Ways and Means

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:19 pm on 13th December 1994.

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Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans , Ribble Valley 7:19 pm, 13th December 1994

I have already made representations to British Gas. It is not a party political matter; I am sure that all hon. Members have made representations on behalf of their constituents. I have received many letters, particularly from pensioners who are extremely keen to pay their bills as soon as they get them. They are not used to having reminders sent, as they pay their bills on time. I hope that will be recognised quickly by British Gas.

The Chancellor talked about the various alternatives for making up the shortfall because the second tranche of VAT on fuel would not be applied. He dismissed them one by one for various reasons. He then considered the three areas where the Chancellor decided the extra revenue was to be raised: tobacco, petrol and alcohol, which are targeted in every Budget.

I must declare an interest, as I have a retail business in Swansea that sells tobacco products. I am also an executive member of the all-party beer group. I have no interest to declare on petrol.

I understand that there is a hand-rolling tobacco product called Drum, which is the third best selling hand-rolling tobacco in the country. It is not sold legally anywhere in Britain for copyright reasons, as it would conflict with another brand called Duma, but it is coming into the country in large quantities. The Chancellor was quite right to recognise that specific problem, and no extra funds were sought from hand-rolling tobacco.

I also accept that the Chancellor has decided to raise extra revenue from tobacco products because of the health reasons, which have been listed time and again in the House. That is one reason why in the past I have raised the problem of the European Community subsidising tobacco production and I hope that sooner rather than later we can eradicate the subsidy to growing tobacco in the European Community. It seems quite absurd to pay people to grow tobacco products in other parts of the European Community and at the same time to impose taxes on British consumers to deter them from smoking it. I hope that we can do something about tobacco subsidies.