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Budget2000 Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 18:01 GMT
Drinkers raise glasses to Brown
Drinkers are toasting the Budget after Gordon Brown froze duties on spirits.

Beer will go up in line with inflation, which means an extra 1p on a pint.

A bottle of wine will increase by 4p, also in line with inflation.

It was the second year running the chancellor had frozen spirit duties.

Gordon Brown told the House of Commons: "Last year I froze duties on all spirits.

"This year an inflation rise would push the price of whisky up by 22p a bottle.

Yet another penny increase on beer tax is an open invitation to the growing army of smugglers

Mike Benner, Campaign for Real Ale
"Because of the competitive position of the industry I will this year continue to freeze duty on all spirits."

Mr Brown was criticised for failing to address the issues of smuggling and cross-Channel shopping - issues which also anger tobacco manufacturers.

Mike Benner, of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: "Yet another penny increase on beer tax is an open invitation to the growing army of smugglers.

"Recent evidence shows that children as young as 11 are taking smugglers up on their offer.

"The social consequences of this tax rise could be huge."

Camra believes the equivalent of one million pints are smuggled by bootlegger gangs every day.
smoking and drinking
Smoking and drinking; The costs increase
The Wine and Spirit Association echoed the concerns.

Director Quentin Rappoport said: "At present one in seven bottles of wine drunk in the UK are bought in France, and that does not account for those that are smuggled illegally.

"A rise of 4p on wine is asking for trouble.

"By not cutting the duty on wine the chancellor has encouraged people to continue shopping in France and has kissed goodbye to an awful lot of revenue which will continue to be paid into the French coffers."

Duty discrimination

However spirit makers were celebrating.

Hugh Morison, director general of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "Ultimately the Treasury is going to have tackle the growth of cross-Channel shopping through lowering duty rates.

"But tonight the industry will raise a glass in toast of a further step towards a modern tax system and the removal over time of duty discrimination."

And alcohol abuse charity Alcohol Concern also welcomed the rises.

A spokeswoman said: "Any increases in the real price of alcohol are associated with decreases in consumption."


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See also:

21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
09 Mar 99 | NEWS
09 Mar 99 | NEWS
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