HC Deb 15 May 1986 vol 97 c846
12. Mr. Gregory

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what value added tax revenue he expects to raise through United Kingdom confectionery sales in the current financial year.

Mr. Brooke

It is estimated that the revenue yield from sales in the United Kingdom of chocolates, sweets and similar confectionary will be about £375 million in 1986–87.

Mr. Gregory

Ever since confectionery in this country has been subject to purchase tax, and subsequently to VAT at the standard rate, there has been a major shift in people's dietary habits. Three cooked meals a day are no longer the norm. Confectionery is part of the daily habit. How much longer can the Chancellor justify taxing confectionery, as it is part of the normal consumption of United Kingdom nationals?

Mr. Brooke

I know my hon. Friend's constituency interest in this matter. I applaud his support for the great confectionery manufacturers there, but I cannot hold out hope that the present VAT treatment of confectionery will change. I remind the House that it was the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), in his first Budget in 1974, who standard-rated chocolate.

Sir Kenneth Lewis

Is my hon. Friend aware that I hope very much that he will not increase tax on confectionery in the way in which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor treated the tax on tobacco in the Budget, increasing it by more than the rate of inflation? As a result of that increase there will be a reduction not only in tax receipts from tobacco, but in jobs, as has happened in Northern Ireland, where 900 jobs have been lost. Will my hon. Friend please stop listening to the exaggerated lobby on tobacco smoking, because that is what it is?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question is about confectionery.

Mr. Brooke

As you say, Mr. Speaker, the question is about confectionery, but the tobacco yield remains buoyant.