Value Added Tax Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:59 am on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Treasury) 11:59 am, 8th February 2019

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After considering these matters of history, let me touch on the question of which goods and services VAT is applied to. The choice of which goods and services we apply reduced rates to is political, not just technical. It is an example of the priorities we have as a society. We see that in some of the items that are exempt from VAT, such as sports activities because we want to encourage physical and mental health, and admission charges to museums, art exhibitions and education services because we think that that sort of thing is good for the education and mental health of our nation. There has been much discussion—I thank hon. Members in all parts of the House for this—about the imposition of VAT on sanitary products. When the rate was reduced by the last Labour Government, it was the lowest rate permissible under European legislation. On the other hand, my party unveiled plans ahead of the 2017 general election to charge VAT on private school fees. The money we raised could have been used to pay for free school meals for all primary school children—a policy that has already been implemented at local level by some really insightful Labour councils, including my own in Newham.

The current Chancellor was reportedly considering copying the idea—if newspapers are ever to be believed.