To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many firms were registered for VAT in (a) 1979 and (b) 1991.
At the end of 1990, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of businesses registered for VAT in the United Kingdom was 1·7 million, compared with 1·3 million at the end of 1979—an increase of almost a third.
Although the figures show a dramatic increase, is not my right hon. and learned Friend being characteristically modest? Does he forget the increase to £35,000 in the exemption limit for VAT? Surely, were not many more businesses created last year?
I was being characteristically direct in answering my hon. Friend's question. Of course, the increase in the total number of firms over the period was not one third, but two thirds—to nearly 3 million, or an average increase of almost 500 every working day.