8. When he next plans to meet representatives of high street retailers to discuss levels of tax; and if he will make a statement. 
I met small business representatives in Inverness on Saturday as part of small business Saturday. In response to concerns expressed by small businesses, the Government have taken decisive action that has reduced employment and property taxes paid by high street retailers. As of April this year, businesses can claim a deduction of up to £2,000 in their national insurance contributions, and next year 300,000 shops, pubs and cafes will receive a business rates discount of up to £1,500.
The Minister is probably not aware—there is no reason why he should be—that I have recently been visiting shops in the high streets of both King’s Lynn and Hunstanton. Is he aware that they are delighted—absolutely thrilled—with the business rate discount that is now being raised to £1,500? Can he give me an estimate of how many shops in my constituency will benefit from that?
I was not aware of my hon. Friend’s shopping habits, but I am very glad to hear that he has been spending time with small businesses in his constituency.I can tell him that in the King’s Lynn and west Norfolk area there are 1,280 small businesses that will benefit from the £1,500 discount. That is something worth celebrating in his constituency, as it is across the country.
Does the Chief Secretary agree that a further rise in VAT would be a hammer blow to small businesses in Wrexham and across the country? Does he also know that a Labour Government have never increased VAT?
I am not sure that last fact is absolutely correct. The level of VAT we have at the moment I think is the right one for the country and I certainly would not advocate any further increases. The right measures for small businesses are the reductions in business rates that we have put in place, which I would hope the hon. Gentleman would welcome. The fundamental review of business rates that we are now undertaking is an opportunity for every Member of this House, and small business across the country, to make the argument on how they want this outdated and outmoded system to be reformed.