3 March 1998

JohnTownend MP (Con. East Yorkshire)

On the proposition that "green taxes" can be popular because not only do they raise money for the Government, they also help protect the environment.

When there was the big row over the introduction of VAT on fuel I went to see Norman Lamont, Chancellor of the Exchequer, as Chairman of the Conservative Back Bench Finance Committee representing back benchers, and I was surprised that Norman was so pleased with himself, and he said: ‘This is a marvellous tax, John, it is an environmental tax, it will help us to fulfill all obligations under the Rio agreement – it should please all the environmentalists and at the same time we’ll get lots of money’, and I said ‘Norman, that’s for the birds. As soon as this is announced you’ll upset all the old age pensioners but you won’t see an environmentalist for dust.’

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