Beer and Pub Taxation — [James Gray in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:27 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Tom Hunt Tom Hunt Conservative, Ipswich 3:27 pm, 5th February 2020

No area or constituency has a monopoly of beer and brewing heritage, but Suffolk comes close. In Adnams, Greene King and Aspall, it has some of the largest brewers in the country, and it has many small ones as well. When I think about the time I spend in my constituency, many of my best moments have been in pubs. Last Friday I was at the Kingfisher pub at the heart of the Chantry community, celebrating Brexit. Also, I decided on my flat on the basis of where the nearest pub was—the Greyhound, a fantastic pub. We have a fantastic heritage, but we are struggling. In 2010, there were 75 pubs in Ipswich: in 2017, there were 55. That is quite a rapid rate of deterioration in the number of pubs in our town.

I agree with my hon. Friend Anthony Mangnall about the importance of urban pubs as well as those in rural areas. They are crucial in Ipswich. There are 1,500 jobs tied to pubs in my constituency, with more than £19 million in wages, so I want to say to the Government that the tax regime in which pubs must operate at the moment does not work. It is bad for jobs and communities, and for the country. Earlier this week I wanted, before speaking today, to talk to local landlords so I could relay the points that they raised with me directly through the debate. One of them said that he sometimes feels like a tax collector, not a small business person. The small business people who own pubs are creative and dynamic. They want to move their businesses forward and strengthen our communities. Let us get 150% behind them in the Budget.