Red Tape

Ruth Porter writes for the Daily Telegraph

Today the pasty is fighting back, but it shouldn’t be. For years it has enjoyed a special exemption and privilege which it should never have had. Companies and consumers of hot pasties have benefited unfairly while fish and chip shop owners and consumers who preferred pizza have had to pay more. Through a strange anomaly bakery goods were exempt from VAT, the Budget changed that, but today Cornish MPs are objecting to the change. Other MPs are now complaining about another reform which will see certain types of caravans subject to VAT as well.

Of course, one of the benefits of our electoral system is that the concerns of local areas of the country are represented in Parliament, but crucially those interests should not be acted on against the best interest of the country as a whole. Exceptions for VAT are a clear case in point. Put simply, it was the situation before that wasn’t fair, not the one that’s been created now. The problem isn’t that the Budget removed various exemptions; it is that it did not remove them all.

Britain’s VAT system is a mess, with arbitrary exceptions all over the place. In recent years this has led to absurd legal battles over whether Pringles are crisps and whether Jaffa Cakes are cakes or biscuits.

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