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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:31 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Jonathan Gullis Jonathan Gullis Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent North 3:31 pm, 5th February 2020

I thank my hon. Friend Mike Wood for securing this important debate. Pubs form the iron core of British culture. Whether we are going for a Beck’s Blue in January, sneaking in a swift half on a Sunday with our mates, or soaking up the sun and spilling out on to the pavements at five minutes past 5 on an idle summer afternoon, pubs facilitate a strong sense of community and act as a social fabric across the country. They are indispensable.

In Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke, we are the proud home of the Titanic brewery, which has benefited from small breweries relief. Titanic is a local, family-run success story; as its website boasts, the brothers Keith and Dave Bott went from brewing

“7 barrels to over 4 million pints a year”.

Is that not the Conservative vision: family, passion and the entrepreneurial spirit to be the change we want to see in the world? How then can it be right that Titanic’s tax contributions are more than Amazon’s corporation tax, and 10% of what Facebook pays? I want to see more entrepreneurial spirit. I want this Government to make it easier for breweries, landlords, business owners and punters. There are three ways in which that could be done, many of which have been touched on already.

First, we need to establish a long-term, sustainable model for business rates. If a pub wants to expand, or a new starter wishes to get on the property ladder to become a publican, that investment in a site is immediately taxed through business rates. Secondly, we must reduce beer duty. We have one of the highest rates of beer duty across the continent, and I want this Government to take advantage of our release from EU regulations and provide relief to pubs by lowering beer duty.

Thirdly, small breweries relief is a fantastic scheme, and I very much support its principal aim. Currently, a 50% reduction in beer duty is offered to all breweries that produce under 5,000 hectolitres per annum. However, there is a harmful cliff edge for breweries that go above that amount. Increasing the threshold for the volume of beer produced per annum will relieve all brewers of some extra cost, while removing a barrier to growth, investment and the creation of employment opportunities. Just under 900 people in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke are already the beneficiaries of those opportunities.

Pubs are so important in Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke that on the day of recent general election the Foaming Quart was part pub and part polling station. As I have said, pubs are the very fabric of our society. I have been busy working hard on behalf of pubs in my constituency, nominating them for national and regional awards, and I am scheduled to hold my first pub surgery soon. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to speak in this important debate, and I hope that more help will be offered to publicans and brewers alike.