Falkirk MP backs sugar tax

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin

A Falkirk MP has given his support to the sugar tax on soft drinks saying more corporate responsibility is also needed to tackle obesity.

John McNally, SNP MP for Falkirk, is backing Tory Chancellor George Osbourne’s controversial levy on the soft drinks industry which he announced in last week’s Budget with fizzy drinks being part of the cause of an obesity epidemic.

MP John McNally

MP John McNally

There are 35 grammes – seven teaspoons – of sugar in a 330ml can of Coca-Cola. The recommended maximum intake of sugar per day for ages over 11 is just 30g.

Drinks with 5g of sugar per 100ml will face a lower rate of tax while those with more than 8g per 100ml will face a higher rate.

The tax will come into effect in two years’ time to give manufacturers time to drive down the sugar content of their drinks and is expected to raise £520 million.

This money will be used to double the amount of funding for sport in primary schools.

Mr McNally pointed to scientific evidence that sugar, not fat, is one of the key elements that leads to obesity.

He said: “I’m delighted that after much debate, wrangling and negativity the UK Government has seen sense and agreed to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks. It’s not perfect, as there is a need for corporate responsibility here too - but it’s definitely a start.

“No one should, or would, deny anyone the right to drink their favourite fizzy drink, or eat a bar of chocolate for that matter. The advice I have received from Falkirk Dentist Atif Bashir that we should not be habitually grazing on either of them.

“There is also some scientific evidence to suggest that sugar as a whole is one of the key elements in our obesity epidemic – not the amount of fat we eat.”

A.G. Barr, makers of Scotland’s ‘other’ national drink Irn Bru, which started life in Falkirk, expressed disappointment at the tax.

Chief executive Roger White, said: “It is extremely disappointing that soft drinks have been singled out given it is the only food and drink category to have made any real progress in reducing sugar intake in recent years, down 13.6 per cent since 2012.

“At A.G. Barr we have reduced the average calorific content across our brand range by 8.8 per cent in just four years and are actively contributing to the soft drinks industry-wide five year target to make a 20 per cent reduction by 2020.”