Value Added Tax Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 10:35 am, 8th February 2019

If we look at things in a dynamic way, what is the extent of the burden on the health service and social services of having people who are unnecessarily cold in their own homes because they cannot afford the cost of heating? I give that as an example of why we need to consider the wider picture, rather than just focusing on the accountants and the numbers. I do not know whether my hon. Friend is an accountant, but if he is, I had not intended any criticism of him specifically. As the public’s representatives, we should be examining such things on the basis of what is in their interest. If there ever was a demonstration of how hostile people are to the idea of being taxed on domestic fuel or power, it was apparent during the Christchurch by-election to which I referred earlier.

I presume that the only reason why my hon. Friend would be in favour of some of the items in clause 2(2) is that there would hardly be any significant cost associated with them. However, if one thinks about repairs and improvements to historic buildings, for example, is it not important that there should be an incentive? There certainly should not be a disincentive for people to repair and improve historic buildings—the heritage of our of our great nation. As for insulating materials for home improvement, surely it is sensible that if people are to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, they should not be subject to a disincentive tax.

I shall now turn to clause 2(2)(b). Fitness is something of which we speak frequently in in this House, and it is directly linked with the health service, the obesity agenda and so on. Why are we charging VAT on a whole range of fitness services? How can that be consistent with the public policy objective of encouraging people to get fit and thereby not only improve their quality of life, but relieve the burden on the health service?