Evening Express

Chancellor invited on Shrewsbury pub crawl

Chancellor Philip Hammond was invited on a pub crawl around Shrewsbury during Treasury Questions.

Normally a dry affair, proceedings were enlivened and invitations for a tipple came flooding in for Mr Hammond before the sun was over the yard arm.

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, was the first to extend an offer to Mr Hammond to visit his local, the Salopian.

“I would like him to hear first hand of the extraordinary rise in business rates some of these pubs have had to deal with,” the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham said.

The Chancellor responded: “Providing I can get it in writing, I am very tempted to consider that offer and I will negotiate with him.

“Pubs in Shrewsbury have benefited from recent cuts to alcohol duties and business rates, but of course we recognise the challenge many small businesses are facing and we will bear that very much in mind as we formulate policies going forward.”

Labour MP Jenny Chapman also extended a drinks invitation to Mr Hammond, this time in her constituency of Darlington, as MPs were overheard muttering “you wouldn’t last five minutes”.

She said: “He is obviously very welcome on a pub crawl around Darlington too, and I always stand my round.

“Many of us who represent towns are fighting hard to support our high streets… The situation needs urgently looking at.

“Will he investigate the way in which small pubs are disadvantaged by the business rates system?”

Although he declined to give his view on the merits of a pub crawl around Darlington, the Chancellor did offer to look at business rates again.

“We all realise high streets are under pressure, primarily because the behaviour of consumers is changing,” he said.

“We cannot simply turn our backs on a change which is driven by consumer behaviour but we do have to support business as they meet that challenge.”