HC Deb 04 February 1993 vol 218 cc467-8
8. Mr. Tony Lloyd

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received concerning rates of VAT.

11. Ms. Estelle Morris

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent representations he has received concerning rates of VAT.

The Paymaster General (Sir John Cope)

Many representations have been received, and these will be considered in the run-up to the Budget.

Mr. Lloyd

Will the Minister place on the record in the House what he has already put in writing—that the Government have no plans or proposals to extend VAT to cover newspapers and periodicals?

Sir John Cope

We have repeatedly made ourselves clear, and I am not taking back anything that we have said, but at this point we cannot discuss any tax changes so near to the Budget.

Ms. Morris

As the Conservatives claim to be the party of low taxation, will the Minister confirm to the House that the Government have already extended the scope of VAT on 14 separate occasions? Will he also take the opportunity to tell the House that he will honour the pledge made by the Prime Minister last March that there would be no further increase in VAT and no further expansion of the scope of this tax?

Sir John Cope

I am not sure how the hon. Lady works out her precise figures, but I will not add anything to what I have said.

Sir Terence Higgins

As I had the task of steering the original VAT legislation through this House, may I urge my right hon. Friend not to restrict the scope of zero-rating for VAT for short-term revenue reasons, given that pressure from the European Community is likely to mean that any such change would be irreversible and would bring further pressure on the argument for abolishing zero-rating altogether?

Sir John Cope

I acknowledge that that was another Budget representation from a particularly authoritative source.

Mr. Paice

My right hon. Friend will agree with me that it is important to recognise the importance of market forces where VAT differentials exist. In doing that, will he accept that thousands of jobs in my constituency and elsewhere depend on a satisfactory outcome to his own efforts to resolve the differential in VAT on bloodstock?

Sir John Cope

Yes indeed. My hon. Friend and I have discussed this on a number of occasions including last night or, rather, early this morning. I have nothing further to add to what I said then.

Mr. Nicholas Brown

On Channel 4 news on 31 March 1992 the Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to tell viewers, "we will not have to increase taxes"; he could not see any circumstances in which that would be necessary. Is that true?

Sir John Cope

It proved exactly true, did it not?

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