Clause 66 — VAT: refunds to certain charities

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 25th March 2015.

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Photo of Shabana Mahmood Shabana Mahmood Shadow Minister (Treasury) 3:30 pm, 25th March 2015

I was just about to make exactly that point. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that in 2012, having already done what all Conservative Chancellors do and put up VAT, the Chancellor sought to expand it by applying it to pasties and caravans in the so-called omnishambles Budget. I have always thought that it was a bit of a shame that that term from “The Thick of It” was used, because if the sequence of events that unfolded following that Budget had been presented to the scriptwriters of “The Thick of It”, they would not have touched it. They would have said that even for “The Thick of It” it was an unbelievable series of events. Yet that is what the Chancellor delivered. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the Chancellor tried to expand the scope of VAT, yet today the Conservatives wonder why nobody will believe what the Prime Minister said at Prime Minister’s questions.

We do not have to go back over the past 20 or 30 years. We can just look at the record of the current Chancellor and Prime Minister on VAT. They like to put it up, and they sought to expand its application. I noticed that earlier the Financial Secretary appeared to rule out an expansion of VAT, but I was not entirely sure whether he had done that deliberately. Will he intervene on me to confirm that not only will VAT not go up—that is according to the Prime Minister, although I do not believe it—but it will not be expanded? I wonder why the Financial Secretary is not biting my arm off to intervene and confirm that.