8th March 2008
A bidding war over "binge drinking" taxes broke out last night as duty on alcohol became a key political battleground ahead of this week's Budget.
By last night, all three parties had pledged to raise taxes on alcohol, with Chancellor Alistair Darling indicating that he will be hiking duties on wines and spirits in his debut Budget on Wednesday.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable added a novel contribution to the debate, telling his party's spring conference that VAT on fruit juice and smoothies should be cut from 17.5 per cent to five per cent to help encourage healthy diets, with the anticipated £225million shortfall made up by raising the tax on some alcoholic drinks.
The Conservatives promised on Friday to raise tax on super-strength beer, cider and alcopops to tackle binge-drinking, while reducing the tax on low-strength beer and cider enjoyed by 'sensible' drinkers.
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