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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 11:10 GMT
Darling defends whisky duty rise
Alistair Darling
Alistair Darling delivered his first Budget on Wednesday
The chancellor has defended the decision to raise duty on spirits, including whisky, for the first time in more than a decade.

Alistair Darling said the rise would help pay for measures to help children, families on low incomes and pensioners.

Distillers have attacked his "punitive" duty increase, which will add at least 59p to the cost of a bottle of whisky due to its higher alcohol content.

The chancellor has argued that a rise in domestic duty will not harm exports.

What is also important to Scotland is making sure that we get children out of poverty, that we help elderly people
Alistair Darling
Chancellor
The Scottish Whisky Association said the rise, the biggest since 1991, means the UK Government has abandoned moves to a fairer alcohol tax policy.

But speaking to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, the chancellor said very few sectors had enjoyed a 10-year duty freeze.

"I think the Scotch whisky industry is very important to Scotland, " he said.

"What is also important to Scotland is making sure that we get children out of poverty, that we help elderly people."

'Cash cow'

Mr Darling said the rise in duty on all alcohol had allowed him to increase child benefit, help families on lower incomes and increase winter fuel payment for pensioners.

Also speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, Finance Secretary John Swinney accused the chancellor of using Scotch whisky as a "cash cow" to raise funds.

Mr Swinney welcomed some of the increases in duty on alcohol which are aimed at tackling binge drinking.

But he said: "It's not whisky that is driving the binge drinking problem in our society, it's cheap cider, it's cheap beer.

"It's not the root of the problem we have and we now have the whisky industry at a real competitive disadvantage."



SEE ALSO
Budget brings rise in whisky duty
12 Mar 08 |  Scotland

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