§ 9. Mr. Brotherton
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the rate of VAT on garden furniture.
§ Mr. Brotherton
Will the Minister confirm that the rate of VAT on garden tools, such as spades, forks and rakes, is 25 per cent.? Is it not monstrous that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in one of his many residences, can take his ease in an 8 per cent. VAT-rated deckchair, whereas those of us who have gardens or allotments and are growing vegetables to help both ourselves and the country have to pay a 25 per cent. rate of VAT on the tools that we use?
§ Mr. Davies
With respect, the analogy which the hon. Gentleman has drawn is not correct. The correct analogy is between garden furniture and furniture in general. That is why garden and household furniture are rated at 8 per cent. Tools are in a separate category. Power garden tools are charged at 25 per cent. because they are large, reasonably easily identified items, and the burden on the retailer caused by a higher rate of VAT on those items is not considerable.
§ Mr. Adley
Is it not also inequitable that the Prime Minister can enjoy his round of golf with his golf clubs taxed at 8 per cent. VAT—[Interruption.] It is no good hon. Gentlemen moaning. Many of my constituents' jobs are in jeopardy because they work in companies which 704 build boats and produce ancillary equipment. There is no point in the Government's pretending that they do not know or care that the jobs of people in many parts of the South Coast region, Scotland and other boat building areas are in jeopardy. Moreover, exports are being lost as a result of the Government's deliberate acts of policy.
§ Mr. Davies
If the hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to attend the debates on the Finance Bill he would have heard that various small items of leisure occupations, such as golf balls, are not charged at 25 per cent. VAT, because such a provision would substantially increase the burden on retailers. We deliberately chose the larger items to reduce the burden on retailers as far as possible. If the hon. Gentleman wants the rate increased to 25 per cent on smaller items, we shall of course consider it. However, I do not believe that the retailers in his constituency will like it.
§ Mr. David Howell
I assure my hon. Friend that had he attended the Finance Bill Committee discussions he would have discovered no reason at all why boats should be picked out for the higher rate of VAT. He would have discovered chat the Government regard non-essential things as subjects for higher-rated VAT, and they include not only canoes, but electric kettles and electric irons. The Government consider that all those items are non-essential.