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Volume 972: debated on Friday 2 November 1979

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the marked decrease in the tourist trade during 1979, he will give serious consideration to the introduction of a system, similar to that currently in force in Austria, whereby foreign visitors will be entitled, on leaving the United Kingdom, to recover all value added tax payments made by them during their visits in respect of all individual accounts of, or in excess of, £35 or some other similar minimum sum.

We already have a similar system to that currently in force in Austria. As in Austria, our schemes require the completion of a form at the time of purchase, presentation of the goods and form to a Customs authority for certification as to export, and the return of the form to the shop. The refund of VAT is made, in both the United Kingdom and Austria, by the retailer. By agreement with our partners in the EEC, a lower value limit is applied for sales under these schemes to travellers who are resident in another Community country, but no official limit for other travellers has been set. The decision to apply any limit is left to the individual retailer, as is the choice as to whether he operates the export schemes.