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Cambridge Wine's Hal Wilson urges independents to lobby their MP for duty cut

Published:  10 February, 2015

Following yesterday's call by Harpers to independent wine merchants to play their part in the industry wide campaign to convince the Chancellor to issue a duty cut on wine and spirits in his March Budget, leading independent Hal Wilson of Cambridge Wine Merchants today explains why he has personally lobbied his local MP, the Liberal Democrat Julian Huppert, and urges other merchants to do the same.

Harpers is dedicating its second Action Week in its ongoing March for the Independents campaign to put the spotlight on the Drop the Duty campaign, being run by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and Scotch Whisky Association, and is calling on independents to:

When Hal Wilson contacted his MP he wrote to the Chancellor on his behalf setting out the case for a duty cut. In Huppert's letter he said the "government's decision to cut beer duty was an enormous success. It lowered prices for consumers and helped businesses flourish in an otherwise challenging economic environment".

He added: "I agree with my constituent that there is a very strong case for extending cuts to duty for spirits and wine. My constituent is asking that the government introduce a 2% cut in the duty of all alcohol. My constituent does a very good job in outlining all of the economic benefits we could expect - in terms of increased consumption, job creation, and also how it would help public finances. I would be grateful if you could consider his request."

Hal WilsonHal WilsonHal Wilson

Wilson believes by sending, and personalising, the letter that Harpers is proposing (see attached) to their local MP could make a big difference to the Drop the Duty campaign. Here is his clarion call to fellow independents:

I have long felt that government policy on alcohol has been too heavily influenced by the health lobby with wine retailers being viewed as the problem and not part of the solution. I know that the public does not view alcohol with as much suspicion and most MPs don't either so I feel it is my right to stand up for the trade and products that I love and at least engage politicians in the debate.

I also know that the level of excise duty rising by over 50% during the recession has taken a heavy toll on independents, pushing up prices at a time when consumers are looking to pay less because they have less to spend.

I felt it was really important to share my experiences with my MP. MPs need to listen to their constituents and if enough hear the same story that story gets passed on to government ministers and affects policy.

My MP is a Liberal Democrat, Julian Huppert. He seemed genuinely interested in hearing about my business which he knows as a customer. Good start!

I invited him to meet me at one of my shops in central Cambridge where I decided to talk about an HMRC excise issue that causes me a lot of cashflow issues and restricts my business growth. It is an issue that larger UK and most European businesses do not share and creates a lack of fairness that impinges on profitability.

Julian Huppert was able to get clarification from a director at HMRC and make a proposal to George Osborne for a fairer method of meeting the EU directive on guarantees.

I recommend that other merchants get to know their MPs, particualrly at a time when they are looking to support constituents in the lead up to a general election.

Hal Wilson, Cambridge Wine Merchants