Page last updated at 20:56 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Somerset MP rues tax hike on cider

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Liberal Democrat David Heath has attacked the 10% duty rise above inflation on cider, saying it would be "enormously resented" in Somerset and would hit artisan producers hard.

As debate on the Budget continued on 24 March 2010, the MP for Somerton and Frome said: "The direct result of this change today will be to reverse the expansion of the cider industry over the last few years, to put people out of work, to close down cider makers and to grub up orchards.

"I think that is a disastrous consequence of an ill-thought through policy."

Labour's Rob Marris said he was "dismayed" that the government had yet again put up duty on beer and cider.

"We do have a problem with alcohol in our society; it's generally not a problem emanating from pubs, it's not a problem emanating from people drinking Somerset cider," he said.

"It comes from cheap off licence alcohol, often from what one might refer to as chemical cider, which, if it's been near an apple it's because it passed a fruit wagon going the other way."

WATCH: Budget statement in full plus response from Cameron and Clegg WATCH: Treasury committee chairman launches backbench contributions to the Budget debate

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