I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. On behalf of the House may I extend warm birthday congratulations for tomorrow to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and hope that he may still enjoy confectionery despite the penal rates of taxation imposed upon it. Does my hon. Friend agree that there would be considerably more employment in the manufacture of confectionery if, along with other EEC countries, we re-regulated VAT on confectionery in line with food?
Obviously I join my hon. Friend in wishing my right hon. Friend a happy birthday. I understand that I must extend the same congratulations to my hon. Friend, because he shares a birthday with my right hon. Friend. I am sure that confectionery will be in order.
I have noted the points that my hon. Friend has persistently and assiduously made in the House on behalf of an industry which is of great importance to his constituency and the country. He will appreciate that I cannot be more specific during this pre-Budget period.
I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, who has also pursued the interests of the confectionery industry in Adjournment debates and otherwise. He has displayed a great knowledge of the details and complexities of the industry. The hon. Gentleman should take up his argument with his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who imposed VAT on confectionery in the first place.
Humbug is in more plentiful supply in some places than in others and, doubtless, that determines the price. Taxation does not determine the price. The rules of taxation, as they apply to biscuits, are somewhat strange and include as confectionery only buscuits that are entirely covered with chocolate. Those that are partially covered with chocolate are, for some reason, exempt.