ALISTAIR Darling’s higher tax on cider is rightly resented by people in Somerset.

I was in Parliament to hear his announcement and it was clear that the Government has no real appreciation of the damage that they are inflicting on cider manufacturers.

Compared to Government borrowing of £450 million every single day, the amount of money raised by the 10% hike in cider duty will be absolutely tiny.

But it will have a negative impact on small, independent cider makers like Sheppy’s here in Taunton Deane.

The Government seems to think that higher taxes on cider will stop binge drinking. I doubt that it will make a significant difference.

The Government does not understand that many of the ciders produced in Somerset are high-quality drinks that are enjoyed by people from all backgrounds.

I am pleased by the outbreak of opposition in Somerset to the cider tax rise.

It is seen as a tax on the West Country. Even people who do not often drink cider realise that it is part of the heritage of Somerset and want the industry to thrive.

I will be speaking in the House of Commons this Monday on the Budget, and I will be taking the Government to task for raising cider tax.

I want Alistair Darling to realise the importance of cider to our community in Somerset.