A government minister stressed the importance of the pub industry to the UK economy during a visit to Keighley.

Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, said more than half-a-million people are employed in the trade.

And he said hostelries had an important role to play.

“Following a second government cut in beer duty, over one million more pints have been drunk in pubs throughout the country,” he added.”

Mr Lewis teamed up with Keighley MP Kris Hopkins for a visit to the Lord Rodney in Church Green.

The historic Timothy Taylor’s premises were restored to their former glory in 2008, and the Keighley brewery’s pub estate director, Andrew Daykin, explained that in recent years, £6 million had been spent on refurbishing many of its 19 outlets.

During the visit, Taylor’s managing director, Charles Dent, presented Mr Hopkins with an award on behalf of the British Beer & Pub Association.

The Parliamentary Beer Champion accolade is in recognition of Mr Hopkins’ support of a campaign to end the beer duty escalator and his backing of the Budget duty cut.

He said: “I am a member of the all-party beer group and we have been pushing the Chancellor hard to reduce duty, and will continue to do so – after all, every penny counts. It is all about helping businesses to prosper.”

After visiting the Lord Rodney, the party was given a tour of Taylor’s Knowle Spring Brewery by second brewer, Andrew Leman.

Mr Lewis said: “I’m impressed with the way Timothy Taylor’s tries, wherever possible, to buy locally, and how many manufacturing companies are on the doorstep, supplying everything from large industrial boilers to sophisticated brewery equipment.

“It is also pleasing to see the company is looking to expand its pub estate in a gradual and calculated way. It shows real confidence in the future of the British pub.”