§ Lord Rugby asked Her Majesty's Government:
§ Whether they intend to introduce legislation to amend the Optician's Act 1989 to delete references to spectacles as being "medical appliances" now that EC rulings have confirmed that they should not be so described; and
§ What were the costs to the taxpayer in the European Court case regarding the description of spectacles as "medical appliances" and whether they are seeking reimbursement of these costs from the opticians.
§ Baroness Hooper
The judgment given by the European Court is confined exclusively to the interpretation of Article 13A(1)(C) of the sixth (VAT) directive and does not range wider than the VAT field. We therefore do not intend to introduce legislation to amend the Opticians Act 1989.
Disbursements from public funds, including Counsel's fees, amounted to £6,707.75p. Work carried out by Government officials was in the course of their ordinary duties at no extra cost to public funds. It is not practicable to attribute the cost of employment of officials concerned with such cases to particular cases. We will not be seeking reimbursement of the disbursements from the opticians.