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Wine Duty

Volume 594: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2015

6. If he will make a comparative assessment of the level of duty on wine paid in the UK and in other EU member states. (907962)

Industry estimates show that there are 135 wineries in England and Wales, producing 4.5 million bottles of wine. The UK’s growing and award-winning wine industry benefited from the Government ending the wine duty escalator at Budget 2014.

There will be much responsible dancing in the streets if the Chancellor completes a hat-trick of beer duty cuts in his Budget and there will be much responsible celebration if he cuts the duty on spirits. But there will be much wailing and irrepressible disappointment if he does not reduce the duty on wine, which has gone up by 54% since 2008 alone and accounts for 67% of all the duty on all wine in the whole of the EU. Will he complete a fantastic treble-whammy by dropping the duty on wine, too, which it has been estimated would generate some £3 billion in extra revenue—and 20,000 jobs!

If it is not already too late to make this suggestion, I think my hon. Friend deserves a good bottle at lunchtime after that effort. He has put his case on the record, but of course all announcements are for the Chancellor on Budget day.

If this Government do indeed have a long-term economic plan, which most of my constituents do not believe, will the Financial Secretary stop worrying about the older generation of wine drinkers and start concentrating his mind on the young people of this country who are underprivileged and overtaxed and have more problems in getting a good job? It is about time that the 18 to 35-year-olds, rather than the older wine drinkers of this country, were taken into account by this Chancellor.

First, may I reassure the hon. Gentleman that there is a long-term economic plan, and thank him for using the phrase? Credible public finances will benefit the younger generation, who will not face many years of paying off higher debt levels.

While the Financial Secretary is looking carefully at the duty on English wine, will he redouble his efforts to support artisan and small-scale cider makers, who risk being put out of business as a consequence of a disastrous recent EU decision?

I appreciate the point made by my hon. Friend. The Government’s support for small cider makers across the piece has helped to create a diverse and vibrant market in this area, and we will continue to study the Commission’s arguments carefully because we want to support this industry.