Heavy Wine (Customs Duty)

Part of Petition – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th June 1957.

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The Humble Petition of British subjects resident in Oporto, Portugal. Sheweth,That the decline in the consumption of Port Wine in Great Britain as against the pre-war period is a cause of deep concern to all persons interested in the wellbeing of firms of British origin long established in Portugal and engaged in the production and shipping of Port Wine.That in their opinion the major cause of this decline in consumption from over 4 million gallons a year to about 1½ million gallons a year is mainly due to the increase of the British Customs Duty on Port Wine from 8s. a gallon pre-war to 50s. a gallon today—an increase of not less than 525% and an increase very much greater over the same period than on Light Wines (127%) or on Spirits (only 184%).That this increase of duty, particularly in relation to that on other classes of Wines and Spirits imported into Great Britain, is unfair and penal so far as the Port Wine Trade is concerned and has had the effect of pricing Port Wine to a very large extent out of the British Market and particularity out of the valuable public house market where some 90% of Port Wine imported into Great Britain pre-war was beneficially enjoyed by millions of working-class men and women.That it is most discouraging for British Port Wine producing firms in Portugal with invested capital of over £12 millions, to find a product so carefully developed by themselves and their ancestors for many decades past to meet the exacting standards set by consumers in Great Britain now deprived of this most important market by a penally high customs duty, with the result that many of them have already been priced out of business.Wherefore your Petitioners Pray that urgent consideration should be given to an early and substantial reduction in the British Customs Duty on Heavy Wine in general and on Port Wine in particular so that it would be restored to its proper pre-war relationship with the rate of duty on Light Wines.And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever Pray, etc.