The Government has announced a concession to plans to introduce strip stamps on whisky bottles. Whisky makers would be permitted to put stamps on the existing labels rather than over the tops of bottles.

Economic Secretary John Healey introduced amendments to the Finance Bill last night, giving the Government the "far less disruptive option" of incorporating the stamp into the label on the front or back of bottles.

He told MPs that the "back labels" system, proposed by the industry, would "substantially reduce" the costs of new machinery in which producers and bottlers would need to invest.

Healey made it clear, however, that the Government "has not made a firm decision" on which type of stamps to go ahead with when they are introduced in April 2006.