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To say that pubs are the pillars of our community and the foundation stone of British culture is a cliché; but it is a cliché for a reason, because it is true. There is much to be said for pubs and what they bring to the country. I am sure that we all have some great memories of being down the local, although I could not possibly comment about my own experiences. Derby North has some spectacular pubs, such as the Wilmot Arms in Chaddesden, with its incredible quiz master, Jerry, and the Nags Head in Mickleover. In London, especially within zone 1, one would think that pubs were going through a renaissance. However, it is very different outside the metropolitan zone, where pubs are closing in their droves. So many of our communities have lost their heart as a result of those closures.
Pubs bring so many benefits, which I could talk about until the end of days, really. They combat loneliness; in fact, I have a nibble and natter down at our local, the Travellers Rest, for that very reason. They foster community cohesion and promote social wellbeing, and if somebody happens to have one or two too many, there is always a friendly face to offer them a glass of water. It goes without saying that pubs also make an economic contribution. In Derby North alone, there are 52 pubs and 11 breweries supporting 888 jobs. The industry in my constituency pays about £10 million in wages, £2 million in investment, and £9.1 million in taxes. However, pubs are under a lot of strain as a result of high rents and supermarket prices.
The Government are not blind to the issue. They have introduced a raft of measures such as the asset of community value scheme, a freeze on beer, cider and spirit duty, and business rate reliefs. The results have been spectacular: the rate of pub closures has halved. However, we can do more. We can bring down the number of closures even further, so that no pub has to close its doors. The Budget would be an excellent opportunity to do so, and I would wholeheartedly support the Government in that endeavour.