Moray MP Douglas Ross has urged UK Ministers to back the Scotch whisky industry along with other drinks producers in a “long overdue” review into alcohol duty.
Mr Ross led an adjournment debate in the House of Commons to argue for a clear timetable for the completion of an HM Treasury review that was part of the Conservative manifesto at the 2019 general election.
The Scottish Conservative MP said there were more than 50 distilleries in his Moray constituency, along with several craft beer breweries, that make a significant contribution to the UK economy.
However, under the current tax system, Scotch whisky is taxed more heavily in its home country than imported wine – with three of every four pounds spent on whisky taken as tax.
He said there is an opportunity to “address historic injustices” and reshape the system of duty to better support domestic producers now that the UK Is out of the EU.
In response, Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said the whisky sector had gone through a period of “remarkable” growth but had also suffered a “very challenging” year.
Mr Glen said the review only came about due to the campaigning of Mr Ross and his fellow Scottish Conservative MPs. Treasury officials have been working with the industry and have received more than 100 submissions through a call for evidence.
Further updates will be provided “as quickly as we can”, Mr Glen said. He added that the Chancellor is “taking a very close interest” in the issue and is keen to make the “most swift progress possible”.
Scottish Conservative MP for Moray Douglas Ross said:
“I am very keen to see action on this review that was announced during the last general election.
“The response from the minister was encouraging, and it is clear the UK Treasury is working constructively with the industry in taking this forward.
“As I said in my contribution to the debate, we have an opportunity to right a historic wrong in the way that in the way that we tax domestic alcohol producers.
“The biggest sector here in Moray is of course whisky, with more than 50 distilleries. But there are also craft beer and gin producers here and in other parts of the UK that want to see changes to the current system.
“We can develop a new system that is fairer and will encourage more growth in our home-based industries here in Moray and across the country.
“As I said last night, this review is long overdue and I will hold Treasury Ministers to their promises of swift action to deliver for the drinks industry.”