§ 4. Sir John Farr
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total revenue from duty on tobacco goods in 1990.
§ The Minister of State, Treasury (Mrs. Gillian Shephard)
The revenue from duties on tobacco goods in 1990 was £5.5 billion.
§ Sir John Farr
I thank my hon. Friend for that explicit reply. Does she agree that tobacco companies also contribute a great deal to sport, and that they employ tens 1084 of thousands of people directly and indirectly? Will she send out a message to those who oppose smoking and belong to the brigade who say, "Do as I say and as I instruct you," to the effect that they should leave ordinary people to get on with the job of smoking and supporting the economy?
§ Mrs. Shephard
I note what my hon. Friend says. At this time of year we receive many such representations, but they must be weighed against the annual death toll of 110,000 people which is associated with smoking. Employment in the tobacco industry, which my hon. Friend mentioned, has been falling steadily due to increased automation and the long-term decline in smoking.
§ Mr. Radice
While we are on the subject of indirect taxes, will the Government tell the House how they will continue to cut direct taxes and improve public services without at the same time raising VAT as they did in 1979 and in the last Budget?
§ Mrs. Shephard
I certainly would not like to prejudge what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor might announce in his Budget. It was interesting to read in the Daily Express about Labour's plan for a luxury VAT rate.