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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 15:23 GMT

UK: Scotland

Whisky duty leaves sour taste

Distillers say the tax system is outdated and needs reform

The Scotch whisky industry has urged the government to reform what it has described as an outdated system of taxing its products.

The industry said Scotch was one of Britain's best businesses, but had been hampered by a taxation system "from another age".

The Scotch Whisky Association called on Chancellor Gordon Brown to implement change in a new document entitled Excise Duty: The Case for a New Deal.

[ image: Call for a
Call for a "New Deal"
Director general, Hugh Morrison, said: "The Government wishes to encourage world class, internationally competitive industries whose products are sold all over the world.

"In Scotch whisky, the government has such a champion but it is being held back by a tax structure from another age.

"We recognise that the current duty system has been inherited by the government and will take time to fix.

"But if the government is serious about supporting world class businesses, then it must match its rhetoric with action, and remove the duty discrimination faced by spirits in the UK."

Mr Morrison said the present system "hampers sales" and sets a bad example for governments elsewhere.

He added: "The association is calling on the government to champion the industry as an example to others of a modern, world class industry.

"We also want a programme of duty cuts over successive budgets, leading over time to a system which taxes all alcoholic drinks at the same rate according to alcohol content."

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