It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I congratulate Mike Wood on securing this most important and popular debate.
In the brief time available, I want to make a few points about the value of supporting and expanding the resurgence that we have witnessed in British brewing. The debate is of interest to me on several levels—my interests are very well known. I am fortunate to have the exceptional Castle Eden Brewery in my constituency, under the excellent leadership of Cliff Walker and David Travis. They have provided me with an insight into not just quality beer—I hope we will be able to sample it in the Strangers’ Bar at some point— but some of the problems that the industry faces.
As we have heard, British beer is being exported to markets right across the world in traditional markets such as the USA and the EU. In more recent years there has been significant growth in new regions, particularly China. Some years ago, before I was a Member of Parliament, I had the opportunity to visit the huge Tsingtao Brewery in Shandong. Beer is the UK’s third largest food and drink export. The brand of “British beer” is a global trademark of excellence and innovation, which we must exploit, support and promote post Brexit.
I fully support the points that have been made by Members across the Chamber today. I support the campaign to reform business rates and freeze beer duty to support our local pubs. I am also a proud supporter of the Long Live the Local campaign, and I want to highlight the importance of small breweries relief. I am grateful that my hon. Friend Siobhain McDonagh mentioned that it was Labour that introduced small breweries relief in 2002—some credit should be given. That has seen some success in that we have seen a resurgence of the British independent craft brewing industry, with a fivefold increase in small brewers.