§ Mr. Peter Rees
Local authorities can already reclaim the tax on the meals they purchase from outside contractors for supply to their pupils.
§ Mr. Chope
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that when the outside contractor wishes to deliver a meal direct to the pupil it is not so straightforward? Will he state what can be done about the incidence of value added tax in those circumstances? For the benefit of all hon. Members, I can say that I have no interest in this matter whatsoever, other than as a ratepayer and someone who is concerned about reducing costs.
§ Mr. Rees
My hon. Friend's concern for this problem inside and outside his constituency is rightly well known and applauded. He is right. If a contractor supplies meals direct to pupils, that is subject to VAT. If, however, there are any problems in my hon. Friend's constituency that he would like to draw to our attention, we shall see what proper advice can be given.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
Before the Government show any generosity in this direction, will they reflect that they are forcing local authorities to increase school meal charges dramatically next April, and that they should be using any spare money to reduce the pressure on local authorities to increase the charges for school meals?
§ Mr. Greenway
Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that the school meal for many children is their only substantial meal of the day and that they should be given food that has maximum calorific value? Does he further agree that the absence of VAT relief should facilitate this without making Billy Bunters of them?