Beer Taxation and Pubs

I really cannot—I ought to have finished by now.

The three duty cuts and two beer tax freezes that we have seen under successive Conservative Chancellors have secured thousands of pub jobs and hundreds of pubs. They have boosted confidence in our brewing and pub businesses, which have continued to invest in the sector. They have increased beer sales, boosting the Treasury’s total tax take from beer. This is a win-win situation, and I encourage the Minister and the Chancellor to win even more by giving us a fair deal on beer taxes. I ask the Minister to encourage the Chancellor to go further. Hard-pressed UK beer drinkers still pay 40% of all Europe’s beer duty despite drinking only 12% of the beer consumed. One could argue that 12% is possibly not yet enough. Crucially, seven in 10 alcoholic drinks sold in pubs are beer. By helping British beer, we are helping British manufacturing and also helping our community pubs. We have to address business rates. We need fundamental reform. The relief announced in the Budget last autumn was enormously helpful, with about 80% of pubs benefiting, but they are still hugely overtaxed. Despite only making up about 0.5% of total business turnover, our pubs represent nearly 3% of all business rate payments.

Beer and pubs are a great British success story. We can help them to prosper and to succeed if we can spare industry and consumers from the burden of high beer duty and unfair business rates, and use our duty framework to support our community pubs. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for finding the time for this debate, thank Members for supporting it, and look forward to the Minister’s response.