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Carmichael calls for whisky spirit duty cut

Alistair Carmichael MP.

MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, has called on the UK government to cut spirit duty for Scotch Whisky.

The MP led a debate in the House of Commons on the future of the Scotch Whisky Industry yesterday, Tuesday, emphasising the importance of supporting the industry and not raising spirit duty as they have done in past years, which he claimed had harmed the industry.

Speaking in the debate, Mr. Carmichael said: “From the outside, as the industry sees it, it looks as if one of our most successful industries is being punished by the Treasury at a time when, frankly, we are going to need the contribution it makes to our economy.

“I say to the Minister that it is now time to be bold. The Chancellor could use November 22 as an opportunity to cut duty, as was done in 2015. If he is not prepared to do so, there is a good business case for at least a freeze or for walking away from the escalator effect.”

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Jones responded on behalf of the government, saying: “The right hon. Gentleman makes points that I broadly agree with. The signal that the UK supports the industry and recognises its impact on our economy and our exports particularly is entirely understood.

“In recognition of the quality of the product, Scotch whisky was one of the first food and drink products to feature in the Government’s GREAT campaign, which gave it high international visibility in key markets. I assure Members that we will continue to support the Scotch whisky industry so that it continues to thrive and prosper.”

Speaking after the debate, Mr. Carmichael said: “I welcome the warm words of the Minister around supporting the Scotch Whisky industry and ensuring that it continues to thrive. This is something on which we can all agree.

“The challenge for the Minister is to see whether the Government will follow these words with action. The evidence is clear that a cut in spirit duty will help grow the industry and boost Government revenue, and increase the number of bottles which are sold, both domestically, and exported around the world.

“All eyes will be on the Chancellor at the budget on November 22 to see if he will support the Whisky industry, or whether he will continue to exploit it.”

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