Proposals were put forward by the Commission last year which if accepted would result in cider of a strength above 6 per cent. being subjected to the same duty as table wine. The Commission has, however, made clear that it is prepared to agree to amending this limit to 8·5 per cent. This would represent little difference in practice from the present borderline of 8·7 per cent. between the cider duty and the made-wine duty.
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that in Devonshire the proposal would result in scrumpy costing 75p a pint? Furthermore, is he aware that it would result in the industry being put flat on its back? Does he agree that this, like many matters related to the Community, is intended in due course to bring the tax level on wine down to that of cider rather than vice versa? May we have an assurance that we shall not see the 75p pint in our lifetime?
It is not for me to speculate on the effects of scrumpy on my hon. Friend's constituents. I reassure him and the House that the Government and the Commission are aware of the impact of increased duties on the cider industry, which is a small industry featuring particularly in the economies of my hon. Friend's county and Hereford.