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Value Added Tax

Volume 888: debated on Tuesday 18 March 1975

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the guiding principles by which VAT inspectors select which companies and individuals they will choose for scrutiny visits.

The selection of traders to be visited takes into account all known relevant factors.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the lack of suitable osteopathic treatment under the National Health Service, he will relieve osteopaths from the requirement to charge VAT on their fees.

Exemption from VAT for suppliers of medical services is limited to those persons covered by the statutory medical registers. Registration of medical bodies and the question of the provision of medical treatment under the National Health Service are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in considering the zero-rating of the arts for the purposes of value added tax, he will take account of the claims of public museums for their acquisitions to be treated in the same manner as those of all foreign buyers; and if he will specify any representative bodies which have recently communicated with him urging such zero-rating.

I shall bear in mind my hon. Friend's suggestion together with the representations I have received recently from the Chairmen of the National Art-Collections Fund and the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions VAT officials have searched premises or interrogated taxpayers between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The number of occasions on which VAT officers have executed search warrants and made associated inquiries between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. is four.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the number of occasions on which VAT officials have entered traders' homes, other than during normal office hours, under the powers given in Section 37 of the Finance Act 1972; and, in the event of previous figures not being kept, if he will arrange for such records to be kept.

Entry by VAT officers of premises, including a trader's home where it is used in connection with the carrying on of a business, is usually effected by agreement with or at the invitation of the trader rather than by formal exercise of powers under Section 37. Entry of a trader's home in other circumstances is only at the request of the trader, or exceptionally when a justice's search warrant has been issued in respect of the premises. Premises are entered for VAT purposes only during normal working hours except when a trader has requested or agreed otherwise or when, exceptionally, there are reasons for executing a search warrant outside those hours. in these circumstances a record of the kind proposed is not considered necessary. Records are kept in respect of search warrants.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what studies he has initiated into the administrative problems of introducing different rates of VAT for different commodities and different services; how much extra would be the cost of collection; what would be the requirements for extra staff in the Customs and Excise; and whether he will publish a Green Paper on the pros and cons of changing over to multi-rates of VAT before deciding to make such a change.

Customs and Excise has studied the administrative problems involved and has examined the systems used in other EEC countries which have adopted multi-rate VAT structures. It has also consulted a wide range of trade interests, with the prime objective of ensuring that procedures would remain as simple as possible, with the minimum cost and inconvenience to the trading community, if additional rates of VAT should be introduced in this country.I can give no estimate of the extra cost of collection or the requirements for extra staff: they would depend on what additional rates might be introduced and on the goods and services affected.No Green Paper is necessary: the Customs and Excise study was very widely publicised and there has been full discussion with trade bodies.