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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 19:02 GMT
Whisky leads mix of Budget reaction
Whisky bottles
The whisky industry wanted further concessions
The chancellor's decision to freeze the duty on spirits, wine and beer failed to warm the hearts of the Scotch whisky industry.

The Scotch Whisky Association said it was "bitterly disappointed" that nothing had been done about what it sees as tax discrimination against spirits.

The association said pub customers would continue to pay about 8p more for a measure of whisky than for a measure of wine.

Bank notes
The Bank of Scotland said the devil is in the detail
It warned that the status quo would do nothing to increase producers' competitiveness or deter the illicit trade in bootleg spirits from overseas.

The association had been seeking a cut of 4% in spirit duty to close the differential between spirits and wine.

Spokesman Campbell Evans said: "We are disappointed at the chancellor's freeze, although it is pleasing that Mr Brown has recognised the competitive nature of the industry.

"In the last two Budgets, the chancellor has taken steps to narrow the discrimination in duties between spirits and wine.

"We had hoped that he would continue to do the same today."

However, other business organisations appeared happier with the chancellor's statement.

'Traditional topics'

The governor of the Bank of Scotland said the Budget contained few surprises.

Sir John Shaw said Mr Brown had done little to encourage savings and "traditional budget topics" such as mortgages were left untouched.

He said: "Corporation tax relief for intellectual property and goodwill is to be welcomed as are tax credits for larger companies in the field of research and development.

"The 150 agricultural compensation package is much needed at this point but we would like to see the details as soon possible bearing in the mind the current conditions in the farming industry."

Petrol station
Road haulage concessions were welcomed
Sir John said concessions for road hauliers were to be welcomed but, as with many of the promises, the details would have to be seen.

However, Iain MacMillan director of CBI Scotland said the Budget was surprisingly dull.

He said: "It's probably the last Budget before the general election but I thought it was quite a boring Budget.

"There are some good measures for business and he could have given away a little more.

"We're actually glad that he didn't because we think that there's a much better opportunity now for lower interest rates and perhaps over time a lower value of the pound against the euro."

The Forum of Private Business in Scotland dubbed the Budget a "lost opportunity".

It welcomed the simplification of paying VAT for small businesses but said more could be done to cut "red tape".

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