I had hoped to clear up my point in an earlier intervention on the Minister, but I fear that I was not happy with her answer so I shall try again and extend my case a little on the important matter of VAT on energy-saving materials. That is the principal issue at stake in new clause 15. As I was trying to explain to the Minister, many of us feel that it would be quite wrong to increase VAT on energy-saving materials, given that the House decided to choose the lowest rate that we are allowed to impose under European Union law. A case was then lost in the European Court, and the Government have wisely been undertaking a very long consultation into how they might implement this ill-conceived and unwanted judgement. The longer they consider it, the better, and the sooner we get out of the European Union, the sooner we can bring the whole charade to a happy end.
To many of us, this illustrates exactly what was wrong with our membership of the European Union, and this is something that we can offer to our constituents as we come out. They voted to leave and to take back control of their laws. That includes their laws over taxes. During the campaign, we on the leave side made a great deal of how we wanted to scrap VAT on energy-saving materials. Like many people in this House, we believe that we could do much more to save and conserve energy and to raise fuel efficiency, and if we did not tax those materials, perhaps they would be a bit cheaper for people. That would send a clear message that this was something that we believed in.
I urge the Minister to go as far as she can in saying that this Government have absolutely no wish to put up VAT on energy-saving materials, and that they would not do so if they were completely free to make their own tax decisions. I would love her to go a bit further—this might be asking quite a lot—and say that once we are free of the European Union requirements, we will be scrapping VAT on energy-saving materials altogether. It is not a huge money-spinner for the Government, and its abolition would send a very good message. It would particularly help people struggling in fuel poverty, who find energy-saving materials expensive. The extra VAT on them is far from helpful.
The Minister suggested to me that the Brexit Secretary was dealing with this matter, but I can assure her that he is not. He made a clear statement on these matters in the House yesterday and wisely told us—I repeat this for the benefit of those who did not hear him—that it is his role to advise and work with the Prime Minister to get our powers back. His job is to ensure that this House and all of us can once again settle the United Kingdom’s taxes without having to accept the European Union’s judgements and overrides. However, it will be for Treasury Ministers and the wider Cabinet to recommend how we use those wider and new powers and to bring to the House their proposals once they are free to do so.
I hope that we trigger article 50 as soon as possible. This is another reason why we should not rush to impose higher, crippling taxes on energy saving, because it is something we want to encourage. It is another incentive for us to get on with actually leaving the Union. A bigger cash incentive that is relevant to Budget matters in this Finance Bill is that we would soon be able to get back the £10 billion a year. Remember that every month we delay getting out of the European Union we have to raise another £850 million through a Finance Bill such as this to send away and not get back. I urge the Minister to take the matter seriously and to say that this Government have absolutely no intention of increasing VAT on energy-saving materials unless they are legally forced to do so. Will she confirm my view that the sooner we are out, the sooner we can have a rational policy on this most important matter?