Vat

Oral Answers to Questions — National Finance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th June 1992.

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Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley , City of York 12:00 am, 11th June 1992

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has received any recent representations to make changes to value added tax rates.

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

My right hon. Friend receives many representations on taxation.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley , City of York

As the Minister responsible for setting VAT rates, can the right hon. Gentleman tell me the current percentage rate charged on the following products: a milk chocolate digestive biscuit, a deep frozen chocolate mousse, and a Kit Kat bar? If he cannot give an answer, will he get rid of the confusion by rating all such products at the general food rate of zero?

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

It would probably be more useful if I told the hon. Gentleman that Customs and Excise are reviewing legislation on the VAT treatment of snacks to take account of developments in the market.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East

Did the Chancellor of the Exchequer have the opportunity on Tuesday to raise with Commissioner Scrivener her reported comment that she will take Britain to court next year if we have not charged VAT on food, electricity and gas? Has he received any legal advice from Government officials on whether the Commission would have the right to go to the court to seek to oblige Britain to charge VAT on those items—which are zero-rated—under the terms of the Single European Act, which calls on member states to charge VAT at a harmonised level, as is necessary to complete the internal market?

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

We have received legal advice and are satisfied that all our zero rates meet the criteria of the sixth directive, which is what matters. As I said in answer to an earlier question, it would take unanimity in the Council of Ministers to alter that, and we obviously would not agree.

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

The whole House will welcome an assurance from the Minister that the Government intend neither to widen the scope of VAT nor to increase the rates. I invite him to give that assurance to the House.

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

We have no plans and no need to raise or extend VAT, as my right hon. Friends have said on numerous occasions.