In his pre-Budget speech the chancellor, Gordon Brown, said he was determined to clamp down on spirits fraud and set suppliers the task of finding a solution or face compulsory stamping. Brown said: “Despite a freeze in spirits duty for six Budgets an estimated one bottle in every six sold is evading duty.”
The chancellor said he would make provision in the next Finance Bill for the stamping of spirits and warned: “If no workable alternative is proposed, we will legislate.”
Federation of Wholesale Distributors director general Alan Toft said the industry would oppose such a measure. “Costs will have to be passed on to independents who cannot absorb them in the same way as the giant superstores.”
Quentin Rappoport, of the Wine and Spirit Association, said: “The government is holding a gun to our head, but stamping is expensive for importers and small firms.
“The industry needs to sit down fast to find an answer.”