• Thursday 1st November: Live Parliamentary Debate

    Posted on October 30, 2012 by in E-Petition in the News, News


    Review of the debate tabled in response to 100,000 signatures on the e-petition calling for an end to the beer duty escalator.

    Thank you to everyone watching the debate and for all the fantastic activity and discussion on twitter #saveyourpint. We are delighted the motion has been passed and not a single MP spoke out in favour of the beer duty escalator. The result of the debate means a review of the escalator should be conducted and reported back before Budget 2013.

    Thank you to all those who lobbied their MP, signed the e-petition and backed the campaign – we really appreciate your support. We now await the Government’s review.

    Please read CAMRA’s response to the debate. 

    See if your MP spoke at the debate - there may be other MPs who were present but did not speak and are therefore not on this list.

    Please click for the debate in full



    2.19pm – The debate concludes as the Deputy Speaker calls on the House asking if anyone opposes the motion. Silence in the House – the motion is carried.

    2.17pm – Andrew Griffiths MP says he is disappointed that a more definite positive answer could not be given from the dispatch box. He says the campaign will continue because the future of a central part to our communities is at stake.

    2.16pm – Sajid mentions Andrew Griffiths MP challenge to be the minister which saves the great British pub – he says he is tempted to become this – but will he puts his words into action?

    2.14pm – The Minister mentions the Minimum Unit Pricing policy and need to tackle cheap alcohol in the off-trade.

    2.15pm – Sajid wheels out the policies that have been introduced by the Coalition such as small brewer’s relief (introduced in 2002) and gaming machine duty as well as live music act.

    2.11pm – Cathy calls on the Minister to actually review the current evidence around the beer tax policy – “it needs dusting down and not left on the shelf”.

    2.09pm – The Minister quickly gets into the deficit and the plan the Coalition has set out and short sightedly points out that the escalator will provide needed revenue.

    2.07pm – Treasury Minister Sajid Javid takes to the floor to conclude the debate. He thanks all those for signing the e-petition. He says this Gov does recognise the conribution pubs play and wants to see it prosper.

    2.06pm – Shadow economic spokesman mentions concerns over the traditional pub disappearing in urban areas as well as rural and concludes by asking the treasury minister links with his BIS colleagues to review the wider importance of pubs in our societies.

    2.04pm – Cathy states Labour’s position on the escalator and says it is a damaging policy because of the rise in VAT in conjunction with escalator and that Government made a mistake with this.

    2.02pm – Cathy says she is sworn to secrecy around Scottish regional beer winner at her local CAMRA beer festival which she had the honour of judging.

    2.00pm – Cathy mention CAMRA’s latest closure figures which show urgent action is needed. figures released by CAMRA today.

    1.54pm – Shadow economic spokesman Cathy Jamieson MP congratulates the House on a great debate and says it shows the level of concern around this issue across all parties.

    1.51pm – Jane Ellison is back. She says this debate has provided a “vivid mosaic” of the pub and brewing picture across the UK, and that this debate is a great use of backbench time. And of course she’s namechecked Sambrook’s brewery in her constituency

    1.49pm – Really impressed that no MPs are defending the escalator – and real support from all parties for a review of the impact of the escalator, notably from Conservative backbenchers. This is going to be hard for the Government to ignore.

    1.47pm – Richard Drax MP says that the escalator is “the perfect illustration of the law of diminishing returns”. In this Parliament alone tax will increase by a massive 27%. While beer prices have risen, beer sales have fallen.

    1.42pm – Dan Rogerson is back on his feet. This time he’s saying that “beer is part of the culture of this country” – not in the way the tabloids would have you think, but because of the centuries of beer history and culture in the UK.

    1.41pm – Richard is one of the many MPs who’ve worked a shift behind the bar in a local pub to better understand the pressures they face.

    1.41pm “What could be more patriotic?” than drinking Bombardier beer (brewed in his constituency) asks Richard Fuller.

    1.39pm – Richard Fuller MP (Bedford) is now asking the Government how it can ethically automatically increase tax “on such staples of life” as beer and fuel. Many other MPs are also equating the fuel duty escalator with the beer duty escalator and both should be scrapped.

    1.37pm – Pauline and her husband are supporters of CAMRA because local pubs (and beer in the case of her husband!) are so important. However she’s very concerned about the damaging impact of the escalator on pubs

    1.35pm – Pauline Latham is now speaking (though there are so many MPs wanting to speak that max speech lengths have been cut again).

    1.34pm – Bob notes that this debae is taking place during British Pub Week so it’s well timed

    1.31pm – Bob Russell (Colchester) is describing a pub in his constituency that’s been in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide for 25 years. But despite being a fantastic pub the landlord is earning less than minimum wage. If the coalition is serious about localism, fiscal policy should be tailored to support local businesses like pubs, says Bob

    1.30pm – The beer duty escalator is the “elephant in the room” says Peter, and a review is desperately needed. There will be devastating unintended consequences if the escalator is retained. He finishes by urging the Government to carry our the review “with all haste”.

    1.26pm – Peter is arguing that the rationale for introducing the escalator in 2008 is now gone due to falling disposable incomes. Beer is becoming less affordable.

    1.24pm – Peter Aldous is now on his feet to speak in favour in the motion. Doing nothing means an iconic British business will wither on the vine (or rather the hop!)

    1.22pm – Pubs are more than just businesses, they are social hubs argues Albert. They’re home to local sporting clubs and offer a vital meeting space. Albert finishes by saying it’s a “nonsense” to have an escalator that doesn’t make any money for the Treasury.

    1.20pm – Albert says that this motion should be supported – all it calls for is a review. The beauty of an escalator is you can stop them when the time is right, without the Government losing face.

    1.18pm – Albert Owen (Labour, Ynys Mon) says he doesn’t have time in 5 minutes to name all the pubs and breweries in his constituency so he’s not going to try…

    1.14pm – Demand for beer is falling – the escalator may not be the only reason but it’s certainly contributing says Caroline. We are changing our habits and giving the advantage to supermarkets. Before the escalator it was 4x cheaper to drink at home, now it’s 10x cheaper.

    1.13pm – Caroline has heard from local brewers and publicans about the damage to the escalator. This is backed “such august organisations as the Campaign for Real Ale”. Not sure we’ve been called “august” before but we like it!

    1.12pm – Caroline Nokes now. She says this debate is a powerful message for the Government to hear.

    1.10pm – Grahame says pubs and brewing have the potential to be a vital engine of economic growth, if protected. Grahame is mentioning the 12 point plan produced by former Pubs Minister John Healey (which was supported by CAMRA)

    1.09pm – Is the Government deliberately forcing up the price of alcohol to try and discourage consumption? Asks Grahame. This is a perverse policy if so and it’s certainly not working.

    1.07pm – Hazel Blears says there are real social costs when pubs close and there are only a handful of pubs remaining in her constituency of Salford & Eccles. Communities should be supported where they want to take over local pubs

    1.06pm – Grahame is concerned about the impact of the escalator on working mens’ clubs as well as pubs. He thinks the only way the Minister could have missed the importance of this issue is if he’s “like the Olympic flame and doesn’t go out”. That wins best joke so far!

    1.05pm – Grahame hopes the Government will take the House’s concerns seriously and not ignore the outcome of today’s vote

    1.05pm – Grahame Morris – Save the Pub Group vice-chair is now speaking. He’s thanking the Backbench Business Committee for allowing the debate, and opening by saying to the Minister that these arguments were made in the finance Bill by himself and other MPs

    1.03pm – Alan Meale reminds the House that Britain drink 13% of EU’s beer but pay 40% of the tax

    1.02pm – Alison McGovern is also speaking up for her local breweries

    1.01pm – Steven is name-checking St Austell brewery and its 170 pubs. Since the escalator’s introduction in 2008 they’ve seen a 23% reduction in sales.  Countless independent and unique pubs are also struggling

    1pm – Steven says the pub is the “gathering place” for communities, where people can gather to drink safely and responsibly. In Cornwall especially, pubs are part of the character of the area

    12.59pm – Steven Gilbert (Lib Dem) is now speaking and wants to add his voice to all who expressed concerns about the inevitable effect of the beer duty escalator. He supports a review and fears that without it, more of his local “beautiful” pubs could be forced to close.

    12.58pm – Julian Lewis is “sure” that the Government is going to be responding positively to today’s debate. We’ll see!

    12.57pm – John Denham is concerned that the escalator and other Government policies could result in pubs being replaced by supermarkets – with a damaging knock-on impact to communities.

    12.52pm – John Denham’s focus is pubs in his constituency that have been sold by pubcos like Enterprise to Tesco.

    12.51pm – John Denham MP is now referring to the previous Labour Government which introduced the Pubs Minister post that was held by John Healey MP just before the election in 2010

    12.50pm – Charlotte Leslie shouts out to “legendary” local CAMRA member in Bristol Pete Bridle! The only individual to be name-checked so far – fantastic! Well done Pete.

    12.49pm – Beckenham MP Bob Stewart says Government should just abandon the escalator now. Couldn’t agree more Colonel Bob!

    12.48pm – Charlotte mentions that 60% of all sales in pubs is on beer – this is why the escalator has so much of an impact on pubs. It is madness that beer sales are dropping so the escalator is not an effective policy.

    12.47pm – When you think about the beauty of Britain part of that is the Great British pub. Charlotte Leslie’s first job was in a local pub – important for jobs especially among young people.

    12.44pm – Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West: “27% of couples first met in the pub!”

    12.43pm – Charlotte Leslie takes to the floor “the debate is important because the pub is at the heart of our society.”

    12.42pm – Sandra Osborne wants more support for community pubs from Government and for them to take note of the significant number of signatures on the epetition.

    12.38pm – Sandra is also quoting the BBPA’s figure that 1 million UK jobs rely on beer and pubs. This has the agreement of Heather Wheeler MP – this is about “jobs, industry and growth” she says

    12.37pm – The escalator was introduced in 2008 by the last Labour Government. Sandra says CAMRA has 450 members in her constituency alone and notes that CAMRA is calling for the abolition of the escalator. She’s quoting our figure that 1/3 of a pint goes straight to the Chancellor. The Government needs to recognise the harm this is doing to pubs.

    12.34pm – Sandra Osborne MP is on her feet now. This matter is of extreme importance to all our constituencies, she says. There are 86 pubs in her consttiuency, supporting 877 jobs. These pubs will be under threat if the escalator remains.

    12.30pm – Bob Blackman MP: We need to prevent supermarkets from subsidising alcohol. Treasury predicts flat rate of income for next three years.

    12.28pm – Jane Ellison (Battersea) is continuing the theme that we should improve planning protection for pubs. Of course we agree but let’s focus on the escalator for today!

    12.27pm – Neil Carmichael highlights the “outstanding” CAMRA branch in his area. Bob Blackman agrees and is another CAMRA member!

    12.26pm – Bob is concerned about the increase of “vertical drinking establishments” over traditional community pubs.

    12.25pm – Bob Blackman now – starts by saying he has a passion for beer drinking! Pubs are social centres and key to local economies

    12.24pm – We should nudge consumers towards drinking beer in pubs, says Iain Wright. The Government should value the pub as one of the Great British institutions – they should have a bright future.

    12.22pm – The rise in VAT has also had an impact on the price of beer in pubs.  CAMRA’s figures show that VAT + duty on a pub pint come to more than £1

    12.20pm – Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall), Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Beer Group is raising the point that beer is a comparatively low alcohol product compared with wine and spirits

    12.19pm – High Peak MP Andrew Bingham says microbreweries are just as important as larger regional brewers to local economies

    12.18pm – Iain Wright says Cameron’s brewery (no link to the PM!) is key to the local economy and manufacturing base in his area

    12.17pm – Hazel Blears is mentioning her local brewery Joseph Holts, which has been forced to close pubs because of the escalator.  She says that in areas like hers the escalator is having a particular impact as beer is becoming unaffordable

    12.15pm – Iain Wright is reminiscing about a pint that Greg wants bought him in a railway station!

    12.13pm Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis is answering Greg’s point on planning protection for pubs. We’ve also had the beer tie and other issues mentioned. All very important but getting a bit off-topic here people!

    12.10pm – Greg is asking the Minister to look at granting business rate relief for well-run community pubs

    12.09pm – This tax simply doesn’t add up, says Greg. Many Labour MPs (who introduced the policy) now agree that it’s failed. But unfortunately some who opposed it in opposition are now supporting the escalator

    12.08pm – The escalator is encouraging people to drink at home as it can be as much as 10 times cheaper than pubs.  He has welcomed the Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis who is sitting in the Chamber and listening to the debate.

    12.06pm – John Hemming becomes the first to announce that he’s a CAMRA member

    12.05pm – Neil Carmichael has four breweries in his constituency and has name-checked all of them! He says breweries are a powerful reason to support this motion.  One of his breweries produces “Coalition Ale”!

    12.04pm – Greg Mulholland is back. He’s delighted to be a co-sponsor of the motion today, alongside Andrew Griffiths. Greg is Chair of the Save the Pub Group and a great campaigner for pubs and beer. He’s congratulating the 104,000 e-petition signatories and CAMRA’s role in that campaign

    12.02pm – Isn’t the easiest option a differential duty rate between on- and off-trade sales? asks John Leech

    12.01pm – working mens’ clubs and their struggles from high beer tax are the concern of James Cunningham MP, echoed by David Hamilton. Clubs are also vital to our communities

    12pm – Pubs are a controlled environment where people look after each other, compared with the home which is unregulated

    11.57am – David Hamilton (Labour, Midlothian) is now speaking about the majority of pubs which are well-run. They’re not the cause of concerns over irresponsible drinking.

    11.55am – Andrew Griffiths is reminding the Minister (Sajid Javid) of the number of beer and pubs in his constituency and urged him not to penalise beer drinkers any further.  He can be the man who saves Britain’s brewers, pubs and the Great British Pint!

    11.54am – Andrew Griffiths has been asked by the Chair not to allow any more interventions from MPs, so he’s cracking on with his speech and highlighting that pubs suffer more than supermarkets from tax hikes

    11.52am – Andrew says Britain pays 40% of the beer duty in Europe but only drinks 13% of the beer – that’s 11x the duty of a German drinker

    11.50am – Sarah Wollaston MP is trying to name every pub in her constituency apparently!

    11.50am – Heather Wheeler MP is mentioning her local breweries and the jobs they support. The Government should do more to protect them.

    11.48am – Greg Mulholland MP is making his first of what we expect to be several contributions to this debate, talking about the duty on cider vs beer

    11.47am – The Treasury’s own figures for the next three years will raise no additional revenue for the Government in the next three years – but will damage pubs and breweries

    11.46am – Robert Halfon recently attended Harlow beer festival! Andrew Griffiths has commended him for supporting CAMRA

    11.45am – Roger Gale says that the more you tax, the less money the Treasury makes

    11.44am – a couple of MPs trying to raise Scotch whisky duty but have swiftly been reminded by the Deputy Speaker that this debate is on beer and pubs, not whisky.  Hear hear!

    11.43am – Since the introduction of the escalator, beer sales have reduced by 16% – the equivalent of 1.5 billion pints. Or like 1 major brewery closing every year since 2008.

    11.42am – Beer tax rises have seen the disparity between on-trade and off-trade sales increase

    11.40am – Andrew Griffiths is raising the figures released by CAMRA today showing that 18 pubs are closing every week – 450 since March, and 5800 since the escalator was introduced

    11.39am – Julian Huppert is saying that each pub injects £80,000 into their local economy every year, and employ a lot of young people. Andrew agrees that the majority of these pubs are SMEs

    11.38am – Tony Cunningham MP is highlighting that with the huge number of pub closures, communities are suffering

    11.37am – Andrew says he’s making the case on behalf of the brewing industry which has been badly served by Government policy in the past few years

    11.36am – Andrew has thanked CAMRA and industry groups for their work in getting 100,000 signatures on the e-petition

    11.35am – Andrew Griffiths (Chair of the Parliamentary Beer Group) is opening the debate by highlighting the number of brewers, publicans and consumers who’ll be watching the debate throughout the country. Including us!

    11.34am – Speaker John Bercow highlights (in response to a Point of Order from Greg Mulholland) that he expects the Government to take note of the outcome of today’s debate and vote

    11.25am – the debate should be starting any minute

    11.11am - Welcome to the Beer Tax Debate Live Blog.

3 Responsesso far.

  1. sheila says:

    The Pub is one of our great national treasures
    admired all over the world.
    It is also a huge force for social cohesion.
    Most pubs carry many, many years of history of the area and the country.
    Their loss is tatimount to a national disaster!!

    The high cost of beer in pubs (and low cost in shops) is one of the main reasons for their dimise. Please, please save our pubs and our world famous beer!!

  2. Mark Hughes says:

    We need to protect smaller and medium-sized breweries and pubs generally. The supermarkets retail alcohol in irresponsible ways, selling beer and other alcohol at pocket-money prices. We nees to protect our heritage from the corporate retail world, and give British pubs a chance.



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