Parliamentary Sketch : Back off – pasty on board!

Posted on: 31st May 2012

Perhaps the unwarranted assault on our humble pasty was just a cunning ploy – a little like the unprovoked petrol-panic? Just a device to kick-start an important sector of our economy.

I’m on my bike; as usual during a Parliamentary recess week. But the Pasty-fuel queues have been almost as long as those at some petrol stations. It seems that no self-respecting politician can be seen without a pasty to hand. We’re making our point and hope the Chancellor will listen.

As everyone knows in this the Pasty-Mecca of the western world, a proper pasty is fine when eaten cold (or ‘below ambient temperature’, as the Tax man describes it). But when you’re hungry, it’s not easy to wait for it to cool down! So why is the Chancellor being so mean? As Ann (Muller), famous pasty maker from the Lizard explained to me, “I note he’s not putting up the tax on his cold caviar!” Fellow pasty supremos have likewise been in deep dudgeon when I’ve spoken to them.

But what do we do? The Chancellor’s ingenuity has a seductively simple logic to it. All he’s doing, so the story goes, is to “clarify the definition of ‘hot takeaway food'” and to apply the same rules to all. Takeaway fish and chips, burger and kebab sellers have quite understandably risen up to say that VAT has been applied to their goods for years, so why should the pasty be exempt? Fair enough. But, without wishing to sound rude, I wouldn’t want to eat those foods cold! They are intended to be eaten hot.

What seems to have lain behind the Chancellor’s hot takeaway food plan is the obvious inconsistency between hot takeaway chicken from a high street takeaway business (where VAT is chargeable) and hot chicken from a supermarket (where it is not). Fine, iron out those unfairnesses, but please don’t put at risk one of the important value-added industries which will help to raise Cornwall out of our current status as the poorest region in the UK.

So my proposal to the Chancellor this week is to acknowledge the special and unique status of the Cornish pasty, which just a few years ago was given it’s own protected identity. The result of this is that to call your pasty “Cornish” it has to actually be made in Cornwall using a specified traditional method and style. The Chancellor has it in his power to at least make an exemption for our famous and now very talked about National dish.

3rd April 2012