§ The Minister of State, Treasury (Mr. Denzil Davies)
Based on the 1977 Budget estimate of duty receipts from spirits in the financial year 1977–78, the duty on Scotch whisky is expected to be about £440 million.
§ Mrs. Bain
In view of the importance of this industry to the economy and to the 24,000 people employed in the industry in Scotland, will the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Department look at the situation whereby home trade duty is collected at the point of dispatch rather than at the point of purchase by the customer, because this is causing great cash flow problems in the industry? Will he also pay attention to the campaign spearheaded by the Transport and General Workers' Union in Scotland, namely, that there should be no bulk exports of Scotch whisky?
§ Mr. Davies
As the hon. Lady will know, this matter has been considered on a number of occasions. I should point out that only about 12 per cent. of whisky produced is for home consumption, and these constraints do not affect exports of Scotch whisky. The hon. Lady will know also that the cost to the PSBR of relaxing or changing the credit provisions could be about £135 million in the first year. That includes duty on other spirits as well. One has 832 to consider the other claims on the PSBR and whether that is the best way of dealing with the public sector borrowing requirement.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Is the Minister aware that people in the industry have made clear that they are having imposed upon them a crippling burden by having to pay the duty before they have been paid by the customer? Will he bear in mind that the industry also declares that if there were some amelioration of the imposition of this burden funds would be available for the expansion of the industry and for the creation of more employment in Scotland, which has a high unemployment record?
§ Mr. Davies
I appreciate what my hon. Friend has said. We are considering this matter, but, as I said previously, the competing claims on the PSBR have to be considered.