HC Deb 20 January 1975 vol 884 cc1020-1
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Edward Short)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a short Business Statement. I apologise for not giving prior notice.

Following representations to postpone tonight's debate on EEC documents R/1746/73 and R/2268/74 on value added tax, I have agreed to do so, particularly as I have now been informed that the issues involved will not be brought before the Council of Ministers for decision until the autumn.

Mr. Peyton

We raised the matter with the right hon. Gentleman when he announced the business for this week, and I am grateful to him for his consideration and reaction.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

In view of the last few words of the statement, is my right hon. Friend aware that we would rather that the interests of the House predominated and that the business of the House should not be altered simply because it suits the EEC or falls in with its plans?

Mr. Short

The Council of Ministers will discuss these documents later in the year. Other relevant documents might well be available by that time, and it seems sensible to defer our debate until then.

Mr. Spearing

Although there may be other documents, is it not a fact that what my right hon. Friend has told us would have been known to the Government last Thursday? Can my right hon. Friend confirm that these documents would open the way to further harmonisation of value added tax, which is not, I believe, the policy of the Government or of the Labour Party?

Mr. Short

These documents deal with value added tax and there is a certain amount of harmonisation in them. But it does not in any way affect zero rating of certain things. That is one of the points in our renegotiations.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We must move on. We cannot discuss these documents now.