SNP European Leader Ian Hudghton MEP is to press the UK Government and the European Commission for a categorical assurance that there will be no threat from Europe to the current exemption from VAT for children's clothes.

The call comes after Mr Hudghton challenged incoming European Taxation Commissioner Ingrida Udre of Latvia on the issue at a special European Parliament hearing today (Thursday). Mrs Udre failed to give an assurance that she favoured continuation of VAT exemptions for goods such as children's clothes and instead said that the exemption would need to be 'justified'.

Each candidate for a post on the new European Commission has to undergo a three hour grilling before a select committee of MEPs. Euro-MPs will vote to accept or reject the Commission later this month, but a negative view on one individual could force a reshuffle or calls for a fresh candidate.

Speaking from Brussels, Ian Hudghton MEP said:

"Mrs Udre's answer on zero VAT for children's clothes set alarm bells ringing. I was very concerned that someone tasked with responsibility for taxation in the new European Commission could argue that not applying VAT to children's clothes would need to be 'justified'. I take the opposite view entirely - there can be no justification for meddling with this exemption which is so important to many hard working families.

"I will be seeking urgent assurances from the UK Government and the incoming European Commission President Mr Barroso that they will not tolerate any threat to the VAT exemption for children's clothes. Mrs Udre also needs to provide urgent clarification of her position.

"Many families are already under enough pressure when it comes to buying clothes for their children. We must oppose any threat from Europe that would unfairly penalise hard working families."

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