HC Deb 25 July 1973 vol 860 cc1606-7
22. Mr. Biffen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the most recent discussions that have been concluded with various institutions of the European Economic Community.

Mr. John Davies

Recent statements to the House by my right hon. Friends, coupled with the statement which, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I shall be making later today, bring the record up to date.

Mr. Biffen

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that in the various discussions that have been taking place with M. Simonnet, on the second stage of economic and monetary union, it has been made clear by the Commission that that involves a harmonised value added tax in respect of coverage and rates? Will he confirm that he shares my opinion that a value added tax extended to cover foodstuffs would command the wholehearted discontent of the British people and would meet with the determined opposition of many on the Government as well as the Labour benches?

Mr. Davies

Yes, but my hon. Friend is postulating a set of circumstances that do not exist. There is no agreement to, harmonise the rate of VAT on food within the framework of our taxation system.