Severn Bridge Tolls

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 26th March 2014.

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Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education) 11:30 am, 26th March 2014

What discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on removing VAT from the Severn bridge tolls.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Government Whip

My hon. Friend the Secretary of State has regular discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Once the Severn crossings revert to public ownership at the end of the concession, which is anticipated to be in 2018, VAT will no longer be payable on the tolls.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education)

Will the Minister confirm that in their discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he and the Welsh Secretary have firmly taken this matter into account and that, should there be a continuation of this Administration, they are committed to removing this VAT, which is basically a tax on the south Wales economy?

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Government Whip

We in the Wales Office are very mindful of the concerns of businesses in south Wales, in particular, about the levels of tolls. No decisions have yet been made on what the tolling regime will look like at the end of the concession period after 2018, but we are hearing representations from Welsh business. As the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend Mr Goodwill, confirmed in a recent Westminster Hall debate, at the end of the concession period, VAT is no longer to be levied on the tolls.

Photo of Hywel Williams Hywel Williams Shadow PC Spokesperson (Education), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Health), Shadow PC Spokesperson (International Development)

Will the Minister also press the Treasury to look at VAT on the tourism business, which would be a great fillip to employment and to the rural economy?

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Government Whip

We have discussed VAT and tourism on several occasions at Wales questions. The fact remains that if we were to lower VAT on tourism and hospitality in the way that I think the hon. Gentleman is suggesting, somebody else has to pay the shortfall. Taxation will need to be levied elsewhere at a time when we have to bring in some revenue to make further progress on reducing the deficit.