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Beer tax e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures, forcing Parliamentary debate

1 commentBy Luke Nicholls , 20-Sep-2012

The British beer and pub industry is today celebrating as the Government e-petition calling on the abandonment of the controversial beer duty escalator has finally exceeded the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a Parliamentary debate.

The petition is only the 12th Government e-petition to reach the 100,000 landmark out of over 16,000 that have been submitted. The beer duty escalator, introduced by the last Government in 2008 and continued by the coalition, has successively penalised Britain’s beer drinkers by automatically increasing duty levels by 2 per cent above inflation every year.

With the Parliamentary debate now in prospect, the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is ramping up pressure on Government by announcing it is to hold a Mass Parliamentary Lobby in Westminster on Wednesday, 12 December, with over 1,000 people expected to attend from across the UK.

"Joining a very small minority of e-petitions to have ever reached the 100,000 landmark is a mammoth achievement, and it’s been fantastic to witness the beer and pub industry uniting to fight back against this issue,” said Camra’s national chairman Colin Valentine.

“Over the past six months, Camra has been collecting signatures at beer festivals, organising local campaigning events, as well as supplying pubs with petition material. On Camra’s part, we have devoted a great amount of resources to this campaign, so we are delighted this has all paid off.

“Camra’s next step is not to rest on our laurels but to maintain the impetus with our Mass Parliamentary Lobby, which will reinforce to MPs the groundswell of support for this campaign. With all the battering it has taken, the beer and pub sector still manages to contribute over £21bn a year to the UK’s GDP, and supports one million jobs, so it’s about time the Government honoured its pledge to be ‘pub friendly’”

Wake-up call

Beer Duty has risen by 42 per cent since March 2008, when the beer duty escalator was introduced, and 6,000 pubs have closed. A typical British pub in now burdened with £66,500 of duty and VAT on beer every year.

Research by Oxford Economics for the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) shows the policy is costing the industry 5,000 jobs this year alone. With no significant rise in tax revenues, the policy also makes no economic sense, says the BBPA; the paltry, £35m extra duty collected by the Treasury this year, is wiped out by the loss of revenue through job losses, lost VAT and other taxes and the added cost to Britain’s hard-pressed beer drinkers, pubs and brewers.

BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Thanks to the huge numbers who are supporting the campaign, this should be a real wake-up call for the Government.  I hope even more people will now sign, as further huge annual tax hikes must not go ahead. They are hurting pubs and destroying our ability to create much needed jobs.”

One of the major breakthroughs in the build-up to the petition securing 100,000 signatures included over 15,000 beer-drinkers adding their names to it over the course of the Great British Beer Festival, held at London’s Olympia at the beginning of August.

BigHospitality’s beer tax timeline:

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1 comment (Comments are now closed)

Debate

It doesn't automatically force a debate, it means a subject of a petition could be debated in the House of Commons.

If you collect 100,000 signatures, your e-petition is eligible to be debated in the House of Commons

"The e-petitions House of Commons Backbench Business Committee receives notification from the Leader of the House once an e-petition has 100,000 signatures. The Backbench Business Committee meets weekly when the House of Commons is sitting to hear representations from MPs for debates in backbench time. The Committee can consider any subject for debate, including those raised in e-petitions or national campaigns but an MP must make the case for their consideration."

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21 September 2012 | 17h07

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