HC Deb 27 July 1971 vol 822 cc198-200
18. Mr. Millan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for increasing employment on value-added tax in Scotland.

Mr. Higgins

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my hon. Friend the Chief Secretary gave him on 6th July.—[Vol. 820, c. 314–16.]

Mr. Millan

Since V.A.T. is administratively a good deal more complicated than the taxes that it will replace, will not many thousands of additional jobs be created by its introduction? In those circumstances, is not it absurd and scandalous that the headquarters for this new tax should be located in Southend and not in a development area?

Mr. Higgins

I do not accept that. We took into account all regional considerations. The hon. Gentleman will know from answers which my hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has given him that a great many of the offices will be located throughout the country. But clearly one has also to take into consideration factors such as efficiency and the need to reduce the total numbers employed on the administration of the tax. The decision that we have taken with regard to the location at Southend for that part which necessarily has to be centralised is, we believe, the right one.

19. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for the use of computers in the administration of value-added tax.

Mr. Higgins

An ICL System 4/72 computer will be used to issue tax return forms, account for tax payments, and provide information for management and control purposes.

Mr. Huckfield

Surely the hon. Gentleman knows that this will not completely serve the administrative functions to which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) has just referred. Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that to administer V.A.T. without a thorough-going computerised system will involve the country in a weight of paper work from which we shall never emerge? Will not the hon. Gentleman reconsider the possibility that the system could be more fully computerised and that the computer centre should be situated somewhere else than Southend?

Mr. Higgins

I have indicated already the reasons for the choice of Southend. Clearly, this is a matter of hitting a balance on the degree of computerisation. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's strictures about the amount of paper work involved. We believe that the solution is the optimum in terms of economic efficiency.