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Published:  23 July, 2008

Wine & Spirit Association chairman Jo Williamson is calling on the trade to mount a campaign urging the Chancellor to abolish the anomalous' tax on sparkling wine, in an attempt to bring duty in line with that of still wine. The Chancellor's justification for this unfair tax is the luxury status of sparkling wine. It may have been a luxury in Victorian times,' said Williamson, but today's statistics show that 63% of sparkling wine is consumed by C2DE demographic groups. The differential in duty between the UK and France has resulted in 20% of sparkling wine consumed in the UK being purchased via cross-border shopping, damaging the UK trade and making a substantial contribution to the French exchequer,' he added. As well as campaigning on sparkling wine, the WSA will lobby for tax breaks on behalf of English and Welsh vineyards and for a move towards harmonisation of duty rates between the UK and France, in order to stem the tide of cross-border shopping, fraud and smuggling. In 2003 the WSA is looking to represent the interests of the off-trade regarding the forthcoming licensing legislation, as the bill is taken forward through the Lords, prior to Royal Assent in July. A key development last year was the expansion of the WSA membership base to include almost all key major retailers. As a result, a retailers' committee was set up to address issues such as the licensing bill.