Whisky duty lobbying by SNP described as ‘pitiful’

Revellers across the Borders will soon be able to bring in the new year with a glass of Borders whisky, thanks in part to a freeze in duty.

The freeze was announced by the Chancellor in October after lobbying by politicians and the industry in a boost that was described as “a very welcome show of support for the Scotch Whisky industry” by the Scotch Whisky Association.

Now it has emerged that the SNP wrote just a single letter to the Chancellor about whisky duty in the run up to this year’s Budget, in what local MP John Lamont has described as a “pitiful” attempt to stand up for the industry.

The information has been provided by the Treasury in response to a freedom of information request for all correspondence between SNP MPs and the Treasury about Whisky Duty in the months before the budget.

Apart from a cross party letter sent from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Scotch Whisky, the only SNP MP to communicate in writing with the Treasury was the David Linden MP via a single page letter.

In contrast, Scottish Conservative MPs met with the Chancellor, Treasury Ministers and officials numerous times as well as sending several letters calling for whisky duty to be frozen as part of coordinated lobbying of the Chancellor.

John Lamont MP said: “The Whisky industry in hugely important to Scotland which is why I was so clear that a freeze in duty had to be delivered in the budget this year.

“It now appears that the SNP’s promise to stand up for Scotland amounted to a pitiful one-page letter sent to the Chancellor a few days before the budget.

“Thanks to the hard work of Scottish Conservative MPs, working with the industry, we were able to deliver this boost to distilleries across the country.

“Raising spirit duty by inflation would have hit the industry with a £200m tax bill and harmed the growth of new distilleries, including our very own in Hawick.

“It’s won’t be long before we are all able to bring the new year in with a glass of Borders whisky and that is thanks in part to the support the Chancellor has given to the industry.”