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

The hon. Member makes an important point, which many hon. Members have also made. That is why we have to take a holistic view. We cannot simply say that taxes need to be cut without looking at the public health impact. Notwithstanding that, a pub is a much safer place to drink than the pre-loading we heard about earlier.

It is important to note that about 22 individuals die every week in Scotland due to alcohol abuse. That is a shocking figure that none of us can be happy about. There has been action on that in Scotland, through the introduction of minimum unit pricing, which is expected to save 392 lives over just five years. We certainly support the reform of beer excise duty, but we need to look at taxation holistically and in terms of public health.

The elephant in the room is the fact that great swathes of our hospitality sector rely primarily on the work of EU nationals. In Scotland, roughly 11% of EU nationals work in the hospitality sector. They are crucial to the success of our pubs, hotels and the entire hospitality industry. That is why Scotland needs freedom of movement, and why it is incumbent on Conservative Members to ensure that when the Brexit deal goes through, free movement of people from the European nations to Scotland continues.