost four million people, has been criticised by opponents who believe that the potential by-law would fall foul of competition laws.
Last month Theresa May, the Home Secretary, warned that Labour’s 24-hour drinking laws have failed.
Mrs May’s comments come as the Home Office announced a consultation to give communities a greater say over alcohol licences.
Fines for those who persistently sell booze to children would be doubled to £20,000 under the proposals.
And councils could be given powers to charge more for late-night licences. The Government says this would help pay for more policing.