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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:48 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke The Exchequer Secretary 3:48 pm, 5th February 2020

I join hon. Members in paying tribute to my hon. Friend Mike Wood. He has done the unusual thing of bringing half of Parliament along to a Westminster Hall debate, which is not only a great tribute to his popularity as chairman of the all-party parliamentary group, but a reflection of the importance that we all ascribe to this issue, which affects our communities.

I thank all hon. Members who have contributed to the debate. As has been said, there has been a tone of great unity on the issues. There is a clear consensus about the centrality of pubs and the beer industry, and about the solutions that exist in terms of making sure we help the sector to thrive long into the future. It must be said that asking elected representatives to talk about lowering the burden of tax on beer and pubs may be the nearest thing we ever get to motherhood and apple pie in this place, but it is a serious issue that goes to the heart of community life, as Stephanie Peacock said. Pubs are places to meet and socialise, and breweries are important regional employers.

In his delightful speech, my hon. Friend Giles Watling reminisced about his trips to Stratford. As we know, Shakespeare has a line for everything, including the following from “A Winter’s Tale”:

“a quart of ale is a dish for a king.”

He was, of course, right—we can surely all agree on that. With that in mind, it is a great tribute to the United Kingdom that we have over 2,000 small breweries, and beer exports accounted for almost £500 million-worth of sales last year.