Brian H Donohoe: Will the Secretary of State give way?
Brian H Donohoe: Will the Secretary of State tell us why he came to the conclusion that the fine should go from £5,000 to £20,000, rather than the £50,000 that would deter all those gangsters out there who are not paying the minimum wage?
Brian H Donohoe: To ask a simple question, what is the minimum wage for apprenticeships?
Brian H Donohoe: Today’s Glasgow Herald reports that the fine will go up to £20,000 from where it is today. Surely, that is not nearly enough, given that hundreds of thousands of people are not even paid the very minimum wage of £6.31 an hour.
Brian H Donohoe: A major bookmaker in my constituency has just retired, so he is more honest than most. He tells me that this kind of gambling is like cocaine—it is totally and absolutely addictive. There are examples of that. A man wins £13,000 in the morning, but he is allowed to play until 8 o’clock in the evening and he loses every penny that he has won. That is how addictive it is. This problem is...
Brian H Donohoe: I do not know where the Minister got that last figure from. I ran licensed premises, and although it is perhaps different down here in the south-east, I can tell her that in Scotland whisky accounts for at least 40% of sales in the pub, and in the pub that I ran the figure was 60%. [Laughter.]
Brian H Donohoe: It is a pleasure to see you back in the Chair this afternoon, Mrs Main. It is just a pity that you do not have a glass of whisky in your hand, with which, at this time of the year, we would share a toast. Water will have to do, I am afraid. It is quite incredible that we should have to have this debate, particularly in this very important year for the Scots, who are voting on whether to...
Brian H Donohoe: On a bottle of whisky that costs £12.70, more than £10 is tax, including VAT. That is the level of taxation placed on our best industry in Scotland.
Brian H Donohoe: I will take interventions towards the end of my speech, if I may. I will give everybody who has made a representation to me an opportunity to speak. I also have an eye for the chair of the all-party group on Scotch whisky and spirits. As I said, this is the year of separation, so it is important to have this debate as we move towards the Budget on 19 March. I fully support the “UK okay”...
Brian H Donohoe: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that important point. The issue affects not only Scotland; it equally affects his English constituency.
Brian H Donohoe: I am grateful, Mrs Main. I hope that Members will note what you have said. What the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley) said is important. He is from another part of the United Kingdom and correcting this wrong tax at the Budget is as important to him and his constituents.
Brian H Donohoe: I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for West Dunbartonshire (Gemma Doyle), who is the treasurer of the all-party group.
Brian H Donohoe: Again, I am grateful for that intervention. I am sure that we have learned a lesson in that respect and that we will make damn sure that our campaign this time is as good as, if not better than, the beer campaign.
Brian H Donohoe: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention; he makes a really good point. It is really ridiculous that people can go into a supermarket in Spain, Italy, Germany or France and buy a bottle of whisky far more cheaply than people in this country can.
Brian H Donohoe: I give way to my hon. Friend, who is the chairman of the all-party group.
Brian H Donohoe: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the point he makes, and it is clear that the issue of jobs is part of the equation.
Brian H Donohoe: That is a very important point. If we go to the European Commission and argue with it, there is that divide between the north and south of Europe; until a few years ago, the Commissioner was very pro-wine and anti-spirits. It is an indicator of the seriousness of the situation that we are discriminated against—the Commission throws at us the level of taxation in our own country. That is an...
Brian H Donohoe: I could not agree more with the right hon. Gentleman. I have taken all the interventions that I will take. I will finish by putting four questions to the Minister. First, can the Treasury explain why it was that, when it stopped the escalator on beer last year to save struggling pubs, it failed to look at the situation as far as spirits and wines were concerned? As I said, they account for...
Brian H Donohoe: I am grateful to you, Mrs Main. I am aware that we are to vote at 4 o’clock, so we will find ourselves in a short adjournment. As I speak, I am waiting for the vote to come. [Interruption.] There we go. Sitting suspended for a Division in the House. On resuming—
Brian H Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many times automatic passport reading machines have been idle since 31 May 2013.