One of the hottest topics in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire over the last few years has been the 'Pasty Tax'. Today I called in at where it started for me - at 'Hennigan's Top Shop', a very fine fish and chippie on Maengwyn St.. The family who own it were celebrating 30 yrs supplying it's top quality produce. To celebrate the occasion, fish and chips were on offer at £1 for today only. Same from my local in Welshpool, the very excellent 'Andrews' on High St. last Thurs cost me £4.95. Unsurprisingly, there was a long queue down the street all day.
Now my first encounter with Hennigan's was when daughter Anna contacted me almost two yrs ago about the appalling unfairness of having to charge VAT on hot pies, when the nearby supermarket did not charge VAT on pasties. After much investigation and discussion, I called for equalisation of tax on pies and pasties. At the time I was thinking more of exempting hot pies from VAT, but I decided to be supportive when Chancellor introduced VAT on pasties in the recent budget. On BBC News Channel, I was credited with single-handedly inspiring the budget decision to act on this gross unfairness. Well we know what happened to that little campaign. I was left stranded by a U-turn!
Ironically, my main critic over this issue is also from Machynlleth. He's actually started a web site specifically to campaign against me - for all sorts of other reasons as well. I'm sure you'll agree this is quite a coincidence. But I should add that I am looked on with great favour by fish and chip shops in my constituency. Win some and lose some!
Anyway, I went along to join the Hennigan family at their celebration today. I even got to serve myself the fish and chips, for which I paid the princely sum of £1. Mr Hennigan is David and Mrs Hennigan is Eleanor, but she's known locally as Lol. Its a good job she contacted me over the VAT issue, and not the Prime Minister. He could have been a tad confused if she had signed off her letter 'Lol'.