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 was genuinely saddened by the expulsion of Bury. I am a football fan myself, and Middlesbrough came very close to expulsion from the Football League in 1986. I know the damage that it does to a community and the fear that it strikes. We will do everything we can to support pubs in Bury and elsewhere in the March Budget.

As hon. Members will know, recent data from the Official for National Statistics are more encouraging, showing that the number of pubs in the country has increased for the first time in a decade. The number of pubs employing fewer than 10 people also grew, showing that the revival extends beyond the big chains. I appreciate that it is early days, and we are certainly not claiming that we have reversed all the challenges facing the pub trade, but it is good to see data showing that the cumulative impact of the changes we are making is positive. In fact, pub revenue is at its highest level since 2010, and employment is at a high not reached since 2001. Those are fantastic results for the sector and show that the pub remains a vital part of modern Britain.

I now turn to future possibilities. The Conservative manifesto committed the Government to review the structures of our alcohol duties now that we are free to determine our own priorities outside the European Union, and the Chancellor will make announcements about this in due course. Siobhain McDonagh referred to our review of small brewers relief, which is obviously really important—indeed, the hangover has persisted for too long.