New Clause 1 — Value Added Tax: limitation on new orders

Part of Diabetes Prevention (Soft Drinks) – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 18th April 2012.

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Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Chair, Education Committee 6:45 pm, 18th April 2012

In truth, if we were starting with a blank sheet the tax system would look nothing like it does today, but we are not starting with a blank sheet. We have an industry with the characteristics I have described, yet at this of all times we are about to introduce VAT. Will it raise £500 million or £1 billion towards the massive deficit left to us by Labour? No. At best, it will raise £45 million a year while damaging the economy in east Yorkshire and in rural areas across the UK. As a practical politician, keen though I am on tax simplification, it is not obvious to me that this particular simplification is justified now. It is not, and the Government should think again.

The Government are consulting; they accept that they do not have all the answers and the proposal is out for consultation. The shadow Chancellor may not take it at face value that the Government are serious and that they are consulting properly, but I do. I have met the Chancellor and he has told me that is the case, so I call on the Government to listen to the representations from the Chamber today and to those that will come from the industry over coming days and weeks, and to think again. Given the appalling inheritance from the shadow Chancellor, there is no embarrassment in looking hard at every area. There is a good intellectual case for the proposal in theory, but in practice it is a bad idea. It will not bring in enough money. It threatens many jobs and it should be rejected, as I am sure it will be.