Is my hon. Friend aware that many retailers in Basildon, Leigh-on-Sea and Southend are reporting an upturn in trade, in spite of it having been a very difficult time for them? Does he share their anxiety that the threatened imposition of the social chapter, the minimum wage and new taxation policies advocated by the Opposition might damage the recovery?
I have a message for the voters of Basildon, Leigh-on-Sea and Southend: they are right to be anxious. I am anxious—my hon. Friend is right to be anxious—that nothing so dreadful should happen to these good people that they should be burdened with a Labour Government.
As we are talking about retail trends, is the Minister aware of the problem affecting mail order companies? Has he made representations to the Treasury on the problems that the industry faces and the huge effect that they could have on the jobs and services that it provides? Will he make representations to his colleagues in the Treasury to ensure that the VAT argument is sorted out?