HC Deb 14 April 1994 vol 241 c403
2. Mr. Lewis

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his future plans for extending the range of goods and services on which value added tax is charged.

The Paymaster General (Sir John Cope)

The position remains as set out in my right hon. and learned Friend's Budget statement.

Mr. Lewis

Will the Paymaster General assure us that when the Chancellor and his Ministers next have a tax hike, it will not be in relation to VAT, especially on the printed word, children's clothing and food?

Sir John Cope

The hon. Gentleman misunderstands. The real threat to Britain's zero rates on food and all the other things that he listed comes from the socialist European manifesto, which supports qualified majority voting on tax matters, and would hand the decisions over to Brussels.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in 1979 we stood on an election platform that included transferring taxation from direct to indirect taxes, and that that meant VAT? Have not we successfully fought the general elections since then on that basis? Even more important, we have demonstrated clearly that when take-home pay keeps increasing and people have the opportunity to spend, they are happy to pay VAT rather than direct tax.

Sir John Cope

That is quite right.

Mr. Andrew Smith

Will the Paymaster General now answer the question that my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley (Mr. Lewis) asked? Will the Government give an undertaking not to extend VAT further, in view of the Chancellor's previous stated enthusiasm to do just that?

Sir John Cope

I have explained exactly what my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor said. The hon. Gentleman must answer the question about handing over the decisions to Brussels. That is what the European manifesto would do—and, incidentally, what the Liberal Democrats' manifesto would do, too.

Mr. Waterson

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that those on full retirement pensions and on income support are now receiving generous compensation for VAT on fuel—rather more generous than that demanded by the Opposition spokesman?

Sir John Cope

Yes, indeed they are; it started at the beginning of this month.

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