Scots duty plan fails

By John Harrington, M&C Report

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Scotland

Scots duty plan fails
An attempt to give the Scottish Government power to set their own rates of alcohol duty has failed. An amendment to the Scotland Bill giving the...

An attempt to give the Scottish Government power to set their own rates of alcohol duty has failed.

An amendment to the Scotland Bill giving the Holyrood Government devolved powers over duty failed to make it into the Bill that was passed in the House of Commons last night.

Speaking during last night's debate, Stewart Hosie MP, who proposed the amendment, said that as well as raising money for the Exchequer, "one of the key aims of the duty is to reduce excessive consumption of alcohol".

The Scottish National Party MP for Dundee East said: "Devolving responsibility for excise duty to Scotland would help to ensure that the tax system for alcohol consumption was consistent with the alcohol policy of the Scottish Government and equipped to tackle one of the greatest health and social challenges facing Scotland."

The plan was attacked by Jim Sheridan MP, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Scotch Whisky Group. He said the Scottish whisky industry is "deeply concerned" about the plan due the perceived administration costs involved in having different tax schemes within the UK.

In response, Hosie insisted that the move would let Scotland fix a tax rate that would "offer greater protection to the competitive position of Scotch whisky".

Meanwhile, Alan Reid MP feared that if alcohol is priced cheaper across the border in England, revenue could be lost for Scotland by people "nipping across the border to buy their drink".

Ann McKechin MP expressed "serious questions" about "how the proposal would work, the cost of administration and how tax avoidance and evasion would be tackled".

She also said price sensitivity "does not seem to apply in Scotland to the same extent as it does in England", suggesting "cultural and social issues are predominantly behind the problem" of heavy drinking, rather than price.

Treasury minister David Gauke said Scottish National Party leader Alex Sammond has failed to provide a written analysis of the benefits of devolving powers over duty.

He also said the influential Calman commission, which studied the idea of devolving various tax powers, concluded that alcohol tax was not suitable for devolution and pointed to "significant" administrative burdens of the plan.

The Bill will now go to the House of Lords, where further amendments could be proposed.

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