Is the Chancellor aware that it has been reported in reputable journals that if we go into the Common Market, whatever the terms, we shall have to have the value-added tax? As the leaders of both parties are committed to going into the Common Market, would it not appear that we shall have the value-added tax if we go in?
It is certainly true that the value-added tax is part of the taxation arrangements of the Common Market, but in the study I have been giving to it I have looked at it irrespective of the question of the Common Market. After all, nine different countries have introduced it. It is a tax of some complexity but of very great attractions indeed.
We made that point entirely clear. Perhaps I could go over it for the hon. Member. The pledge to abolish S.E.T. is firm. We have said that we are also carrying out a review of taxation, and, although there are a number of possibilities, the one to which we have given most attention is the value-added tax. If we introduce a value-added tax, purchase tax will go, too.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the secrecy about the value-added tax is bound to cause concern, not only in Britain but in Europe generally? It is time that the Government came clean on this matter. Or have they dismissed the idea of a value-added tax until they are coerced into it during the course of the negotiations on the Common Market?