A cross-party alliance of over 200 MPs has joined a British Beer and Pub Association campaign to save the traditional British boozer from oblivion.
Pubs are being increasingly priced out of the market by tax hikes and cheap supermarket alcohol. The rescue charge is led by the Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, Bob Russell, who tabled a parliamentary motion offering a five-point plan* to preserve Blighty's hostelries.
The motion, backed by such luminaries as former LibDem supremo Menzies Campbell, Tory MP Ann Widdecombe and Labour MP Kim Howells, insisted that pubs were closing at the rate of five a day and that beer sales in those still open for business had hit the "lowest level for nearly 40 years".
According to the Telegraph, Russell said boozers were being "unfairly priced out of the market while supermarkets offer cheap deals without the level of restrictions and responsibilities required" by landlords.
He added that the government's proposed tax rises on a tipple will "place traditional public houses at even greater risk of closing down".
The MPs' action coincides with a Campaign for Real Ale and the Independent Family Brewers of Britain call for today to be declared "National Beer Day" - an initiative backed by Oz Clarke and former Boddingtons ad gal Melanie Sykes:
The proposed National Beer Day comes at the beginning of National Cask Ale Week. We suggest readers stick a fish on their heads and sink a few liveners. ®
*The five points are:
- To axe plans to increase beer tax even further;
- To enforce existing laws - not create new ones - to deal firmly with irresponsible drinkers and premises;
- To end the irresponsible promotion of alcohol in supermarkets, pubs and elsewhere;
- To trust responsible adults to make informed choices about what they drink, not punish them for the actions of an irresponsible minority;
- To support the British pub as a vital part of social life in local communities.