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Budget (Representations)

Volume 131: debated on Thursday 14 April 1988

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5.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received on his Budget.

My right hon. Friend has received widespread support for his Budget.

Nevertheless, it is a pity that a Treasury Minister did not have time to meet representatives of the general aviation industry before the Chancellor's Budget, which might then have pleased that industry a little more. Does my hon. Friend think it fair that jet airliners pay no duty on the Avtur fuel that they use, while the general aviation industry, which is 95 per cent. piston engine, pays duty on its Avgas? Does my hon. Friend not think that that is unfair?

I am sorry that I did not have the chance of meeting my hon. Friend on this occasion as I have done in previous years. On his specific question, the duty on Avgas was reduced to half the duty on petrol in 1982, and there is no justification for a further reduction. Avgas is a high-lead petrol and many cars could run on it. The pump price of Avgas limits abuse. If the duty were removed there would be a serious risk of the diversion of Avgas to road fuel use and significant revenue loss.

Given that economic stability at home and constructive economic co-operation abroad are among the Budget's prime objectives, how does the Minister reconcile yesterday's G7 commitment to stable exchange rates with recent serious policy disagreements within the Treasury and at No. 10 about both interest rate and exchange rate policy?

Given the first half of the hon. Gentleman's question, he must have been very pleased by yesterday's announcement.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a Budget, not for the rich people of this country, but for the 25 million people engaged in employment and producing the real wealth of this nation? Is it not the result of those people keeping more of their own money that indirectly leads to our creating more real wealth for use in our health services and social benefits programmes?

My hon. Friend is quite right to draw attention to the fact that the Budget does not involve a giveaway. It involves less money being taken from taxpayers. My hon. Friend is also entirely right to say that it is the success of the whole economy that has contributed to our present prosperity.

Is the Minister aware of the widespread resentment at the Chancellor's rates bill for his mansion at Dorneywood in Buckinghamshire? That bill will fall from £6,400 to a mere £400 for the Chancellor and his wife when the poll tax is introduced. That sort of unfair taxation has caused widespread resentment.

Some of the difficulties that the Opposition are experiencing at the moment may arise from the fact that that question has absolutely nothing to do with the original one.

So that the Labour party may make a proper international comparison, can my hon. Friend confirm that the top rate of income tax in the Soviet Union is 41 per cent.?

My hon. Friend has always been a man of the widest possible information, and I am delighted that he has added to mine.

Bearing in mind that the Minister has other political responsibilities as well as his duties at the Treasury, can he estimate how much the Conservative party will gain and how much the Revenue will lose as a result of the proposal in the Budget to remove inheritance tax completely from all donations to political parties?

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite right to draw attention to the fact that I have separate responsibilities. The office of Paymaster General is quite separate from the Treasury. In neither capacity, however, do I propose to crystal gaze on the question that the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked.

Will my hon. Friend reconsider the matter of Avgas in view of the experience with other fuels, namely that by changing the colour of the fuel one can ensure that it is not used improperly? Does my hon. Friend agree that that method is better than using taxation for the same purpose?

I will treat my hon. Friend's question as a very early representation for next year's Budget.