BURTON’S MP has called on the Deputy Prime Minister to ‘take his Treasury colleagues out for a pint’ ahead of next week’s Budget.
Conservative Andrew Griffiths put the suggestion to Nick Clegg during Prime Minister’s Questions, as part of his continuing fight against a planned rise beer duty.
Although Mr Clegg gave no clues to whether Chancellor George Osbourne was planning to press ahead with a tax rise or not, he said he believed the Government should support community pubs.
Backbencher Mr Griffiths told the House: “As the chairman of the all-party parliamentary beer group, I commend the Government for their efforts to tackle the irresponsible pricing of alcohol by supermarkets.
“Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that the safest place to drink is in the community pub, that beer is a lowerstrength drink, and that scrapping the beer duty escalator would create 5,000 jobs?
“Will he take his Treasury colleagues out for a beer and tell them not to put up the duty on the great British pint?” An early day motion tabled by Mr Griffiths has so far attracted 94 signatures from MPs — adding mounting pressure on the Chancellor to help the beer and pub industry next week.
Mr Clegg, who was standing in for David Cameron who was on an official visit to America, responded: “As my honorary friend knows, all such matters are for the Chancellor to announce at the time of the Budget. But I am sure everyone across the House agrees with his sentiment that we should support community pubs, which are such an important part of the fabric of our communities up and down the country.”
The beer and pub industry is on tenterhooks to see if the beer duty escalator will be frozen or scrapped in next Wednesday’s Budget.
The calls have been backed by the Burton- based Society of Independent Brewers and the Campaign for Real Ale who say a further tax rise would hurt brewers and publicans.