Parliamentary praise has been lavished on Norwich as a “very fine brewing and drinking city”, along with the Evening News’ Love Your Local campaign.

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But despite the warm words from Chloe Smith, the Norwich North MP today rejected calls to cut tax on beer sold in pubs - to the dismay of struggling landlords.

Gavin Williamson, Conservative MP for South Staffordshire, said the beer duty escalator was hitting British jobs and called for it to be reversed or frozen.

This tax on beer currently rises at the rate of inflation plus 2pc.

But Miss Smith told parliament duty alone was not affecting the state of the pub industry, with changing lifestyles and extra choice for customers also needing to be considered.

And she insisted removing the escalator and duty increases would not solve the problem.

Miss Smith, economic secretary to the treasury, told the Commons shortly after midnight today: “I want to compliment my very fine brewing and drinking city of Norwich.

“I regularly go into pubs — indeed, I drink the odd beer — I run politics in the pub surgeries and my local newspaper also runs a very fine ‘Love your local’ campaign, so I am very much in tune with the spirit of what we are discussing tonight.

“The key point that I must make first is that the duty increases that we are talking about — the increases through to 2014-15 — form a vital part of the government’s plan to tackle the debt left by the previous government.

“It would be worse for everybody if we did not tackle that debt. When I say ‘everybody’, I mean beer drinkers, cider drinkers, spirit drinkers, wine drinkers, brewers, publicans and, of course, all those who never touch a drop.

“The high interest rates that would result if we abandoned our credible plan to tackle the deficit would not help anybody.”

But Dawn Hopkins, landlady of The Rose, on Queens Road, said: “Norwich was crowned the capital of ale at the weekend and I think it’s very disappointing she cannot see what’s happening to pubs in this city and things like beer duty escalator continue and pubs continue to close.

“I think it’s a shame with the hot pasties they had a tax reduced and the pub industry doesn’t come anywhere close.”

Miss Smith told MPs the number of pub closures was slowing, according to Camra figures.

But Mrs Hopkins said while this might be the case, there had been a rapid decline in years previous.

She said: “I think people still running pubs are hanging in and I don’t think any of us are having an easy time. Many are putting in 60/70 hours plus for a small return. That can only continue for so long and it will get worse when people have had enough.”

Have you got a pub story? Call Evening News reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

17 comments

  • What really is immature are most of the comments on here. Father Brian, the money 'shoved' at banks was by a Labour government. The relaxed regulation that caused it - ditto. Blair? - Iraq? - are you missing a slice or the whole loaf? Fleecing the population? Tax went up under Labour and pensions were wrecked. You will be blaming her for your poor education next.

    Report this comment

    Mike Jones

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

  • Roll on 2015!

    Report this comment

    City Boy

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • While i partially agree with most of the comments on the forum wasn't she actually "elected" into the position she holds by the people who are now complaining, as someone said "Roll on 2015". she is probably one of the fortunates who can afford pub prices for drinks so not too bothered anyway.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

  • This Woman is just a Child and an immature one at that, she has no idea of life in the Real World and why would she care about the Duty on beer etc when she like All Politicians Doesn't pay it on drinks in the house of commons. Also the Only Bar in the UK where you can Legally drink and Smoke....Out of Touch with the general Public...

    Report this comment

    CanarySid

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Well said father Brian and others, I would not allow her anywhere near a pub that I owned and quite surprised that the pub she is sitting in allowed her to pose with her tonic water. .......or her "odd" beer!

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Well said father Brian and others, I would not allow her anywhere near a pub that I owned and quite surprised that the pub she is sitting in allowed her to pose with her tonic water.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • It's not the beer I miss so much as the social life and the hub of the community that the pub used to be. The pub, like tattoos and football and other working-class pursuits have almost become middle-class hobbies. But, obviously sanitised and made safer and generally corrupted.

    Report this comment

    oldowl

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

  • The landlord should be prosecuted for allowing a schoolgirl in his pub!!

    Report this comment

    beverley

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Please think for yourself and don,t toe the party line "the Whip" we have too many career politicians already and I suspect Ms Smith is just another one,beer is too expensive,and to drink in Pubs is very expensive

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Hypocrite !

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Chloe Smith demonstrated how little backbone she had on news night the other day, cares more about west minister than Norwich - need to get someone who listens to local issues

    Report this comment

    Jimmy Hupperby

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012

  • Pub Landlords and ladys are telling her that they can't make ends meet due to the drinks tax escalation and she pronounces the opposite to the House, another fiddle by Osborne's lapdog. Is that how she represents her Constituents mandate?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • She's another student politico with an eye on a ministerial job who spouts out the posh boys' official line. Shovel money at corrupt banks, the undemocratic EU and unwinnable wars while fleecing the population to pay for them. What does she know about anything? She's never done a proper day's work in her life.

    Report this comment

    Father Brian

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • If I were the landlord where she holds her "politics in the pub surgery" after reading this i would ban her from the pub! She probably claims the money back as well!!

    Report this comment

    Adey

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • NO surely not another "Career Politician" !! it all vomit worthy !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • She doesn't care, she is simply trying to repair the dent in her credit ability following Paxman's mauling. No coincidence she's in the local news more in the last week than she was the rest of the year.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • Doesn't this women just make you feel sick.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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