§ Mr. Forman
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the latest meeting of the European Community's Economic and Finance Council.
§ Mr. Ryder
The ECOFIN Council met in Brussels on 18 December. The Chancellor of the Exchequer represented the United Kingdom.
The abolition of fiscal frontiers was discussed. The Presidency concluded that the Community should aim to reach a decision on VAT standard rates by the end of 1991 on the basis of a rate band or a minimum rate within a 14 to 20 per cent. band. The Chancellor of the Exchequer recorded the United Kingdom's view that Community decisions on tax rates are neither necessary nor desirable, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that there is no present intention of diverging from the 14 to 20 per cent. bracket of the standard rate of VAT. The Chancellor of the Exchequer reiterated also the importance to the United Kingdom of retaining zero rates. We now expect work to move forward on the technical systems of collecting VAT and excise duties after 1992, on a basis that is fully acceptable to the United Kingdom.
Eleven member states, including the United Kingdom, were prepared to accept the Commission's proposals for improving mutual assistance between tax authorities to counter tax evasion, but Luxembourg is still unable to do SO.