HC Deb 13 May 1982 vol 23 cc937-8
10. Mr. Squire

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will bring forward proposals for streamlining the collection of value added tax.

Mr. Ridley

I have no proposals to announce now but I am prepared to examine any suggestions for improving the collection of value added tax. Customs and Excise continually reviews its internal procedures and the Economic Secretary encourages it to do so.

Mr. Squire

Will my hon. Friend examine the proposals of my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls), which suggest that more than 80 per cent. of all VAT is accounted for by a tiny percentage of those registered for VAT? If so, does that not give great scope for saving, both in civil servants and working hours, in many businesses?

Mr. Ridley

We have examined all the proposals that have been put forward so far and found that none of them would cause staff savings but would cause complications for business or industry. If my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) who I believe is mounting a new study into the question, can come up with more ideas we shall be only too glad to adopt them if they meet the criteria that we both share.

Mr. Newens

Does the Minister recognise that strong objections exist, especially among small business men, to the bureaucratic character of the methods of calculation of VAT? Does he agree that there is an urgent need for action to take some of the work off the backs of people who are trying to do a job?

Mr. Ridley

The hon. Gentleman will know that the whole question of the collection and enforcement of VAT is being studied by the Lord Keith of Kinkel committee, and we should await its report before deciding any action.