Does the Minister acknowledge that VAT was 8 per cent. when the Labour Government left office but that it is now 17.5 per cent.—an increase of 119 per cent? Does not that bear heavily on poorer homes? The Government claim that they are reducing taxation and many people appear to believe that. Does the Minister agree that the conclusion to be drawn from that is that although the Government are not good at reducing taxation, they are most adept at black propaganda?
May I welcome the Minister to his first Question Time as the Paymaster General? Will he not be corrupted immediately by using selective statistics and admit that the burden of taxation has gone up and that, in spite of what it says, the Conservative party has increased the burden of taxation on the British people compared with the days when Labour was in office? Will he also make the pledge that the Prime Minister made before the election, that the scope of VAT will not be widened one iota during this Parliament?
I am happy to reinforce what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, in so far as I can add anything to it. Obviously, we stand entirely by what he said. On the earlier part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I certainly have not been corrupted and I have no intention of being corrupted. The statistics that I gave are the relevant statistics and they are extremely important to the people concerned. In any case, the amount of taxation to which the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) referred concerned VAT.