HC Deb 14 February 1978 vol 944 cc393-5

11.0 p.m.

The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. John Smith)

I beg to move, That section 19(4) of the Finance Act 1972 shall be amended by inserting after the words 'Minister of the Crown' the words 'or of a Scottish Secretary'. This is in a sense a paving resolution for Government Amendment No. 109, which will be considered by the House tomorrow. It concerns the liability of the Scottish Secretary for value added tax. If the Government amendment were not made later, the Scottish Administration would not be liable for VAT in the same way as a Minister of the Crown. I think it necessary to have the Scottish Secretary treated in the same respect as Ministers of the Crown in this matter, and I am sure that the House will think that that is desirable.

11.1 p.m.

Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)

When we first looked at this, it struck us that it was perhaps a rather premature motion, causing an adjustment in the Bill that would not strictly be necessary until a much later stage. We are still of the hope that the Bill will never be enacted, but against the possibility that it may ultimately be enacted, undoubtedly the amendment would be necessary.

Having gone into it in some detail, we have come to the conclusion that this is the best way to do it, bearing in mind the fact that we do not want the Bill. But if it is to be enacted, it would be right for the Scottish Secretary to be liable for VAT. On that basis we do not intend to oppose the motion.

Question put and agreed to.