Diolch, Mr Gray. I am sure many people will offer to buy Mike Wood a pint after this debate. As a south Walian MP, it will come as no surprise to Members that I have numerous breweries, big and small, in my constituency that I know will be impacted by the proposed changes to beer duty.
Along with rugby and music, pubs and clubs are a vital part of our community across Rhondda Cynon Taf. They were at the heart of our miners’ institutes, and today they serve as a common meeting place for a range of people and remain at the heart of our communities. Long may they continue to do so. When Wales plays at the Principality Stadium, one would be hard pressed to find a pub that was not full to the brim of passionate fans, full of hwyl, eager to support our team on the turf. I promise not to mention the weekend scores.
Although I am lucky to have small breweries such as the Bragdy Twt Lol and the Glamorgan Brewing Company in my constituency, I know that they face immense pressures and tax burdens. We all know that UK beer duty is among the highest in Europe. It has already been mentioned that there is a 5% beer duty on a UK pint. It is 54p compared with 5p in Germany. For Bragdy Twt Lol in Treforest in my constituency, where a team of five led by Philip Thomas produce a quarter of a million pints every year, the duty has a massive impact.
Like other colleagues, I am also concerned by the review of the small brewers relief, which has allowed breweries specialising in British independent craft beer to grow and thrive. If the relief is reduced, or the production level lowered, it will make the market extremely challenging for the small breweries that are so central to the local economy, in south Wales and beyond. Smaller breweries are often denied access to markets because larger breweries are often tied to pub chains, and I am aware that some larger breweries are using what we might call more aggressive approaches, offering incentives to pub landlords in return for buying all their beer through their brewery chain.
I am sure that all colleagues will agree that we need to support small businesses that produce beer unique to our areas and heritage. I fear that if beer duty is reduced it will be the local economy across Rhondda Cynon Taf that will suffer. Far from being just about output, small breweries such as those in my constituency often support local talent and other local companies, procuring their services for a range of purposes. Small breweries in Rhondda Cynon Taf are also regularly involved in charity events. As others have said, they make a vital contribution beyond just their beer production. I shall continue to work ceaselessly with breweries in my constituency to oppose any plans to reduce the small brewers relief. It must not happen, if we are to continue our proud heritage of brewing craft beer in Pontypridd and beyond.