Tourist Spending: VAT - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:17 pm on 24 May 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Doocey Baroness Doocey Liberal Democrat 3:17, 24 May 2023

I find it so difficult to understand why the Government keep saying that the reintroduction of VAT-free shopping for tourists would be a problem for the country and would cost much more than it would bring in. All the mounting evidence suggests that the opposite is the case. The tourists who come to the UK at the moment are spending about the same as they did in 2019, but US tourists who are going to France, Spain and Italy are spending at the rate of three times what they did in 2019. Does the Minister really believe that this disparity is nothing to do with the fact that we abolished duty-free spending for tourists? I ask the Minister to at least re-look at the figures as a matter of urgency, because our retailers are really struggling, and they need and deserve a level playing field.