MP calls for whisky duty escalator scrap

Sir Robert Smith
Sir Robert Smith

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Sir Robert Smith has joined a chorus of calls to the UK Treasury to freeze whisky taxes.

Sir Robert joined fellow Liberal Democrats Sir Malcolm Bruce and Alan Reid, along with Labour and SNP MPs in calling for the scrapping of the whisky duty escalator.

Excise duty and VAT make up 79% of the price of a bottle of scotch, and the escalator automatically increases duty by 2% above inflation.

Scottish Whisky accounted for some 25% of Britain’s food and drink exports in 2012.

Sir Robert, who’s constituency includes Deeside’s Royal Lochnagar distillery, warned about the message the duty was sending to foreign markets telling the House: “It’s important to send the right signal to these markets and the Treasury needs to consider the impact it has on importing countries.”

Exports rose strongly in the first half of 2013 with emerging markets in South America and South Africa boosting growth in the sector.

Commenting afterwards Sir Robert told the Piper: ““Scotch whisky has quite an impressive record ...The point I was making was that some places tend to penalise (whisky), I don’t think we can do the same.

He also mentioned that Beer duty had been frozen: “What we should be aiming to tax is the alcohol in the drink and not the type of drink.”

Nicky Morgan, economic secretary to the Treasury said “serious consideration” would be given to the calls.