HC Deb 21 February 1985 vol 73 c1193
13. Mr. Caborn

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many representations he has received regarding the imposition of value added tax on newspapers.

Mr. Hayhoe

Over 2,000 representations about the imposition of VAT on books, newspapers and periodicals.

Mr. Caborn

Has the Minister considered the Price Waterhouse report, commissioned by the Newspaper Society, which suggests that the imposition of VAT in this area could result in the loss of 7,000 jobs and over 100 titles? Is this part of the budget for jobs?

Mr. Hayhoe

The Price Waterhouse report referred to by the hon. Gentleman is one of the many representations and pieces of information that have been received and are being considered.

Mr. Dykes

In view of the representations received, does my hon. Friend agree that to impose VAT on the cover price of local newspapers would be a crippling blow to many of them?

Mr. Hayhoe

I have met representatives from the Newspaper Society, who have made their case with considerable strength.

Mr. Barron

With regard to the likelihood of VAT being imposed on newspapers, has the Treasury considered what will happen to local free newspapers which rely solely on revenue from advertising and provide a good service for their communities? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that they will be unable to pass on costs to their customers because they are free sheets? Is he aware that this service may fold up?

Mr. Hayhoe

As I said, representations have been received across the board. I met representatives of the Association of Free Newspapers, who again have made the case for free newspapers with considerable vigour.