Conservative Nigel Evans has called for tax on beers of 3.5 percent to be lowered
Conservative Nigel Evans, vice chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said the Government should reduce the tax on beers of 3.5 per cent strength to tempt drinkers away from high strength options.
Currently, duty is halved on beers below 2.8 per cent ABV to incentivise brewers to create weaker drinks but MPs heard this plan has had little impact since its introduction in 2011.
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MPs also heard calls for a reduction in the drink-driving limit to bring most of the UK in line with Europe and the introduction of minimum unit pricing to tackle cheap, high-strength alcohol.
Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on alcohol harm, Mr Evans said to Tory MP Fiona Bruce: “Does she agree with me that this is somewhere where the Government can work with the industry … to work on lower ABV beers.
Mr Evans said a lower tax would tempt drinkers away from high strengthen options Unbelievable facts about alcohol Wed, June 8, 2016
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“At the moment that anything below 2.8 per cent is incentivised, yet this is less than 0.5 per cent of the market.
A lower limit would save a minimum of 25 deaths and 95 serious casualties a year
Labour's Kelvin Hopkins
“If they were to look at perhaps increasing that rate to about 3.5 per cent then that would introduce far more choice, people drinking lower strength beer and hopefully attracting them away from some of the higher rate ABV beers, which is causing so much harm.”
He added: “Surely if this is on the behalf of the health of citizens of the United Kingdom then this is something that the British Government ought to press on and do now.”
His calls were backed by Miss Bruce, who secured the debate to examine how to reduce harm caused by problem drinking.
MPs also argued for a reduction in the drink-driving limit
Miss Bruce, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, said: “This change to introduce a reduced rate of duty on beers produced at an alcohol strength of 2.8 per cent really has not had the impact that was intended.
“In fact it is only providing 0.15 per cent of duty receipts. A reduction would be achieved if 3.5 per cent beer was included in this. I very much support what he is saying.“
She said the move would not affect pubs, which play an important role in their communities.
Labour's Kelvin Hopkins raised concern about drink driving, saying that England and Wales had the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, bar Malta.
Mr Hopkins said: “A lower limit would save a minimum of 25 deaths and 95 serious casualties a year. I suspect it would actually save a lot more.
Labour's Kelvin Hopkins said England and Wales had the highest drink-drive limit in Europe
“I think when these limits are imposed – and I am sure at some point in our future history they will be – what will happen is people who have a couple of pints and think, 'well that is probably going to be under the limit okay', the limit will be low enough to prevent people from drinking at all before they go out driving, just in case they are over the limit.
“I think you will have a disproportionately beneficial effect by reducing the limit to European levels.“
Mr Hopkins added: “Britain has been having, in recent decades, a dangerous love affair with excessive and damaging alcohol consumption. It must be stopped.
“What I suggest would actually put a brake on the booze bandwagon which has been out of control for some years now and has to stop.”
The drink-drive limit in England and Wales is 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, while in Scotland it is 22 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath.
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