HC Deb 02 February 1988 vol 126 cc841-2
7. Mr. Gregory

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement about the trend in the numbers of employees in the confectionery industry.

Mr. Lee

Over the 12 months to September 1987 the number of employees in the confectionery industry fell by 1,000 to 180,000.

Mr. Gregory

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the trend in employment was considerably higher when confectionery had the same VAT rating as other foods? Will he hold discussions with his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer before the Budget so that consideration might be given to rerating, especially as 6 or 7 per cent. more people could be taken on in the confectionery industry in efficient firms, such as Rowntree, Terry and Craven?

Mr. Lee

I know how important the confectionery industry is to my hon. Friend's constituency. I am sure that Treasury Ministers will be made aware of the points that my hon. Friend has made about VAT.

I recently discussed with Rowntree its planned tourism attraction—the chocolate experience. I discovered that the industry is doing pretty well and that no fewer than 40 KitKats are consumed in Britain every second.