asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the VAT inspectors in the London area have no authority to request the appropriate VAT office in Surrey to inspect on their behalf the VAT records of a London VAT registered retailer at the place in Surrey where the records are kept and held; why the London based inspectors refuse to inspect the records in Surrey and demand their production in London; if he will change this situation in the interests of decentralisation; and if he will make a statement.
A VAT officer will request a colleague in another local VAT office to make inquiries on his behalf where this is essential, but he will not normally accede to a request by a trader for this procedure to be invoked on the ground that records are kept away from his principal place of business. VAT control is not solely concerned with the examination of a trader's records; it is usually necessary to raise queries with the trader and to be able to look at certain aspects of his business activities. On grounds of both effectiveness and economical administration, Customs and Excise generally requires these measures to be taken at the same time and at a trader's principal place of business. A registered retailer should usually not be visited very frequently, and I am satisfied with the general practice.