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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 05:19 GMT 06:19 UK
Anger over whisky tax backing
Whisky tax stamps
The stamps will be added to every bottle
The Scotch Whisky Association has said it is "very disappointed" by Labour MPs' support for introducing duty stamps on bottles.

The chancellor won approval for the controversial move despite a damning report from the Scottish Affairs Committee on Monday.

It called the plan "reckless", yet Labour group chairwoman Irene Adams voted in favour in a Commons vote.

Opposition parties accused Scottish Labour MPs themselves of recklessness.

The proposals, aimed at cutting fraud, are being bitterly fought by the whisky industry which claims thousands of jobs will be lost because distilleries cannot afford to implement the plans.

This is a burden too far for the Scottish whisky industry
Peter Duncan
Shadow Scottish Secretary
MPs debated the Finance Bill - which implements the budget - on Tuesday.

Ms Adams defended her decision to vote with the government.

She said she had been assured by ministers that the industry would receive financial help and that every avenue would be explored.

Representatives of the industry are due to hold talks with Treasury ministers on Thursday.

They will argue the need for financial assistance and hope to win some concessions, possibly about the siting of the duty stamp on the label not the lid.

A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said the government still had many questions to answer about the impact of strip stamps, which are due to be introduced by 2006.

The Treasury believes the present level of fraud costs the Exchequer 600m a year and says around 160m could be recouped by the use of stamps.

Committee attack

But the Scottish Affairs Committee said the real figure might be as low as 150m and warned that the government was "reckless" for going ahead without more solid figures.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Peter Duncan dubbed the move a "very destructive measure" and accused ministers of playing "fast and loose" with the whisky industry.

Warning that the incentives for counterfeiting were massive, he said: "This is a burden too far for the Scottish whisky industry."

And when pressed by the Scottish National Party's Angus Robertson, vice-chairman of the all-party whisky group, Economic Secretary John Healey told MPs that it was too early to know the scope for criminals to defraud the system.

Treasury defends whisky tax plan
26 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Dram good news for whisky bosses
21 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Distillers' anger over tax plan
17 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Measures aim to beat whisky fraud
03 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Brown vows whisky duty action
11 Dec 03  |  Scotland

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