Clause 314 - Deposit schemes

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:45 am ar 18 Mai 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Llafur, Wallasey 11:45, 18 Mai 2023

Obviously, the VAT rules account for some of the most complex parts of the duties and excise that the Minister has to wrestle with on a day-to-day basis. When one talks to businesses of all sizes, often one of the biggest complaints is about the complexity of the VAT rules. Given how much revenue VAT brings in and how all-encompassing it is, perhaps that is not surprising, but I wonder whether the Minister is happy with increased complexity that the changes bring. Perhaps she could give us a flavour of her thoughts and considerations in dealing with the issue of deposit schemes and the complexity of the VAT rules.

Given that VAT will be levied only on the first seller, the Minister has clearly tried to make the rules as simple as possible. But how much complexity does she think the clause will introduce, given that it will be applicable to plastic and cans—presumably aluminium—both of which are easily recyclable, but not to glass? I assume that she is not introducing glass straight away because of the sheer number of glass bottles and the size of the task. Again, perhaps she could give us a flavour of the thinking behind excluding glass, and tell us whether the intention is to include it at a later stage. How complex does she think doing that might be?

I am old enough, as I am sure—I am going to put this politely—you are, Mr Stringer, to remember when we had deposit return schemes for glass, long before anyone thought about digitally scanning anything or any of the computer-based structures that I assume will facilitate the VAT inspectors’ task. Perhaps the Minister could give us some indication of that. Again, how much revenue does she think will have to be forgone?

What assumptions have His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the tax inspectors made about the actual cost of schemes such as this in revenue forgone? Clearly, the idea—to incentivise good behaviour that will assist in increasing recycling—is one we would all support. We all want that to work, but if it is not done properly, it could be an enormous fiddling thing that does not really have much effect at all. All of us would applaud the decision not to impact the customer and, clearly, we want to see the containers for recycling brought back.

Can the Minister say a little about whether she has considered how the scheme might interact with the packaging regulations? Again, they are a moveable feast, given that we have left the EU and they have had to be changed as well, but there is clearly a direct connection between the two. We must make certain that the way the packaging regulations work increases, if possible, the incentive for the recycling to work.

There is also the landfill tax, which might have an impact on behaviour. I am sure that the Minister has had a towel on her head thinking all that through to try to make certain that it works as intended. It is currently due to come into effect in 2025. Given the complexity, is she confident that that will happen, given that there have already been delays and the scheme itself is now smaller than most people want it to be, because it excludes glass?

Given the complexity of VAT—when it must be done, when the returns must be made and how difficult that can be for businesses—does the Minister think that moving on without a set timescale, and the uncertainty created by that, give the best background for a successful introduction? The delivery of the scheme in Scotland seems to have run into trouble. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife has insights that he can share with us—it is almost as late as a TransPennine Express train.

I am interested in what the Minister has to say about some of my questions. The scheme might seem to be a fiddling little thing, but it fiddles with a very complex tax and interacts with many other things. A bit more insight into the Minister’s thinking and her confidence about whether the scheme can be delivered on time would be really welcome.