§ 5. Mr. Greenway
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what items subjected to value added tax in other European Economic Community countries are exempted from that tax in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Ian Stewart
The position varies somewhat between one member state and another, but the proportion of consumer spending subject to a positive rate of VAT in the United Kingdom is one of the smallest in the European Community.
§ Mr. Greenway
Is my hon. Friend aware that, although before and during the recent Euro-elections my right hon. Friends the Chancellor and the Prime Minister and several others in the House and outside made it c fear that VAT would not be extended to food, the Labour party leadership continued to say in a mendacious way, during and after the elections, that it would be? Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Labour party was completely misleading the electorate in saying that and that there is no question whatever of VAT being extended to food in this country under this Government?
§ Mr. Stewart
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, both about VAT on food and about the disgraceful and irresponsible behaviour of the Labour party during the European elections, when it constantly tried to assert that the position was not as stated.
§ Mr. Rooker
In that case, will the Minister confirm that the present VAT regime will be maintained until the next general election?
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not prepared—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] I am not prepared to give any assurance about future taxation under VAT, income tax or any other form 1347 of taxation. We finished the Report stage of this year's Finance Bill only a few hours ago, and I do not propose to speculate on what may be contained in future Bills.