There could be all sorts of perverse consequences. The ramifications have not been thought through. We know that the change is not necessary. We know that it has been driven by the Government's assumption that they must introduce it. As I have said, I believe that it has been driven first by an ideological desire to be exceptionally hair-shirted and stern with the deficit-unnecessarily, given that the markets would be entirely content with a slightly longer-profile reduction in the deficit, as long as it was being reduced-and secondly by a wish to stack up a bit of revenue for a give-away further down the line.
Whether we are talking about the effect of the VAT increase on the value of certain retail industries-I believe that shares in Halfords fell dramatically as soon as it was announced-and on big ticket sales, or about its effect across the board in terms of social and economic policy and, in particular, on those who can afford it least, it is regressive and regrettable. It should be reviewed after a year or two at the latest, and the Treasury should show leniency to those who can least afford it, especially children and young families.