Sir; The continuing debate about the role Britain should have within Europe may seem remote to those who run off licences. However, the government's refusal to cut beer tax back to the equivalent of about 8p a pint, agreed by all the finance ministers of EU members (including the UK's chancellor of the exchequer) in 1992, is hitting many small businesses where it hurts ­ in the till. Tony Blair has said that he is "determined that Britain should play its full part in Europe" and that it was "Britain's destiny to be a leading partner in Europe". As the other high tax countries lower their levels of excise duty, it is the UK that is isolated in Europe. Continuing to raise the level of duty (and it could go up again in the Budget on March 21) encourages more cross border smuggling and criminal activity, and puts the livelihood of many who run off licences further at risk. Tim Hampson By e-mail {{LETTERS }}

Topics