HC Deb 19 December 1989 vol 164 cc191-2W
Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the ratio of outstanding personal mortgage debt to disposable incomes before tax in 1966, 1970, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1985 and 1988; what was the average rate of interest payable; and what was the ratio of interest payments to disposable incomes.

Mr. Ryder

Figures for outstanding personal mortgage debt and average building society mortgage rates can be obtained from "Financial Statistics", and figures on personal disposable incomes are given in "United Kingdom National Accounts", both published by the CSO. Figures for average mortgage rates covering all lenders are not available.

Mr. Andrew Smith

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the criteria used at local Customs and Excise offices to determine whether value added tax is charged on small cycle helmets, as opposed to children's cycle helmets; if he will make it his policy to apply a zero value added tax rating on all cycle helmets; and if he will make a statement on the current variation in the application of value added tax on cycle helmets between different local Customs and Excise offices.

Mr. Ryder

[holding answer 18 December 1989]: There is no general relief from value added tax for cyclists' safety helmets and under European Community law no such relief could now be introduced. However helmets falling within the provisions of group 17 of schedule 5 to the Value Added Tax Act 1983, as articles designed for young children and not suitable for older persons, are relieved from the tax. While it is for the sellers of goods to determine their liability under value added tax law, local Customs and Excise offices are glad to offer advice on request. If the hon. Member has any particular problem in mind I would urge him to take it up with the chairman of Customs and Excise.