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UK: MPs confronted on prospect of tax increase

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MPs have been told there is no moral or economic case for raising taxes on alcohol in the UK.

The comments were made to the All-Party Parliamentary Wine Group (PWG), held at the House of Commons, by Peter Darbyshire, deputy chairman of the Wine and Spirit Association, and David Williams, managing director of Thresher Group.

Darbyshire said: "There is no moral case for high tax levels on alcohol, and even less of an economic case for raising those taxes even higher -except to export business and jobs to mainland Europe."

The WSA has long argued that the rates currently charged by UK Customs and Excise produce problems such as cross-border shopping, smuggling and fraud, to the extent that one in eight bottles of still wine and one in six of sparkling wine consumed in the UK are bought in France.

Darbyshire explained: "Businesses have had to close not only in the South East, but also in the North East and North West, particularly where there is a high concentration of Council estates. People who live there are especially vulnerable to the 'white van man' trade, which not only damages local off-licenses' business but is a prime source of alcohol for underage users."

"We are more than keen to work alongside the Government to tackle underage drinking and alcohol misuse. We therefore welcome a national ID card and clear parameters from the Government. However, raising taxes will do nothing to help; if anything, it will make matters worse," concluded Darbyshire.


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