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Scotch Whisky Industry

Volume 647: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2018

5. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on helping to develop the Scotch whisky industry. (907024)

The Government are entirely committed to the Scottish whisky industry, which exported over 1.2 billion bottles in 2017, raising £4.3 billion for the UK economy. We have provided cuts and freezes in duty since 2013, with the result that the average bottle of Scottish whisky is now £1.19 cheaper than it would otherwise have been.

Until Brexit, the biggest threat to the growth of the Scotch whisky industry was the right hon. Gentleman’s Department using it as a cash cow. It is absolutely imperative that there is another freeze on whisky duty in the Budget. Can he confirm whether the Secretary of State for Scotland has made representations to Cabinet colleagues to call for a duty freeze?

The hon. Gentleman has entirely overlooked the considerable support that we have already provided in duty cuts and freezes since 2013—a total of £4 billion. We will continue to support that vital sector, recognising its contribution to both the economy of Scotland and that of the wider United Kingdom.

Over the past five years, the Scotch whisky industry has invested over £500 million in capital projects in Moray and across the country. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that shows how important a good Budget for Scotch whisky is for Scotland and the UK economy?

My hon. Friend is entirely right. That is another example of why we should support the Scottish whisky industry. I have received many representations, not least from Conservative Members who represent Scottish constituencies, standing up for Scottish whisky and making sure that we make the investments we need going forward.

The financial services sector is also critical for the Scottish economy and for my constituents in Edinburgh, but none of the Government’s Brexit plans mention this service sector. What can the Minister say to the financial services sector in Edinburgh, and to my constituents whose jobs depend on it, about the Government’s strategy for the service sector post Brexit?

If I interpret the question as relating to financial services specifically around whisky, Mr Speaker, the answer will be the same as for financial services generally. The Government are committed to achieving a Brexit deal with the EU27 that is in the interests of this country, that keeps trade flowing and that ensures we have an implementation period that will provide the opportunity for consistency and certainty going forward.