Ale industry raises glass to Lewes MP Norman Baker

Norman Baker recieving Beer Champion prize from Harveys.
Norman Baker recieving Beer Champion prize from Harveys.

Lewes MP Norman Baker has been declared a ‘Beer Champion’ for his work in helping to secure last year’s historic Budget cut in beer duty.

The Home Office Minister for Licensing received his special award on Friday at The Rights of Man in Lewes High Street.

It included a unique new beer brewed especially for the occasion and an appearance by the Harveys Brewery dray cart.

The award is a joint initiative from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), all of whom wanted to recognise the role of the MP in supporting Britain’s national drink during 2013, especially for his support in scrapping the Beer Duty Escalator which had led to increases in beer prices for pub-goers.

While these price increases were able to be absorbed by the supermarkets, pubs were unable to do this which led to further increases in the difference between a supermarket can and a pint in the pub.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the BBPA, said: “I want to thank Mr Baker for making a huge difference in achieving the historic duty cut in 2013.

“We are delighted to honour this achievement in the best way possible – with a great new beer.”

Mike Benner, Chief Executive of CAMRA, said: “This reward recognises Mr Baker for his invaluable support in the campaign to scrap the Beer Duty Escalator.

“The Lewes MP really helped in drawing attention to the harm caused by tax increases totalling 42 per cent over four years.”

Keith Bott, SIBA Chairman, said: “The small, local brewers, who make up the bulk of SIBA’s membership, applaud the work of Norman Baker in the campaign to scrap the Beer Duty Escalator last year. Brewers now feel more confident about the future of the UK’s brewing industry, and able to make long term business plans.”

Hamish Elder, Executive Chairman at Harveys Brewery in Lewes, said: “Norman Baker has been a good friend to Harveys Brewery and its employees for many years. Moreover, he has worked tirelessly in the interests of our customers in the form of local pubs.

“As a town, Lewes boasts no fewer than 19 public houses. By today’s standards this is a remarkable number of small, diverse and friendly enterprises; in many ways the soul of the Lewes community.

“We are pleased to see Mr Baker’s rise through the ministerial ranks and feel confident he will remain a voice of support and common sense throughout the beer and pub industry.”