Chancellor Alistair Darling will be defying the majority of MPs if he goes ahead with tax rises on beer in next week’s Budget, according to a poll published today. 

In a ComRes survey of 150 MPs, commissioned by the British Beer & Pub Association as part of its ‘Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub’ campaign, 59% opposed plans to raise beer tax by 2% above inflation for the next four years.

A further 61% want government action to support the pub as part of local communities. 

More than 202 MPs, including 97 Labour backbenchers, have already signed an Early Day Motion supporting the campaign after 25,000 members of the public e-mailed their MP.  

Speaking at a Westminster press conference today, Jonathan Neame, chief executive of brewer Shepherd Neame, said: “This poll shows the chancellor will be over-riding the majority of the Commons if he increases beer tax – as well as the majority of voters and consumers. 

“The economic facts have changed dramatically for the worse since he announced last spring his intention to increase beer tax above inflation year by year. The case for beer tax increases – which we always contested – has been swept away by the recession. The beer and pubs trade has suffered one of its worst years ever.” 

The survey also revealed that 83% of MPs agree that the Government should enforce existing laws to deal firmly with irresponsible drinkers and premises before introducing new ones.

More than half of MPs (54%) agree that the Government should trust adults to make informed choices about what they drink, not penalise them for the actions of an irresponsible minority, while 21% disagree with this statement

Beer tax hikes could put 60,000 jobs at risk >> 

Shepherd Neame boss lobbies MPs over beer duty >> 

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Treasury could be £217m worse off due to alcohol duty hikes >>

2,000 pubs have closed since 2008 beer tax hike >>

By Daniel Thomas


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