Orange juice tax angers MPs

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The Independent Online
A TREASURY decision to impose Value Added Tax on freshly squeezed orange juice has provoked outrage among Tory Euro-rebel MPs last night, writes Donald Macintyre.

Freshly squeezed orange juice now joins other soft drinks, which have been subject to VAT since 1974.

Sir Teddy Taylor, MP for Southend East, last night accused the Government of 'slipping' the measure through the Commons without proper debate and said it was the first step on the 'slippery slope' towards imposing VAT on fresh food. Sir Teddy said it was also a health issue.

The decision was approved at an unreported meeting of the standing committee on statutory instruments on Tuesday. Sir John Cope, the Paymaster General, told the committee the Government had decided that freshly squeezed orange juice should not be treated differently from other kinds of fruit juice, total sales of which were over pounds 1bn a year.

But Andrew Smith, a Labour front bench economic spokesman, said he had representations from the industry which showed that the tax would damage the market built up by British firms and that 'there will be an almost immediate loss of 350 jobs in the industry and 1,500 contractors' jobs will also be put at risk'.

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