§ 1. Mr. P. Browne
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to the Treasury would be if retailers who are collectors of indirect taxes were allowed to keep 5 per cent. of the taxes collected as compensation for the work involved.
§ The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Anthony Barber)
Retailers are not normally required to account for payment of tax but, in any case, I could not accept the principle of compensation suggested by my hon. Friend. If retailers were allowed to keep 5 per cent. of the taxes levied on the products sold by them, the cost to the Exchequer would be about £120 million a year.
§ Mr. Browne
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that this collection of indirect taxation, or, rather, having to find the money to finance an increase in indirect taxation, bears heavily upon the small trader when the duty on the goods is high, as in the case of tobacco and drink? Will my hon. Friend look into this again?
§ Mr. Barber
The tax is part of the price which is ultimately paid by the consumer. I think it will be clear that if the Exchequer were to allow such a large sum of relief to traders, it would be necessary to increase taxation accordingly. In effect, that would mean that retailers would be gaining a considerable benefit at the expense of the consumer.