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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:40 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary) 3:40 pm, 5th February 2020

It is an important discussion and I will come on to that point. I have been an elected Member in Scotland for a considerable period of time, and what I hear from Conservatives there is that the business rates in Scotland are a complete and utter mess. Having listened to this debate, it appears that they are an even bigger mess in England, if the contributions from Conservative Members are anything to go by.

The important point in the Scottish context, as my hon. Friend Dave Doogan noted, is that Scotland has the most competitive business rates in the entire Isles. Indeed, more than 100,000 businesses, many of them local pubs, are in receipt of the small business bonus, without which they would not survive. In the Scottish Parliament the Conservatives have put that at risk in the last few days. It was only after a dramatic U-turn that they decided to side with the Scottish Government to ensure that the small business bonus was kept in place. That was right, but it should never have been in doubt. With regard to business rates, we in Scotland are well placed to say that we support local pubs and local industry, but there is certainly more that can be done.

One aspect that has not been touched on in enough detail when it comes to taxation is the public health impact.