Memorandum from The Campaign for Real
1.1 While the Scottish drinks industry remains
competitive and seeks to offer a fair deal to consumers there
are areas of concern:
Choice and diversity have suffered
as a result of the continued consolidation of breweries and pub
chains, particularly disadvantaging small independent brewers.
High excise duty rates mean higher
prices and less investment for Scottish consumers.
2. EXCISE DUTY
2.1 CAMRA believes there is a special case
for a reduction in excise duty on beer:
The legitimate UK beer market is
Beer sales provide a crucial revenue
stream for pubs (particularly traditional community pubs).
Excise duty on beer has risen at
a faster rate over the past 25 years than for other alcoholic
Brewing is an important Scottish
industry suffering as a result of unfair foreign competition.
2.2 The consequences of high beer duty are
only too clear. As consumers, we pay the high prices caused by
high beer tax, and we also pay for that policy in pub closures,
reduced investment in pubs and breweries and through the social
consequences of uncontrolled access to alcohol.
1.3 Scotland's high beer tax polices distort
the economy and discriminate against Scottish companies of all
sizes and against Scottish jobs. It is an unfair tax that hits
the poorest the hardest and which further undermines the viability
of Scottish community pubs.
1.4 CAMRA believes alcohol abuse should
be targeted through a national alcohol strategy rather than through
excise duty, which has been shown to be counterproductive because
it creates an incentive to smuggle and thus increases uncontrolled
1.5 A reduction in excise duty on beer would
lead to a significant employment gain in Scotland. Firstly brewing
itself is a labour intensive process, and secondly beer is predominantly
consumed on licensed premises generating jobs in the pub retail
sector. In 1999 68.1 per cent of beer in the UK was consumed on
3.1 CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, wishes
to see a diverse brewing market with a range of brewery companies
offering choice and competition for the beer drinker.
3.2 Progressive Beer Duty (PBD) would enable
small brewers to thrive and grow by investing in pubs and marketing
and give them some control over the distribution channels for
3.3 The brewing industry is subject to monopolistic
and monopsonistic distortions. Generally small brewers lack a
tied estate of any size, although they may have acquired one or
two pubs, and so are separated from their ultimate customers by
distribution channels controlled by national and regional brewers,
recently created pub owning companies and major beer distributors.
3.4 A system of Progressive Beer duty exists
in many countries of the European Union including Belgium, Germany,
The Netherlands and Finland. Under EU legislation (EU 82/93EC)
any Member State can introduce a system that allows up to a 50
per cent cut in the standard rate of excise duty for brewers producing
less than 200,000 hectolitres.
3.5 The introduction of a progressive beer
duty (PBD) will help offset the market power of the major national
brewers and pub companies, and enable small brewers to not only
survive but thrive and bring choice and diversity to the beer
4. FAIR COMPETITION
4.1 Consumer choice has remained severely
restricted during the 1990s as both the brewing and pub retailing
markets has consolidated. The number of national, regional and
family brewers has declined, while the market shares of national
and international brewers have increased.
4.2 In Scotland there is effectively a duopoly
between Scottish and Newcastle and Bass. In addition much of Scotland's
free trade is tied by loan agreements.
4.3 CAMRA welcomes the decision of the Secretary
of State for Trade and Industry to retain the guest beer provision,
as we believe it has an important role to play as long as any
national brewer has a tenanted estate and as a method of promoting
4.4 Wholesaling and distribution are largely
controlled by the national brewers (Scottish Courage, Carlsberg
Tetley and Bass Tradeteam) and the practice of discounting wholesale
beer prices to attract pub chain contracts is rife. This practice
disadvantages small brewers and small independent pub groups.
4.5 CAMRA opposes all takeovers and mergers
in the brewing and pub industries which cannot be shown to offer
clear benefits to consumers. The continued vigilance of the Competition
Authorities is vital to ensure a level playing field for small
operators, and a fair deal for consumers.
5. FULL PINTS
5.1 CAMRA fully supports the Government's
proposals to introduce new legislation to provide consumers with
proper protection against short beer measures.
5.2 A number of surveys by local authorities
and CAMRA have found that four out of five pints served in pubs
are under measure, and that one pint in four is short by more
than five per cent, in breach of the guidelines of the Brewers
and Licensed Retailers Association. Consumer surveys have shown
consistent support for a tightening of the law against short measure.
6.1 The drinks industry is a highly regulated
industry with the involvement of numerous different Government
departments. In the drinks industry more than any other a joined
up approach is needed. Furthermore the Scottish drinks industry
is affected by policies from the European Union; the British Government,
the Scottish Executive, and local authorities. Good levels of
communication between separate tiers of Government are important
to ensure the creation of consistent public policy.
6.2 CAMRA supports the industry's campaign
to cut excessive red tape to the extent that we believe that many
areas of regulation are in need of simplification with a single
point of contact. Maintaining consumer protection however must
be assured before any regulations are abolished.
7.1 A reduction in excise duty; a system
of progressive beer duty; full pints; and continued vigilance
by the competition authorities are important policy changes through
which Westminster could help ensure a fair deal for Scottish consumers.
1. CAMRA, The Campaign for Real Ale, is
a not for profit, independent voluntary consumer body which exists
to promote the interest of both beer drinkers and pub goers.
2. CAMRA was founded in 1971 and its membership
now exceeds 59,000.
3. CAMRA's mission is to act as the champion
of the consumer in relation to the UK and European drinks industry.
Its aims are as follows:
Maintain consumer rights.
Promote quality, choice and value
Support the public house as a focus
for community life.
Campaign for the greater appreciation
of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of national heritage
4. CAMRA is funded by members' subscriptions,
sales of publications and products and proceeds from beer festivals.
90 BLRA-Statistical Handbook 2000 (BLRA, London 2000). Back