HC Deb 22 October 1973 vol 861 cc669-70
4. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has any evidence to show that, as a result of the introduction of value added tax, there is widespread evasion of Section 11(2) of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968.

Sir. G. Howe

Out of 155 intended prosecutions under this section of the Act notified by weights and measures authorities during the six months from 1st April, only eight related to cases where an unexpected VAT charge had been made for goods.

Mrs. Oppenheim

Is not my right hon. and learned Friend aware that some traders advertise and display prices exclusive of VAT without indicating this, and that the first time consumers get to know about it is when they come to pay? Apart from the fact that this is misleading and prevents effective price comparison, it can be most distressing to consumers who cannot afford the increased price. Will my right hon. and learned Friend encourage the trading standards officers to prosecute more often in these cases?

Sir G. Howe

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for having raised this matter. As I have indicated, the number of occasions on which this has happened and led to prosecutions has not been very substantial. However, I take this opportunity of making clear that any person who quotes a price for his goods which excludes VAT but does not make clear that VAT is to be added when the goods are sold is at risk under Section 11(2) of the Trade Descriptions Act.