LETTER : Parties rescued a VAT absurdity

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The Independent Online
Sir: How exquisitely timed your leading article "The main parties need a deeper shade of green" is (12 March). On your news pages you report a heavy defeat for a backbench amendment to the Finance Bill, an amendment that would have - in the words of former Chancellor Norman Lamont in his 1993 Budget speech - removed "an anomaly which makes a nonsense of any attempt to use the tax system to assist the environment".

The anomaly in question is the patent absurdity of charging VAT on energy conservation materials at 17.5 per cent whilst levying it at 8 per cent on energy consumption. What is so depressing is that both Conservative and Labour front benches colluded to stop this distortion being rectified.

ANDREW WARREN

Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy

London N1

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