Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
Budget - Booze Tax will kill more pubs and clubs
March 12th 2008
Chancellor Darling's increased taxes on alcohol will do little or nothing to control binge drinking while almost certainly leading to the closure of more pubs and private members clubs says North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale.
Speaking at the Commons after the budget statement the MP said:
"Four pence on a pint of beer and increases on wines and spirits will hit pub and club trade hard. Kent's pubs, which are a vital part of our tourist offer, and the Ex-Servicemen's and Working Men's Clubs have already been hit hard by the combination of the smoking ban and competition of drink sold at loss-leader prices by supermarkets as well as wholly proper drink-driving laws and this increase is just going to make a bad situation worse.
Instead of targeting taxes at alcopops and other binge-drinking magnets and at off-sales the Chancellor has taken an across the board swipe at the whole industry. The addition of a 25 above inflation tax increase over the next four years is going to lead to price rises of up to 20p a pint over the bar and this is likely to lead to more rather than less unregulated drinking.
Closed for Business
The Campaign for Real Ale told MPs that pubs were closing at the rate of 57 a month because of the price differential with supermarkets - and that was before the Chancellor's increase.
We met, on a cross-party basis, with the Exchequer Secretary recently to try to impress upon her the damage that more pub closures arising from tax increases would do to the tourist industry but it seems that she was unable or unwilling to assist. In Kent we face particular problems because of the ease in buying drink at French duty-paid prices across the Channel and I shall be very surprised indeed if we do not now see some quick closure decisions: I know that some publicans and pub businesses have been waiting on the budget before deciding which way to jump and today's statement is likely to be the final nail in the coffin."