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Manifesto to save British Beer

The 2001 Good Beer Guide, published by the Campaign for Real Ale, is a call to arms to British beer lovers to save their favourite tipple as the industry is threatened with globalisation at the hands of international lager brewers.

A Beer Drinkers’ Manifesto lays down a series of demands for beer lovers to raise with brewers, pub groups, MPs, MEPs, members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. The demands are aimed at saving British breweries, halting the loss of rural pubs, encouraging the development of organic beers, and to stop mergers and takeovers that threaten choice and diversity.

The Manifesto says:·

The Department of Trade and Industry needs a blueprint for the brewing industry that lays down a policy for protecting beer drinkers’ interests. There must be a rigorous investigation of any further mergers that threaten choice and the closure of brewing plants, with the loss of local brands.

The government should, as a matter of urgency, bring pub groups within the provisions of the Beer Orders to enable licensees to offer guest beers from regional and micro-breweries to their customers. At present the Beer Orders cover only tenanted pubs owned by national brewers. Most nationals have converted all their pubs to management, which puts them outside the scope of the Orders. Pub groups, which include Punch Taverns and Japanese bankers Nomura, do not have to offer guest beers and concentrate on heavily-discounted brands such as Tetley’s.

The Ministry of Agriculture must encourage farmers, with the aid of grants where necessary, to grow far greater amounts of organic barley and hops. At present British brewers who produce organic beers have to source most of their ingredients from abroad: the bulk of imported organic hops, for example, come from New Zealand. The ministry and brewers must give beer drinkers a categorical assurance that they will never use any genetically modified ingredients in British beer.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer must introduce a staged reduction in excise duty on beer to bring duty down to the EU average within a decade. This would reduce cheap imports from France, encourage drinkers to return to British pubs, increase domestic beer production and jobs, and would not lead to a loss of revenue to the government as duty, income tax and VAT would rise as British beer sales increased.

Country pubs - currently closing at the rate of six a week - must be given rate relief in line with the provisions in place for rural post offices and other key rural services.

The Home Office must speed up proposals for licensing reform. Publicans need greater flexibility to enable them to stay open later. Flexibility would help tackle the problems connected with rigid 11pm closing, a view shared by the police.

The Good Beer Guide 2001, sponsored by Cask Marque, costs £11.99 from bookshops or only £8.50 (members £7.50) from any Committee member.

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