All 7 contributions to the Finance Act 2018 (Ministerial Extracts Only)

Read Full Bill Debate Texts

Tue 28th Nov 2017
Budget Resolutions
Commons Chamber

1st reading: House of Commons
Mon 11th Dec 2017
Finance (No. 2) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading: House of Commons
Mon 18th Dec 2017
Finance (No. 2) Bill
Commons Chamber

Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons
Tue 19th Dec 2017
Finance (No. 2) Bill
Commons Chamber

Committee: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
Thu 11th Jan 2018
Finance (No. 2) Bill (Fourth sitting)
Public Bill Committees

Committee Debate: 4th sitting: House of Commons
Wed 21st Feb 2018
Finance (No. 2) Bill
Commons Chamber

3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Thu 8th Mar 2018
Finance (No. 2) Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 1st sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords

Budget Resolutions

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
1st reading: House of Commons
Tuesday 28th November 2017

(6 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Finance Act 2018 Read Hansard Text

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Finance Act 2018 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Greg Clark Portrait The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Greg Clark)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a great pleasure to open this final day of the Budget debate. In his Budget statement last week, the Chancellor described the choice before our country, standing as we do on the brink of a technological revolution—a choice between embracing the future, building on our strengths and taking our place as one of the nations at the forefront of the new world of innovation, or rejecting that, assuming a defensive posture and letting other countries seize the initiative. We choose emphatically the former. The Budget and the industrial strategy set out a long-term approach in which we can make our economy one that can prosper during the years ahead.

Not just in Britain but across the world, this is a time of change and opportunity. Artificial intelligence and the analysis of big data will transform the way in which we live and work, from the way in which we diagnose and treat cancer to the security of online transactions. The whole world is moving from being powered principally by fossil fuels towards energy sources that are clean, with enormous impacts not just in the energy sector but in the products and services that make use of it.

One such area is transport, where extraordinary innovation is changing how we move people and goods around our towns, cities and countryside. As a result of medical advances and rising prosperity, people across the world are living longer than ever before. One stunning statistic illustrates that transformation. In the United Kingdom today, 15,000 centenarians are alive, but of the people who are alive in Britain today, 10 million can expect to live to their 100th birthday—a transformation in our generation. An ageing population creates new demands in care to maintain their health so that they can make the most of their longer lives.

In all these areas, Britain is extraordinarily well placed to lead. We are an open, enterprising economy built on invention, innovation and competition. Our universities and research institutions are hotbeds of discovery, among the very best in the world. In a world where many of tomorrow’s businesses have not yet been founded, our powerful reputation for being a dependable and confident place to do business, with high standards, respected institutions and the reliable rule of law, is an enormous asset.

Lord Walney Portrait John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given that, will the Secretary of State back our local campaign to find a new buyer for the business manufacturing cephalosporins in Ulverston and Barnard Castle, given the highly unwelcome and damaging decision by GSK to review that landmark investment, which was announced by the Chancellor and Prime Minister after the 2011 Budget?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am happy to talk to the hon. Gentleman. He will know that we work closely with the life sciences sector. The industrial strategy published yesterday included an important life sciences sector deal in which all the companies are working closely with each other, local institutions, local leaders and the Government. I am happy in that context to meet him and have those discussions.

Ed Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Secretary of State talks about giving certainty to businesses and investors. Does he agree that the contracts for difference regime can be used to bring in zero-subsidy CfDs to give real certainty to people wanting to invest in our renewable energy? Will he commit to considering the case for zero-subsidy CfDs?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Contracts for difference have brought down the price of renewable energy substantially. We have commissioned a review from Professor Dieter Helm—I know that the right hon. Gentleman knows him well—which has reported, and we will make our response to it. It would be wrong to pre-empt our consideration of that, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and others will give their thoughts on the Helm review. We have launched a consultation on that, as he knows.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I note the Secretary of State’s comments about the Dieter Helm review, but will the Government commit to moving away from their nuclear obsession, given—as he acknowledged—CfD has brought down the cost of renewable energy?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is my view that we need to have a broad base of power supplies for our security in the future. We are now the world leader in offshore wind, which demonstrates that one comes not at the expense of the other, and that is the right and prudent way to proceed.

We have many world-leading industries, from financial services to advanced manufacturing, from the life sciences to the creative industries. In many cases, they are at the forefront of the technological revolution that is sweeping the world.

Damian Collins Portrait Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What further assistance are the Government planning to give to research and development for small modular reactors as part of the nuclear sector, potentially a very important and useful source of energy? What consideration has the Secretary of State given to the suitability of existing nuclear sites, such as Dungeness in my constituency, as locations for SMRs?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that my hon. Friend takes a great interest in this. We have an energy innovation programme, about which we will make some announcements before long. That will address the question of what types of technologies should be moved along from research to development and implementation. He will have an interest in that and I will make sure that he is given the details.

To capitalise on our strengths, we need to reinforce them and project them into the future. We also need to address our weaknesses. We are proud of the fact that more people are employed in this country than ever before—an extraordinary achievement, with 3 million extra jobs created in a time when the Labour party predicted that millions of jobs would be lost. But compared to some of our competitors, on average, we work harder and longer to produce at the same level as they do. We need to raise our productivity, as the Chancellor made clear in his Budget statement.

As the House knows, to a large extent, it is a problem of disparities, rather than a uniform picture. We have industries, companies, people and places that are among the most highly productive on the planet, but we have what the Bank of England has called an unusually long tail of companies and places whose level of productivity is below that of the top performers. The challenge is clear: to reinforce the performance of the top and build on those strengths, while spreading that excellence throughout the economy and the country. That is exactly what the Budget and our industrial strategy White Paper will do, by reinforcing strengths and addressing weaknesses in areas across the board. We talk about innovation, skills, infrastructure, the business environment and local economies.

Heidi Allen Portrait Heidi Allen (South Cambridgeshire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wish to put on record my thanks to the Government for finding funding for the initial cost analysis for a station at Addenbrookes. Connecting that science and those brains with the wider country is exactly what we need to do. It is a vital piece of infrastructure and I am very grateful for it.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That is a good illustration of how a strategy can bring forces together. That £5 million investment means that the infrastructure in and around Cambridge can be improved, and that will make the area even more attractive for companies and researchers to locate there, and it builds on the area’s strengths. The part of the world that she and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, my hon. Friend the Member for North East Cambridgeshire (Stephen Barclay)—one of her close neighbours—represent has enjoyed great success, but I think they would both recognise the opportunity to extend that success to a larger area. That is exactly what we have in mind.

Lord Coaker Portrait Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I agree with the Secretary of State about regional disparities and the way in which the industrial strategy tries to tackle them. The east midlands needs investment in capital to raise productivity, so I ask him to look into that. Will he also speak to the Transport Secretary and others about the Government’s failure to electrify the midland main line? As he knows, many of us have campaigned for that over a number of years, but the Government have now rowed back on it.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I absolutely recognise that one of the big strengths of the east midlands is that it is connected to the rest of the country, and it is essential that those connections continue to improve. The hon. Gentleman will know that a fund was established in the Budget for cities and city regions to improve the connections in and around those cities. That is important, but it is in addition to the importance of connections to the rest of the country, so I will raise his point with the Transport Secretary.

Let me say something about ideas and the importance of innovation to our economy. We can be the world’s most innovative economy, given the strength of our science base and our researchers. Throughout our industries, we have some of the most creative people in the world.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just want to probe the Secretary of State about what thinking has been going on in government following Bill Gates’s speech in the spring about taxing robots. We only have to go into a high street shop to see that many jobs have been displaced by machines, which are not taxed. If a person was still working there, they would be paying tax to the Exchequer, and that money could help future innovation. Have the Government given any thought to all these labour-saving devices and to getting some revenue from the way in which robots are doing many of the jobs that people used to do?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We need to embrace the technologies of the future. If we are in the lead, we can benefit from being the place that develops, applies and manufactures many of these products. Whenever we have taken the lead in this country, we have reaped the benefits. It is in those areas where we have lost our advantage that we have ended up importing goods and services from around the world. We need to lean into the future and ensure that we are the place in the world where the firms of the future locate to develop and manufacture their products.

Tony Lloyd Portrait Tony Lloyd (Rochdale) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Secretary of State will probably not agree with this, but I believe that we still have a financial gap in this country, particularly when it comes to science and technology, because venture capitalists simply do not know how to make assessments on such things. Those people are also disproportionately located in this city region rather than other parts of the country. Will the right hon. Gentleman look seriously at the capacity of those industries to see whether we could make some structural changes that would benefit the whole nation?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will indeed. I am coming on to precisely that point. The hon. Gentleman has a distinguished record of leading Greater Manchester—with some success—in promoting the vitality and attractiveness of that important part of the economy.

John Howell Portrait John Howell (Henley) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Surely one of the ways in which we can improve innovation and productivity is by having better broadband and telephony. I heard what the Secretary of State said yesterday, but in my area we have zero G, not 5G. Would he like to encourage my area by saying that the strategy is meant for the whole country, not just towns and cities?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It certainly is. There are significant opportunities in many of our rural areas, and it is essential that the progress we make in our towns and cities is shared with our rural areas, of which my hon. Friend’s constituency is a particularly attractive and productive example.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
- Hansard -

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me make some progress now, because I am about to come on to the points that hon. Members are raising.

Last week’s Budget outlined the biggest increase in public research and development investment for 40 years. It is growing as a share of GDP and contributing to our commitment to invest 2.4% of GDP in research and development by 2027, rising to 3% in the long term. One aspect of this increased funding is a strength in places fund, which will grow our research and innovation strengths in every part of the United Kingdom, recognising that there are strengths in all parts of the country, not just in London and the south-east.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Rebalancing the economy is a key part of the industrial strategy, and one of the reasons why London gets a much better deal on investment is its ability to attract private sector investment, which the north has very little capability to do. Has my right hon. Friend any plans to try to resolve that issue, so that we can attract more private sector funding for infrastructure investment in the north?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have indeed, and I will come on to that in a moment, if my hon. Friend will bear with me.

Let me say something about skills. We are creating new job opportunities, but I say to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Angus Brendan MacNeil), who raised a point about robots, that if jobs change, we need to ensure that people have the ability to train and develop the skills they will need for the jobs that are being created. The consultation on the industrial strategy established what every Member knows: job opportunities, especially in companies in the technical sectors, require education and training, particularly in maths, digital skills and other aspects of our technical education. There are skills shortages around the country, and great careers would be available to young people and to those who are changing career if only they had that educational base. The significant investment in maths, digital and technical education that was announced in the Budget is therefore important, as is the national retraining scheme, which will work with employers and trade unions, beginning with digital and construction training.

On infrastructure, I can tell the hon. Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) that the Chancellor has announced an £8 billion increase in the national productivity investment fund, taking it to £31 billion, and extended it to 2022-23. That will enable us to invest in our physical infrastructure and also, as my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell) said, in our digital infrastructure as we develop the next generation of full-fibre networks, trial the use of 5G and boost mobile communication on our railways. That, too, is important right across the country. We will also support electric vehicles through the charging infrastructure fund. If we are going to manufacture those new vehicles, we have to be the place in the world in which they can be deployed most effectively.

Antoinette Sandbach Portrait Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Green growth is clearly part of our future as we move forward in the economy. Does my right hon. Friend agree that hydrogen batteries are as important as electric vehicles?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to say that hydrogen offers big advantages. It is a clean fuel, and this country has great expertise in developing and applying it.

Let me say something about business finance, which has already come up in the debate. In a strategy that connects our areas of strength, it is essential that we allow the businesses that are growing across our country to benefit much more than previously from our financial services sector, which is one of the most significant in the world. The deep pool of capital that we have should be available to growing companies up and down the country. The Budget therefore includes a new £2.5 billion investment fund, incubated in the British Business Bank, to drive forward more investment into growing companies across the country. The British Business Bank will establish a network of regional managers by autumn next year, ensuring that it is not just in London and the south-east that these sources of finance and advice are available, as it is essential that they are in place right across the UK.

Jonathan Edwards Portrait Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The reality is that the Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded forecasts for business investment, productivity and growth in the economy for the entire forecasting period, so what the Chancellor announced in last week’s Budget clearly does not go far enough.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think the hon. Gentleman misunderstands what was said. The OBR recognised that its forecast that the productivity rate would recover after the financial crisis, which it has been making for many years, has not been realised. There has been no new event; it has just recognised what has happened, which has had consequences for the financial forecasts. Faced with that, the right thing to do is to look seriously for the long term—I do not think that this matter divides Members—at how we can act on the foundations of productivity. Talking about investment in research and development, the infrastructure that we depend on and sources of finance for growing businesses in every part of the country is a serious response to the OBR’s revised productivity forecast.

Mims Davies Portrait Mims Davies (Eastleigh) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As 100 new jobs come to Hedge End and 500 to Chandler’s Ford, productivity and accessibility are really important to the Solent area. Will the Secretary of State work with local enterprise partnerships to ensure that infrastructure and the need for local investment feed into the industrial strategy?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will indeed. Throughout my time in this House and in this Government, I have promoted the importance of places and local leadership and of ensuring that investment decisions benefit from local knowledge and local decisions. The Budget and the industrial strategy reinforce that. To have a prosperous United Kingdom, every part of it needs to be maximising its potential, so the strategy very much works with cities, towns and regions across the UK. We are inviting areas to promote local industrial strategies that state what needs to be done locally to make a particular town, city or county fit for the future and able to attract new business investment.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Following the Secretary of State’s announcement of the industrial strategy, we had a meeting in Leicester just yesterday to discuss the infrastructure needs of the east midlands. The east midlands has traditionally been at the bottom of the Government funding league for infrastructure, but it is delivering the highest economic growth and the fastest wage growth in the UK outside London and the south-east. Think what we could do if we had our fair share of infrastructure spending.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will take that representation. My hon. Friend is right that the performance of the east midlands has been extremely positive. Some of its institutions—I think of universities in Leicester and Loughborough—are having a huge impact on the local economy. I look forward to visiting Leicestershire again soon to have discussions as part of the plan for local industrial strategies. I mentioned the fund for improving transport connections between city centres and the towns around them, and that is essential investment in the future competitiveness of our economy.

Angus Brendan MacNeil Portrait Angus Brendan MacNeil
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Secretary of State is being generous in giving way. How might the industrial strategy develop if we find ourselves with open borders and no border checks, which was talked about as recently as yesterday? If we are to have an open border with the Republic of Ireland, the UK will need an open border with everywhere else, meaning that the UK will not be running any tariffs at all. How will that affect the industrial strategy? Under most favoured nation status, if we have an open border with Ireland, we will have an open border with everywhere else.

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am conscious that many Members want to speak and the hon. Gentleman is tempting me into a discussion that would take more time than I have. However, our future as a successful economy is about trading more with Europe and the rest of the world. That should be free of tariffs and free of friction, and that is what we want to achieve through our negotiations.

None of the investment in and improvement to the productive capacity of the economy would be possible without a fundamentally strong economy. The essential foundation of future prosperity is to be a place in which global investors can have confidence. It is sometimes easy to take for granted the progress that was made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and his predecessor in rescuing the economy from the catastrophic situation in which we found it when the Labour party left office. Britain had its largest deficit as a share of GDP since the second world war. So reckless had the Labour Government been with the public finances that in their last year in office—almost unbelievably—for every £5 of Government spending, £1 had to be borrowed. Unemployment rose by nearly half a million, the welfare bill ballooned and the number of households who had never worked had doubled. If we had continued on that course, Britain’s reputation as a dependable place for global investors to entrust their assets would have been lost, and it would have taken many generations to recover.

As a result of the steady and painstaking work of the British people, however, backed by the leadership of Conservative Members, we have cut the deficit by three quarters at the same time as cutting income tax for 30 million people. Britain has been one of the job creation hotspots of the world, with employment up by 3 million in just seven years and unemployment lower than at any point since 1975. However, just when the deficit is being tamed and we can look forward to falling national debt, which has to be repaid by future generations, the Labour party—I hope it will contradict me—has adopted a platform that is even more extreme than the policies that produced the previous situation. Labour’s proposal is to borrow an extra quarter of a trillion pounds. As if that were not enough, it also wants to increase taxation to what the Institute for Fiscal Studies has called the highest peacetime level in the history of this country. That would, as the IFS also said, make the UK a

“less attractive place to invest”.

It is no wonder that the reaction of employers the length and breadth of Britain has been one of alarm. The chief executive of the EEF said that those policies are from a bygone era. Do they have credibility? The answer is clearly no.

Ruth George Portrait Ruth George (High Peak) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Greg Clark Portrait Greg Clark
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am about to conclude.

If we want a strong, competitive economy that is fit for the future, we need to live within our means, create good jobs and pay people well. We need to be a beacon of free trade and internationalism. That is what our industrial strategy and this Budget are about. Prosperity for all is the best alternative to the high-tax, anti-enterprise, job-destroying ideology that has taken over the Opposition Front Bench. Our Budget takes us into the future; the Labour party takes us into the past. I commend the Budget to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Elizabeth Truss Portrait The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Elizabeth Truss)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have had an excellent debate this afternoon. We heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy lay out an optimistic vision for our industrial strategy. We heard my hon. Friends the Members for Banbury (Victoria Prentis), for Mansfield (Ben Bradley), for Dudley South (Mike Wood) and for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer) talking about the positive measures in the Budget on skills, housing and tax. We also heard the usual fiction and portents of doom from the Opposition.

I repudiate the Opposition’s predictions. Our destiny is not preordained. We have the power to shape the future and to boost our growth and productivity. If we want to know what high productivity looks like, we need look no further than our high-growth companies. When it comes to start-ups, we are world leading, with more than 650,000 companies founded in 2016 alone. We have more than twice the number of $1 billion tech companies than anywhere else in Europe. By enabling companies to grow and, even more, to start, we can make sure all people in this country benefit from our world leadership in areas such as driverless cars and artificial intelligence.

The real revolutionaries in this country are not sitting on the Opposition Front Bench clutching their iPads and looking up debt numbers, while denouncing enterprise; the real revolutionaries are the businesses across Britain that take risks, create jobs and improve our lives. They are the people who are delivering day out, day in for our country. This Budget is about liberating those businesses to achieve their ambitions and to deliver for our future, and it is about making sure that they have the people, the capital and the space to succeed.

Of course we want to attract the brightest and best to our country, which is why we are doubling the number of high-skilled visas that can be granted each year, but we also need to unleash the talents of our own people, both to help power the economy and to make sure they can share in the opportunities that enterprise brings. The fact is that the previous Labour Government let down our children and young people. They left Britain short of skills; they dumbed down the curriculum; they created rampant grade inflation; they failed on technical education; and they left office with rising youth unemployment.

When Labour left office, youth unemployment was at 20%, which is why we brought in higher standards for English and maths, new academies and free schools, and new T-levels. Under this Government, we have seen more apprenticeships and the lowest level of youth unemployment for 13 years. I suggest the Opposition engage with the facts.

We are announcing even more in this Budget. We are tripling the number of computer science teachers and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) pointed out, we are giving schools £600 for every additional student studying maths A-level or core maths, the most valuable qualifications in the jobs market. We are learning from the best in the world, and I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Minister for School Standards is here today because he championed the Shanghai and Singapore maths mastery programme that we are rolling out to a further 3,000 schools. We are also making sure that adults already in jobs have the opportunity to improve their skills through the national retraining scheme.

The Government know that private investment in high-growth businesses benefits us all through new technology, higher living standards and more jobs. This year, a record £2 billion was invested in FinTech alone. This Budget builds on that success by unlocking more than £20 billion of investment to finance growth in innovative firms. As my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman) said, £1 billion is also being invested in the life sciences sector.

We also want to make it easier for brilliant women founders to access capital. Research shows that, when making identical pitches, women are half as likely to secure early-stage investment, despite investors who invest in female-led businesses being, on average, more successful. We have asked the British Business Bank to look at that so we can see more brilliant women founders and start-ups getting that investment.

Finally, these high-potential businesses need space to grow and high-quality infrastructure. We are making it easier for businesses to expand their operations through new planning freedom and manufacturing zones. We are also investing a huge amount in infrastructure. As my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mrs Badenoch) pointed out, this Budget includes the highest amount any Government have spent as a proportion of GDP on economic infrastructure for 40 years. How can the Opposition talk about a lack of investment in infrastructure, given that this is the highest for 40 years? It is much higher than anything that happened under the previous Labour Government. This spending includes plans for the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor and for the northern powerhouse. [Interruption.] Let me say to the Opposition that we are investing £337 million in a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro, and £300 million to ensure HS2 can accommodate future northern and midlands rail services. We are also creating a £1.7 billion transforming cities fund, which will give our great cities the investment they need, and they will be able to invest in local trams or light rail systems as they see fit.

Ed Davey Portrait Sir Edward Davey
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the right hon. Lady agree that British companies—our new entrepreneurial companies —would like a nice big market to sell their goods to, on our doorstep?

Elizabeth Truss Portrait Elizabeth Truss
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Absolutely, which is why our focus is on getting the best possible deal in the Brexit negotiations. Maintaining a tight grip on Government finances is, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) pointed out, vital for any Government, and Opposition Front Benchers would do well to look at that when they are considering—[Interruption.] I see that the shadow Chancellor is on his iPad looking up what the—[Interruption.] I can help him out without an iPad. His plans would mean an additional half a trillion pounds-worth of debt. If hon. Members want to know how much extra interest the British public would have to pay every year, I can tell them that it is £7 billion. I do not need an iPad to know that.

This Government are prioritising our country’s long-term growth prospects. We are investing in the infrastructure and in the skills that our country needs to succeed. Whatever the Opposition say, it is not politicians or Whitehall that will turbo-charge our economy and bring the growth and improved living standards we all want; it is the enterprises up and down the country that are going to deliver that. The Opposition want to tax new industry to the hilt or, even worse, to run it themselves. I cannot think of a more scary prospect for businesses across Britain. We take the opposite view; we want to unleash enterprise and to make sure that businesses have the people, space and the conditions to succeed. This is a Budget that recognises where the true value of our economy is created. It is not through issuing blank cheques that we cannot afford, but by making sure that our enterprises have the skills, talent and space that they need to grow and to ensure that all our citizens benefit from our powerhouse future. That is why the House should support the Budget in the Lobby tonight.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That income tax is charged for the tax year 2018-19.

And it is declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am now required under Standing Order No. 51(3) to put successively, without further debate, the Question on each of the Ways and Means motions numbered 2 to 44, on which the Bill is to be brought in. These motions are set out in a separate paper distributed with today’s Order Paper.

I must inform the House that, for the purposes of Standing Order No. 83U, with which I feel sure all colleagues are personally and closely familiar, and on the basis of material put before me, I have certified that in my opinion the following founding motions published on 22 November 2017 and to be moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer relate exclusively to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and are within devolved legislative competence: motion 3, on income tax (main rates); motion 35, on stamp duty land tax (higher rates for additional dwellings); and motion 36, on stamp duty land tax (relief for first-time buyers). Should the House divide on any of these motions it will be subject to double-majority voting.

The Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the motions made in the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Standing Order No. 51(3)).

2. CORPORATION TAX (charge for financial year 2019)

Resolved,

That (notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the practice of the House relating to the matters that may be included in Finance Bills) provision may be made taking effect in a future year charging corporation tax for the financial year 2019.

3. Income tax (MAIN RATES)

Resolved,

That for the tax year 2018-19 the main rates of income tax are as follows—

(a) the basic rate is 20%,

(b) the higher rate is 40%;

(c) the additional rate is 45%.

And it is declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

4. Income tax (Default and savings rates)

Resolved,

(1) That for the tax year 2018-19 the default rates of income tax are as follows—

(a) the basic rate is 20%,

(b) the higher rate is 40%;

(c) the additional rate is 45%.

(2) That for the tax year 2018-19 the savings rates of income tax are as follows—

(a) the basic rate is 20%,

(b) the higher rate is 40%;

(c) the additional rate is 45%.

And it is declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

5. Income tax (starting rate limit for savings)

Resolved,

That section 21 of the Income Tax Act 2007 (indexation) does not apply in relation to the starting rate limit for savings for the tax year 2018-19 (so that, under section 12(3) of the Income Tax Act 2007 as amended by section 4 of the Finance Act 2017, that limit remains at £5000 for that tax year).

And it is declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

6. Transferable tax allowance

Resolved,

That—

(1) Chapter 3A of Part 3 of the Income Tax Act 2007 (transferable tax allowance) is amended as follows.

(2) Section 55B (tax reduction: entitlement) is amended in accordance with paragraphs (3) to (5).

(3) In subsection (2) (conditions for entitlement to tax reduction)—

(a) for paragraph (a) (individual is spouse or civil partner of maker of election in force under section 55C) substitute—

“(a) the individual is the gaining party (see section 55C(l)(a)) in the case of an election under section 55C which is in force for the tax year,”, and

(b) in paragraph (d), for “individual’s” substitute “relinquishing”.

(4) After subsection (5) insert—

“(5A) In this section “the relinquishing spouse or civil partner”, in relation to an election under section 55C, means the individual mentioned in section 55C(l)(a) by whom, or by whose personal representatives, the election is made.”

(5) In subsection (6) (reduced personal allowance for transferor)—

(a) after “under subsection (1)” insert “by reference to an election under section 55C”, and

(b) for “individual's” substitute “relinquishing”.

(6) Section 55C (elections to reduce personal allowance) is amended in accordance with paragraphs (7) and (8).

(7) In subsection (l)(a) (individual may make election if married or in civil partnership)—

(a) after “the same person” insert “(“the gaining party”)”, and

(b) in sub-paragraph (ii), after “when the election is made” insert “or, where the election is made after the death of one or each of them, when they were last both living”.

(8) After subsection (4) insert—

“(5) The personal representatives of an individual may make any election for the purposes of section 55B that the individual (if living) might make in relation to—

(a) the tax year in which the individual dies, or

(b) an earlier tax year.”

(9) Section 55D (procedure for elections under section 55C) is amended in accordance with paragraphs (10) and (11).

(10) In subsection (3) (elections which are not automatically continued in force for subsequent years), after “is made after the end of the tax year to which it relates” insert “or is made after the death of either of the spouses or civil partners”.

(11) In subsection (4) (election may be withdrawn only by individual who made it), after “by whom the election was made” insert an election made by an individual's personal representatives may not be withdrawn”.

(12) The amendments made by this Resolution—

(a) come into force on 29 November 2017,

(b) have effect in relation to elections made on or after that day, and

(c) so have effect even where a relevant death occurred before that day.

And it is declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

7. Deduction for seafarers’ earnings for duties performed outside UK

Resolved,

That provision may be made in connection with the application of Chapter 6 of Part 5 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 in relation to employment in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service.

8. Exemption for armed forces’ accommodation allowances

Resolved,

That provision may be made exempting, from income tax, amounts paid as accommodation allowances to, or in respect of, members of the armed forces of the Crown.

9. Benefits in kind: cars

Resolved,

That provision (including provision having retrospective effect) may be made amending Chapter 6 of Part 3 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.

10. Foreign-service relief for benefits on termination of employment

Resolved,

That provision may be made amending Chapter 3 of Part 6 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 in connection with restricting, in relation to payments and other benefits received in connection with the termination of a person's employment, relief given by that Chapter by reference to service within the definition of “foreign service” given by section 413(2) of that Act.

11. Employment income provided through third parties

Resolved,

That provision may be made in connection with—

(a) the application and operation of Chapter 2 of Part 7 A of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003, and

(b) the operation of Part 11 of that Act in connection with Schedule 11 to the Finance (No. 2) Act 2017

12. Disguised remuneration schemes (earnings charged to tax)

Resolved,

That—

(1) In section 554A of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (employment income provided through third parties: application of Chapter 2 of Part 7A), after subsection (5) insert—

“(5A) Subsections (5B) and (5C) apply where—

(a) a payment to a person other than A, or to A as a trustee, is of earnings from A's employment with B, and

(b) the earnings are, in whole or part, charged to tax under the employment income Parts otherwise than by virtue of this Part,

and for this purpose it does not matter whether all or some only or none of the tax is paid (but see sections 554Z5 and 554Z11B).

(5B) For the purposes of subsection (5C), an arrangement is a “redirected- earnings arrangement” if it (wholly or partly) covers or relates to redirected earnings; and for the purposes of this subsection and subsection (5C) “redirected earnings” means—

(a) the payment mentioned in subsection (5A)(a), or

(b) any sum or other property which (directly or indirectly)—

(i) represents, or

(ii) is derived from,

that payment.

(5C) The circumstances mentioned in subsection (5A)—

(a) do not prevent a redirected-earnings arrangement being within subsection (l)(b), and

(b) do not prevent rewards or recognition or loans being in connection with A's employment with B for the purposes of subsection (l)(c) where there is use of redirected earnings for the provision of the whole, or part, of the rewards or recognition or loans.”

(2) The amendment made by paragraph (1)—

(a) come into force on 29 November 2017,

(b) has effect for the purposes of the operation of Part 7 A of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 in relation to relevant steps taken on or after 22 November 2017, and

(c) so has effect in the case of payments within the new subsection (5A)(a) whenever made (including ones made before 6 April 2011).

And it is declared that it is expedient in the public interest that this Resolution should have statutory effect under the provisions of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

13. Trading income provided through third parties

Resolved,

That provision may be made about information for the purposes of the operation of Schedule 12 to the Finance (No. 2) Act 2017.

14. Pensions

Resolved,

That provision (including provision having retrospective effect) may be made about the application of Part 4 of the Finance Act 2004 in relation to—

(a) pension schemes that are Master Trust schemes,

(b) pension schemes established under section 67 of the Pensions Act 2008,

(c) pension schemes that have a dormant sponsoring employer, and

(d) pension schemes treated as registered by virtue of paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 36 to the Finance Act 2004.

15. EIS, SEIS, SI and VCT reliefs

Resolved,

That provision may be made about reliefs under Parts 5, 5A, 5B and 6 of the Income Tax Act 2007, including—

(a) provision having retrospective effect, and

(b) (notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the practice of the House relating to the matters that may be included in Finance Bills) provision taking effect in a future year.

16. PARTNERSHIPS

Resolved,

That the following provision relating to partnerships may be made—

(a) provision as to how tax legislation applies where a partner is a bare trustee;

(b) provision for determining the income tax liability of indirect partners;

(c) provision about income tax returns for partnerships.

17. Research and development expenditure credits

Resolved,

That provision may be made amending section 104M(3) of the Corporation Tax Act 2009.

18. INTANGIBLE FIXED ASSETS

Resolved,

That provision may be made amending Part 8 of the Corporation Tax Act 2009.

19. Corporation tax treatment of oil activities: tariff receipts etc

Resolved,

That provision may be made about the meaning of “tariff receipt” for the purposes of Part 8 of the Corporation Tax Act 2010.

20. Hybrid and other mismatches

Resolved,

That provision (including provision having retrospective effect) may be made amending Part 6A of the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Act 2010.

21. Corporate interest restriction

Resolved,

That provision (including provision having retrospective effect) may be made relating to Part 10 of the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Act 2010.

22. Corporation tax: Education Authority of Northern Ireland

Resolved,

That provision (including provision having retrospective effect) may be made relieving the Education Authority of Northern Ireland of liability to corporation tax.

23. Chargeable gains (indexation allowance)

Resolved,

That provision may be made restricting indexation allowance for gains chargeable to corporation tax.

24. Chargeable gains (transfer of assets to non-resident company)

Resolved,

That provision may be made amending section 140 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992.

25. Chargeable gains (depreciatory transactions)

Resolved,

That provision may be made amending section 176 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992.

26. First-year tax credits

Resolved,

That (notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the practice of the House relating to the matters that may be included in Finance Bills) provision may be made about first-year tax credits paid in connection with relevant first-year expenditure under the Capital Allowances Act 2001.

27. DOUBLE TAXATION RELIEF

Resolved,

That the following provision relating to double taxation relief may be made——

(a) provision in relation to counteraction notices given under Part 2 of the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Act 2010;

(b) provision restricting credit relief under that Part, or deductions for foreign tax paid, by reference to amounts attributable to an overseas permanent establishment of a company that are used to reduce a foreign tax;

(c) provision (including provision having retrospective effect) to secure that the double taxation arrangements to which effect may be given by Order in Council include arrangements modifying the effect of earlier such arrangements and arrangements conferring functions on public authorities within or outside the United Kingdom.

28. bANK LEVY

Question put,

That provision may be made amending Schedule 19 to the Finance Act 2011, including (notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the practice of the House relating to the matters that may be included in Finance Bills) provision taking effect in a future year.

--- Later in debate ---
19:01

Division 49

Ayes: 316


Conservative: 303
Democratic Unionist Party: 10
Independent: 3

Noes: 293


Labour: 242
Scottish National Party: 34
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 4
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

29. Debt traded on a multilateral trading facility

Finance (No. 2) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
2nd reading: House of Commons
Monday 11th December 2017

(6 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Finance Act 2018 Read Hansard Text

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Finance Act 2018 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Chancellor recently set out a bold and forward-looking autumn Budget. It reflected and responded to current circumstances, and it will build a Britain that is fit for the future. The UK economy has shown great resilience. Our GDP growth has remained solid, continuing for more than 19 quarters. Employment has risen by 3 million since 2010 and is close to a record high, while unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1975. Those employment trends are not being felt only in the south-east. Indeed, since 2010, 75% of the fall in unemployment has occurred elsewhere, and the biggest falls in the unemployment rate took place in Yorkshire and Humber, and in Wales.

The deficit has been reduced by three quarters from 9.9% of GDP in 2009-10—that figure was a shocking indictment of the last Labour Government—to 2.3% of GDP in 2016-17. In the coming years, borrowing is set to fall even further, reaching 1.1% of GDP in 2022-23, which will be the lowest level since 2001-02. However, at 86.5% of GDP, public debt is still too high and productivity growth remains subdued. This Budget therefore balanced short-term action with long-term investment, while rightly sticking to the principles of social responsibility that will continue to improve the health of our public finances, with our debt due to start falling from next year.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given the recent terrorist attacks in this country and the fact that senior officers say that more funding is needed for community policing to help to tackle the risk of more terrorist attacks, will the Financial Secretary tell the House why there was no additional funding for policing in the Budget?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Gentleman will know, we made sufficient provision for policing prior to the Budget. We recognise the challenges that the police face, but I gently say to him that to secure our vital public services, including the police, the most important thing is that we have a responsible approach to bringing down the deficit and getting the public finances under control. Having looked at the proposals put forward by his party, I have my doubts that that would be the case were he in government.

It is sensible that all this is underpinned by the tax policies contained in the Finance Bill. The Bill is a mere 184 pages—under a third of the length of the previous Bill. Its length is partly the consequence of the Government’s move to a single annual fiscal event. In this transitional year, with less time than normal between Budgets, there is less legislation in process, which should prove some welcome respite for me, as I do not think that there are many Financial Secretaries who have presented two Finance Bills to the House within their first six months in post. The Bill’s size also reflects the Government’s serious commitment not to overburden people or to overcomplicate the tax system. It is a crucial plank in the Government’s legislative programme that will help young people to buy their first homes, improve UK productivity, and further the Government’s already excellent track record of cracking down on avoidance and evasion.

The Government support the aspiration of home ownership and are particularly committed to helping young people on to the property ladder. The Government’s package on housing that was set out at the Budget will boost housing supply and address the problem of affordability. In this critical endeavour, the tax system should not act as a barrier. First-time buyers are usually more cash-constrained than other purchasers, so to help these people—typically younger people—to get on to the property ladder, the Bill permanently scraps stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000. Buyers will save nearly £1,700 on an average first-time buyer property, and those buying a house worth £300,000 to £500,000 will pay the existing 5% marginal rate of stamp duty only on the portion above £300,000. In doing so, they will make a saving of £5,000. This means that 80% of first-time buyers will not pay stamp duty at all, while 95% of all first-time buyers who pay stamp duty will benefit from the changes. Over the next five years, the relief will help more than 1 million first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder.

The joy of home ownership will be greatly diminished if, at the same time, we do not protect and preserve the environment in which we all live. Therefore, as a response to the Government’s national air quality plan that was published in July, the Bill establishes measures to improve air quality through the taxation of highly pollutant diesel cars. Diesel vehicles—even new ones—are a significant source of emissions. A test of the 50 best-selling diesel cars in 2016 found that on average they emitted over six times more nitrogen oxides in real-world driving than is permissible under current emissions standards.

Charlie Elphicke Portrait Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Ind)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Financial Secretary is making a powerful argument. It is important to protect funding for the environment, schools, hospitals and, as the hon. Member for Harrow West (Gareth Thomas) pointed out, the police. Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how much money was raised from the banking sector last year compared with in the last year of the Labour Government?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As my hon. Friend will know, we brought in a variety of measures in 2015 that changed the basis of taxation for banks. Over the period of the coming forecast, we will be receiving some £4.5 billion in additional income from banks by way of taxation as a consequence of those changes.

From April 2018, new diesel cars will go up one vehicle excise duty band in their first-year rate, and the existing company car tax diesel supplement will increase by one percentage point. However, drivers of petrol and ultra low emissions vehicles—cars, vans and heavy goods vehicles—will not be affected, and nor will those who have already bought a diesel car. As the Chancellor said at the Budget, white van man and white van woman can rest easy.

Margaret Hodge Portrait Dame Margaret Hodge (Barking) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

White van man and white van woman will rest easier if the Government successfully bring in all moneys due. Will the Minister explain why he has limited the scope of the Finance Bill in such a way that amendments cannot be tabled to ensure that we have a date by which measures such as country-by-country reporting, which is crucial to bringing in tax that is otherwise avoided, should be introduced?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think that the right hon. Lady is referring to an amendment of the law resolution. The previous Finance Bill was introduced under exactly the same Ways and Means procedure. There is nothing in the resolutions that prohibits full, open and proper discussion and scrutiny of the Bill. It will go through all its usual stages, including two full days in Committee of the whole House, and eight sittings—if it takes that amount of time—upstairs in Committee, before coming back to the Chamber for Third Reading.

Since the financial crisis, UK productivity growth has slowed. It now stands at just 0.1%. The Government know that restoring strong productivity growth is the only sustainable way to increase wages and improve living standards in the long term. Consequently, a quarter of a trillion pounds of public and private investment has been funnelled into major infrastructure projects since 2010, including the biggest rail modernisation programme since Victorian times, the Mersey Gateway bridge and, more recently, Crossrail. Many others are detailed in the Infrastructure and Projects Authority’s national infrastructure pipeline. The Government have also cut taxes to support business investment and improved access to finance through the British Business Bank. However, we can and will go further.

To boost productivity and create sustainable economic growth, the Government are making further provisions to support the UK’s dynamic, risk-taking businesses. The UK continues to be a world-leading place to start a business, with 650,000 start-ups in 2016 alone. However, some of the UK’s most innovative new businesses with the greatest potential are struggling to scale up due to lack of finance. Specifically, 10 of the UK’s largest 100 listed firms were created after 1975, compared with 19 in the United States of America. In order properly to understand these barriers to finance, the Treasury commissioned the patient capital review, led by Sir Damon Buffini. Supported by Sir Damon’s industry panel, the review concluded that knowledge-intensive companies, which are particularly research and development-intensive, often require considerable up-front capital to fund growth. It may be many years before their products can be brought to market and, despite their growth potential, such companies often face acute funding gaps.

In response to the review’s findings, the Government are acting. We are setting out a £20 billion action plan, combining investment with tax incentives. As part of the plan, the Bill will make more investment available to high-risk, innovative businesses. It does so by doubling the annual limits for how much investment knowledge-intensive companies can receive through the enterprise investment scheme and venture capital trusts schemes to £10 million, and doubling the limit on how much investors can invest through the EIS to £2 million, providing that anything above £1 million is invested in knowledge-intensive companies. In 2016-17, 62% of investment by EIS funds was aimed at capital preservation, rather than higher-risk, higher-potential, long-term growth companies. The Bill therefore reforms the schemes, redirecting low-risk investment into growing entrepreneurial companies, while changing venture capital trust rules to encourage higher-growth investments. In all, we expect these changes to result in over £7 billion of new and redirected investment in growing companies over the next 10 years.

Additional efforts to boost productivity also focus on increasing funding for research and development. At the 2016 autumn statement, £4.7 billion was allocated to R and D, and this Budget extended the national productivity investment fund to £31 billion and increased R and D investment by a further £2.3 billion. This means that the Government will be investing an additional £7 billion in R and D over the next four years—the largest increase in four decades.

We have already announced initial plans for this investment, including £170 million to help the construction industry to build cheaper and better homes; £210 million to develop new technologies that enable the early diagnosis of chronic diseases; a commitment to supporting the development of immersive technologies and artificial intelligence; and more than £300 million to develop and attract the skills and talent necessary to deliver our scientific ambitions. These efforts are complemented by our decision to increase the rate of R and D expenditure credit from 11% to 12%, as set out in the Bill.

The Bill will ensure that the tax system is fair, balanced and sustainable. To that end, it freezes the indexation allowance that currently allows companies but not individuals to reduce their taxable gains in line with inflation. It allows Scottish police and fire services to recover future VAT payments, which would otherwise be lost following the Scottish Government’s decision to restructure those services. I should pay tribute to my Scottish colleagues on the Government side of the House who lobbied so effectively in that respect.

The Bill narrows the scope of the bank levy so that, from 2021, all banks—UK and foreign-headquartered—will be taxed only on their UK operations.

John Howell Portrait John Howell (Henley) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is not the important point about the bank levy that we are trying to get a fair contribution paid by the banks, matched against the risk they pose to the whole UK economy?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is entirely right, which is why we have generally moved away from a levy on the capital assets of banks as regulation has improved, and towards a tax on the profitability of banks as that profitability has recovered following the events of 2008, which happened on the watch of the last Government. This re-scope forms part of the broader package of reforms announced between 2015 and 2016 that included an 8% surcharge on bank profits over £25 million. The package will help to sustain tax revenues from the banking sector in the long term.

Charlie Elphicke Portrait Charlie Elphicke
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

To follow on from my previous intervention, will my right hon. Friend confirm that the amount of tax paid by banks under this Government is nearly 60% higher than under the previous Labour Government?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is entirely right. A number of measures have driven the improved tax take from banks. Along with the 8% surcharge, there is the fact that we have restricted banks’ ability to carry forward losses to offset against profitability. We also exempted banks’ ability to offset charges in respect of mis-selling and payment protection insurance activities, which has also helped to improve the tax take.

Jamie Stone Portrait Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The mention of banks gets me going because all the Financial Secretary’s good words sit ill with the fact that the Royal Bank of Scotland is going through a huge series of closures, particularly in my constituency. We bailed the bank out, so there is great unhappiness—indeed, anger—that it is acting in such a way all over Scotland.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue, but these will be matters for the Royal Bank of Scotland. The most important aspect when one considers the Royal Bank of Scotland is clearly that it is brought back to being a fighting-fit organisation, employing as many people as possible as a business, contributing to the Exchequer, and creating value going forward.

Steve McCabe Portrait Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am interested to hear the Minister’s confidence about the money he will be taking through the bank levy. How does the money the hon. Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) says has been raised so far compare with the amount the taxpayer has already paid to bail out the banks, and how much of that money have we had back?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman mentions the amount that was required to bail out the banks, given that it was the then Labour Government who caused the problem that required the bail-outs in the first place. There is a long and detailed history of exactly what happened: we had lax regulation, and the Bank of England was not in a position to regulate the institutions concerned. The hon. Gentleman might like to look up the answer to his question himself and then inform other members of the Labour party of what he discovers.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my right hon. Friend agree that since the bank levy was introduced, the risk of bank failure has decreased dramatically due to new capital requirements on banks, and the considerably reduced risk that British taxpayers will have to fund cross-border bail-outs, given that we have international agreements on such matters?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, my hon. Friend is entirely right. We have made huge progress in making sure that the banks are fit and able to withstand whatever external shocks there might be. The Bank of England has been heavily engaged in that, as have the Government, and we are in a much more secure position—certainly than we were when we inherited the economy we saw when we first came to office in 2010.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is being very generous in allowing interventions. I was concerned by the response he gave to the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone). Given the Government’s stake in RBS, does he not feel that they should take some responsibility and use their influence to convince RBS not to go ahead with these closures? There have been over 90 since the start of the year, and this cannot continue.

--- Later in debate ---
Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am gratified by the hon. Lady’s confidence in Ministers making commercial judgments in respect of our banks and businesses, but it is far better to allow those businesses to take sensible commercial decisions, even though those sometimes have consequences that, in an ideal world, we would not wish to see. I go back to the point I made to the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone): we need RBS to improve its strength, grow, employ more people and, ultimately, pay more tax to support our vital public services.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way to me a second time. May I just remind him of the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into banking, which noted the lack of competition in banking and highlighted the lack of innovation and the fact that the big five banks control 85% of the retail banking market and make excess profits? Might keeping the bank levy at its current rate not be compensation to the consumer and the taxpayer for those excess profits?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

At the heart of the hon. Gentleman’s point rests the notion, which I agree with, that we expect the banks to pay their fair share and recognise that they received bail-outs some years ago, and tax policy towards the banks has been geared towards making sure that they make a fair and proportionate contribution to our tax take.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the importance of competition in the banking sector, and I wholeheartedly agree with him on that, which is one reason why we are keen to ensure that as many banks as possible are headquartered in our jurisdiction rather than in others. That goes to the heart of the changes in the Bill to ensure that banks domiciled here are not penalised by being charged on capital assets held overseas—a situation that does not pertain to overseas banks that operate in our jurisdiction.

We have included an 8% surcharge on banks’ profits over £25 million. The package will help to sustain tax revenues from the banking sector in the long term, and it is forecast to raise an additional £4.6 billion over the current scorecard period.

The Bill continues the Government’s already vigorous efforts to crack down on tax avoidance, tax evasion and non-compliance. Since 2010, the Government have introduced over 100 avoidance and evasion measures, securing and protecting over £160 billion of additional tax revenue. This has helped reduce the UK’s tax gap to a record low of 6%, which is one of the lowest in the world.

Grahame Morris Portrait Grahame Morris (Easington) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Financial Secretary says that it is a record low tax gap, but it does not take account of the vast treasure trove unearthed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the Paradise papers or of other vast sums of wealth, on which we have no idea how much tax is actually due. So the figure he gave is not really correct, is it?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am afraid I have to dissent from that view. The simple fact is that the International Monetary Fund has identified the tax gap measure as one of the most robust measures of its kind in the world. At 6%, our gap is among the lowest in the world, and it is the lowest we have had in our history since we have been measuring the tax gap. If we had the same tax gap today as we had under the previous Labour Government, we would be out of pocket to the tune of £12.5 billion a year—enough to fund every policeman and policewoman in England and Wales.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On the subject of tax avoidance, the Minister will know of my support for the Government’s willingness to close the tax loophole on the sales of commercial property by overseas companies. As my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame Morris) said, the Paradise papers show some of the ways in which tax is being avoided, including through holding companies in Luxembourg. When I asked the Minister about that before, he did not seem to know about the Luxembourg treaty and how it could affect this policy. What are his plans to address the problems created by the Luxembourg treaty, which could see us losing out on £5.5 billion a year of the tax collected through his changes?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Lady will know, a number of the measures coming out of the OECD’s base erosion and profit shifting project, which we have been in the vanguard of—including common reporting standards and access by our tax authorities to a variety of information in real time in overseas tax jurisdictions—are essential to bearing down on exactly the issues that she mentions. There are further measures in the Bill to deal with those who place their moneys in trusts, typically those coming under our non-dom reforms. By abolishing permanent non-dom status, which Labour failed to do in its 13 years in office, we have made sure that when individuals have assets that are protected while in trusts, those moneys fall due to tax in our country as soon as they are brought out of those trusts, even if people cycle them through third parties and other approaches. That means that we are securing more than £12 billion a year more for our public services than would have been the case had the tax gap remained at its peak of nearly 8%, which it reached under Labour.

The autumn Budget continued that work with a package of measures forecast to raise £4.8 billion by 2022-23, some of which are included in the Bill. It is important to note that the provisions in the Bill form part of a broader anti-avoidance and evasion agenda dating back to 2010. Since then, the Government have worked tirelessly and carefully to introduce an ambitious raft of anti-avoidance and evasion legislation. That commitment is borne out again in this Finance Bill, which implements several measures, including provisions cracking down on online VAT evasion to make online marketplaces more responsible for the unpaid VAT of their sellers; closing loopholes in the anti-avoidance legislation on offshore trusts, as I mentioned; tackling disguised remuneration schemes used by close companies; preventing companies from claiming unfair tax relief on their intellectual property; ensuring that companies are not able to claim relief for losses on the disposal of shares that do not reflect losses incurred by the wider group; closing a loophole in the double taxation relief rules for companies; and tackling waste crime by extending landfill tax to illegal waste sites. Those measures will help to raise vital revenue and ensure that individuals and corporations all pay their fair share.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was not particularly pleased with the answer that the Minister gave to the right hon. Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) as to why the Government have not tabled an amendment of the law resolution, which would allow the Opposition to put forward more measures in relation to tax avoidance and evasion, for example. Why did they not put forward an amendment of the law resolution?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We did not have an amendment of the law resolution on the previous Finance Bill, so we are carrying on with the situation that pertained to that Bill. As I explained, what matters is that we have an opportunity fully to scrutinise in this House the various measures provided and amendments that may be tabled in relation to those measures. There is nothing preventing that. As I have outlined, the Bill will go through its various stages, allowing for very thorough scrutiny.

Together, the measures that I mentioned continue the Government’s sustained crusade against tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance—an endeavour that we will pursue with undiminished vigour right through the course of this Parliament. Let no one ever doubt, for even the briefest moment, this Government’s commitment to hard-pressed families, and to championing business and the wealth creators of the future. On the matter of taxation as set out in the Bill, let no one misunderstand us: we will continue to keep taxes competitive and fair, but we will also continue our vigorous and ceaseless drive to bear down on avoidance and evasion so that all pay their due. We will ensure that all pay a just and fair share for the support of our vital public services: for doctors, paramedics and nurses; for our police, our teachers, our fire services, and our brave armed forces who make our country so great. I commend the Bill to the House.

--- Later in debate ---
Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have the greatest respect for the hon. Gentleman, but I refer him to the answer I gave earlier. He should have a look at and dig into the documents, which are very easy to find.

The bottom line is that, wherever they are in the country, businesses that play by the rules are disadvantaged, so it is unfair not just to individual taxpayers but to business taxpayers. Meanwhile, back in Westminster, the Government continue to have absolute contempt for parliamentary oversight.

Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will give way to the Minister, who may tell me that the Government do not have such a view.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman is being very generous in accepting interventions. From what I can understand, every time the shadow Chief Secretary is asked a question about what Labour promises and pledges will cost, he reverts to saying that people can go and look it up: they can dig into the documents and get on the internet. Equally, he is saying that the public are shifting his way. Is his message to the electorate to get on the internet and to look at his policies in order to understand them?

--- Later in debate ---
Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I had largely made my point, but if I am to have a second bite at the cherry, let me just add a final point. Is the shadow Chief Secretary’s message to the great British electorate that when it comes to costing his own party’s plans, they should get on the internet and start googling to find out what those costs are?

Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My message to the great British public, who have showed their support for Labour on this, is to get out and vote Labour. That is the message. The other point is that the Minister’s hon. Friends have been waving an iPad around. I suggest they get on their parliamentary iPads and do their work.

--- Later in debate ---
Andrew Jones Portrait The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Andrew Jones)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have had a very comprehensive debate, as is fitting for a Finance Bill. I thank all Members who have contributed.

Some Members mentioned the public sector pay cap. They might not have noticed that it was lifted on 12 September in a statement made by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. That was confirmed in the Budget on 22 November. Lots of Labour Members commented on the bank levy, failing to recognise that our changes will be raising taxation from the banking sector, and failing to remember that Labour voted against introducing the bank levy in 2011 and against introducing the bank surcharge in 2015.

Many Members have spoken at some length about transport schemes. They will be delighted to know that, excluding in the exceptional years following the financial crisis, public investment as a proportion of GDP will have reached its highest level in decades during this spending period. This includes a 50% increase in transport investment that is funding the biggest road programme in a generation. That will be welcomed by those who are interested in the A19, such as the hon. Member for Easington (Grahame Morris) and my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake). We are also seeing the biggest rail transformation in modern times, which will please many Members.

We heard some comments about tax evasion. It might be worth reminding the House that this Government have taken more action to clamp down on tax evasion than any other Government. The 100 measures we have introduced since 2010 have raised more than £160 billion. The Government’s pledge is that we will continue to act in that way. If Members want the clamping down on tax evasion to continue, they should support the Bill, because it includes measures to take that forward.

One key area that my constituents have raised with me is housing. They have highlighted the fact that in my constituency, the ratio of the average house price to the average salary has reached 14:1. Across England and Wales, the ratio has reached 8:1, which means that it has doubled in just two decades. I had a meeting this morning with the new Conservative Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, who highlighted that in his area the ratio is more than 20:1.

The autumn Budget set out our plan to deliver the pledge we have made to the next generation, namely that the dream of home ownership will become a reality in this country once again. A comprehensive set of reforms will not just boost housing supply, but help those who are looking to buy now with the up-front costs that can often get in the way. The stamp duty measure in the Bill will make sure that the tax system does not act as a barrier to first-time buyers who are seeking to get on to the housing ladder.

Let me finish by saying that the Bill is central to the Government’s vision for a brighter future for Britain. It will help to deliver that vision by helping more people to purchase their own home, promoting further economic growth, and delivering a fair, balanced and sustainable tax system. Those are significant steps towards making us fit for the future. We are building on our progress and past successes. The economy is 15.8% bigger than it was in 2010. Unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975 and income inequality is at its lowest level since 1986. We have cut the deficit by more than two thirds and, based on our plans, the OBR expects debt to fall from next year. People have talked about unemployment, which has fallen significantly. Employment has increased by more than 3 million since 2010. Opposition Front Benchers often talk about employment in London, and perhaps they should be aware that employment in London has grown by nearly 900,000 during this period. This Bill builds on successes, and I commend it to the House. [Interruption.] I have run out of time, I am afraid. [Interruption.]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. I think the Minister has concluded his oration.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

--- Later in debate ---
22:17

Division 61

Ayes: 271


Labour: 228
Scottish National Party: 26
Liberal Democrat: 12
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 312


Conservative: 301
Democratic Unionist Party: 9
Independent: 2

Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 62(2)), That the Bill be now read a Second time.
--- Later in debate ---
22:31

Division 62

Ayes: 313


Conservative: 301
Democratic Unionist Party: 9
Independent: 2

Noes: 269


Labour: 226
Scottish National Party: 26
Liberal Democrat: 12
Plaid Cymru: 3
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Bill read a Second time.

Finance (No. 2) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee: 1st sitting: House of Commons
Monday 18th December 2017

(6 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Finance Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 18 December 2017 - (18 Dec 2017)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Finance Act 2018 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Eleanor Laing Portrait The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mrs Eleanor Laing)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 1, in schedule 9, page 132, line 32, leave out from “in” to end of line 33 and insert

“accordance with the provisions of section (bank levy: Part 1 of Schedule 9: pre-commencement requirements)”.

This amendment paves the way for NC3.

New clause 1—Review of operation and effectiveness of bank levy—

“(1) Schedule 19 to FA 2011 (bank levy) is amended as follows.

(2) After paragraph 81, insert—

Part 10

Review

82 (1) Within six months of the passing of the Finance Act 2018, the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall undertake a review of the operation and effectiveness of the bank levy.

(2) The review shall consider in particular—

(a) the effectiveness of the levy in reflecting risks to the financial system and the wider UK economy arising from the banking sector,

(b) the effectiveness of the levy in encouraging banks to move away from riskier funding models,

(c) the revenue effects of the changes to the levy made in Schedule 2 to the Finance (No. 2) Act 2015,

(d) the effectiveness of the anti-avoidance provisions in paragraphs 47 and 48 of this Schedule.

(3) A review shall also compare the effects of the bank levy with those of the bank payroll tax (within the meaning given by Schedule 2 to the Finance Act 2010) in relation to—

(a) revenue, and

(b) the matters specified in sub-paragraph (2)(a) and (b).

(4) A report of the review under this paragraph shall be laid before the House of Commons within one calendar month of its completion.””

This new clause requires the Government to carry out a review of the bank levy, including its effectiveness in relation to its stated aims, the revenue effects of the changes made in 2015 and the comparable effectiveness of the bank payroll tax.

New clause 2—Public register of entities paying the bank levy and payments made—

“(1) Schedule 19 to FA 2011 (bank levy) is amended as follows.

(2) After paragraph 81, insert—

Part 11

Public register of payments

83 (1) It shall be the duty of the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to maintain a public register of groups paying the bank levy and the amounts paid.

(2) In relation to each group, the register shall state whether it is—

(a) a UK banking group,

(b) a building society group,

(c) a foreign banking group, or

(d) a relevant non-banking group.

(3) In relation to each group, the register shall state the amount paid in respect of each chargeable period.

(4) In relation to chargeable periods ending between 28 February 2011 and 31 December 2017, the Commissioners must public the register no later than 31 October 2018.

(5) In respect of subsequent chargeable periods, the Commissioners must public the updated register no later than ten months after the end of the chargeable period.””

This new clause requires HMRC to prepare a public register of banks paying the bank levy and the amount they have paid.

New clause 3—Bank levy: Part 1 of Schedule 9: pre-commencement requirements

“(1) Part 1 of Schedule 9 shall come into force in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(2) No later than 31 October 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall lay before the House of Commons an account of the effects of the proposed changes in Part 1 of Schedule 9—

(a) on the public revenue,

(b) in reflecting risks to the financial system and the wider UK economy arising from the banking sector, and

(c) in encouraging banks to move away from riskier funding models.

(3) Part 1 of Schedule 9 shall have effect in relation to chargeable periods ending on or after 1 January 2021 if, no earlier than 30 November 2020, the House of Commons comes to a resolution to that effect.”

This new clause requires the Government to provide a separate analysis of the impact of Part 1 of Schedule 9 nearer to the time of proposed implementation in 2021 and to seek the separate agreement of the House of Commons to commencement in the light of that review.

New clause 11—Review of effects of bank levy on inclusive growth and equality—

“(1) Schedule 19 to FA 2011 (bank levy) is amended as follows.

(2) After paragraph 81, insert—

Part 10

Review on inclusive growth and equality

82 (1) Within six months of the passing of the Finance Act 2018, the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall undertake a review of the bank levy.

(2) The review shall consider in particular—

(a) the effects of the levy on inclusive growth,

(b) the impact of the levy on equality.

(3) A report of the review under this paragraph shall be laid before the House of Commons within one calendar month of its completion.””

This new clause requires the Government to carry out a review of the bank levy, including its effects on inclusive growth and inequality.

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Finance Bill makes changes to the bank levy, in particular restricting its scope to UK activities. These changes support our vision to help keep UK banks globally competitive. They reflect improvements in international banking regulation that reduce the risk of overseas operations to the UK, and they complete a set of changes announced in 2015 and 2016 that significantly increase the tax we raise from our banks.

Let me be clear from the outset that this Government believe that banks should make a significant contribution to the public finances, beyond general business taxation, that reflects the risk they pose to the UK economy. That has been the record of Chancellors since 2010. As part of that, in 2011 the Government introduced the bank levy on the balance sheet equity and liabilities of banks and building societies, but this additional tax contribution made by banks has to support our broader objectives for the sector. It therefore needs to be responsive to international commercial and regulatory changes in banking. Any tax changes should ensure that we can continue to secure the additional contribution from the banks from a sustainable tax base, and they also need to ensure we retain a strong, stable and competitive banking sector that supports the wider economy by lending capital to both businesses and individuals.

Alberto Costa Portrait Alberto Costa (South Leicestershire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister agree that in pursuing the policies he has just outlined in a strong and stable way we can have sustainable banking that gives the significant contributions to the Treasury that are much needed, and that the policies espoused by the parties opposite would do great damage to our economy and our public services?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for that perceptive and helpful intervention. There is no question but that a healthy banking system is absolutely central to a healthy economy, which is why we have invested so much time and energy since 2010 in making sure that the regulation of the banks is tightened up, which was, of course, part of the original rationale for the bank levy. The fact that we are reducing the bank levy over time from 2015 and moving towards taxing profits is in itself an indication of the health of our banking system.

Jim Cunningham Portrait Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is the Minister satisfied that the banks have enough in reserve to cope with any emergency should there be a downturn in the world economy?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Bank of England carries out stress tests on our banking system. In the latest round, the banks came through very strongly—not a single one failed. The tests stress the system to a greater extent than the effect of the last financial crash in 2008, so we can be certain that the measures the Government have put in place, the operation of the independence of the Bank of England and carrying those things through are having the desired effect that he rightly seeks.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart (Brentwood and Ongar) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

After 2008, a bank levy was needed because there was not much profitability in the banks to enable their assets to be taxed, but as we have improved regulation it is now worth moving to tax their profitability. Does the Minister agree that this is the right time to make this shift in raising revenue?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is entirely right. The Government since 2015, and the coalition Government, oversaw the restoration of the banking sector to a healthy central part of our economy. He is absolutely right. The shift from the bank levy to the taxation of profits which was introduced on 1 January 2016 indicated that the risks themselves were diminishing under our stewardship, and that our banking sector was profitable enough to bring in considerably more tax revenue. Since 2010, under Conservative Chancellors, we have secured more than £44 billion in additional tax—I stress the word “additional”—from the banks, over and above the tax that we would be applying to them were they non-financial businesses.

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In 2010, tax receipts from the financial services sector amounted to about £53 billion; today they amount to £71 billion. We are making the banks and the wider financial services sector pay their fair share, but we do not want a race to the bottom. We want the sector to be competitive, because tens of thousands of well-paid, highly skilled jobs throughout the country—not just in London but in cities like Nottingham, near my constituency—depend on it.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is entirely right. The additional tax raised from the banks amounts to £9 billion between 2010 and the present time, and a further £25 billion is projected over the current forecast period. Far from taxing the banks less over time—as, no doubt, the Opposition will shortly have us believe we have done—we are securing more tax revenues than we did in the past.

Alex Chalk Portrait Alex Chalk (Cheltenham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As circumstances change, it is right for us to move from a bank levy to taxing bank profits. I am sure that, in due course, we shall hear a great hue and cry about how appalling it is to lose the bank levy. Is that not a little perplexing, given that Labour voted against its imposition in 2011?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is a valid point. I am waiting with some interest to hear what Opposition Front Benchers have to say about that point in particular. Even my shadow, the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd), is waiting expectantly to hear what he himself has to say, which is intriguing.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Did the big banks not lobby for this change, and are they not likely to benefit from the surcharge that has replaced the levy? Did not bigger, riskier banks pay more than other banks in the system?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

When we consider who benefits and who does not, we must assume that overall, given that more tax is being raised than hitherto, the banks are probably paying more tax on average as a consequence of these measures. However, the measures will obviously have different impacts on different banks, depending on their profitability and on whether they are at or above the capital threshold of £20 billion at which the levy itself begins to kick in.

In 2015 and 2016, the Government announced a set of changes in the way in which banks were taxed. We set out a phased reduction in the rate of the bank levy to 0.1% by 2021. We announced the changes that the Bill makes in the levy, reducing its scope so that it applies to banks’ UK rather than global balance-sheet liabilities. However, we also introduced an extra 8% tax on banks’ profits over £25 million, on top of general corporation tax. I hope that when the Opposition spokesmen respond to my comments and to the amendments and new clauses, they will at least recognise the important increase in taxation that has been applied to the banks since 2016.

Rachel Maclean Portrait Rachel Maclean (Redditch) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I, too, look forward with great interest to hearing from Opposition Front Benchers. Has not part of the Government’s overall approach been to back the independence of the Bank of England? Has that not also helped the overall regulation of banks, and ended the situation which, under Labour, led to some of the problems in the banking sector?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I think it would pay all Members dividends to consider the comments made by Mervyn King at the time of the last crisis, when he said that the Bank of England had very limited scope to deal with the issues that were faced at the time. Since then, of course, we have fundamentally changed the structure of the oversight of banks. We have ensured that the Bank of England is at the heart of it, and that the independence of the Bank and the other institutions that we have set up is paramount. That is partly why the position of the banks is so much stronger than it has been hitherto.

We prevented the banks from reducing their corporation tax liabilities when they were required to pay compensation for misconduct, effectively applying additional taxes. The shift towards taxing profits means that the recovery in banks’ profitability will translate into higher tax receipts for the Exchequer, while also ensuring a sustainable long-term basis for the taxation of banks.

Mark Menzies Portrait Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is important that we raise record sums from the banks to pay for vital public services, but is there not a balance to be struck? We need healthy banks, not only to support small businesses and provide mortgages for first-time buyers, but to ensure that there are banks in our high streets.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right, and this is all about striking the right balance. We recognise that banks need to pay their fair share because of the systemic risk that they can feed into the economy, and because, some years ago, the British taxpayer stood behind the banking system. The other part of the balance is to ensure that our banking system remains competitive in comparison with others in the world, and can, in turn, leverage the competitiveness of our own industries through its lending.

Nigel Huddleston Portrait Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is making an important point. Rather than setting a tax rate for party political purposes, we should aim to maximise tax revenue while also securing economic growth.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, as we know from recent experience. For example, although corporation tax has been reduced from 28% in 2010 to 19% and then to 17% under this Government, the corporation tax take has increased by 50%. Labour’s policy is the reverse. It foresees raising taxation not just from banks but from all the businesses in the country, large and small, including high street businesses, which, as we know, often struggle.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

A branch of Barclays bank in County Road in my constituency has closed, and I know that many other Members will have fought to keep local bank branches open. Are the Government willing to take any action—at least in the case of RBS, which we partly own—to ensure that high-street banking is still available to the most vulnerable and elderly constituents whom we all represent?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Conservative Members believe that it is better for commercial organisations to be left to run their own businesses. They tend to do it rather better than Ministers, dare I say—although I think I could be quite handy at running a bank or two; who knows?

The issue of bank closures is very important. We are working hard to reinvigorate our post offices and to ensure that the banking facilities that they provide—which are available, typically, to more than 90% of personal and business customers—are promoted in all the 11,500 branches in the United Kingdom.

Stephen Lloyd Portrait Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

A constituent who came to my community surgery on Saturday made a simple suggestion that I thought might well work. Banks face structural challenges, and many are closing, especially in rural areas. Why do the Government not encourage three or four banks to work together to establish a single branch in an area where there are currently no branches? Such a collegiate approach would solve the banking problems of rural areas in particular.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting idea, but I would argue that that is already effectively in practice in the form of the post office: post offices are able to deal with the customers of the major banks, to take cash, and to offer banking services—albeit not the full range, but certainly the most basic and most important to local communities—and, as I said earlier, there are more than 11,500 of them across the UK.

James Cartlidge Portrait James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

All of us who represent rural constituencies are concerned about the issue of access to bank branches and closures, but does that not mean that there is an extra onus on providing access to fast broadband in rural areas so that people can access online banking? To that end, should we not welcome the announcement in The Sunday Times that there will be further help this week for speeding up broadband in the most hard-to-reach rural areas?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend raises an important point about connectivity, particularly in rural areas, including in constituencies such as mine where making sure there is good broadband is often one way of reducing sparsity and people being cut off from each other, and that is why we have invested so heavily in that area.

These changes are expected to increase the additional tax contribution from banks by more than £4.6 billion over the current forecast period to 2022-23.

Jim Cunningham Portrait Mr Jim Cunningham
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister look into a situation that a number of us have had letters about? In the case of certain banks, including HSBC, where a person who is on a bank’s pension retires, that retirement pension is deducted because of their old-age pension. I do not expect an answer right away, but will the Minister look into that?

--- Later in debate ---
Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the ingenuity with which he has shoehorned in that question, which is possibly a Department for Work and Pensions matter, although I am not sure. But I will certainly come back to him on that point, and if it is not for me to respond, I will make sure the appropriate Minister in the appropriate Department does so.

We expect to raise over £25 billion from the additional taxes that banks pay over this period, on top of the £19 billion that we have raised to date since 2011. By 2023 we will have raised more than £44 billion in additional bank taxes introduced since the 2010 election.

I will now turn to the changes made by the current Finance Bill, and set out the reasons for changing the scope of the bank levy. Hon. Members will be aware that the bank levy aims to reduce the risk banks pose to the wider UK economy. It is currently chargeable on the global balance-sheet equity and liabilities of UK-headquartered banks, but overseas banking groups only pay bank levy on UK activities. However, regulatory developments currently being implemented across the G20 as a result of the standards set by the Financial Stability Board and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision will reduce the risk that overseas operations of UK banks pose to the UK economy, for example with stricter international standards on the need for subsidiaries to be independently capitalised.

We have also made it mandatory for the largest UK banks to separate core banking services from their investment banking activities by 2019. This ring-fencing will help to insulate UK borrowers and depositors from failures arising in banks’ overseas branches, before the changes to the scope of the levy take effect. As such, there will now be less need for the bank levy to address the risks posed by overseas operations of UK banks, and as the bank levy is less necessary to cover these risks, we have an opportunity to boost the competitiveness of UK banks by reducing its scope.

At present, UK-headquartered banks pay the levy on their worldwide operations, while foreign-headquartered banks only pay on their UK operations. We want the UK to stay at the forefront of global banking; we want banks based in the UK to compete and win business overseas, bringing jobs, prosperity and tax receipts with them. So we have decided that from 2021 the bank levy will apply only to UK balance-sheets for UK-based and foreign banks alike. This will allow UK banks to compete and win business on a more level playing field in these overseas marketplaces, and it is a change we are making as part of a package of reforms that secures revenue while boosting competitiveness.

The corporation tax surcharge, the reduction in bank levy rates, and changes to compensation relief restriction were legislated in 2015. Following detailed consultation, this clause and schedule implement the final element of our plan: changes to the scope of the bank levy. The clause and schedule narrow the scope of the bank levy so that from 2021 it will be chargeable only on the UK balance-sheet equity and liabilities of banks and building societies. Broadly, this means that overseas activities of UK-headquartered banking groups will no longer be subject to the bank levy. However, the levy will continue to apply to the UK operations of UK and foreign banks.

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister re-emphasise the point he has just made: that the practical effect for our constituents of the move he is making today will make it much more attractive for important British international banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered, who have a choice of locations in which to be registered—HSBC recently considered whether to move to Hong Kong or even mainland China—to remain in the City of London?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As is so often the case, my hon. Friend has hit an important nail on the head: in terms of improving our competitiveness, it is clearly deeply unattractive to have a situation where UK-domiciled banks are being taxed on their foreign operations whereas foreign banks are not being taxed by us on their foreign operations, but are only being taxed on their operations in the UK. He is right that the future of HSBC, Standard Chartered, Barclays and other banks, who make a huge contribution to our tax-take and our economy, are much more secure if they are not being disadvantaged by being taxed on overseas operations unlike their foreign counterparts. As part of these changes, the schedule also provides for a reduction in the amount on which the levy is chargeable for certain investments a UK bank makes in an overseas subsidiary.

I shall now briefly turn to the amendments tabled by Opposition Members. For the reasons I have described, we believe that a combination of taxing profits and balance-sheets is the most effective and stable basis for raising revenue from the banking sector. The bank payroll tax was intended as a one-off tax; even the last Labour Chancellor pointed out that it could not be repeated without significant tax avoidance. I can assure the House that information about the bank levy will continue to be published as part of the normal Budget cycle. Official statistics are published on the pay-as-you-earn income tax and national insurance contributions, bank levy, bank surcharge, and corporation tax receipts from the banking sector as a whole. The Government have published a detailed tax information and impact note on the proposed changes introduced by part 1 of the schedule. We have also published information about the overall Exchequer impact of the 2015 package of measures for banks, and these figures have been certified by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Finally, new clause 2 proposes that HM Revenue and Customs should publish a register of tax paid by individual banks under the levy. Taxpayer confidentiality is an essential principle for trust in the tax system, and HMRC does not publish details of the amount of tax paid by any individual business. While this Government continue to consider measures to support transparency over businesses’ tax affairs, we must balance that with maintaining taxpayer confidentiality in order to sustain public confidence in our tax system.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Is it not right that these banks, some of which were bailed out by, and may well look in the future for bail-outs from, the public, are treated slightly differently from other companies across the UK economy, and that we should have a public register for that reason?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would maintain that the banks are indeed being treated rather differently from other sectors of the economy, not least—as I have been at great pains to point out this evening—because they are being taxed far more heavily than other types of business. On a fundamental issue of principle relating to tax confidentiality, it would not be right to single out any particular bank, whatever its history, to make an example of it and treat it differently from other financial institutions.

The changes in this schedule are part of a package of measures that provide a sustainable basis for raising revenue from the banking sector in the long term. These measures continue to apply additional taxes to banks, to reflect the special risk that they pose to the UK economy. They put the taxation of banks on a more certain and sustainable footing to ensure that the banks will continue to pay additional tax, and they reduce the impact of the bank levy on UK banks’ international operations. In doing this, we will ensure their continued health and competitiveness, which are essential for us if we are to go on raising yet more tax from our banking sector. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to speak to the amendment and new clauses in the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and others. Banks have a crucial role to play in the proper and smooth functioning of our nation’s economic wellbeing. In addition, it is important to ensure that the banks are not all lumped together with a one-size-fits-all approach for the purpose of a bank-bashing session, as was suggested by Conservative Members. Further, it is neither reasonable, fair nor sensible to homogenise the people who work in the banking sector as either saints or demons. Neither beatification nor demonisation of the banks is appropriate; it does no credit to the complexity of the landscape facing us. It is important when dealing with fiscal issues relating to banks that we keep a sense of proportion during the process. That is why it is important to ensure that, in an objective sense, we examine the context in which the Government have decided to cut the take from the bank levy. So, what is that context?

--- Later in debate ---
Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

First, we did not regulate the banks in the United States, where it all started. I ask the hon. Gentleman—I have said this a number of times—to go and look at “Freeing Britain to Compete,” the document produced by the right hon. Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) for the shadow Cabinet in, surprisingly, August 2007.

Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

“They were not the Government” is shouted across the Dispatch Box, but that brings me to the point I am making. The bottom line is that chapter 6 of “Freeing Britain to Compete” called for significantly less regulation of the banks. As I have said before, the right hon. Member for Wokingham effectively said in that document that the Labour Government at the time believed that, if we did not regulate the banks, they would steal all our money. Many people out there believe that that is, in effect, what happened. The taxpayer had to bail out the banks. Why did the taxpayer have to bail them out? Because of the lack of regulation. The shadow Cabinet at the time ratified a policy of less regulation. If we had followed the right hon. Gentleman’s exhortations, as ratified by the shadow Cabinet, we would be in an even worse state. I ask the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Alex Burghart) to go and have a look at that one.

--- Later in debate ---
Emma Hardy Portrait Emma Hardy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I completely agree. The Education Committee has been looking into fostering. We know that in some of the most deprived areas of society the number of looked-after children is increasing, and we know that one of the reasons is that there is no money for social services departments to support families and give them the early intervention that they so desperately need. It is a false economy to pull funding away from early intervention, saying that that will save money. It will not; it will cost a lot more in the long run.

Those horrendous headlines do not tell the whole story. They do not tell of the worry experienced recently by breastfeeding mothers in Hull who panicked at the possibility that their peer-to-peer doula support would be cut because the council could not afford to pay for it. The council is having to make impossible choices. If it supports those breastfeeding mothers, it will have to pull funding from somewhere else. That is simply not fair.

Those headlines do not tell the story of the child in need who has fallen behind at school and finds it difficult to catch up again because of Government cuts in Sure Start’s speech, language and communication services. The Minister recently published an article in a newspaper complaining about the fact that children were starting school before they were school-ready. Why do the Government think that that is happening? It is happening because there is no money for the early intervention and Sure Start centres that are so desperately needed. Again, more potential is being missed and more opportunity wasted.

As I said in my maiden speech, I do not want a single child to have their life story written on the day they are born. Can we really say that the Bill will create the conditions in which all children can be given the support that they need and the opportunity to fulfil their potential? Does it, as the Prime Minister said on the steps of Downing Street just after taking office,

“do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you”?

Until we can answer yes to those questions, a reduction in the bank levy is a luxury that we cannot afford. I urge Members to back Labour’s new clauses 1, 2 and 3, because the future of our economy, and our children, depends on them.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have had a very wide-ranging debate. On occasion, we even touched on the matter at hand—the bank levy.

The hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd) was very generous in giving way, but less generous and less forthcoming in his answers. He was asked whether he recognised that we would be raising more tax from the banks. He said he would come back to that, but I do not think he did. He was asked why Labour had voted against the bank levy in the first place. On two or three occasions he said he would come back to that, but I am not sure he did. When he was asked whether he supported the overthrow of capitalism, he declined to answer. When he was asked by how much Labour would increase corporation tax, he told his interlocutor to go away and look it up. He was asked whether he was a Marxist. He was swamped by red herrings at one point, which caused my hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge) to say that he was the victim of too many interventions “on the trot”—boom boom!

My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Stephen Kerr) stressed the importance of a fair playing field, which is exactly what the Bill is introducing for the banks. The hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) talked about the importance of less risky behaviour by banks. I certainly subscribe to that, which is why the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee has been conducting the stress tests to which I referred earlier. They have all been very successful, including one that is based on a no-deal Brexit scenario.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk also took us through the amount of tax that has been raised from the banks under the Conservatives. He slightly ruined it all by saying that he had once written an article for The Guardian, and that he was, indeed, a closet Marxist at least.

The hon. Member for Bristol South (Karin Smyth) talked about the importance of productivity while my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts) highlighted the importance of a balanced approach to tax so that the banks could lend and stay healthy. The final two contributions were on childcare support, on which this Government have a proud record: by 2019-20 we will spending a record £6 billion per year supporting childcare. On that note, I commend clause 33 and schedule 9 to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 33 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 9

Bank Levy

Question put, That the schedule be the Ninth schedule to the Bill.

--- Later in debate ---
21:10

Division 74

Ayes: 313


Conservative: 302
Democratic Unionist Party: 10
Independent: 1

Noes: 258


Labour: 221
Scottish National Party: 28
Plaid Cymru: 4
Liberal Democrat: 3
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Schedule 9 agreed to.
--- Later in debate ---
21:28

Division 75

Ayes: 260


Labour: 223
Scottish National Party: 28
Plaid Cymru: 4
Liberal Democrat: 3
Independent: 1
Green Party: 1

Noes: 313


Conservative: 302
Democratic Unionist Party: 10
Independent: 1

Clause 40
--- Later in debate ---
Albert Owen Portrait The Temporary Chair (Albert Owen)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

That schedule 11 be the Eleventh schedule to the Bill.

Clause 41 stand part.

Amendment 2, in clause 8, page 4, line 16, at end insert—

“(4A) Regulations under this section may not increase any person’s liability to income tax.”

This amendment provides that the power to make regulations in consequence of the exemption from income tax in respect of payments of accommodation allowances to, or in respect of, a member of the armed forces may not be exercised so as to increase any individual’s liability to income tax.

Amendment 3, in page 4, line 17, leave out from “section” to “may” in line 18.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 2.

Clause 8 stand part.

New clause 4—Review of Relief for First-Time Buyers

“(1) The Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs shall undertake a review of the impact of the relief for first-time buyers introduced in Schedule 6ZA to FA 2003.

(2) The review shall consider, in particular, the effects of the relief on—

(a) the public revenue,

(b) house prices, and

(c) the supply of housing.

(3) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay a copy of a report of the review under this section before the House of Commons no later than one calendar week prior to the date which he has set for his Autumn 2018 Budget Statement.”

This new clause requires a review to be published prior to the Autumn 2018 Budget on the impact of the relief for first-time buyers, including its effects on house prices and on the supply of housing.

New clause 10— Annual Report on Relief for First-Time Buyers

“(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must prepare and lay before the House of Commons a report for each relevant period on the operation of the relief for first-time buyers introduced in Schedule 6ZA to FA 2003 not less than three months after the end of the relevant period.

(2) The report shall include, in particular, information in respect of the relevant period on—

(a) the number of first-time buyers benefiting from the relief,

(b) the number of purchases benefiting from the relief,

(c) the average age of first-time buyers benefiting from the relief,

(d) the effects on the operation of the private rented sector,

(e) the effects on council housing and other social housing,

(f) the effects on the supply of affordable housing, and

(g) the effects on the operation of collective investment schemes under Part 17 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 in the provision of cooperative housing.

(3) For the purposes of this section, “relevant period” means—

(a) the period from 22 November 2017 to 5 April 2018,

(b) each period of 12 months beginning on 6 April during which the relief is in effect, and

(c) the period beginning on 6 April and ending with the day on which the relief ceases to have effect.”

This new clause requires an annual report on the operation of the relief for first-time buyers, including information on the beneficiaries and effects on different aspects of housing supply.

New clause 5—Parliamentary Scrutiny of Regulations Relating to Armed Forces’ Accommodation Allowance

“(1) Section 717 of ITEPA 2003 (regulations made by Treasury or Commissioners) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (3), leave out “subsection (4)” and insert “subsections (3A) and (4)”.

(3) After subsection (3), insert—

‘(3A) No regulations may be made under section 297D unless a draft has been laid before and approved by a resolution of the House of Commons.’”

This new clause requires that regulations setting conditions relating to the availability of the income tax exemption in relation to armed forces’ accommodation allowance shall be subject to the affirmative procedure.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Budget set out an ambitious plan to tackle the housing challenge—a plan that will raise housing supply by the end of this Parliament to its highest level since the 1970s. However, the Government also recognise that we need to act now to help young people who are trying to get on to the housing ladder. This Bill therefore introduces a permanent relief in stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers, which I will turn to shortly. Alongside that, I will also cover clauses 8 and 40, which respectively introduce an income tax exemption for accommodation payments made to members of the armed forces and make minor changes to the higher rates of stamp duty land tax.

Home ownership among young people has been falling. Today, the average house in London costs almost 12 times average earnings, nearly 10 times average earnings in the south-east and more than eight times average earnings in the east.

Kelvin Hopkins Portrait Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Ind)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the right hon. Gentleman not accept that the only solution to the housing crisis is to build millions more houses, not to pump demand into the demand side, which just pushes up prices in the end?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. We announced plans in the Budget along the exact lines that he has suggested in order to free up the supply side and to increase supply to 300,000 units by the mid-2020s. In the last 12 months, we have achieved 217,000 new builds, so we are on our way, although it will take time. He is quite right that the supply side matters.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister accept that, although it is important to increase the supply of houses, this measure has been welcomed by young people who see this as at least an opportunity for them to be able to get a deposit for a house and to have fewer up-front costs?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is entirely right. The point about up-front costs—alongside the costs of conveyancing, surveyors and so on—is a critical one, particularly for young people getting on to the housing ladder.

Gareth Snell Portrait Gareth Snell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Average wages in Stoke-on-Trent are £100 a week lower than the national average, and the average house price is only £123,282, so will the Minister tell me the tangible benefits of lifting the stamp duty threshold to £300,000 for my constituents in Stoke-on-Trent?

--- Later in debate ---
Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is not an area or region of the country that will not see benefits for first-time buyers. [Hon. Members: “Yes, there is.”] No, I am afraid that that is simply not the case. This measure will benefit first-time buyers in every single region of the country. It is the case that property is a lot more expensive in some parts of the country than in others. Arguably, that is where the particular need is. As I have said, the average house price in London is 12 times average earnings, and it is 10 times average earnings in the south-east.

John Spellar Portrait John Spellar (Warley) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can the Minister give us any indication of his Department’s estimate of the cost of this measure and of the incidence—how it falls— in different regions of the country? In other words, how much is it going to cost globally and what other housing could the Government have built with that money? Equally importantly, how much of this will be in the south-east and how much in other regions?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In addition to what I just said about every region seeing benefits, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that the average benefit for the average first-time buyer will be around £1,700, which is a significant amount. For people purchasing a property at the £300,000 to £500,000 level, the benefit is no less than £5,000, which is a considerable sum.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle Portrait Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister disagree then with the Office for Budget Responsibility, which says that the measure will actually increase house prices by 0.3%? Is the OBR wrong?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Gentleman may know, the figure of 0.3% takes a static view of this policy and its effect on house prices. It does not take into account the supply side changes that I have mentioned. As we increase supply, prices will inevitably begin to fall. There is no single solution to this challenge and no magic bullet.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Gareth Snell Portrait Gareth Snell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will make a little progress, if I may.

The Budget announced an ambitious package of new policies to tackle the housing challenge, including planning reform; spending; and a new agency, Homes England, to intervene more actively in the land market. Together with the reforms in the housing White Paper, the housing package announced in the Budget means that we are on track to raise annual housing supply by the end of this Parliament to its highest level since 1970 and to 300,000 a year on average by the mid-2020s. That means that housing supply is on track to be higher over the 2020s than in any previous decade. However, it will take time to build these new homes, and the Government want to act now to help those young people who are aspiring to take their first step on to the housing ladder. That is why the Bill permanently abolishes stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing a property for £300,000 or less. First-time buyers purchasing a house that is between £300,000 and £500,000 will save £5,000. To ensure that this relief is targeted at those who need it most, purchases above £500,000 will not benefit from the relief.

Gareth Snell Portrait Gareth Snell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for taking a second intervention from me. To my earlier point, though, there are fewer than 15 properties currently on the market in Stoke-on-Trent between the value of £250,000 and £300,000. I say again: the average wage in Stoke-on-Trent is £100 a week less than the national average. How will young people in Stoke-on-Trent benefit, when the housing supply does not exist and the wage level will simply not allow them to purchase a property of that value?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The figures the hon. Gentleman chose to use were, I think, a range between £250,000 and £300,000, and he says there are 15 properties in that category. Of course, stamp duty kicks in at £125,000, so it is the range from £125,000 to £300,000 that we would actually be considering in that example.

First-time buyers are typically more cash-constrained than other buyers, and stamp duty requires cash up front, on top of a deposit and conveyancing fees, for purchases over £125,000. The Government think it is right to reduce the up-front costs that first-time buyers need to pay, giving them an advantage over the rest of the market.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for giving way, but he simply did not answer the question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley (John Spellar), who quite legitimately asked him where the money from this cut is going. The Minister talked about the average gain that will be made. Will he tell us the average benefit to a first-time buyer in the west midlands?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I say, the average across the piece will be £1,700 per average first-time buyer. I also stated quite clearly that, in every region of the country, there will be those who benefit from this measure.

John Spellar Portrait John Spellar
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for giving way, but surely his Department must have done an analysis, first, to convince the Treasury of how much this would cost and, secondly, to work out how much this would affect each region—in other words, how much benefit was going to the south-east, how much to London, how much to Yorkshire and how much to the west midlands. Why is he so reluctant to open up about those figures?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What I am able to tell the right hon. Gentleman is that, as I have said, the average benefit will be £1,700 for the average first-time buyer. Every region in the United Kingdom will see benefit from this measure, and those regions—particularly in the south and south-east—where the ratio of salaries required to mortgage levels is particularly high will especially benefit.

However, the other thing we need to do as a Government, as I have already stated, is to make sure we get the supply of housing right. That is why we will be moving from the current level of 200,000 new builds a year up to 300,000 in the middle of the 2020s.

Ian Paisley Portrait Ian Paisley
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is important to put on the record that Northern Ireland probably benefits disproportionately as a result of this measure, compared with any other part of the United Kingdom. The average house price in Northern Ireland is £128,650—in some areas west of the Bann, it is about £109,000—so hitting house prices over £300,000 would involve such a limited market. Many, many people in Northern Ireland are going to benefit from this, and I welcome the move the Government have made.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for those comments, which illustrate the point that there are benefits accruing across all regions of the United Kingdom.

The changes made by this Bill include the largest ever increase in the point at which first-time buyers become liable for stamp duty. This relief will help over 1 million first-time buyers who are taking their first steps on the housing ladder during the next five years. It provides immediate support while our wider housing market reforms take effect.

The changes made by clause 41 ensure that over 95% of first-time buyers who pay stamp duty will benefit by up to £5,000, including 80% of first-time buyers in London. That means that over 80% of first-time buyers will pay no stamp duty at all, and it saves the buyer of an average first property nearly £1,700, as I have said.

In summary, this change to SDLT will help millions of first-time buyers getting on to the housing ladder. Together with the broader housing package we have announced, we are delivering on our pledge to make the dream of home ownership a reality for as many people as possible.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle Portrait Lloyd Russell-Moyle
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am going to make further progress.

I will now move on to other changes relating to stamp duty. Clause 40 brings forward some minor changes to the higher rates of stamp duty land tax for additional properties, which will improve how the legislation works. The changes help in a number of circumstances, including in relation to those affected by divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership, where they have had to leave a matrimonial home but are required to retain an interest in it, and in relation to the interests of disabled children, where a court-appointed trustee buys a home for such a child.

We will also close down an avoidance opportunity. The Government have become aware of efforts to avoid the higher rates by disposing of only part of an interest in an old main residence to qualify for relief from the higher rates on the whole of a new main residence. This behaviour is unacceptable, and the Government have acted to stop it with effect from 22 November.

Clause 8 introduces a new income tax exemption for payments made to members of the armed forces to help them to meet accommodation costs in the private market in the UK. The exemption enables them to receive a tax-free allowance for renting accommodation or maintaining their home in the private sector. The allowance will also be free of national insurance contributions. That measure will be introduced through regulations at a later date. By using the private market, the Ministry of Defence will be able to provide access to similar accommodation, but with more flexibility.

Opposition Members have tabled amendments 2 and 3 to the armed forces accommodation clause, and I look forward to hearing about them in the debate. The amendments seek to prevent the Treasury from laying regulations that would increase the liability of a member of the armed forces to income tax. I am happy to reassure the Committee that the Government do not intend to use the power to increase tax liabilities either now or in the future. The regulation-making power is retrospective so that the allowance can be provided tax free before regulations take effect. As a standard safeguard, the Bill expressly provides that the Government would not retrospectively increase tax liabilities. I hope that, in the light of that, hon. Members will not press their amendments.

New clause 5, also tabled by Opposition Members, would require the House to expressly approve any regulations made under the clause. The Bill provides for regulations to be made under the negative procedure. Regulations made under the clause will align the qualifying criteria for the proposed exemption with the Ministry of Defence’s new accommodation model once more details are available. Any future regulations will ensure that the tax exemption reflects changes to the model. It would be a questionable demand on Parliament’s time, particularly over the next two years, for it to be called on to expressly approve regulations in these circumstances. The negative procedure provides an appropriate level of scrutiny. I therefore urge the Committee to reject the new clause.

The stamp duty relief for first-time buyers is a major step to help those getting on to the property ladder, and one that has been widely welcomed. The other changes made by these clauses provide relief from some tax costs associated with housing for several groups that deserve them. The clauses also tackle avoidance. I commend clauses 41, 40 and 8, and schedule 11, to the Committee.

Jonathan Reynolds Portrait Jonathan Reynolds
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This country is in the grip of a severe housing crisis that the Conservatives have allowed to spiral out of control over the past seven years. Making sure that people have a roof over their heads and can raise their families somewhere safe, decent and affordable is more than just a matter of sound public policy—it is surely a yardstick of a decent society. At the moment, we are falling short of this yardstick to a degree that is shameful for one of the world’s most affluent nations.

Now, after seven years of Tory government, the Government say that they have noticed the problem, yet it is on the brink not of being resolved but rather exacerbated. The Chancellor’s autumn Budget, from which the measures in the Bill are drawn, falls woefully short in addressing the scale of what is needed. Since 2010, house building has fallen to its lowest level since the 1920s, rough sleeping has risen year on year, rents have risen faster than incomes and there are almost 200,000 fewer homeowners in the UK.

--- Later in debate ---
Ruth George Portrait Ruth George
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Absolutely. I hope that Members on both sides of the House will give their encouragement to that Bill so that we can make homes fit for human habitation.

On the subject of universal credit, whether or not homes are fit for human habitation, unfortunately landlords are not prepared to rent. A representative of a lettings agency came to my surgery just last week and showed me the books for its tenants. At the moment, 20 tenants are on universal credit—we still have not seen it rolled out—of whom 18, or 90%, are in huge arrears. Nine of them—45%—have had to be evicted because landlords cannot get any redress for arrears. They cannot afford to see those arrears build up. Now that they no longer claim mortgage interest relief, they know that they will have to pay a big tax bill come the end of January, so they need to ensure that they can make their homes pay.

This Government’s housing policy is simply racking up disaster on disaster. Homelessness is doubling and home ownership is falling, and universal credit is yet to come. We needed big ideas from the Chancellor, as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government told him in no uncertain terms. We see nothing in this Bill but tinkering at the edges that will do nothing to help solve the enormous housing crisis in this country.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have been debating important measures. Clause 8 introduces an income tax allowance for members of the armed forces to help them to meet the cost of accommodation in the private market in the UK. Clause 40 makes sensible legislative adjustments to the additional rate of stamp duty land tax to ensure that people in some specific—often disadvantaged—circumstances are not unduly penalised. Clause 41 announces the Government’s abolition of stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers purchasing properties under £300,000. This key part of the Government’s drive to ease the burden on young first-time buyers will go a significant way towards levelling the playing field in those people’s favour. It is notable, and equally lamentable, that this particular policy, which predominantly assists the young, appears to be something that the Labour party rejects and indeed derides. I commend the clauses and schedule to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 40 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 11 agreed to.

Clauses 41 and 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 4

Review of relief for first-time buyers

“(1) The Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs shall undertake a review of the impact of the relief for first-time buyers introduced in Schedule 6ZA to FA 2003.

(2) The review shall consider, in particular, the effects of the relief on—

(a) the public revenue,

(b) house prices, and

(c) the supply of housing.

(3) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay a copy of a report of the review under this section before the House of Commons no later than one calendar week prior to the date which he has set for his Autumn 2018 Budget Statement.”—(Jonathan Reynolds.)

This new clause requires a review to be published prior to the Autumn 2018 Budget on the impact of the relief for first-time buyers, including its effects on house prices and on the supply of housing.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

--- Later in debate ---
23:04

Division 76

Ayes: 226


Labour: 220
Plaid Cymru: 4
Green Party: 1
Liberal Democrat: 1

Noes: 313


Conservative: 301
Democratic Unionist Party: 10
Independent: 1

To report progress and ask leave to sit again.—(Graham Stuart.)

Finance (No. 2) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee: 2nd sitting: House of Commons
Tuesday 19th December 2017

(6 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Finance Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Committee of the whole House Amendments as at 19 December 2017 - (19 Dec 2017)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Finance Act 2018 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right: I will indeed come to that issue.

As we approach Christmas, I ask the Minister to consider the impact that the Government’s policies are having. More than 128,000 children will be in temporary accommodation over Christmas, women’s refuges—as my hon. Friend has just said—are in crisis, and universal credit will leave people penniless and homeless over the Christmas period.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is not nonsense. I challenge the Minister to sit in one of my surgeries and hear that it is not nonsense.

The Government have made £28 billion of cuts affecting 3.7 million disabled people, and the additional caring responsibilities have fallen on the shoulders of women. It is the same with the cuts in social services—women take up the slack—and the pay cap, which hurts women more than men. Indeed, 86% of the Government’s cuts are falling on women. Labour Members are not the only people who are saying that. In June, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights said that the Government’s changes adversely affected

“women, children, persons with disabilities, low-income families and families with two or more children.”

If the United Nations can see that, and if Labour Members can all see it, why can the Government not see it and do something about it? The best policies are evidence-based policies.

--- Later in debate ---
Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to make my case to the five Conservative MPs on the Government Benches today. Inequality is an incredibly expensive business for everyone. I am pleased to see five fellow feminists sitting among the many of us on these Benches—

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Goodness! The Minister says eight, but I can assure him that we have a good many more than eight feminists in total on this side of the House if he would ever like to test us. Our policies and our manifesto certainly speak to that fact.

The case that I want to make to the five men on the Tory Benches, given that gender inequality and equality impact assessments can sometimes be seen as special-interest issues, is that everything we are doing today is in everyone’s interest. Inequality costs us all dear. It holds everybody back in our society. Indeed, feminism is not about women; it is about the fact that power is unequally balanced in society so that 51% of those in our communities miss out on achieving their potential. That is what is behind new clauses 6 and 7. Good data help to drive good decisions. It is also good for Governments to follow their own policies. We have a public sector equality duty in this country, but the fact that the Government are not following it themselves makes it much harder for them to force other people to do so. Ultimately, we are here today to make the case that Britain will be better when we know more about the conditions that we face and about what impact policies are having.

Let me start with that cold, hard economic argument, because I am sure that the Minister, who once proclaimed his feminist credentials, already knows this, but I am not sure whether it has yet been put on the record. Bridging the gender gap would generate £150 billion in GDP by 2025. The economy has been struggling with a productivity problem for decades, and there is nothing stronger or faster that we could do to address that than to ensure that everybody in our society is able to realise their potential, but we should do more to help women in particular. We need to tackle the barriers and the discrimination they face that means they do not have that level playing field. Indeed, studies show the strong correlation between diversity and economic growth, so those who think that this is special pleading do not understand the maths behind the case Labour is making today. I would argue that the reason why they do not understand the maths is that we do not do the calculations, which is why it is so important to get the data.

Data is a good thing. It leads to difficult conversations. It makes us ask why, after the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970, we still do not have equal pay in this country. I was born after that Act came into effect, but if the current policy continues, I will be dead before we have parity. That harms us all, because the 14% pay gap between men and women is not stagnating, but growing. There will be women in our constituencies who are missing out on equal pay because we are not acting as a country. Having this kind of data helps us to ask why that is and whether Government policy is helping to minimise the gap or exacerbate it.

This is not just about gender. The gap is much worse for women from ethic minority communities. The pay gap is 26% for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women and 24% for black African women. This is also not just about ethnicity, because the same applies for disability and age. Only 36% of women in the constituencies of the Conservative male Members here will be getting their full state pension. When those women come to see those Members about the Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign, they are coming because they have been living with poverty for decades. They are asking for help to make things right, because they do not want to be dependent on the state. They want a level playing field, but historical inequality in our society has held them back, and it is holding us back now. Having the data helps us to understand where that is happening and why. It would show us whether Government policies—individual Budgets—are going to make it easier to tackle that inequality, so that fewer women will come to constituency surgeries asking for a referral to a food bank, or whether they will make things worse.

If the Government want to tackle inequality, they need to know that data also tells us that this Budget, and the Budgets of previous years, are causing more problems. I do not doubt the sincerity of the five Conservative Members here or that they do want to tackle inequality in our society, but when I look at this Budget I do doubt whether they are going to be able to do that. This Budget will hit women 10 times as hard as it will hit men—13 times for women from an ethnic minority background. Going back to the equal pay issue, 43% of people in society do not earn enough to benefit from raising the personal income tax threshold, and 66% are women. We have unequal pay in our society, so 73% of the people who will benefit from changing the higher rate threshold will be male. Having the data and then looking at what is being done with tax and benefit policies will help us to understand just how much further this Budget is moving the goalposts for women and ethnic minorities. This applies to other policies, too. Corporation tax changes disproportionately benefit men, because we still do not have parity in the boardroom, in enterprise or in the number of women shareholders.

The lack of data also leads to bad decision making. As my colleagues have already set out, this Government have not done any equality impact assessments to understand just how far the goalposts are moving in getting to this House’s shared aim of an equal society. Tax information and information notes dismiss the issue and do not help Ministers to make good decisions. I am sure that the Minister, with his feminist soul, wants to make good decisions, but those assessments claim that there is little or no impact. Indeed, we do not even have TINs for all the policies that we know have a differential impact such as excise duty rates or fuel duty giveaways, because we live in an unequal society.

The lack of data also means that Ministers simply cannot come to the Dispatch Box and tell us that any concerns we may have about the differential impact of individual tax and benefit changes can be offset by the impact of other policies. If we do not know the impact of one policy, how can it be said that that can be offset by another? Even if we are concerned that men have received a windfall from Budgets for several years, it is simply not good enough for Ministers to try to tell us that women are being compensated through public services, because they cannot provide the analysis to show us that either case is true. Indeed, when we look at the impact of public service cuts—surprise, surprise—women, ethnic minorities and the disabled tend to be disproportionately hit again.

As I said at the start, it is also a matter of following our own laws. The public sector equality duty came into force in this country in 2011. It is a legal requirement, and it has driven some of these difficult conversations, whether in the Bank of England or in the BBC. It helps us to challenge everyone to do more to unlock the potential of every member of our society by reducing barriers and breaking down the discrimination that means, 40-plus years on, we still do not have equal pay.

If the Government themselves are not upholding their duties, what hope do we have in asking other organisations to do so? It is important to recognise that the legal duty is not passive. It is a duty not just to manage inequality but to do something about it. It is a duty to know the numbers before we make a decision so that we do not make things worse, as this Budget clearly does, and it is an ongoing duty that cannot be delegated. Ministers cannot leave it to a civil servant in the back office; they have to take direct responsibility. Crucially, it is a duty that, once a problem has been identified, the Government have to act, and not having the resources is no excuse for not acting.

The arguments Ministers are making against calculating the figures are not just about the practicalities, but they are completely surmountable. As the Women’s Budget Group, the Fawcett Society and the Institute for Fiscal Studies have shown, it is perfectly possible to make these calculations, and it is worth doing because it would help the Government to make better decisions. That it is possible to do it both for individuals and for households is important because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion) said, single parents, who tend to be women, are disproportionately hit by these changes. Even if the Minister were to quibble about calculating the figures across households, we could certainly see the impact we are having on some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

The reason why we have called it “lady data” is to try to help Ministers understand what they are missing and why it matters, but in truth this is everyone’s data. Getting this right and having that information would help us to make better decisions and would help us to understand why it will take us 100 years from today to have parity, so that women who are still struggling with unequal pay—including women in the communities of the Members to whom I have referred—can have some confidence that they may still live to see that wonderful day when everyone in this society is treated equally and so that people from ethnic minority backgrounds and disabled people living in poverty, and a poverty that is getting worse, can have some confidence that the Government are not ignoring them but understand where the challenges are and are considering a Budget that will do something about it.

Frankly, when we see the analyses that are being done, we know why the Government oppose new clauses 6 and 7. They do not want to do the maths because the figures tell the ugly truth about the inequality we have in Britain and its stubborn supporters, who unfortunately sit on the Government Benches. Jane Addams said:

“Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself.”

We cannot take the journey to a more prosperous, more successful and more egalitarian Britain if we do not know the direction of travel. The numbers will give us the direction of travel, but it is the political will that will give us the way forward.

Ministers should not dismiss this case as special pleading but should look at the economic argument for why tackling gender inequality matters and vote accordingly today to put Britain on a better path, because everyone will be richer for it.

--- Later in debate ---
Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This Government are committed to equality. That is not to say that no further steps need to be taken—a situation that pertains perhaps to every Government who have ever been in office—but we have a strong record on equality. More women are in work than at any time in our history, at 70.8%. Last year, over 60% of growth in employment was through women joining the workforce. We have the lowest gender pay gap for full-time employment on record and we have taken action to ensure that companies with 250 employees or more will, from next year, be required to publish details of their gender pay gaps.

For those who are disabled, we are spending more than £50 billion a year on benefits for disabled people and those with health conditions. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced an extra £42 billion for the disabled facilities grant to encourage and assist those with disabilities into the world of work.

For ethnic minorities, when our Prime Minister assumed office last year, one of her first actions was to announce an audit into the differing impacts on ethnic minorities in terms of their use of public services. The report was published in October and will inform our policy going forward.

In the Budget, we increased the national living wage by 4.4% from April, which will disproportionately assist ethnic minority people. We are committed right across Whitehall to ensuring an increase in the uptake of apprenticeships and employment within our police forces and our armed services for ethnic minorities.

David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way, but I am afraid he has to stop talking absolute guff when it comes to the national living wage. The Government continue to talk about a national living wage, but that is in fact a con trick because it does not apply to under-25s.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It applies to a large number of people and there is the national minimum wage as well. My point is that the 4.4% increase in April will be well above inflation, and will disproportionately assist women and those from ethnic minority communities.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for giving way and I am listening to the case he is making. If he is so confident that the Government’s policies promote equality, why is he against having an independent Office for Budget Responsibility equality impact assessment to tell us all the good news?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I ask the hon. Lady to be a little bit patient, because I am coming to those very points shortly.

On assessments, we are required, under the Equality Act 2010, to take due regard of protected characteristics, but it is not just for that reason that we do so. It is not just for that reason that I and my fellow Ministers took those issues into account at every stage; it is because we believe it is the right thing to do and we wish so to do.

To come to the hon. Lady’s intervention, a number of reports are already out there. We have heard about tax information and impact notes. I do not think the Opposition should dismiss them. They did not mention the distributional analysis the Treasury provides and publishes at the time of the Budget, or the public expenditure statistical analysis, which looks at how expenditure affects different protected characteristics and runs to hundreds of pages in length. What the Opposition are calling for is fundamentally impractical. That is the heart of the matter and the answer to the hon. Lady’s question. Such analyses almost invariably focus on the static situation. They focus on the effect of tax and income changes on individuals without considering the behavioural changes they induce and the implications of changes in the wider economy, such as the level of employment. They are selective and tend to avoid focusing on those who benefit from public services or are affected by taxation. For example, the provision of childcare, social care and health services is normally exempt from such analyses.

The final point, which has been raised already and which the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy) indeed recognised, is that where an individual’s income changes, that individual will almost invariably live within a household with other individuals. She said that the personal allowance increase for taxation disproportionately benefited men, but of course men often live in households with women, and income is distributed across the household. The same is true, of course, where a woman benefits and brings income into a household in which men are also present.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is extraordinary that the Minister does not understand the concept of doing both individual and household analyses, or indeed behavioural alongside static analyses. There are many different ways the Government could be doing equality impact assessments. The problem is that they are not doing any.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is right: there are many ways it can be done, and the Government are indeed doing it in many ways. She need not only look to me for the observations I have made; the IFS has recognised my very point about household income. We will, however, continue to look at how we provide information and assess policies, and we will work with the ONS, as the Chancellor set out in the recent Budget.

In conclusion, the Government have a vision for a society that is equal, not in terms of levelling people down, but in terms of giving people the opportunity to go up. In yesterday’s debate on the Bill, the Labour party chose to vote against a measure to encourage young people to get a foot on the housing ladder. That is not acceptable, and that is an example of what we will do to promote equality of wealth and opportunity at every turn. I urge the Committee to reject new clauses 6 and 7.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister referred to distributional analyses. The distributional analysis carried out by the IFS, the non-gendered and gendered analyses of the Women’s Budget Group, and others, such as those carried out using the Euromod tax-benefit model for EU countries, all share the same characteristic: they are static. The exact same method is adopted by the Treasury itself when it assesses the distributional impact of Budget measures in Budget and IFS documents. If the Treasury does not like other people using the model, perhaps it should not use it itself. The Government cannot criticise others for using the same method as them to analyse their own Budget.

The Minister said several times that the Government believed in equality, but their actions fail to carry that through. They say one thing and do another, and they are exacerbating inequality in our society. [Interruption.] The Chancellor says from a sedentary position, “Unlike the Labour party.” The Labour party is more competent than this Government have ever been in ensuring that this country is more equal. All the equalities legislation has come from a Labour Government—[Interruption.] Productivity, growth, all the equalities legislation has come under a Labour Government, not a Conservative Government. In fact, every time the Conservatives enter government, everything starts to go down. Food banks were not part of the Department for Work and Pensions scheme when Labour was in government. Period poverty was not part of everyday life for young women when Labour was in government.

I say to the Minister, “If you in any way believe in equality, you should not lead your merry men into the No Lobby. You should lead them into the Aye Lobby, and vote with us.”

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

--- Later in debate ---
16:40

Division 77

Ayes: 273


Labour: 228
Scottish National Party: 28
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 4
Independent: 2
Green Party: 1

Noes: 309


Conservative: 301
Democratic Unionist Party: 8

New Clause 8
--- Later in debate ---
Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is not actually a raft of new tax bands. As far as I know, it is one more band in the tax system with slightly different numbers for the pennies. But that is only in relation to income tax. Some 70% of people will pay less tax and 55% will pay less tax than they would in England. Does the hon. Gentleman believe, therefore, that the English system is taxing people unfairly compared to the Scottish system?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady for indulging me. She says that 70% of Scottish taxpayers will pay less tax, but will she accept the fact that that is largely due to the changes made by the UK Government in raising the personal allowance?

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Scottish Government’s new starter rate of 19%, rather than 20%, for the first £2,000 that people earn is really positive. It is an incredibly progressive taxation measure, and it is something that the UK Government cannot claim; it is something that the Scottish Government are doing.

--- Later in debate ---
Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. I do, however, want to say one more thing on the Scottish tax system, so I hope he will indulge me.

The Scottish tax system is progressive. It is making a difference by ensuring that people who earn under £24,000 pay less tax. That is a positive measure and a good way forward. If members of the UK Government have concerns about the Scottish Parliament’s choices on tax, perhaps it would be better for them to support an increase in the block grant. They could also tell us whether they would cut the money that is going to be made up from the Scottish Government’s tax changes from education, local authorities or the health service.

I will bring the Committee back to tax avoidance. I am sorry, Sir Roger, for testing your patience slightly. The Scottish National party has been consistent in its criticism of Scottish limited partnerships. My former colleague, Roger Mullin, was like a dog with a bone; he would not let go of this matter. That was to his credit because the UK Government decided to make changes to the SLP regime as they recognised that it is massively used for tax avoidance and dodging. There was a review of SLPs, but we are yet to see changes as a result. Will the Minister let us know at least the timeline for making those changes in order to ensure that SLPs are no longer used as a tax-dodging mechanism? This is an important change that really needs to be made, preferably sooner rather than later.

Talking about the UK Government not working as they should regarding tax avoidance and evasion, the Panama papers and the Paradise papers have both been published in my time as an MP. It is very clear that the tax system—not just the global tax system, but even the system in the UK—is failing. It is allowing people and organisations to dodge tax. It is all well and good to talk about overseas trusts. In fact, this frustrates me a huge amount because the Government try to give the impression that overseas trusts are used by organisations such as rural churches in order to fix their roofs. It is not the case that they are used by organisations like that; they are used by people who are trying to dodge tax. We need the hardest possible line on that.

We cannot see the United Kingdom turn into a low-tax, deregulated tax haven. If the UK Government are deciding what kind of country they want the United Kingdom to be, they should not choose one that involves deregulation. With Brexit, they have the opportunity to put their stamp on the future, but I am incredibly concerned about the way that it will go. In bringing back control, some of the reins that have perhaps been put on the UK Government will be taken off and they will be free, for example, to take away the working time directive, and to make changes to our world-class social security system, fair society and good business practices. That is incredibly concerning.

We have called before, and we will not stop calling, for powers to deal with tax avoidance and evasion to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. We believe that we would do a better job because we could not really do a worse one. We would put forward a fair and moral tax system and a general anti-avoidance rule in order to discourage people from dodging tax, and we would ensure that our tax gap was way smaller than the UK Government’s.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This Government are committed to bearing down on tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance like no other Government in history. While I have enormous respect for the hon. Member for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds), the shadow Minister, and I respect the spirited nature of her attack on our record, I am afraid she is misguided.

We have a strong record. We have brought in and protected £160 billion of potentially avoided tax since 2010 as a result of over 100 measures that we have brought in. We have, as we have heard in the debate, one of the lowest tax gaps in the entire world, at just 6%. Contrary to some of the suggestions from those on the Labour Benches, that is a robust and firm figure; it is described by the IMF as one of the most robust in the world. It is, indeed, produced by HMRC, but it is produced to strict guidelines set out by the Office for National Statistics.

Kelvin Hopkins Portrait Kelvin Hopkins
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister mentioned HMRC. One of the things the Government have done over many years now is to squeeze HMRC, which has fewer offices and not enough staff. Does he not accept that every single additional tax officer collects many times their own salary? If the Government were serious about tax collection, they would expand HMRC substantially.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman may know that, in the last Budget, £155 million was set aside to be invested in HMRC, for exactly the activity that he has described. That is expected to bring in £4.8 billion through a further reduction in tax avoidance over the forecast period.

The other point I would make to the hon. Gentleman is that HMRC’s effectiveness is not all about having lots of regional offices staffed with tax inspectors. Tax is collected today using sophisticated intelligence-led and data-led techniques. We need to invest in that if we are to continue to achieve the outstanding results we are achieving at the moment.

We have borne down with penalties for developers and enablers of tax avoidance schemes. On the international side, our country has been in the vanguard of the base erosion and profit shifting project. We now have over 100 countries involved in common reporting standards, so HMRC can access information in real time to bear down on non-compliance in those jurisdictions. We have introduced new measures in this Budget in relation to clamping down on the abuse of overseas trusts. Since 2010, we have brought in £2.8 billion in additional revenues as a consequence of clamping down on the activities of UK residents hiding their wealth inappropriately in overseas trusts.

We have, of course, been the Government that abolished permanent non-dom status. I have to disagree, I am afraid, with the hon. Member for Oxford East, who suggested that if someone’s parents were non-domiciled, that in some way suggests that that person would not be subject to the rules we have brought in. That is simply not the case. If someone has been resident for 15 of the previous 20 years, they will be deemed domiciled, irrespective of who their parents happen to be.

New clause 8 suggests we should have yet another assessment. We have heard consistently in all the debates we have had on the Floor of the House on this Bill about having more and more assessments, but I would say to Opposition Members that we already have a robust figure for the tax gap. As I have said, it has been described by the IMF as one of the most robust in the world, and we certainly do not need even more information out there to prove just how successful this Government have been in bearing down on avoidance, evasion and non-compliance.

However, as a consequence of this Bill, we will go even further than we have to date. Clause 38 relates to online VAT fraud, and we will make online platforms jointly and severally liable where VAT avoidance occurs, extending that approach from overseas sellers to domestic sellers, and ensuring that they are responsible for supplying accurate and appropriate VAT information on their sites. That will raise £1 billion by 2023.

Clauses 11 and 12 will complete our work on disguised remuneration, and bearing down on that will have brought in £3.6 billion by 2019, when we will be closing down on those schemes.

Clause 42 ensures that where there is illegal landfill activity, we apply the tax that would have been in place had those activities been legal, bringing in a further £145 million. There are also the changes brought in by clauses 20 and 21 to address avoidance involving intellectual property within companies.

This Government have a record that is second to none when it comes to clamping down on avoidance, evasion and non-compliance. Labour had 13 years in which to implement such measures, and did very little. In fact, the tax gap under the previous Labour Government was such that if we had it today, we would be over £12 billion short every single year—enough to fund every policeman and woman in England and Wales. We will continue to bear down, as appropriate and with vigour, on tax evasion and avoidance to ensure a fair and civilised society where those who are due to pay their fair share do so, to support our public services. I urge the Committee to reject new clause 8.

--- Later in debate ---
17:36

Division 78

Ayes: 271


Labour: 226
Scottish National Party: 28
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 4
Independent: 2
Green Party: 1

Noes: 311


Conservative: 302
Democratic Unionist Party: 9

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Finance (No. 2) Bill (Fourth sitting)

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committee Debate: 4th sitting: House of Commons
Thursday 11th January 2018

(6 years, 4 months ago)

Public Bill Committees
Finance Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Public Bill Committee Amendments as at 11 January 2018 - (11 Jan 2018)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Finance Act 2018 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister will be aware that the insurance industry has raised concerns about the impact of the clause on fairly small savers, such as people with endowments that were sold door to door. There is a report on the BBC website that quotes Steve Webb, a former Minister who now works with Royal London, on the impact that the clause will have on Royal London’s savers. Standard Life is also reported to have concerns. We are therefore not entirely content with the clause. We will not oppose it at this stage, but we reserve the right to look at it again on Report.

We would like the Government to address the industry’s concerns, and I have a few questions for the Minister. It is estimated that the clause will affect 11.6 million policyholders, most of whom are basic rate taxpayers, and the industry estimates that the impact will be in excess of £250 million per year—double the figure implied by the Chancellor at the Treasury Committee in December. Individual life insurance policyholders may pay an average of £21, and in some cases up to £150, per policy per annum. That is a considerable impact given that such people have relatively small savings.

The Chancellor said in December in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), who sits on the Treasury Committee, that the change will have a “modest impact”, but that is not a modest impact for those savers—it is significant. The policies that the clause will affect include non-pension unit-linked, non-pension with-profits and whole-of-life policies, as well as endowments, which I mentioned. On what basis did the Government reach the conclusion that the change will have a modest impact and affect a relatively small number of policyholders? We are talking about 11.6 million people—not a small number by any manner or means. Those policies may represent a relatively small amount of money to the Government, but the change will have a significant impact for those people.

Have the Government made an assessment of the number of policies affected? Have they produced a detailed impact assessment that can be shared with members of the Committee? Will the Minister commit to providing further information on the impact of the policy on individual savers? The coverage in newspapers at the time of the Budget and since raises concerns that more policyholders will be affected than the Government at first assumed.

I would like as much clarification as the Minister can give us today. If he could write to me later with more detailed information, that would also be welcome. We want to put on record our concerns about the impact there might be; perhaps there will be unintended consequence, and maybe the impact has not been fully considered. Given the concerns that the industry is raising, it would be good get a commitment from the Government on how those will be addressed.

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The clause freezes the indexation allowance—a relief for inflation—for a company’s chargeable gains for disposals on or after 1 January 2018. It may be useful for the Committee if I set out the background to the clause, although other Members have touched on it, before I turn to amendment 48 and the questions posed by the hon. Member for Glasgow Central.

Removing this outdated allowance supports the UK’s competitive rate of corporation tax by removing a relief that is not available consistently across corporation tax to individuals, as the hon. Member for Bootle pointed out, or in most major comparable economies. In doing so, the Government recognise the importance of being fair and proportionate. As companies may have factored in relief for inflation before the autumn Budget, relief will remain available for inflation before January 2018. However, it will no longer be available from 2018 onwards.

Companies pay tax on the capital gains they make on the disposal of certain assets, such as property. In most circumstances, the capital gain is based on the rise in value of the asset over the period of ownership. Indexation allowance relieves a proportion of that gain from the charge to tax, based on the rise in the retail prices index, during the same period. Companies therefore pay tax only on the gains they make over and above inflation.

The economy and tax system have changed substantially since the allowance was introduced in 1982, when the rate of corporation tax was 52%; inflation in the preceding decade had been in double digits. While I certainly take on board the hon. Gentleman’s point about the current level of inflation owing to the depreciation of the pound and other factors, the Office for Budget Responsibility projects that inflation will peak at 3.1% and tail off towards 2% across the period. While there used to be a rationale for such an allowance, it has become something of an anachronism.

The amount of indexation allowance due is calculated by multiplying the purchase price of the assets by the indexation factor. As I set out, that is currently based on the increase in the retail prices index over the period an asset is owned, from the date it is acquired to the date it is disposed of. Going forward, the allowance will no longer be calculated by reference to the date an asset is sold; instead, it will be calculated by reference to the final month before the relief is removed—in other words, December 2017. That means that, where a company acquired an asset before 2018, relief from inflation will be available from the date the asset was acquired up to December 2017. The indexation allowance will not be available for assets acquired from January 2018 onwards.

I turn to the questions posed by the hon. Member for Glasgow Central. I recognise the points that she makes. While these changes affect corporation tax, they do, in the context of life assurance policies, have potential impacts on individuals and their income net of tax. I do not recognise the large number of 11 million policyholders that she mentioned. I am not sure what the source of that figure was. However, as she requested, I am happy to hear from her, speak to her or have a letter from her on any of the aspects she may have an interest in.

Kirsty Blackman Portrait Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It would be welcome if the Government could offer clarification on the numbers before Report, because that will affect what we do on the clause then.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is perfectly reasonable. I am sure my officials are listening carefully, and we will ensure that we give a prompt response to the letter, which we await.

Opposition Members have requested a review of the revenue effects of this change. I am happy to say that the revenue forecast for the measure was confirmed by the OBR at the Budget as £30 million in 2017-18; it will raise £1.77 billion over the scorecard period. As per routine procedure, we will keep the measure under review through communication with affected taxpayer groups. I commend the clause to the Committee.

--- Later in debate ---
None Portrait The Chair
- Hansard -

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 11—Review of financial impact of postponement of charge on share exchange in overseas transferee company

‘(1) Within twelve months after the passing of this Act, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the financial impact of the changes made by section 27 of this Act to section 140 TCGA.

(2) The review under this section must consider—

(a) the revenue effects of the change made, and

(b) the extent to which the change has supported UK companies to conduct international business.

(3) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before the House of Commons the report of the review under this section as soon as practicable after its completion.”

This new clause provides for a review of the revenue impact and the impact on business of the change to TCGA to prevent a postponed chargeable gain from becoming chargeable following further restructuring of a UK Company’s overseas business.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Clause 27 will ensure that where a series of changes have been made to the corporate structure of a group, the rules for taxing the capital gain at the final stage of the change work as the Government intend.

The situation that the clause addresses is where a group reconstruction involves a part of the business that has previously converted from a branch operation into one carried on by a separate overseas company. That is done through an exchange of the foreign branch business and assets for shares in the overseas company. If the assets have increased in value, the group may be liable for tax on the capital gain. The tax system allows it to defer paying that until either the assets of the business or the shares in the overseas company are sold or otherwise disposed of outside the group. That is a sensible approach. It means that groups pay tax on the full level of gains when they realise them through selling an asset and generate a profit to pay the tax with, but they are not charged on a purely internal restructuring.

The introduction of the substantial shareholding exemption in 2002 affected those rules in a way that was not intended, meaning that the tax on the earlier capital gain may become payable if there is a later restructuring, even if that does not involve a sale outside the group. The need to undertake such reconstructions has been rare since 2002, so the anomalous tax outcome was not identified as problematic until recently. However, it is now a cause for concern to some businesses, mainly due to changes in regulatory requirements of some overseas tax jurisdictions. The clause corrects that anomaly.

The change made by the clause will affect groups that commonly operate overseas through branches. It will be welcomed by them, as it will give them certainty in arriving at their commercial decisions when considering restructuring. It is a wholly relieving measure with negligible fiscal impact, as the groups that were affected by the problem would either have found other ways to deal with it or simply not have proceeded with the proposed transaction.

Opposition Members have requested a review of the revenue effects of this change and of the extent to which it has supported UK companies in conducting international business. I am happy to provide them with further information on those points. The OBR has agreed that there will be no revenue effects, because if the changes were not made, the companies concerned would either not undertake the reorganisation or would reconstruct in a way that did not create a tax charge. In either case, they would have to suffer a less than ideal commercial structure because of an anomaly in the tax rules.

This change will help a small number of businesses. On its own, it will not make a big difference, but it will contribute to our wider approach of encouraging UK businesses to conduct international business. The purpose of the change is to remove an anomaly at no cost to the Exchequer. On that basis, I hope that the hon. Member for Bootle will not press the new clause to a vote, and I commend clause 27 to the Committee.

Peter Dowd Portrait Peter Dowd
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Clause 27 amends the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 to ensure that tax postponed does not become due on the occasion of a subsequent corporate restructuring involving the exchange of shares in an overseas transferee company where the substantial shareholding exemption applies to the share exchange. The Government’s explanation for this change is that the measure removes an unintended tax barrier to commercial restructuring of groups. I will not go into the ins and outs of this, which the helpful explanatory notes set out.

The argument for this change is that currently, companies that use the substantial shareholding exemption can treat the gain or loss on a disposal of shares as exempt from corporation tax on chargeable gains. A by-product of that is that a chargeable gain could be chargeable on a further restructuring of the company, with the old shares of the securities treated as new ones, despite the same corporate group continuing to own them. The new clause seeks to track that unintended change.

Clearly, the Government’s case is that the unintended tax change creates barriers, particularly for financial sector businesses that have traditionally operated through a network of foreign branches and need to restructure, for example to meet changing regulatory requirements in the territories where they conduct their business. That seems perfectly reasonable, but will the Minister give us a few examples, now or in due course?

While we accept the Government’s argument about the unintended consequence of correcting the tax change, we do not necessarily accept the costings put out by the Treasury, which argues that the change would in effect have zero impact on its finances. In our view, there is a lack of information from the Treasury and the OBR about the revenue that the unintended tax change has raised. I press the Minister to, if possible, publish those figures.

That is why we have put forward new clause 11, which would require the Minister to report back to Parliament on the revenue implications, on the impact on the Exchequer and on the restructuring of UK companies’ overseas business. If the Opposition are to accept the Government’s case that the current measures are a barrier to restructuring, leading to lost revenue for UK companies and lost investment in the UK, it is only reasonable that the Minister should produce evidence to that effect.

We are also interested to know whether there are any losses of revenue to the Exchequer. The Minister says they are “negligible”. It is not that I do not accept that; I am just trying to be clear about this. The Minister should explain, if there is a loss of revenue, how that loss will be filled, how much it is, whether he will be clear in keeping tabs on the process—for example, through the review we want—and how the measure will be implemented.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The first point to make is that the measure will affect an extremely small number of businesses. We are talking a multiple of handfuls. That is one of the drivers for the negligibility of the costs. I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman appears broadly to welcome the thrust of what we are doing. On the issue of cost that he raises, the figures have been verified by the Office for Budget Responsibility, so an independent organisation has had a look at them, and we are not relying on the Treasury. By “negligible”, I mean that we are looking at an impact of less than £5 million in any one year across the scorecard period.

The figures would be relatively negligible not just because of the small number of businesses involved, but because, in the absence of the changes, we would expect those companies either not to restructure in the way we are now facilitating, or to find different ways of approximating the same thing without incurring the tax disadvantages that we seek to remove through this clause.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 27 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 29

First-year tax credits

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

None Portrait The Chair
- Hansard -

With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 12—First Year Tax Credits: Review of effectiveness

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must commission a review of the effectiveness of First Year Tax Credits.

(2) The review under this section must consider—

(a) the effectiveness of First Year Tax Credits on—

(i) encouraging investment in efficient plant and machinery,

(ii) reducing the consumption of energy by business,

(iii) aiding the UK’s carbon reduction obligations, and

(b) the impact on revenue of the tax credits.

(3) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before the House of Commons the report of the review under this section within twelve months of the passing of this Act.”

This new clause would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to commission and lay before the House of Commons a report into the effectiveness of First Year Tax Credits.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Clause 29 will extend the first-year tax credit scheme to 2023 and reduce the rate of eligible claims to two thirds of the corporation tax rate. That will ensure that loss-making companies are appropriately incentivised to invest in energy-saving equipment following reductions in the corporation tax rate.

As the Committee will be aware, first-year allowances allow companies immediately to deduct the cost of qualifying energy-efficient and water-efficient equipment from their tax liability. However, loss-making businesses are not able to benefit from tax deductions, so in 2008 the first-year tax credit was introduced, which provided loss-makers with a payable credit to ensure that they were still incentivised to invest in energy-efficient equipment. The original legislation was amended in 2013 to include a sunset clause that stipulated that the scheme would expire in March 2018 unless the Government legislated to extend it.

The first-year tax credit scheme helps as many as 100 loss-making companies annually to invest in energy-saving and water-saving equipment. It enables a business to bring forward its investment to get the machinery it needs when it is needed. The changes made by the clause will extend the life of the policy to 2023 to ensure that that support continues.

Since 2008, the tax credit rate has been fixed in law at 19%, but over the same timeframe the corporation tax rate has been reduced from 28% in 2008 to 19% today, and it is legislated to fall to 17% in 2020. Therefore, the incentives for profit-making and loss-making companies have become misaligned from their original policy intention.

The clause will therefore peg the tax credit rate to two thirds of the corporation tax rate, as opposed to a specific percentage. That will ensure that the policy is in line with its original intention by ensuring that the incentive to invest in energy-saving equipment is not disproportionately greater for loss-making companies than for profitable companies that can deduct their expenses from their tax bill. Pegging the tax credit rate to the corporation tax rate will also ensure that the scheme operates as intended when powers to set the corporation tax rate are devolved to Northern Ireland.

New clause 12 would require a review of the effectiveness of first-year tax credits in encouraging business energy efficiency and of their impact on tax revenues. As with all aspects of the tax system, the Government regularly review tax reliefs to ensure that they are effective in fulfilling their objectives. In line with that practice, and to allow an opportunity fully to evaluate the relief, the legislation includes a sunset clause that means that it will expire in 2023 unless renewed.

In addition, first-year tax credits are available only for investments made on qualifying equipment published on the energy technology list or the water technology list, which are routinely updated to ensure that the technologies listed meet efficiency criteria. The reviews of qualifying products are administered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs respectively. The performance criteria for each review and the products that meet those criteria are publicly available.

To conclude, extending the policy will ensure that loss-making companies remain incentivised to invest in equipment with the greatest environmental benefits. Following the reduction in the corporation tax rates, the changes in the clause will also ensure that the scheme remains in line with the original policy intention.

Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds (Oxford East) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for his summary of the background to the measures and their purpose. I certainly agree that their initial purpose was to mitigate the barrier of high purchase costs where the efficiency of a product might provide savings to business and wider environmental benefits. The measures were introduced under a Labour Government in 2008 before being reintroduced in 2013. The Committee is considering their extension and some recalibrations, as the Minister set out.

None the less, we have tabled an amendment requiring a review of first-year tax credits as they currently exist. As the Minister stated, our review would examine the extent to which they encouraged investment in efficient plants and machinery, reduced the consumption of energy by business, and aided the UK’s carbon reduction obligations. We would also like the review to assess their impact on revenue. After all, as is the case with every tax relief, the tax credits amount to forgone tax.

Looking at this issue as a Member of Parliament, it does not appear to me—perhaps Conservative Members have had different experience when investigating this change in readiness for the Committee—that a huge amount of information is available on the current impact of the tax relief. It is not clear exactly who is using it, the average size of the companies or their sector. From what I can gather from the experts I have asked, the overall cost of the tax relief seems to be bundled up in HMRC’s summary of the estimated cost of all capital allowances, within its overall summary of the estimated costs of principal tax reliefs.

--- Later in debate ---
Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thoroughly agree with my hon. Friend. I must admit that the UK is not alone in its general lack of consideration of the incidence of tax reliefs and their impact on forgone expenditure, but surely we need to be at the forefront of public administration and public policy globally. We should be considering the issue. As my colleagues mentioned, we are talking about not small amounts of money but very substantial amounts, which to all intents and purposes are forgone tax, although they are classified differently from expenditure within Government accounts. For that and many other reasons, I commend the amendment to the Committee.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is pleasing to see that the hon. Lady and I can agree on a measure that was introduced under a Labour Government. It is something good that we are keeping going, but improving at the same time. That is our mission.

I will be brief, and will not go into all the discussions around the climate change arguments put by the hon. Lady; I will focus on the amendment specifically and the review that it calls for. The measure affects only a small number of businesses, in the order of about 100. We will, of course, keep this tax measure under review, as we do all tax measures. On the basis of the size of the measure and the universe to which it applies, I feel strongly that it would be disproportionate to introduce a full review of its effects.

On that note, I urge the Committee to agree to the clause. I think that the Chief Whip—sorry, I mean the Whip—will intervene shortly to suggest that the Committee adjourn. With that information in mind, I thank the Committee for its deliberations today and look forward to further deliberations on Tuesday. I wish everybody an enjoyable weekend when it comes.

None Portrait The Chair
- Hansard -

I am grateful to the Minister, who is on top form. For clarification, we are not considering an amendment; it is a new clause. The vote on it will be held at a later stage, so I will put the question that clause 29 stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 29 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned.—(David Rutley.)

Finance (No. 2) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
3rd reading: House of Commons & Report stage: House of Commons
Wednesday 21st February 2018

(6 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Finance Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: Consideration of Bill Amendments as at 21 February 2018 - (21 Feb 2018)

This text is a record of ministerial contributions to a debate held as part of the Finance Act 2018 passage through Parliament.

In 1993, the House of Lords Pepper vs. Hart decision provided that statements made by Government Ministers may be taken as illustrative of legislative intent as to the interpretation of law.

This extract highlights statements made by Government Ministers along with contextual remarks by other members. The full debate can be read here

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Wes Streeting Portrait Wes Streeting
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention because he makes exactly the point I have made since the general election. We put forward policies in our manifesto—by the way, they proved immensely popular across the country and led to a result that a lot of people were not expecting—and I think we should do a distributional analysis of such policies across the board to make sure that resources are properly targeted where they are needed.

In conclusion, we should not fear such information and evidence, which would lead to better-informed government. The greatest tragedy of this Prime Minister is not the fact that she is being held hostage by the hard Brexiteers on the right of her party; it is that she has not delivered on a single one of the sentiments in the fine words she said on the steps of Downing Street about creating a more equal society and tackling injustices that are still burning injustices even in one of the richest economies in the world in the 21st century. Sentiments are all well and good, but we need policies that are backed up by evidence and reason, and we need the ability genuinely to tackle the problems that the Prime Minister set out so long ago on the steps of No. 10, but which I fear she will never be able to implement before they boot her out next year.

Mel Stride Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before I plunge into new clause 9, as indeed I will at some length, may I concur wholeheartedly with the statement made by the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) when he praised civil servants for their impartiality, objectivity and professionalism? In my experience of the Treasury, I have always found them to be exactly that. We should all register that important point.

We have had a fairly wide-ranging debate. I hesitate to add that, on one or two occasions, it has been marginally informative. On one occasion—I will not name the Member—it was very informative because I actually learned something I had not previously known. The reason why it has been wide-ranging is that this is of course an extremely important issue. What I hope unites Members on both sides of the House is that every Member of the House deplores unwarranted inequality. It is not that we are all entirely equal—we are, of course, different—but we have a right to be treated with equal respect and a right to equal opportunity and aspiration, as it was eloquently termed my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Stephen McPartland).

If I may, I will look at new clause 9 in a little detail. As I have suggested, it has been slightly absent from this debate, so let us bring it back to centre stage. The new clause seeks to require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide a

“review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.”

In so doing, the Chancellor has to look at a number of aspects of the impact of the Finance Bill now going through the House. Under the new clause, the review would look at

“the impact of those provisions on households at different levels of income”.

As has already been pointed out at length, we have indeed brought back the household distribution analysis that looks at tax, welfare and public expenditure, and at the impact of those elements on different income levels by decile.

Under the new clause, the review would also look at

“the impact of those provisions on people with protected characteristics (within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010)”.

This is perhaps a good moment for me to say something very important. Ministers of course always seek to operate within the law, and the Equality Act is very clear about our duties as Ministers when we consider various policies that come before us. Those policies are not just those before us in the context of a major fiscal event, but policies and decisions we take day in and day out, some of which never even pass through this House. We do so not just because of the law, but because we think it is the right thing to do.

Under new clause 9, the review would also look at

“the impact of those provisions on the Treasury’s compliance with the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, and…the impact of those provisions on equality in different parts of the United Kingdom and different regions of England.”

The new clause then focuses on the specific taxes covered by the assessment the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be required to present in the report. I want to make one important general point: in looking at regional aspects of spending and tax, it is far easier, for fairly obvious reasons, to consider the spending elements than the regional distribution when it comes to taxation.

Kemi Badenoch Portrait Mrs Badenoch
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister agree that it would be so impractical to carry out such impact assessments that it would slow down Government business? Perhaps one of the reasons why the Opposition have tabled the new clause is to make it difficult for us to get our policies and the Finance Bill through.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend very much for that intervention, because she touches on the important point that there is an element of proportionality. As I will come on to argue, one of the difficulties with accepting the new clause is that a lot of the information is not available. That is not an argument for not going out and finding the information, but some of it would be extremely difficult to generate. I would not go as far as my hon. Friend in suggesting that this is a Machiavellian plan to gum up the works of Government, but I am sure some Opposition Members might be pleased to see that happen. I take the new clause in the spirit of the wording in front of me.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just want to help the Minister a bit. The Women’s Budget Group, the Runnymede Trust and lots of other organisations, as well as the ONS and HMRC, accumulate the data that would be needed, so the data necessary to carry out equality impact assessments are available. In fact, the Treasury does some assessments anyway.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is suggesting that one particular set of analyses is an ideal set to present, and can be seen as in no way misleading, but entirely robust and entirely objective. If we are to reach such a quality of data, we will have to achieve certain specific aims, and one of the aims is to deal with the fact that a lot of the analysis to which she is referring is very selective—it does not look at the entire picture. For example, some of the analysis reflecting changes in income tax may show a benefit for one sex over another, but it may not take into account the impact of increased spending on childcare.

Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If I may finish this point, I will then certainly give way to the hon. Lady.

A lot of these analyses simply look at the static situation, without taking into account the fact that the measures we are bringing forward will in themselves have a dynamic effect on the economy—for example, by driving up employment. Several Members have spoken very eloquently about the record level of female employment at the moment. That is benefiting women, but the interaction of our policies with that benefit would not be reflected in such an analysis. I have already mentioned that a lot of the information being sought is very difficult to verify and very difficult to obtain, particularly where it pertains to protected characteristics, such as sexuality, gender reassignment and pregnancy. It is very hard to identify those groups and the way in which they are affected, particularly in terms of all the taxes in new clause 9—I will come on to them in a moment—that the Opposition want us to address.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will make a final point before I give way to the hon. Lady. It has been a long time since we have jousted, and I have missed it, so I will certainly give way to her. There is a very important point about the impact in particular on households, which is one of the major thrusts of new clause 9. It is very difficult to disentangle the effect of income that may go to one member of the household, but is of course subsequently shared across the household. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has itself highlighted that as a particular barrier to getting robust information. I will now gladly give way.

Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am very grateful to the Minister for his generosity in giving way, and for his kind words. I want briefly to mention that the Department for Work and Pensions does produce this kind of modelling for social security changes, which may be similarly complex in looking at the interactions of different elements, so why does the Treasury take a different approach? In relation to that, would not the assumptions be spelled out, so that any ambiguity could be made clear?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention, but I bring her back to new clause 9. Whatever the DWP happens to be doing, whether it is right or wrong or whether it works, what we are facing here today and making a decision on is new clause 9. As I am working through new clause 9, I am arguing that it is not a practical way to seek to achieve that which the Opposition, quite genuinely and sincerely, are attempting to achieve.

Oliver Heald Portrait Sir Oliver Heald
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would like to say a word about the extent of research the Treasury already undertakes and publishes. It is my understanding that more than 2,500 Treasury papers have been published, so it is really a question, is it not, of where we draw the line? If a piece of research is proving very difficult, and would be very resource-intensive and so on, that will obviously make it less likely to be done than if it is a more straightforward piece.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes. My right hon. and learned Friend makes a very important point. As I have already pointed out, around major fiscal events we have household distributional analysis, which covers welfare, taxation and public expenditure. It takes a cumulative approach to that information and it is often relied upon by Government to take subsequent decisions. We also have, on substantial individual tax and national insurance contribution measures, tax impact and information notes—the so-called TIINs—which were introduced in 2010 and were not there under the previous Labour Government. We are, therefore, doing a number of things, both in the context of major fiscal events and on a tax-by-tax, national insurance-by-national insurance change basis, which look to provide just the kind of information that informs decisions around equality.

The third part of new clause 9 relates to the taxes to which this analysis would apply. On income tax, as I have said, we are looking at impacts on households. We may raise the personal allowance, as we did in the last Budget. That is now up to £11,500. It could be argued that that disproportionately favours one sex over another, but when we look at the effect on the household, income is typically distributed within families, within households and within the family unit. That is extremely difficult—in fact, I would go as far as to say impossible—to capture.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister made that point the last time we tried to discuss this issue. Forgive me, but he seems to be presuming that a household is a man and a woman. Has he managed to get his head around single person households and single women, because women’s incomes are disproportionately hit by Government policy? At the very least, could he manage to measure the women who are affected by his tax and policy changes who do not live with a man who might confuse him?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If the hon. Lady can come up with a sure-fire way of identifying women who live with men who do not confuse them, we will probably make some progress. The point I am making is that this area is riddled with huge complexity, yet new clause 9 seeks to achieve the presentation of reports and assessments that have the imprimatur of Government and the Treasury upon them. They are relied upon to take very important decisions, yet the arguments I am prosecuting suggest that we would actually end up with an incomplete picture. In fact, I would go further than that and say that they could be misleading in a way that would be unhelpful to what I know the hon. Lady is seeking to achieve and indeed what the Government are also seeking to achieve.

Helen Whately Portrait Helen Whately
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the Minister share the view expressed by many of us this afternoon that while those on the Opposition Benches are looking for very complicated analysis that may, unfortunately, be rather misleading, we actually have a very strong track record, if we take a step back, of reducing inequality and making things better for those on the lowest incomes?

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes. My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. We know that the gender pay gap is at its lowest level on record, for example. That is a very substantial achievement and we are making considerable headway in that particular respect.

Some of the other taxes mentioned in new clause 9 include employment and disguised remuneration. Disguised remuneration is a highly complicated area, as the hon. Member for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds) will know, having discussed it in some detail in Committee. The mind boggles as to how one would possibly unpack the effects on the various protected characteristics of that particular taxation. Pension schemes are also extremely complicated. Settlements and air passenger duty are perhaps a little bit easier than some of the others, but the point is that overall—and we have to look at the new clause in its entirety—new clause 9 is extremely complicated indeed.

Finally, there should be no doubt that those of us on the Government Benches are entirely committed to ensuring that we drive the equality agenda and drive it very hard indeed. We should, as my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately) suggested, look to our own record in that respect. We now have more women in work than at any time in our history. In the past year, 60% of employment growth came from female employment. We have the lowest gender pay gap in full-time employment ever. Those companies employing 250 employees or more, as we have said often in this debate, are now required by law to provide a gender wage audit. Contrary to what the hon. Member for Brent Central (Dawn Butler) suggested, there are teeth. Penalties can be applied by the ECHR, and fines can follow where that is not done. For those who are disabled, we spend a record amount in excess of £50 billion a year on benefits. As has been said by a number of Government Members, the national living wage has disproportionately helped some of the most needy in our society. When we talk about equality on this side of the House, we mean it. I urge the House to reject new clause 9.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Having a detailed understanding of how policy choices exacerbate or eliminate inequality at every stage of policy making is key to tackling burning injustices and producing good policies. I wish to put new clause 9 to the vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

--- Later in debate ---
15:27

Division 118

Ayes: 265


Labour: 219
Scottish National Party: 29
Liberal Democrat: 10
Plaid Cymru: 4
Independent: 2
Green Party: 1

Noes: 304


Conservative: 294
Democratic Unionist Party: 9
Independent: 1

New Clause 3
--- Later in debate ---
Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. I beg the hon. Gentleman’s pardon. I have made a mistake, in that I thought the Minister had already addressed the House on this group. I also beg the Minister’s pardon.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There was a ripple of dissatisfaction when you failed to call me to speak, Madam Deputy Speaker, but it was almost imperceptible. Thank you for correcting your error.

In this debate we have heard about a range of issues, including the changes the Finance Bill makes to the bank levy, the taxation of private finance initiatives, and tax avoidance and evasion. I will respond to each in turn, starting with the bank levy. Opposition Members have raised a number of objections to the changes to the levy made by the Finance Bill and to the Government’s broader approach to bank taxation. These are unjustified. This Government remain committed to ensuring that banks make an appropriate additional tax contribution, beyond that paid by other businesses, that reflects the unique risks they pose to the UK financial system and to the wider economy.

I shall address some of the arguments put forward by the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the hon. Member for Bootle (Peter Dowd), which I felt focused far too much on the bank levy. It is indeed declining, but there is good reason for that. In 2015, when we took the relevant decisions on this, we recognised that the risks presented by our banks had eased quite considerably. Indeed, the Bank of England has recently carried out rigorous stress testing on the banks, and that was the first occasion on which not a single bank failed its stress test. That is indicative of the fact that one of the raisons d’être for the bank levy has started to recede. That is to say that the banks are less of a risk than they were before, and the charges on the assets and liabilities that they hold are therefore becoming less relevant. The hon. Gentleman did not focus so much on the surcharge to the banking tax, which came in from 1 January 2016 and which represents an additional 8% on the profitability of banks at the present time. Whereas corporations are paying 19%, we are now looking at a total rate of around 27% for banks.

Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for that explanation, but as we have said before, when we take both those measures together, we see that the reduction in the levy along with the surcharge results in a lower overall contribution over time. We have spelled out clearly in our previous debates that the overall amount coming from the banks is receding over time, even with the surcharge.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is not the case. I will explain some of the figures in a moment, but there are other elements that are not being taken into account. One is that the banks are not permitted to offset against their profits the PPI compensation payments. Also, they are now working to a more restrictive corporate interest restriction regime, under which they are allowed to roll forward only 25% of their interest chargeable to offset against profits. Taking all those measures together, we have raised some £44 billion more from the banks since 2010 than we would have done if we had treated them simply as any other corporate business.

Opposition Members have cited changes in revenue from the bank levy. They argue that this is declining, but it is misleading to consider bank levy changes in isolation when they form part of a set of wider changes to bank taxes announced in 2015 and 2016, including introducing the 8% surcharge. Overall, rather than reducing revenue, these tax changes are expected to raise £4.6 billion over the current forecast period. I think that the hon. Lady will be interested to hear that figure.

Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We have just looked at the projections up to 2022-23. For the current year, we see £3 billion coming in from the levy and £1.6 billion coming in from the surcharge. The projection for 2022-23 is £1.3 billion from the levy and £1.1 billion from the surcharge. That appears to be a significant reduction; in fact, it is almost half.

Mel Stride Portrait Mel Stride
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Taking into account the respective changes, we will raise £4.6 billion over the forecast period as a consequence. My point is that it is simply not right to focus only on the declining part of the equation—the reduction in the banking levy charge—and not on the fact that we are raising more as a consequence of the 8% surcharge and the increased profitability of banks on our watch.