HC Deb 15 March 1976 vol 907 cc415-7W
Sir Bernard Braine

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why VAT is in the public expenditure White Paper, for the financial years (a) 1973–74, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1976–77 and 1979–80, in 1975 survey prices and (b) 1973–74, 1974–75 and 1975–76 in current prices, distinguishing also the separate components under each programme heading as far as is practicable.

Mr. Joel Barnett

The table below shows the subsidy elements in those of the 15 main programmes which include subsidies. Figures at outturn prices for the year 1975–76 are not yet available.

levied on some items of an undertaker's bill of costs in respect of the disposal of the remains of the dead, such as a headstone and flowers, but not in respect of a coffin and general services in respect of funeral arrangements; why such a distinction is made: and what would be the cost to the Exchequer of exempting undertaker's bills.

Mr. Robert Sheldon

The exemption for disposal of the remains of the dead covers only essential expenditure directly related to the funeral arrangements. To extend it to other items such as headstones and flowers would include discretionary expenditure for which relief could not be justified, especially since it would introduce distortions of competition, as these items are not always provided by the funeral undertaker. It is not possible to estimate the cost to the revenue of fully exempting undertakers' bills.