Schedule 1 — Beer from small breweries: reduced rate of duty
Orders of the Day — Finance Bill
Mr Paul Boateng (Financial Secretary, HM Treasury; Brent South, Labour)
The shadow Chief Secretary will appreciate the problems of discussing the individual tax affairs of individual companies at the Dispatch Box. He would be the last person to encourage me to go down that route. Hon. Members who have breweries in their constituencies are perfectly right to raise their constituents' concerns, however, and I know that Customs and Excise is still in discussion with several of those breweries. We await with interest and eager anticipation the outcome of that discussion as to whether those breweries qualify, at least in part, for relief.
I have heard the heartfelt pleas of Mr. Johnson, who opined about the imminent demise of a brewery that served his alma mater. I would hate to go down in history as the Financial Secretary responsible for depriving the boys of Eton college of their favourite brew. Deprived and underprivileged as they are, to deprive them of their beer would really be the last straw. We have all heard, with varying degrees of sympathy, the pleas made by hon. Members about individual breweries, but they will understand why I cannot deal with those individual cases.