It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I thank my hon. Friend Mike Wood for securing this debate. If he is successful in his mission, this will surely be the last time we see him sober. In my constituency and across the country he will be welcome in taverns and pubs. I want to make four brief points, but first I should like to welcome the Government’s decision to reduce business rates for pubs across this country, and I also welcome the further rate review mentioned by the Chancellor and Chief Secretary. It is welcome news indeed.
To add to the remarks made by my hon. Friend Giles Watling, the essence of a pub makes it community-orientated. When I think about the pub, I think about community ownership through organisations such as the Pub is the Hub, which provides services such as libraries. I think of the integral value that it has for rural and urban communities. It is important to remember that urban communities play a significant part in the role of the pub.
I want to touch on the economic aspect. We know that when we reduce the tax revenues on beer duty we can get more people into pubs and see revenue rise. Perhaps Members will cast their minds back to the 1600s and the introduction of tea and coffee into this country. The high prices drove people out of the coffee shops and into the pubs and taverns, and I would like to see that again. I am sure many Members will agree.
On the essence of localisation, every Member in this House embraces having a strong local community and a vibrant local economy, and pubs are at the heart of that. Perhaps we can encourage further business and attach new businesses to our pubs. We have an opportunity to do so. The history and culture of our pubs goes back to the Romans. I am sure my right hon. Friend Mr Rees-Mogg could do the Latin; if only I could, but I am afraid I shall disappoint colleagues.
I want to mention three pubs in my constituency. The Queens Arms in Brixham has recently fund-raised to put a defibrillator outside its own building as a service to the local community. The second is the Avon Inn, which has recently branched out to help host local community groups. The third is the New Inn in Moreleigh, which has been there since the 1700s and is family-run. Those are all embodiments of community spirit. They are localised and drive the local economy.