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MPs join campaign to save British pint
A CAMPAIGN to save the great British pint has been backed by both of Swindon’s MPs as an e-petition neared the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a debate in Westminster.
Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland today joined forces with Alex Arkell, head brewer at Arkell’s, and Swindon’s Campaign for Real Ale chairman Hans Hoffbauer.
The final push to secure a Parliamentary debate was also joined by Wadworth brewery’s marketing manager Christine Evers and Rat Trap landlord Mark Richardson.
The Adver is calling on readers to support CAMRA’s e-petition, which had 99,500 signatures yesterday, after running a series of features promoting the local pub trade.
The online campaign calls for the beer duty escalator, which increases the tax on the product by two per cent above inflation each year, to be scrapped at next year’s Budget. The beer levy was imposed by the previous chancellor Alistair Darling, putting up the tax on a pint by two per cent above inflation each year. This has resulted in a 42 per cent hike since 2008.
CAMRA say around £1 in every pint goes to the tax man in beer duty and VAT.
It estimates that in just six years there has been a 30 per cent collapse in the volume of beer sold in pubs, with more than 7,000 closing forever.
It will be considered for a debate in the House of Commons once it hits the 100,000 mark.
Mr Tomlinson, MP for Swindon North, is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Working Groups on beer and CAMRA’s Save the Pint campaign.
“I have been working closely with CAMRA and once the petition reaches 100,000 signatures I will be one of the sponsoring MPs who will secure a Parliamentary debate,” he said.
“It will give national coverage to the issue and it will also bring it directly to the minister.
“I am confident it will get a huge cross-section of support during that debate.
“This Government has already made a number of measures around these issues and I believe with a bit of gentle persuasion we can secure much-needed further changes.”
Robert Buckland, for Swindon South, said: “I hope we can secure a debate in Parliament as it is important to ensure that Arkell’s and indeed everybody involved in the production of real ale is not put at a disadvantage when it comes to the sale of alcohol.
“It is important not just locally but nationally, as real ale is a part of our national culture.”
Alex Arkell, who took over as head brewer in April, emphasised the continued importance of pubs as community assets as he hosted the campaign at the historic brewery in Stratton -St-Margaret.
“Pubs are at the heart of the community and our national life,” he said. “The result of increasing the tax on beer is that less people are going to the pub at the end of the day. This is something people have always loved doing and we want that to continue.”
Mr Hoffbauer said: “This is a local campaign, but if the support shown in Swindon today is mirrored across the country it will have quite an impact.
“The tax is grossly unfair, it comes from policies arising from concern about binge drinking, but it unfairly penalises real ale and responsible drinkers.
“There is no reason why the Treasury cannot look to other commodities to raise revenue.”
To sign the petition visit www.camra.org.uk/beertaxpetition