I thank Mike Wood for securing this debate, and I congratulate my local Coatbridge brewery, the Veterans, on its successful launch on Armistice Day 2014. It was built by ex-servicemen, and I visited it recently.
Many years ago, I worked in the pub trade for 10 years as a barperson and landlord, and it was the most enjoyable job. I wish to thank my local, the Windmill Tavern in Tannochside, because it was the customers who made my job so happy. I also thank Gates Bar in Bellshill, where I worked part-time. We had many debate nights when we would be pulling pints and talking politics—multi-tasking.
In those days the pubs were busy. Day and night people were out socialising and enjoying a pie and a pint. Changed days—30 years later we have empty pubs and landlords who struggle to compete with the off-sale market given the price of a pint and the price of socialising. Sadly, although we still love our local pubs, I have also seen a change in the hotel and catering trade. Staff wages are low and zero-hours contracts are used and abused. What really annoys me is when staff tips are taxed, and in most cases managed poorly. In conclusion—in the tradition of last orders—can we look at beer taxation, eradicate zero-hours contracts, and stop taxing the tips?