Does my hon. Friend realise that many small businesses in my constituency of Basildon and throughout the country are under increasing pressure to meet VAT payments, while larger firms seem to be extending their line of credit? Will he assist by introducing a flexible payment system? Does he agree that many of those small firms are the life blood of our country and that it would be a mistake to kill the goose which might possibly lay the golden egg?
I am not sure exactly what my hon. Friend has in mind in terms of a flexible payment system, but I shall certainly bring the point to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, who is responsible for Customs and Excise matters. As for larger companies which are slow in making payments to small businesses in Basildon and many other parts of the country, I hope that those who behave in that way will note my hon. Friend's comments.
Is the Economic Secretary aware of the extra-statutory concession that was introduced in 1981, which was not debated in Parliament, which extended to barristers the right to defer payment of VAT until they had received payment from their clients? Will he examine the amendment that I have tabled for the Report stage of the Finance Bill, which would extend that notable right to 121 further categories of traders? May we have equality in the tax system? Will the Economic Secretary ensure that the Whips instruct his Back Benchers to vote for my amendment if Mr. Speaker wishes to select it?