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Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:20 pm on 20th April 2004.

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Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Chief Secretary, HM Treasury, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 2:20 pm, 20th April 2004

My hon. Friend the Economic Secretary has spent some time, as have civil servants in Customs and Excise, in discussion with the industry about the particular concerns of small distilleries, and progress has been made in that respect. There will be help with their additional costs, and those discussions continue in order to make sure that they are given every assistance that is reasonable and practical.

The evasion of duty on spirits is a matter of widespread concern, not least to the industry, because of the way in which illicit trade undermines the brands. The Roques report went into that in some detail. I recall from my own time as Financial Secretary the detailed discussions and measures that we undertook together with the industry to tackle the problem, but it is clear that it continues to escalate. That is why the measure is a proportionate and reasonable response.