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

Part of Diabetes Prevention (Soft Drinks) – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 18th April 2012.

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Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter 7:00 pm, 18th April 2012

My hon. Friend is exactly right. As I said, the grant already covers only less than half of the cost of repairs, and the £5 million that is being offered to extend it to alterations covers only a quarter of the likely annual cost of those alterations.

A number of churches and cathedrals have already put on hold schemes that were planned or under way. My own cathedral in Exeter faces having to raise several hundred thousand pounds more for its exciting cloister project. The wife of the dean of Wakefield cathedral, which faces an extra £200,000 of costs for alterations, has famously composed a protest song about the VAT hike. The lovely little church in the small Herefordshire village of Llangarron, at which I attended Easter Eucharist, will have to find an extra £60,000 for a project that has been in the pipeline for seven years.

As 26 deans of cathedrals wrote in an unprecedented letter to The Sunday Times on Sunday, this change will seriously jeopardise the sustainability of many of our great buildings, not only for present-day use but for that of future generations. I urge the Government to think again on this very important matter, and I hope, Ms Primarolo, that you will help to facilitate the expression of the will of the House on it shortly.