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Light Wines

Volume 463: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1949

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The receipts from the duties on the cheaper kinds of table wines, those taxed as "light wines imported in cask," have fallen off very sharply in the last few months. I propose to make a substantial reduction in these duties, and I hope that this will, in due course, bring about an increase in consumption, which will not only benefit the Exchequer, but will also assist our trade with France and with the wine-producing countries of the Commonwealth. I propose, therefore, to make a reduction of 12s. a gallon, equivalent to 2s. a bottle, forthwith. I have been able to make an arrangement with the trade whereby there will be some light French wines, in particular, on sale retail in the near future at 8s. a bottle, the present cheapest being about 12s. a bottle. There will be a similar reduction of 12s. a gallon in the Excise duty on wines of corresponding alcoholic strength produced in this country. I cannot extend the scope of this concession to any wines other than those falling within the definition: "Light wines imported in cask." The rates of duty and surcharges on other wines will therefore be adjusted, so that they continue to pay the same amount of duty as at present. If there were no counter-balancing rise in consumption, the initial effect of these reductions would be to reduce the revenue by £1 million a year, but I expect that the eventual loss will be much less than this.