§ 10. Mr. Turner
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what have been the changes in the rates of value added tax since the beginning of 1979.
§ Mr. Maples
From 18 June 1979, the higher rate of VAT was abolished and the standard rate of VAT became 15 per cent. On 1 April this year that rate was increased to 17½ per cent.
§ Mr. Turner
I thank the Minister for his answer. It demonstrates clearly the enormous burden of indirect taxation that has been placed on the shoulders of millions of families since the Government came to power. Will the Minister give the House a categorical assurance that VAT on road and rail transport will not be increased?
§ Mr. Maples
What short memories we have. The hon. Gentleman does not remember that, under the previous Labour Government, the rate of VAT on things that they described as luxuries, such as petrol and caravans, was 25 per cent. I can certainly give the hon. Gentleman an assurance that we will not go back to that.
§ Mr. Budgen
Does my hon. Friend concede that the cause of the recession is not the high level of value added tax, but our membership of the exchange rate mechanism? Does he concede also that the question is not whether the war can be won, but whether it can be won with fewer 1062 casualties? Is not there a risk that, in future, the present Chancellor will be known in the economy as soldiers remember Field Marshal Lord Haig?