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MPs fight to freeze Scotch whisky duty

Published:  23 July, 2008

The secretary of state for Scotland Des Browne is to continue fighting for Scotch whisky duty to remain frozen in the next Budget.

But wine duty could still go up to maintain a level playing field for the whisky industry worth 2.5billion annually to the Scottish and UK economy.

Responding to questions as part of a House of Commons debate, Browne acknowledged duty charges on whisky are far higher per unit of alcohol than on wine.

He said: "I have a long-standing interest in ensuring a level playing field for Scotch whisky in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.

"Since we [Labour] came to power, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has frozen the duty on Scotch whisky year on year in order to achieve that very competitiveness."

Declaring his interest, because one of the biggest Scotch whisky bottling plants is in his constituencythe Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock - Browne added that the Scotch whisky industry is of "massive" importance to the Scottish economy.

"That is why the Government has announced steps to enhance the protection of Scotch whisky," he said.

Browne assured Scottish whisky producers that they are "unlikely to be disappointed" by the legislation currently undergoing consultation to protect the intellectual property rights of Scotch whisky.

"We are determined that it [legislation] will be in the best interests of the Scotch whisky industry," he said.