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Orders of the Day — Finance Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:10 pm on 20th April 2004.

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Photo of Alan Reid Alan Reid Opposition Whip (Commons) 7:10 pm, 20th April 2004

Like Mr. Bacon, I am against the introduction of tax stamps on bottles of spirits. I note that the proposal is contained in clause 4, which the Labour Government should definitely abolish.

My constituency relies on the whisky industry to provide jobs, many of which are in remote, rural communities where alternative employment would be impossible to find—many of those jobs are on the islands of Islay and Jura. I did not recognise the rosy economic picture painted by Mr. MacDonald, and if people lost their jobs in the distilleries, there are not large numbers of job vacancies for them to walk into. In my constituency, single distilleries are located in Oban, Campbeltown and Tobermory, a further eight are situated on Islay, and there is one on Jura. The distillery on Jura is the main employer on the island, so any proposal that damages the whisky industry would devastate that economy.

It is patently obvious that the tax stamp proposals will damage the competitiveness of the Scotch whisky industry, although it is important to remember that it will not be the only industry involved, because the gin and vodka industries will also be affected.