asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many boat builders are registered for VAT in Scotland; how many persons are employed by them; and what estimate he has made of the likely effects of VAT on the industry in terms of competitiveness and employment.
I regret that it would not be possible to give reliable figures for boat builders alone as the VAT trade classification covers ship builders, boat builders and marine engineers. I would also refer the hon. Member to the answer which my hon. Friend the Minister of State gave on 1st May to the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles).
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advice and written procedures are provided to VAT inspectors on the best methods of helping traders in the collection of taxes; how many meetings have taken place between inspectors and traders designed to achieve co-operation in the administration of the tax; and whether any requests for such meetings have been refused.
VAT officers on visits to registered traders are instructed to give what help and guidance appears to be necessary for the trader's understanding and discharge of his statutory obligations. Moreover, Customs and Excise, in a general written instruction, encourages its staff to give talks on official matters to local bodies. In connection with the introduction of VAT, particular encouragement was given, and from the summer of 1972 until VAT became operative in April 1973 VAT officers conducted or participated in local meetings of traders and trade associations with the object of giving help and guidance in the understanding of the new tax. Once the tax became operative there was less call for such meetings, but, within the limits of the staff available, requests for them were and are continuing to be met.Precise information about the number of such meetings is not available, but a very large number have been held or attended. I am not aware of any instance of a request for a meeting not having been met, but, if my hon. Friend will write to me about any case which he may have in mind, I shall be happy to look into it.