To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent representations he has received on reducing VAT on church repairs.
The hon. Lady will be aware that the broader EU VAT review has currently reached an impasse following the rejection by the Council of Ministers of the proposals brought forward by the Commission last summer. The EU Presidency has now changed and the matter has yet to be formally brought forward for further discussion. The impending elections to the EU Parliament and the likely changes resulting from the appointment of the new Commission later this year may further delay resolution or even consideration of the EU VAT review.
Meanwhile, the Church VAT Group was delighted that the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme has been extended to March 2006. The Group remains in touch with officials at HM Treasury and we know that the Government are committed to achieving the aim of a VAT reduction in this area.