HC Deb 31 July 1981 vol 9 cc627-8W
Mr. Sims

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make representations to the Italian Government concerning discriminatory rates of value added tax and excise duty imposed on Scotch whisky.

Mr. Parkinson

Within the European Community, rates of taxation are subject to the prohibitions of discrimination contained in article 95 of the Treaty of Rome. Accordingly, the Commission has already successfully brought before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) a number of cases affecting the taxation of whisky. As a result of an ECJ judgment last year the Italian authorities in December enacted a law removing the discriminatory element in their excise duties on whisky.

I understand that the Commission is considering possible further proceedings against alleged breaches of article 95. Meanwhile, proposals for directives designed to harmonise excise duties on alcoholic drinks are pending before the Council of the Community, where the Government look forward to an early decision. One proposed directive would bear in particular on the rate of value-added tax charged on whisky in Italy, which considerably exceeds that levied on other alcoholic drinks.