Whisky industry rejects Gordon Brown's £3m offer

THE Scotch whisky industry has rejected Gordon Brown’s offer of £3 million to help implement the controversial anti-fraud tax stamps.

The Chancellor appeared to have offered the industry a lifeline when it emerged that the Treasury will not require up-front payment for the stamps and will set aside a 3 million fund for assistance with capital investment, targeted at the smallest firms, to offset costs.

But James Espey, chairman of international business development at Whyte & Mackay, described the sum as derisory and said the whole policy was ludicrous and misguided.

He said: "It is politics of the worse kind. It is a false gesture, and to have the audacity to say that part of the concession is that they are not going to raise duty ... well, what right do they have to raise duty anyway?

"Strip stamps will not tackle effectively the fraud that does take place. They have been tried, tested and rejected as unsuitable and ineffective in a number of other countries. In Russia, the levels of fraud got worse after strip stamps were introduced."

Mike Keiller, the chief executive of Glasgow-based Morrison Bowmore Distillers, said: "For my little company it will cost me 500,000 to implement, and the government are offering a straight grant of 100,000. The measure will also put our production costs up by 30 per cent."

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