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Finance (No. 2) Bill
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Royal Assent

(Royal Assent)
Thursday 10th June 2021

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page

The following Act was given Royal Assent:

Finance Act.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, Oral Questions will now commence. Please can those asking supplementary questions keep them to no longer than 30 seconds and confined to two points? I ask that Ministers’ answers are also brief.

Finance Bill

(2nd reading)
Tuesday 8th June 2021

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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HM Treasury

Second Reading

Moved by

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton
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That the Bill be now read a second time.

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office and the Treasury (Lord Agnew of Oulton) (Con)
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My Lords, we are here to debate the annual Finance Bill, introduced in the other place following the Budget on 3 March. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined a Budget with three key objectives: first, to protect jobs and livelihoods and provide additional support to get the British people and British businesses through the pandemic; secondly, to be clear about the need to fix the public finances once we are on the way to recovery and to start that work; thirdly, as we emerge from the pandemic, to lay the groundwork for a robust and resilient future economy. This Finance Bill enacts changes to taxation that support all those objectives.

The House will of course be aware of the severe public health and economic shock caused by the pandemic; at its peak, the economy shrank by 10%, the largest fall in more than 300 years. The Government have responded with an extraordinary package of support for the economy which, taking into account measures introduced in the 2020 Budget, is now estimated at £407 billion for this year and last year. This has been essential. Thanks to it and the rapid rollout of vaccinations, the Office for Budget Responsibility and other independent authorities now expect a swifter recovery than had previously been forecast. Indeed, the OBR expects the UK economy to recover to pre-crisis levels six months earlier than it did previously—in the second, rather than the fourth, quarter of 2022.

Our first objective is protecting jobs and livelihoods. There are positive signals that we are now on the right path, but it is crucial that we continue to support the economy over the coming months and deliver on the Budget’s first aim of protecting jobs and livelihoods. That is why the tax measures outlined in the Bill go further to support the economy. We are extending the 5% reduced VAT rate until 30 September to protect almost 150,000 hard-hit hospitality and tourism businesses which employ over 2.4 million people. To help those businesses manage the transition back to the standard rate, VAT will then increase to an interim rate of 12.5% from October until the end of March.

The Bill ensures that any business that took advantage of the original VAT deferral new payment scheme will be able to pay that deferred VAT in up to 11 equal payments from March 2021, rather than by one larger payment due by 31 March 2021. For those businesses that have been pushed into losses, the trading loss carry-back rule is being extended from the existing one year to three years for losses of up to £2 million. This will deliver a significant cash-flow benefit for eligible businesses.

The Bill also puts into legislation the temporary cut in stamp duty land tax, with a residential stamp duty nil rate band remaining at £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland until the end of June. This will be followed by a phased transition back to the normal rate. From 1 July 2021, it will fall to £250,000 until the end of September, before returning to £125,000 on 1 October. This extension helps buyers and supports jobs which rely on the property industry.

As well as protecting jobs and livelihoods, the Bill takes important steps to deliver on the second of the Budget’s key objectives: to strengthen public finances as we emerge from the pandemic. The coronavirus response, as we all know, created unprecedented challenges for the Exchequer. The first outturn estimates from the Office for National Statistics show borrowing for last year is estimated to have totalled £300 billion, or 14.3% of GDP. As we continue our response to this crisis, borrowing is forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility to be £234 billion this year, which is 10.3% of GDP. This means we are forecast to borrow more this year than during the financial crisis, an amount so large it has only one rival in recent history—last year. The Government need to balance this enormous support provided to the economy in the short term with the need to start to fix the public finances in the longer term. The Bill takes forward a number of measures to do this responsibly.

First, the income tax personal allowance will rise with the consumer prices index, as planned, to £12,570 from this month. This level will then be maintained until April 2026. The higher rate threshold also rises to £50,270 from this month and will then be maintained at this level until April 2026. These changes are a fair and progressive way to meet the fiscal challenge presented by the pandemic. For example, it is worth noting that the 20% highest-income households will contribute 15 times that of the 20% lowest-income households.

Secondly, the inheritance tax thresholds, the pensions lifetime allowance and the annual exempt amount in capital gains tax will be maintained at their 2020-21 levels until April 2026. Maintaining the pensions lifetime allowance at current levels affects only those with the largest pensions—those worth more than £1 million.

Thirdly, the Bill legislates for the rate of corporation tax paid on company profits to increase to 25% from 2023. Businesses have been provided with over £100 billion of support to get through this pandemic, so it is only fair to ask them to contribute to the overall recovery. Of course, since corporation tax is charged only on company profits, businesses that may be struggling will, by definition, be unaffected. The increase will not take effect until two years’ time, well after the point when the OBR expects the economy to have recovered. This measure protects small businesses with profits of £50,000 or less by including a small profits rate, maintained at the current rate of 19%. The effect of this is that 70% of companies, or 1.4 million businesses, will not see an increase in their tax rate.

The third goal of the Budget was to lay the foundations of our future economy as we emerge from the pandemic. This requires that the Government encourage business investment now, to help spur growth and drive productivity in the coming years. That is why the Bill contains the innovative new super-deduction measure. In most cases, this measure will allow companies to reduce their taxable profits by 130% of the cost of investment they make, equivalent to a tax cut of up to 25p for every pound they invest. It is expected to lift the net present value of the UK’s plant and machinery allowances from 30th among the countries of the OECD to first. This will bring forward investment; the OBR has said that, at its peak in the financial year 2022-23, the super-deduction will incentivise an additional £20 billion of business investment.

The Bill also contains clauses that will enable the creation of free-port tax sites. In these sites, businesses will be able to benefit from a number of tax reliefs, including a stamp duty land tax relief, an enhanced structures and buildings allowance and an enhanced capital allowance for plant and machinery. This tax offer will be combined with simpler import procedures and duty benefits in customs sites to help businesses trade, along with planning changes to give a green light to much-needed development and spending to invest in infrastructure. This comprehensive package will allow free ports to play a significant role in boosting trade, attracting inward investment and driving productive activity.

I have talked about how this legislation delivers on the core objectives of the Chancellor’s Budget. However, as might be expected in the annual Finance Bill, it also takes forward a number of other measures to progress the Government’s long-term aims to ensure a flexible, resilient and fair tax system. As part of the United Kingdom’s commitment to be a global leader on tax transparency, the Bill allows for the implementation of OECD reporting rules for digital platforms. This will help taxpayers in the sharing and gig economies get their tax right and help HMRC detect and tackle non-compliance. It will enable the extension of Making Tax Digital requirements to smaller VAT businesses from April next year, building on the successful introduction of Making Tax Digital for VAT businesses.

It implements reforms to the penalty regime for VAT and income tax self-assessment to make it fairer and more consistent, and harmonises interest for VAT and income tax. It tackles promoters of tax avoidance through strengthening existing anti-avoidance regimes and tightening rules. Importantly, it introduces an exemption from income tax for financial support payments for potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking made by the UK Government and devolved Administrations.

I turn to how the Bill helps us deliver the important commitments the Government have made on the environment and carbon reduction. The new plastic packaging tax will encourage the use of recycled plastic instead of new plastic in packaging. For plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled plastic content, the rate of the tax will be £200 per tonne. This will transform the economics of sustainable packaging. To help tackle climate change and improve the UK’s air quality, the Bill reforms the entitlement to use red diesel from April next year. This will help ensure that the tax system incentivises users of polluting fuels such as diesel to invest in cleaner vehicles and machinery, or just to use less fuel.

To conclude, the coronavirus pandemic has presented an immense challenge to this country and delivered a dramatic shock to our economy. The Government have met that shock with a determined and sustained response, but the work is not yet done. This Finance Bill continues to support the lives and livelihoods of families and businesses. As we emerge from the pandemic, it will set the ground for an investment-led recovery and for strong public finances in the coming years. The Bill delivers a number of measures for a fairer and more sustainable tax system in support of the work needed to tackle climate change. For these reasons, I commend it to the House.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Finlay of Llandaff) (CB)
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My Lords, I remind all in the Chamber that we are expected to be masked when seated.

Lord Bridges of Headley Portrait Lord Bridges of Headley (Con)
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My Lords, I have the honour of chairing the Finance Bill Sub-Committee and I start by thanking all its members, a number of whom I see here today; I look forward to hearing their remarks. I especially thank our excellent clerk and superb special advisers for all their hard work, energy and commitment.

Last December we published a report which scrutinised a range of new powers sought by HMRC and called it New Powers for HMRC: Fair and Proportionate?, with a question mark—an all-important question mark. To answer that question, we identified a number of principles that we believe should apply to any new power given to HMRC. The power must have a clear policy objective and justification, and it must be simple, targeted, proportionate and have appropriate safeguards and sanctions. With those principles in mind, let me focus my remarks on the powers we examined included in this Finance Bill.

The first is the power to tackle promoters and enablers of tax avoidance, under Clauses 121 to 123. These clauses need to be seen against the backdrop of the loan charge, which has ensnared thousands of people—many on low incomes—who entered disguised remuneration schemes, often at the behest of their employers, only to find themselves clobbered years later with enormous tax bills that many now find difficult to pay. Now is not the time for me to go into the loan charge in detail, although our committee remains very focused on it.

Regarding these clauses, of course we support action to clamp down on the hard core of promoters of tax avoidance schemes. But the committee was unconvinced that these plans would be sufficient to tackle that hard core of promoters who continue to promote these schemes, and so the effectiveness of existing measures must be kept under review and all the weapons in HMRC’s arsenal should be brought to bear on them. For example, we reiterated our view, first expressed way back in 2018, that alerting taxpayers to these schemes via HMRC’s spotlights on GOV.UK is not enough. That is especially so given that promoters have been targeting medical professionals returning to the NHS during the pandemic. Given that, we recommended that HMRC focus its attention on employers, employment intermediaries and the umbrella companies using these schemes. Specifically, we said that a first step should be that no public sector bodies should contract with an employment intermediary that operates disguised remuneration schemes.

In light of all this, I have some questions for my noble friend the Minister. If he cannot answer when he winds up, perhaps he could answer in writing. First, could he tell us how many of these hardcore promoters still exist? Secondly, in 2019-20, HMRC doubled its resources in this area. What will be spent on this agenda in future—in this financial year? Thirdly, a new communications campaign targeted at contractors was launched in November 2020. How is that progressing and how is success being measured?

Finally, on umbrella companies, a recent “File on 4” BBC investigation revealed that around 48,000 mini umbrella companies have been formed in the last five years, fronted by 40,000 people in the Philippines to exploit the employment allowance scheme. Meanwhile, the implementation of IR35 and the impact of the pandemic has reportedly led to a surge in the use of such companies by contractors. One survey found that 71% of workers deemed inside IR35 were moved under an umbrella company ahead of the off-payroll working rules extension into the private sector in April. Given all that, can the Minister tell us whether there are any plans to regulate umbrella companies?

Let me move on to the second topic the committee focused on, which related to the civil information powers in Clause 126. These will allow HMRC to obtain information about taxpayers from financial institutions to charge the right amount of tax and enforce payment. There are two safeguards in HMRC’s current power: the need for tax tribunal approval before information can be required and a right of appeal for financial institutions where provision of information is unduly onerous. These have been discarded on the basis that the process takes too long which, according to the Government and HMRC, means delays in meeting information requests from other countries.

Our committee expressed concerns about the Government’s approach when it was first proposed back in 2018. In this recent inquiry, we concluded that the removal of safeguards was unjustified as cases involving international information requests were only a very small minority—less than 15% of the total—and the tribunal referral does not significantly add to the timescale. I will not ask my noble friend the Minister any questions on this, but simply note that the committee recommended that the safeguards be restored as their removal is wrong in principle and not supported by the evidence in practice.

The third topic our committee looked at was the

“New tax checks on licence renewal applications”

in Clause 125. This measure will make the renewal of licenses for running taxi and private hire services and for scrap metal traders conditional on being tax compliant. It therefore introduces a new concept of conditionality into our system. Our committee questioned how effective this proposal was likely to be, since those non-compliant for tax might also be non-compliant for licensing and tax checks might drive more to be non-compliant for licensing. The result could be mainly to impose additional burdens on the already compliant rather than to tackle non-compliance. The Government have failed to produce evidence to support applying conditionality in these instances. Furthermore, the condition is to apply to all applications for licenses, not just those applying for the first time as was proposed in the original consultation.

Taking a step back, these three measures are at best, in my mind, a mixed bag. One can draw from them some general lessons, which our report highlighted. Existing powers should be used properly before new ones are requested. Focus should be put on non-legislative action. The tax policy consultation framework should be observed. There should be clear evidence to support the need for a new power. Powers must be proportionate and targeted, with adequate safeguards. Those are all principles that should always be abided by.

That brings me to an issue that our committee has not yet focused on: Clause 129, which covers reporting rules for digital platforms. What I am about to say is my view and not that of the committee. I am sure we would all agree that our tax system, rooted in the analogue age, needs a reboot to meet the challenges of the digital era. Digital platforms must pay the taxes they owe in the countries where they operate. Likewise, sellers of goods and services on those platforms should also pay the taxes they owe. Clause 129 will give HMRC the power to require certain UK digital platforms to report information to HMRC about the income of sellers of services on those platforms. The platforms in questions are taxi and private hire services, food delivery services, freelance work—a very broad term—and the letting of short-term accommodation. We may all agree with the objective of ensuring that businesses pay the tax they owe on services they sell online, but I draw your Lordships’ attention to this, because Parliament is going to give the Treasury power to make these regulations, despite the fact there has been no consultation at all. It has yet to begin, despite the fact that, according to the Government, this power could affect up to 5 million businesses which provide their services via digital platforms. We are giving this power, despite the fact that the cost of the regulations is unknown. Although the impact for each seller is expected to be small, the Government states that it

“is expected to have a significant combined impact.”

Here is why:

“Data, including bank account information if the platform holds that information, will be collected and provided to HMRC, and exchanged with other tax authorities when appropriate. This information will be used to identify and risk assess the individual or company.”

The policy paper also states:

“This measure is likely to significantly increase customer costs for some of the businesses affected.”

Note this: it says that sellers of goods

“may be affected at a later stage, subject to consultation.”

Digitising our tax system is laudable. It is a necessity, but this is no way to proceed. It is the way mistakes are made, and the Government would do well, I suggest, to heed the words of the playwright Sheridan, who wrote over 200 years ago:

“First there comes the act imposing the tax; next comes an act to amend the act for imposing the tax; then comes an act to explain the act that amended the act, and next an act to remedy the defects of the act for explaining the act that amended the act.”

This is a horrible, familiar process that we are all too well aware of in this House. I would just gently say to my noble friend the Minister that he needs to justify why HMRC is being given this power without proper consultation. How can he justify taking a power, the cost and impact of which is unknown? Once again, HMRC’s remit appears to be growing, without consultation, without evidence, without real scrutiny. Is it fair? Is it proportionate? We do not know.

Lord Butler of Brockwell Portrait Lord Butler of Brockwell (CB)
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It is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, who chaired our sub-committee with great competence, and I shall have a word to say about that later. I start in the general area about which he was speaking. As we debate the Finance Bill today, I warmly welcome last week’s agreement by G7 Finance Ministers to work together, to ensure that all countries get their fair share of revenue from multinational corporations. I congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer on presiding over this achievement. However, while I do not want to rain on his parade, I cannot agree with him that this shows what the UK can do post Brexit, as he claimed.

To my mind, it shows two different things. The first, somewhat contrary to what the Chancellor claimed, is that international problems, such as the taxation of multinational corporations, can be addressed only by countries working together and by pooling part of their sovereignty. They cannot be solved by individual countries acting independently. The second lesson of the G7 Ministers’ agreement is that nothing happens until the United States decides that it should. This first step could not have been achieved without the United States giving a lead.

I turn now to the report of the Finance Bill Sub-Committee on the new powers of HMRC in the Finance Bill that we are debating today. I comment first on a quirk of our curious constitutional procedures. I joined this sub-committee at a late stage of its work. It seems to me that the report is a useful commentary on the powers in the Finance Bill, but our constitutional procedures prevent your Lordships’ House turning the committee’s conclusion into amendments to the Bill. There really is no reason of Commons financial privilege why the Lords should not be able to pass amendments relating to the fairness and proportionality of HMRC’s administration of the tax system. The only reason is that they happen to be contained in the Finance Bill. As a result, this sub-committee’s report turns into a mere commentary, which may influence the House of Commons if anyone there bothers to read it, but otherwise it is simply the basis of a conversation between the committee and the Government. That can be quite a useful conversation, since the main means by which your Lordships’ House can influence events is by persuading the Government. The committee has persuaded the Government on some of the issues in the report, but it is frustrating that, having debated this report, your Lordships’ House has no option other than to nod the Finance Bill through in the form in which it has reached us.

It was a privilege to serve on this sub-committee, which was superbly chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, and benefited from the participation of the chairman of the main Economic Affairs Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth. As the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, has said, the committee was very well served by the excellence of its clerks. We also had good co-operation from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman MP, senior members of HMRC, and representatives of professional associations affected by the Bill’s provisions.

On rereading the report, I feel that it perhaps comes across entirely as an indictment of HMRC. That may be inevitable, because the report concentrates on those powers in the Finance Bill that seem to the sub-committee excessive or not fully thought through. Speaking for myself—I speak with a Treasury background—I have considerable sympathy with HMRC, particularly in its task of dealing with schemes of tax avoidance and evasion, which are like a many-headed Hydra—as soon as HMRC hits one of the heads another pops up. Yet it is not difficult to feel that HMRC has been more zealous and effective in pursuing often innocent taxpayers, rather than those who have made a fortune from promoting avoidance schemes.

There have also been ongoing deficiencies in HMRC’s dealings with taxpayers, some of which HMRC acknowledges. The sub-committee received distressing evidence from victims of the loan charge to which the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, referred, not least about delays or failures in getting a response from HMRC when taxpayers have sought to achieve a settlement of their affairs.

A compelling account of the distress caused by HMRC’s handling of the loan charge was given in the BBC Radio 4 programme “File on 4”, to which the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, referred, and which I commend on its investigations into these issues. A recent edition of the programme dealt with a further scheme with some similarities to the loan charge, to which the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, also referred: the recruitment of staff through umbrella companies, which offer to save employers overheads in the form of national insurance contributions, holiday pay and employment regulations by offering recruitment in penny numbers, each too small to incur those overheads.

I know that IR35 has recently come into effect as a means of distinguishing between general and useful recruitment agencies and those set up for avoidance, but I echo the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, in asking the Minister whether there are signs that it is preventing the offering of services for avoidance purposes by umbrella companies with overseas directors who are difficult to pursue. It would be a tragedy if another version of the loan charge were to become established, which could cause distress for its victims for many years to come.

I end by commending HMRC and the Government on the detailed response the sub-committee received to the report we are debating. The Government’s response is that out of 24 main recommendations in the report, nine were accepted, six were partially accepted and nine were rejected—you might call it a score draw. A sceptic might say that it was the recommendations of general principle that tended to be accepted by the Government and the specific recommendations that were rejected. Nevertheless, there is evidence that the report served a useful purpose in challenging HMRC, and it was an honour to take part in preparing it.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Portrait Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con)
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My Lords, I begin by expressing complete agreement with everything the noble Lord, Lord Butler, has just said, in particular what he said about the officials who supported the sub-committee and about the chairman, my noble friend Lord Bridges. When I asked him to take on the chairmanship of the sub-committee so that I did not have to chair both, I thought it was something of a hospital pass—but he did it absolutely brilliantly and with great distinction in what is a very complex area. We were very grateful to him for the leadership he gave in his indefatigable way. As the noble Lord, Lord Butler, said, we should be grateful that some of the recommendations have been accepted. I am probably the cynic: they were the ones of general principle, rather than the specifics.

I want to focus on this doorstep of a Bill. The papers I am holding are the Finance Bill and the papers that enable us to understand what is in it. I cannot help but ask my friend on the Front Bench: whatever happened to tax simplification? Whatever became of the Government’s declared policy of lower, flatter, fairer, simpler taxes? That policy was grounded in the belief that individuals, families and companies will make better investment decisions than Governments and that wealth creation is essential to the support of key public services such as health, education and social care. We wait with bated breath for the Government’s response to the Economic Affairs Committee on social care and on higher and further education.

We face the biggest financial crisis of our lifetimes—even our lifetimes in this House. It is an enormous challenge facing the Government, but the Covid measures continue to destroy our productive economy. Like a scorpion, the virus leaves behind its sting in the huge backlog of patients requiring serious procedures; the damage done to our young people’s education and career prospects; the impending crisis in housing caused by rent arrears; and the unemployment currently disguised by the furlough scheme continuing. Major industries have haemorrhaged cash on an enormous scale. Substantial debt provided by the Treasury has been taken on and, frankly, will never be repaid. Are we seriously going to take £20 a week from some of the poorest people in the land, just as electricity and food costs are rising? That decision alone is some £6 billion.

What is the Government’s strategy for facing this challenge? Tax and spend is not the answer. Nor can we continue selling IOUs to ourselves, which is given the name “quantitative easing”—a subject the main committee is about to report on. Inflation is already coming down the track, with the costs of raw materials soaring and pressure on wages rising because of labour shortages at a time when the Government are maintaining employment for many people through the taxpayer.

The Bank of England’s reassuring messages that there is nothing to see here and nothing to worry about, and that it will delay interest rates as soon as there is inflation—which will be a short-term effect—worry me. I remember, when I was a young man first engaging in politics, how quickly inflation got out of control, as people started pricing for anticipated rates of inflation. It ended in inflation of over 20%, interest rates of 15% and a lot of pain faced by the Conservative Party in government and the country as a whole. Inflation may be convenient for Governments with big debts but, as Jim Callaghan put it, inflation is the father and mother of unemployment.

The only way we can get through this crisis is by getting our economy growing again. That means recognising that the current long-term growth projections of just under 2% from the Government’s own statisticians are wholly inadequate and not acceptable. We need to change our strategy.

Increasing corporation tax—here I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Butler—is the opposite of what is needed if we want to see more investment, growth and employment. Entering a cartel to set a minimum level of corporation tax may be good news for the United States, with revenues from its increasingly overmighty tech companies, but what happened to that vision of global Britain—the place to invest and create jobs and prosperity? The thinking embodied in the Chancellor’s welcome vision for free ports needs to be applied to the nation as a whole. If we believe in competition as the way to secure innovation and prosperity, why are we suddenly abandoning competition in taxation? “Take back control” was as much about setting our own taxes and laws as about regulation. It should be for the other place to decide tax matters and tax policy, not the President of the United States, and not by international treaty. It is the other place’s duty to vote means of supply, and it is wrong for the Executive to circumvent that in this way.

I fear that, as the President of the United States now appears to want to opine on the Northern Ireland protocol, it may be time for Boris Johnson to have his “Love Actually” moment and not just make the speech but unleash the talents of the British people. That means supporting the self-employed and encouraging outsourcing. While it is commendable that HMRC tackles tax dodgers and abusers, this should not be at the expense of struggling self-employed businesses by imposing additional costs. The self-employed are not the same as those on PAYE. There is no statutory sick pay for them and no holiday entitlement, and the next penny depends on identifying the next job. IR35 is having a severe impact and will discourage others to set up on their own. I talked to someone in exactly that position just over the weekend. These small and medium-sized businesses are the seed corn of our future growth, and the Government should honour their long-standing promise to bring forward a new status for self-employment following the Taylor report, as my noble friend Lord Bridges indicated in his excellent speech a few minutes ago. This was also a manifesto commitment; I cannot remember how many manifestos ago it was, but it was certainly a clear commitment from this Government.

It now seems every Finance Bill brings forward new powers for HMRC, even before the review of the use of existing powers is completed. This Bill is no exception, taking away the right of appeal to a tribunal for financial institutions to provide specific information about a taxpayer. The disgraceful and effectively retrospective treatment of loan charge victims, such as local authority and health service workers placed in schemes by their employers without full understanding of what they meant, has not been matched with the same zeal in pursuing those responsible for marketing those schemes, now languishing on their superyachts with their ill-gotten gains. I am disappointed that the Government have refused to apply measures retrospectively to these promoters, as recommended by the Finance Bill Sub-Committee, but I welcome the proposals for tougher action that are currently subject to consultation. It is beyond belief that these schemes are still being promoted, and some are targeting workers returning to the NHS. HMRC itself has been using firms that use these schemes.

To conclude, we need a clear vision from the Prime Minister and the Chancellor and a strategy to get our economy going again if we are to meet our duty to secure a safety net for those most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our country. Higher taxes, more bureaucracy and continuing uncertainty are anathema to achieving that, for, as the Book of Proverbs reminds us,

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Lord Dodds of Duncairn Portrait Lord Dodds of Duncairn (DUP)
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My Lords, we understand the difficult job the Chancellor has had of bringing forward this year’s Budget in the unprecedented circumstances in which this nation finds itself. The immediate priority, looking at the economy, must be ensuring that we come out of this pandemic with as many safeguarded jobs and livelihoods as possible. The economic packages, especially the furlough scheme and the help for the self-employed, have been incredible interventions, which have helped stave off the worst ravages of economic depression that may otherwise have occurred. I congratulate the Government, as we all do, on the incredible investment in the vaccine rollout, which has produced stupendous results.

Once again, the benefits of being part of one of the biggest economies in the world has been illustrated for all our citizens through all parts of the United Kingdom. I have to say that I have been reassured somewhat in recent weeks by the feedback from people normally critical of the United Kingdom—even of being part of the United Kingdom—about the way in which this country has responded, with the vaccine rollout in particular but also throughout this pandemic with the economic interventions.

The Chancellor is having to balance the need for immediate actions to counter imminent economic shocks against long-term economic recovery and mounting levels of eye-watering debt. So far, I believe that, generally speaking, the Government’s approach has been the correct one. Some of the measures, which normally no one would ever contemplate, have been necessary to avoid far worse problems. That is not to say that there are not issues that need to be addressed and addressed quickly, and I want to refer to a number of general points before making a specific reference to a particular, discrete issue affecting electricity generation in Northern Ireland.

The hospitality and tourism industries, which the Minister referred to in terms of the VAT relief, have been decimated by the pandemic and the lockdowns. I welcome what the Government have announced in relation to VAT for these sectors—the extension of rate cuts until September and tapering measures until March next year—but it is vital that these sectors are allowed to get back to full working capacity as quickly as possible. They can survive only by full reopening and full working, and I hope that that will happen as quickly as possible—if not on 21 June then as quickly as possible thereafter, conscious of the need to take all necessary health precautions.

I also want to mention the issue of air passenger duty. We have some of the highest rates anywhere in the world. Peripheral parts of the United Kingdom are very dependent on air connectivity. Rail options do not exist for places such as Northern Ireland to reach other places in the United Kingdom. I ask the Government to keep under review measures that will alleviate the burden on businesses and families of air passenger duty on internal United Kingdom flights.

It would be impossible to participate in a debate like this and not make reference to the burdens that are being placed on the Northern Ireland economy and Northern Ireland businesses, and our communities more generally, by the Northern Ireland protocol. I am disappointed that there is little, apart from provisions in relation to the steel industry, that will alleviate those burdens, particularly in relation to customs requirements.

However, I do look forward to the Government introducing two new measures—in the near future, I hope—that will address the underlying problems of the protocol and do away with the incredible situation whereby, if the grace periods that are currently in force are not extended or a permanent solution not found, as many if not more checks will be done on foodstuffs and other materials coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland as are done on those entering the entirety of the European Union from the rest of the world. That is an amazing, incredible and scandalous situation which must be remedied by the Government. I hope that those measures will be comprehensive and far-reaching.

I want to turn to the aspect of the Bill I mentioned and explore it in more detail. I believe it is something that perhaps is an unintended consequence of what is otherwise a reasonable provision: it is do with the prohibition on power plants putting rebated fuel—red diesel—through electricity generators after 1 April 2022. I fully understand, and electricity generators also appreciate, the policy objective of helping meet climate change and air quality targets by removing the tax advantage of red diesel, thus encouraging end-users to use more expensive white diesel, which is taxed at a rate that reflects the impact of the emissions that they produce.

However, the Bill will have a particular, unique and unintended detrimental consequence for electricity generators in Northern Ireland. Kilroot and Ballylumford power stations in Northern Ireland have a historical licence obligation to maintain stocks of red diesel as part of the Northern Ireland Fuel Security Code obligations. The licensing obligation for Northern Ireland electricity generators requires back-up fuel—red diesel—to be held for security of power supply purposes in the event of gas supply interruption. The Bill requires the disposal of all existing red diesel stocks before 1 April 2022. There is in fact major uncertainty about whether that timetable could be met. There will be significant additional costs of doing this to both Ballylumford and Kilroot, estimated at £14 million for one and £1.6 million for the other. That includes all the logistical problems as well as the replacement of the fuel itself.

There is, however, a major competitive commercial disadvantage for Northern Ireland power generators vis-à-vis others within the competitive integrated single market and vis-à-vis the Great Britain market. There is no equivalent requirement to hold reserves of what the Irish equivalent of red diesel is in the Irish Republic, and the requirement to hold back-up fuel is applicable only to Northern Ireland power generators and does not apply to gas-fired power generators in Great Britain. One of the perverse impacts of the requirement of the provision in the legislation, if it is not remedied, is that it will lead to additional and higher CO2 emissions in Northern Ireland that would otherwise be avoided: having to use up the fuel in generating electricity will cause much greater emissions. It will be costly for the consumer; the extra cost is estimated at £60 million based on commodity prices, as of 1 May 2021. Then there is the risk of security of supply for Northern Ireland in the period between getting rid of one fuel and replacing it.

I welcome discussions which have taken place between power generators, Ministers and officials in Her Majesty’s Treasury. It is vital that the Bill’s unintended consequences are addressed. I understand that progress has been made, but I would like the Minister, in responding to the debate, to put on the record how he understands the way forward. Will he confirm that HM Treasury is looking at fixing this problem, that guidance will be issued relating to the Bill or that there will be secondary legislation to address the issue? Could he confirm that there will not be a requirement placed on Northern Ireland power generators to rid themselves of existing stocks of reserved fuels by the prescribed date, with all the detrimental impacts that I have outlined? I hope the Minister will be in a position to respond positively, because this would be good news for the plants themselves, for consumers and for the environment.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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My Lords, I join the congratulations to my noble friend Lord Bridges—under the excellent mentoring of my noble friend Lord Forsyth—and his committee on the report, which is most welcome. Of course, I first refer your Lordships to my register of interests.

This is an important debate, as the Finance Bill and the powers of HMRC affect us all. I am therefore somewhat surprised to see how few Peers have put their name down for this debate. While I am delighted to see so many here physically—I think all but one are speaking in the Chamber—I am perplexed by why so few are speaking on this matter today. Of course, we do not have the power to amend the Bill, but this sort of Second Reading is exactly the place where we can interrogate government and, I hope, come up with some ideas which would be of assistance based on our expertise and experience. It also does not help those who argue for a smaller House if we cannot attract a strong number for such an important debate, and it means that people with knowledge and awareness of finance, tax and business should be recruited into the House. The Government do listen to these debates and to Peers’ comments on taxation, as I will elaborate later.

I start my comments on the Bill by congratulating my noble friend the Minister and his colleagues on the 132 clauses originally tabled, as physically displayed by my noble friend Lord Forsyth. They address so much that affects our daily life, from the rates of tax payable to capital incentives—which I believe will encourage greater investment in industrial plants and machinery—some nudging behaviour away from plastic packaging, and even encouraging cycling to work, with cycle equipment being written off. There really is much in here to be commended. I thought I would focus most of my remarks on what is not in the Bill, sometimes with good reason, and some matters which might be considered for future Budgets.

The first, which is not in the Bill, is an increase in the capital gains tax rate. Before the Budget there was a somewhat rogue report from the aforementioned Office of Tax Simplification. It is normally a sensible office producing sensible ideas, but on this occasion it proposed that it would be simpler to equalise income tax and capital gains tax—a somewhat unsophisticated thought, as it does not allow for the essential difference between income or salary and capital gain, which is a return on risk taken. Fortunately, after somewhat of a campaign—in which I confess I played a part—the Chancellor agreed that CGT rates should stay as they are. This Finance Bill does not change them, which is an eminently sensible and pragmatic decision.

My first question to my noble friend is, given all this wasted noise, effort and focus against raising CGT and that the Chancellor has clearly researched the subject and reached a conclusion, can we avoid all this palaver at every future Budget of this Government by announcing that the rate will stay fixed, as has been done for other taxes in the Conservative Party manifesto? This will provide much greater certainty to entrepreneurs, investors and businesspeople for the next few years. The cynic might argue that the Chancellor likes the uncertainty as it encourages people to realise assets when they would not otherwise do so, and thus send money to the Exchequer ahead of the anticipated date. However, we all know on this side of the House that the Chancellor is not that type of politician and is instead focused on making life easier and more predictable for taxpayers. By the way, the retention of the current rates proves my earlier point that the Government listen to people in this House and elsewhere and consider their arguments carefully.

In the debate on the Motion to Take Note of the Budget Statement in this Chamber, I asked my noble friend the following:

“I would be grateful if the Minister could tell us to what extent this Budget complies with pillar 1, and in particular pillar 2. What steps will HM Treasury be taking to ensure that we fully comply with pillar 2?”—[Official Report, 12/3/21; col. 1919.]

There were many speakers on that occasion, so I assumed that I did not get an answer because of other priorities. It turns out that the reason I did not get an answer was because the Government were busy hatching a plan with world leaders to do just that. This is another matter not in the Finance Bill, but I hope the Minister will allow me to comment on the historic announcement as it will fundamentally affect corporate taxation and is thus very germane to this Bill.

The Red Book estimates that only £40 billion will come from corporation tax this year but that the new rates proposed in the Bill will increase that by £2.3 billion in 2022-23, £11.9 billion the following year and £16 billion the year after that—those are just the increases—so a lot is riding on corporation tax yield increasing as the rates move up. Accordingly, it is very important that corporations pay their fair share. I have tracked the OECD proposals on base erosion and profit shifting for some time. Indeed, it was the subject of my maiden speech in 2013. I hope the Minister will allow this as an acceptable forum to raise this related issue, not least as no other forum other than today’s PNQ has been offered to Peers to discuss the OECD announcements —although, of course, he may want to answer some of my questions in writing at a later date. The UK really needs a deal on pillar 1, as much as we are seeing progress on pillar 2. At the moment, the details are somewhat vague. It is all very well for profits which are diverted into tax havens to be transferred into the HQ country, but the minimum rate of tax—be it 15% or 21%—does not of itself affect the amount of tax the FAANG or others will pay in the UK.

DST—digital services tax, which I will come on to again in a minute—was put in place to ensure that profits generated from UK customers were taxed here. Clearly, future tax should be based on user bases rather than sales made—not just customers, but user bases. As we know, sales to UK customers are currently often based in places such as Ireland, but the goods are delivered here. DST seeks to achieve proper taxation on this, but we need to know how pillar 1 will do so likewise, as the expectation is that DST will be dropped at some point. Perhaps the Minister can assure us on that point.

Meanwhile, the pillar 2 proposals are encouraging, but I urge some caution. The IPPR issued a report estimating that with a global minimum rate of 21%, our take could be £14.7 billion. That would be nice, but at a global rate of 15% now being suggested, our share would be much lower. Let us not forget that we already have controlled foreign corporation legislation in place—I think it may have been introduced by my noble and learned friend Lord Clarke, but it may have been before his time—and that this legislation seeks to equalise UK-headquartered corporations’ tax take. I am indebted to Glyn Fullelove, formerly president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, for sharing with me his calculations, which suggest that a figure nearer to £2 billion or £3 billion could be the amount raised by the pillar 1 and 2 proposals. Perhaps HM Treasury could share its estimates with us at some point.

We introduced the digital services tax so that companies such as Amazon would pay their fair share. Unfortunately, it is not working as well as it should. First, Amazon, which clearly has monopoly-type power, has simply told its suppliers to pay. Secondly, it applies only to marketplace fees, not to direct sales. This is a very important difference. It is another area I was disappointed not to see mentioned in the Finance Bill, as we now have the situation where DST has made it harder for SME retailers to compete with Amazon.

The current DST legislation is defective in not taxing the user-created value arising from sales made by marketplace providers on their own account. Additionally, the application of DST to marketplace fees and commissions charged to third parties, without a corresponding charge arising on the value created when the provider uses the platform to make sales on its own account, is a distortion to competition. I and a number of others have proposed that the scope of DST be extended, so that when a marketplace provider uses the marketplace for its own sales—or uses a similar platform alongside the marketplace—an amount of digital services revenue, which can be taxed, arises.

As the Minister might be aware, I have discussed these ideas with the Financial Secretary, who is resistant to changing DST at this point. As a result, there is nothing in the Bill on this issue. I hope, however, that the Government will reconsider this matter, as we are quite a way from a final deal on a pillar 1 and 2 agreement and, in the interim, we are losing a very large amount of revenue.

Finally, on the enterprise initiative scheme, or EIS, Brexit gives us a chance to look again at restrictions placed on HM Treasury to avoid accusations of state aid. EU laws restrict the ability of the SEIS and EIS to provide entrepreneurs’ start-up capital quite dramatically. Will my noble friend the Minister agree to revisit this area?

Lord Bilimoria Portrait Lord Bilimoria (CB) [V]
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Before our UK Budget of 3 March, in February, I attended a virtual meeting with the senior civil servant in India in charge of the budget there, along with the director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, the sister organisation of the CBI, of which I am president. They both said categorically that India’s budget did not increase any taxes for two reasons. First, businesses had suffered so much already and, secondly, they did not want to stifle the recovery after the pandemic. After that, I implored our Indian-origin Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to follow India’s lead and not increase any taxes in our Budget on 3 March. He listened and, on the whole, taxes were not increased. However, he announced that corporation tax would increase from 19% to 25% in 2023. Our businesses drew a huge gasp of breath at taxes going up by almost one-third in one go. With Ireland next door to us with a rate of 12.5%, this was a concern. Of course, in November 2019, we had heard Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, announce at the CBI annual conference that a reduction in corporation tax in the UK, to 17% from 19%, would no longer go ahead. Inward investment is really important, so this is a worry: will it affect inward investment?

Fortunately, the Government seem to have resisted the suggestion by the Office of Tax Simplification to equate capital gains tax with income taxes. To do this would be suicide. It would deter investment, entrepreneurship and risk-taking. We need to encourage wealth creation. The UK is the second or third-largest recipient of inward investment in the world. We have a Minister responsible for inward investment at the DIT—our colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Grimstone. We need to be a magnet for inward investment, as we have been. We have left the EU but, of course, as I always say, we will never leave Europe. When we were in the EU, we were seen as a gateway for investment into the EU. Today we should be seen as a gateway to Europe for investment. So we must resist equating CGT with income tax. That will deter inward investment and domestic investment, there would be capital flight, and it would deter entrepreneurship and risk-taking, as I said earlier. It would be hugely damaging to listen to the OTS regarding CGT. Does the Minister agree?

The Chancellor listened and has not done this so far. Entrepreneurs’ relief has been cut by the Government, which was not a good step if it was meant to encourage entrepreneurship. On the other hand, the super deduction was a masterstroke by the Chancellor and the Treasury: to encourage investment by giving relief of 130% instead of 18%, to have 25% off your tax bill, and to encourage investment—wow! The Government are doing the right thing, but they have announced that this will be taken away in two years’ time, just at the time when corporation tax will go up. Should not the Government consider continuing with the super deduction? Will the Minister give us his opinion?

At the CBI, of which I am president, we welcome measures such as the super deduction, supporting business investment, the extended loss reliefs and supporting business cash flow. We hope that the current cap on carried-forward losses can be temporarily lifted to allow the many viable and vibrant businesses in the UK even greater flexibility in how they use their exceptional Covid-related losses, along with other policy measures already in place. This will help to support businesses of all sizes to recover and grow after the pandemic.

The CBI is also calling for a tax road map. We were disappointed, as was the Treasury Committee, that the Government have not yet consulted on producing this. We believe that the relative success of, for example, the corporation tax road map, demonstrates the value to businesses and people alike of laying out the direction of travel of the tax system and how the Government will use taxes to achieve their manifesto policy goals.

On green taxes, there is very little in the Budget about net zero and tax. We would like to see much more leadership on this from the Government, particularly leading up to COP 26. The CBI has produced a paper on greening the tax system that aims to start a discussion between the Government and business about how tax can best support net zero. This is a once-in-a-generation platform to boost climate-progressive industries, associated skills and innovation, to show that the UK can lead the world in the technologies of the future and accelerate our response to climate change. Devising suitable regulatory frameworks will be key, given the pressures on public finances, but fiscal measures, including environmental taxes and tax incentives, will also be an important lever in driving change. Does the Minister agree?

The £400 billion invested by the Government in supporting our economy and our businesses has been phenomenal. Whether in absolute terms or in per capita terms, it is one of the highest sums in the world. I was privileged to chair the B7 last month, which fed into the G7 this week. Dr Gita Gopinath, chief economist of the IMF, spoke to us, saying that in the global economy there will be a two-track recovery. Some economies, such as ours, have been fantastic with their vaccination programmes. Full credit goes to Nadhim Zahawi, our Vaccinations Minister, who has achieved a vaccination rate of 75%, with double doses at 50%. This is tremendous. Likewise, America is doing very well. With our huge £400 billion of support, we will be able to bounce back very quickly. Andy Haldane, chief economist of the Bank of England, has likened our economy to a coiled spring. On the other hand, sadly, many economies in the world have hardly vaccinated their citizens and have hardly been able to provide any support to them.

How will we pay for this £400 billion? How will we pay for the nearly 10% drop in our GDP, the worst performance in 300 years? I get asked this question a lot, and I believe that the way we pay for it is by generating growth and with the support the Government have given—for example, the furlough scheme, which has saved millions of jobs and businesses, and the 100% guaranteed loans. The British Business Bank, which had a loan book of £8 billion in February last year, today has a loan book of £80 billion. Hats off to it for giving these loans, which have saved so many businesses.

What about unemployment? In February last year, it was at 3.5%, one of its lowest levels; it is now at 4.8% because of all the measures that have been taken. We have to prevent unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular. Young people have suffered so much during this crisis. Some 50% of jobs lost, sadly, were among young people. If this coiled spring is to work, the supply side measures which encourage economic growth must be there. It means creating jobs. This will be the best way to pay for the £400 billion. It means not increasing taxes. We need to encourage inward investment as well as domestic investment. We need to create growth. This will create jobs which, in turn, will create the PAYE and the NI that make up the biggest proportion of taxes. The people who get those jobs will spend and that will generate VAT—which will be far more than the relatively small proportion generated by corporation tax. I give full credit to the Chancellor for leading the agreement by the G7 for the 15% minimum global tax rate. We have always said that, if there is to be a minimum tax rate, it must be agreed globally. Let us see what happens at the G20. However, we still need to encourage businesses to locate in the UK. We need to get the Amazons and the Googles to come here to create the thousands of jobs that will create the taxes.

At the CBI, we have a new director-general, Tony Danker. Six months into his role, we published Seize the Moment, our economic strategy for the United Kingdom during the next decade to 2030. It contains six pillars: a decarbonised and an innovative economy; science and technology; research, development and innovation; universities and businesses working together, and a globalised economy with the UK as a trading powerhouse. It encourages levelling up around the country in clusters such as between Cambridge University and AstraZeneca. We have also launched An Inclusive Economy to change the race ratio and promote ethnic minority diversity and inclusion across all businesses. McKinsey has shown that companies which embrace diversity and inclusion are more profitable; Deloitte has shown that they are more innovative.

Finally, we are promoting a healthier nation, including mental health and well-being, within an action plan that includes a long-term tax road map for the United Kingdom. To enable all this and for Andy Haldane’s coiled spring to happen, we need the supply side to be there. The United Kingdom needs a competitive tax system that will encourage investment and job creation—one which is globally competitive and super-effective.

Lord Sikka Portrait Lord Sikka (Lab)
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My Lords, I draw attention to my entry in the register of interests. I am an unpaid adviser to Tax Justice Network. Tax justice is the theme of my remarks today.

A key requirement for building a just and sustainable society is for people to have good purchasing power with which to buy goods and services and to stimulate the economy. This simple truth is neglected not just in this Finance Bill but in many previous Bills. The Bill depresses people’s purchasing power. The current tax-free personal allowance of £12,570 has been frozen until 2026, as have income tax thresholds. The net effect is that one in 10 adults will pay a higher rate of income tax, with the poorest ending up paying a higher proportion of their income in tax. This measure alone removes some £19 billion of spending power from households. It will condemn many to a great deal of insecurity and difficulty.

Regressive taxation has been normalised in each year’s Finance Bill. The TaxPayers’ Alliance estimates that the poorest 10% of UK households now pay 47.6% of their income in direct and indirect taxes. This compares with 33.5% by the richest 10% of households. Because of wage and benefit freezes, zero hours contracts and job insecurity, this gap is now much bigger than in 2010. The Government need to examine why their policies continue to hurt the poorest in our society. They increased VAT to 20%; this is a regressive tax which hits the poorest hardest. There is no proposal for reform in the Finance Bill.

Council tax is regressive. This year, it has increased in the range 3% to 5%. Virtually the same council tax is paid on a property worth £3 million as on one worth £350,000, without any regard for any ability to pay. The poorest tenth of our population pays 80% of their income in council tax, while the next 50% pay 4% to 5% and the richest 40% only pay 2% to 3%.

There is no reform of national insurance contributions —another regressive tax. Employees generally pay 12% of their monthly incomes between £797 and £4,189 in contributions. Above that, the rate is an additional 2%. Inevitably, the rich pay a lower proportion of their total income in national insurance, compared to the poor.

Unlike the noble Lords, Lord Leigh of Hurley and Lord Bilimoria, I cannot support the capital gains tax regime. Why on earth do the rich need a special tax regime? Capital gains are taxed at marginal rates of between 10% and 28%, whereas earned income is taxed at marginal rates of between 20% and 45%. Both increase somebody’s welfare and purchasing power. I can see no rationale whatever for taxing capital gains at a lower rate than earned income.

The Government’s policies on capital gains are also a bonanza for the tax avoidance industry. Armies of accountants and lawyers are busy converting income to capital gains so that their clients end up paying lower taxes. By taxing capital gains in the same way as earned income, the Government could raise around £14 billion a year. This could help the less well off by making the £20 a week universal credit permanent; the Government could also easily double it by this one simple reform.

There is tax relief of around £40 billion a year on contributions to pension schemes. Just 10% of high earners receive 50% of tax relief. There are 1.3 million individuals who pay into pension schemes but receive no tax relief and zero government support. This is because their income is less than the tax-free personal allowance. Again, the poor are being punished, for putting a little away for their retirement income.

I hope the Minister will explain why the Government insist on hurting the poorest with regressive tax policies. Just in case he is tempted to defend government policies by claiming that, in recent years, they have increased tax-free personal allowances, I remind the House that this has not changed the burden of tax on the poorest. Increasing the personal allowance has done nothing for 18.4 million individuals whose annual income is less than the personal allowance. We need a rethink if we want a just society.

The report, New Powers for HMRC: Fair and Proportionate? is very impressive, but I cannot help wondering whether the committee has not been hoodwinked by the Government and the tax avoidance industry. On page 3, the report states:

“On the proposals for tackling promoters of mass-marketed tax avoidance schemes, we welcome the Government’s intention to take further tough action against the known ‘hard core’ of promoters, but urge it to redouble its efforts in this respect, and to take further measures to combat the continued proliferation of new schemes.”

Where exactly is the evidence for tough action? There is an enormous difference between the law on the books and the law in practice. The Government have been soft on the tax avoidance industry. Big accounting firms have long raided the public purse through complex tax avoidance schemes. Occasionally HMRC goes to court, but the Government do not take any action against the firms.

Let me give some examples. The UK Supreme Court heard the case of HMRC v Pendragon plc and others. The case related to a VAT avoidance scheme marketed by KPMG, which would have enabled car retailing companies to recover VAT input tax paid while avoiding the payment of output tax. The court declared the scheme to be unlawful and the judge said:

“In my opinion the KPMG scheme was an abuse of law.”

That is a very strong conclusion. To this day, no action has been taken by any regulator or accountancy trade association against KPMG.

The court judgment in Development Securities plc and others v HMRC threw out a complex PwC scheme designed to shift apparent management control of some UK entities to Jersey to gain tax advantages by claiming that the entities were not liable to the UK taxes. The scheme was declared to be unlawful by the courts, but no action was taken against PwC.

An Ernst & Young scheme involved loans between companies in the same group, and the ultimate aim was to enable a company making the interest payment to claim tax relief on the expense while enabling the company receiving the interest to avoid tax. That scheme was sold to Greene King. After a prolonged legal battle, the scheme was declared to be unlawful. No action was taken against Ernst & Young.

Deloitte promoted a scheme to enable companies to generate deductible tax losses through complex financial transactions. The scheme was sold to Ladbrokes, but it gambled incorrectly and the court said that the scheme was unlawful. No action of any kind whatever was taken against Deloitte.

Big accounting firms have been peddling unlawful tax avoidance schemes and are not investigated, fined or disciplined but are given government contracts and seats on HMRC’s boards. The advisory panel on the general anti-abuse rule, GARR, is also dominated by the same people. Amazingly, none of the GARR panel’s rulings relate to any of its clients.

In sum, I question the claim that tough action against accounting firms for selling tax avoidance schemes has been taken. I invite the Minister to explain why big accounting firms peddling unlawful tax avoidance schemes have not so far been investigated, fined disciplined or prosecuted.

Lord Empey Portrait Lord Empey (UUP)
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My Lords, my noble friend Lord Forsyth referred to simplification. A 417-page Bill and 349 pages of Explanatory Notes to explain it—I know that most noble Lords will have read both from cover to cover—illustrates that we are not moving in the direction of simplification.

We now have a situation in this country where, because of our devolved settlements, significant economic barriers are being exercised in the devolved areas—particularly in Scotland, where taxation powers are broader than in the other devolved Administrations. But there is one thing that we are not doing: we are not explaining to the people in those regions where the money that the devolved Administrations spend comes from.

I have said before in this House that the devolved Administrations are a bit like giant ATM machines; when the cash stops coming out of the machine, those in the devolved areas simply say, “Well, Westminster didn’t give us enough”. We do not explain the arithmetic to the people in the devolved regions. That would not be a difficult exercise; all it would require would be for the Treasury, perhaps on an annual basis, to produce a short leaflet, or put it online, to show people where the money actually comes from. Local authorities often send out leaflets telling people how their taxes are spent but that does not happen nationally. There is a total absence of accountability to this Parliament for the funds given to the devolved Administrations. Vast sums of money are given over but there is absolutely no feedback or requirement to account for it. That is a perverse principle.

We talk about the pandemic and the rollout of the vaccines bringing our nation together, which I support and which is an excellent selling point. But when the biggest single element that affects the devolved Administrations is the money that they receive from the Treasury through block grants and Barnett consequentials, why do we not tell citizens in the devolved areas what the arithmetic is? It would not be a huge undertaking and it could be done on an annual basis. I suggest to my noble friend the Minister that the Chancellor might look at this. It is a simple exercise, but it would put in context what is actually going on in this country.

I want to refer to a matter that the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, raised on Clause 102, which deals with restrictions on the use of rebated diesel and biofuels. I mentioned the Explanatory Notes, at least some of which I have looked at. The background note at paragraph 33 states:

“This measure introduces changes that will remove the entitlement to use red diesel and rebated biodiesel from most sectors from April 2022 as part of the government’s strategy to meet the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

That is a laudable aim but, as the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, mentioned, there is a perverse effect relating to our power suppliers in Northern Ireland. They are legally and contractually required to have distillate back-up in the event of a crash of the gas supply, because there is a single source of supply, called SNIP, which comes from Scotland to Larne, in County Antrim. If anything were to go wrong with that pipeline—which, thankfully, has not happened in all the years it has been operating—it is perfectly legitimate to require the people who generate our electricity to have that back-up. It is the only power supplier in these islands that has that legal requirement placed on it.

Distillate means red diesel, so the effect of the measure in the Bill would be that 12,000 tonnes of red diesel which does not need to be burned would have to be burned by April 2022 and replaced with another 12,000 tonnes of white diesel, simply because one has dye in it and the other has not. There is no technical difference between the two fuels—they are just the same, but one has red dye in it and one does not. The systems would have to be purged and because the number of tankers allowed to bring fuel in per day is limited to eight for environmental reasons, it would take between three and four months to purge and then replace. I am no climate expert, but we will produce an additional 23,000 tonnes of carbon that could be left sitting there because that fuel supply is only for an emergency and, fortunately, has not had to be used.

I appeal to the Minister to take this matter back to his colleagues. I have no doubt that the legal obligation for our power suppliers to have this back-up is one of those things that people had not realised—both the noble Lord, Lord Dodds, and I were Energy Ministers in Northern Ireland, and I do not know whether I enforced it or if it is his fault—but it was the right thing to do. It might even have been the Deputy Speaker’s fault, because he was there before I was.

So I think it is just one of those things that had not been picked up, but its effects would be negative and perverse. It would mean extra costs for the consumer and have significant implications for our power suppliers because we are in an all-island market now; there is no similar requirement for power suppliers in the Republic of Ireland to have such a back-up, so they will automatically be more competitive when they are bidding to generate electricity to go into the grid. I appeal to the Minister to be kind enough to take this matter back to his colleagues and explain the difficulties. I am sure they can be dealt with and overcome.

I support the general principle, although there is no question that red diesel is abused. I also make the point that paramilitaries have been smuggling such products for 20 years—reasonably successfully so far, from their point of view—so to penalise the electricity consumer through no fault of their own would be perverse in the extreme.

By the way, it would be interesting to know—the Minister may not know this or he may not have the information at his disposal today, but he can let me know—if in fact he received any representations from the relevant department in the Northern Ireland Executive and, if so, when.

On a broader, general point, very few people in any of our lifetimes have seen anything like the last 18 months. There is no doubt that the Chancellor has been very vigorous in his attempts to ensure that our industries do not collapse, but I have to say to him that one industry that is in severe trouble, as the Minister will know, is the aviation and aerospace sector. I am a member of the APPG on Aerospace, and we had a well-attended meeting with the Minister, Robert Courts, just before I came into the Chamber. The sector is in despair because of the chopping and changing.

Aerospace is one of the key providers of high-quality jobs in the UK—over 100,000 of them, highly skilled and highly paid. It also provides apprenticeships, which are vital for the future. The uncertainties and the on/off process that is unfolding before us make it very difficult. Orders for aircraft have, naturally, gone down dramatically. We need more investment in reducing fuels, developing alternative means of propulsion and so on, but at present that whole supply chain is in dire straits. It is propped up by the furlough scheme, but that will not last for ever.

I appeal to the Government to get their house in order with regard to the aviation sector, and that means deciding when people can move around. I know these issues are difficult, but I have to say that a lot of the very good work that has been done is at serious risk of leading to high job losses. It is an area where this country in particular already has great leadership potential. In aerospace we are number two in the world, and there are not too many sectors of our economy about which we can say that. I appeal to the Minister to ensure that we protect this sector, which is so vital to the UK’s economy.

Baroness Pitkeathley Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Pitkeathley) (Lab)
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The noble Lord, Lord Moylan, has withdrawn, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe Portrait Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Con)
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My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the perceptive remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Empey. I thank my noble friend Lord Agnew for his crisp summary of the financial situation and of the Finance Bill. I have also benefited from reading the explanation given at Second Reading by the Financial Secretary, Mr Jesse Norman, who has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Butler.

So we are well informed, but, unfortunately, the picture painted is a grim one. Pleased though we all are by our success on vaccination, I do not believe that the country has yet taken on board the full gravity of the financial situation that we face. The level of the national debt and the deficits that we continue to add to it are of a staggering dimension. It will be the work of many years to right the ship.

In case there are some who might want to claim that reducing the debt from its present size is unnecessary or can be put off to the Greek calends, I point out that the only reason why our financial response to Covid—with vast government grants and loans, furlough and all the rest of it—was feasible was because we had reduced debt as a proportion of GDP greatly since World War Two. The markets would not have accepted the levels of unfinanced expenditure that we have adopted in the last 15 months or so to deal with Covid if we had started with our present level of national debt. Everything that I say today is subject to the overriding necessity of improving the national finances. I am not sure that we, or indeed most other countries, are focusing enough on this issue.

That said, I thank the Treasury, where I served as a Minister, for the speed and creativity with which it provided support for the Covid crisis. I particularly commend the furlough scheme, although I think the rate was set too high, which will cause difficulties as it is phased out. However, the idea of using the PAYE system backwards is an excellent example of simplicity, a theme that I want to emphasise today. The aid to business, especially the simple suspension of VAT and the rates, has also shown bravery and flexibility. I hope that such imagination will now be applied to the long overdue review of rates.

The Treasury and HMRC have done well during Covid as they have been allowed to take risks and innovate. That reminds me of the wartime example of rationing. I know about this from my mother, who served on the Board of Trade in the rationing team in World War Two. In the dark days of 1941, with shipping disrupted, they were asked to extend rationing to textiles. Luckily, my mother’s boss was a clever academic from Cambridge. His idea was not to start again but to make the back pages of the food ration book into clothing coupons. Rationing came in overnight. This was an example of speed and simplicity similar to the furlough scheme.

I am extremely grateful to my noble friend Lord Bridges of Headley and his committee for a clear and compelling report on the Finance Bill, and for his new point about powers in relation to digital platforms, which might impose new burdens or costs on millions of businesses without proper scrutiny. I think that is in paragraph 125 in our fat book of Explanatory Notes.

I particularly agree with the concern that the committee expressed about the new tax checks linked to licence renewal applications for taxi drivers. This could even have the perverse effect of reducing compliance by taxi drivers nervous of the taxman. Like my noble friend, I also dislike the proposed removal of the important taxpayer safeguards in pursuing information requests. I believe the Government should think again on both points.

Ministers and civil servants do not understand how frightened people and businesses are of HMRC, how its powers to fine summarily are resented and how the complex web it spins confuses people. The lack of simple advice at the end of a phone is a real problem to the honest citizen and to the smaller enterprises that are the lifeblood of our economy. We are constantly told that stakeholders are involved in compiling the rules. Over the years, I have found this assurance less and less comforting, as most of the bodies being consulted are too similar in their thinking to that of the Treasury and HMRC.

Moreover, I was concerned to see the briefing from the Chartered Institute of Taxation, which suggested problems with the penalty provisions—see the notes on Clauses 112 and 113. These include a risk of disproportionately high penalties—so more reasons for people to be fearful. My noble friend Lord Forsyth of Drumlean is right to argue for a look at the Bill and, perhaps more importantly, the whole tax code in the spirit of simplification and, I suggest, with an eye to encouraging enterprise and SMEs.

There is a wider point that is relevant here. A book that I have been reading from our wonderful Lords Library, by Eric L Jones, suggests that the rate of economic growth back to the Middle Ages reflects, in part, the removal of institutional and environmental barriers. Examples would be the ending of tithes and the lifting of rationing. The very process of opening up fuels growth and productivity, which generates a greater tax base in turn. So I say no to licences, where they can be avoided, and to new cross-compliance, as proposed in this Bill. I add a no to the continuation of needless or new EU-based rules. On the same principles, I say yes to free ports, to the two-year super-deduction for plant and machinery investment proposed in the Bill and to the right kind of planning reform.

Probably the biggest example of new burdens on business in the Bill is the new tax on plastic packaging. I am as keen on reducing plastic packaging as anyone in this House, as my contributions in many debates have shown. However, I wonder whether all this is worth the candle, given the detail and scale of intervention involved. I doubt whether it is the best way to reduce use and encourage recycling. I recommend massive simplification. Plastics are oil-based and there may instead be a case for a simple duty like that on petrol or alcohol, albeit at a much lower level.

As my final contribution to this debate, I will mention skills, especially technical and vocational skills, which are essential for improved productivity and levelling up. We are at last making some progress in technical education, and youngsters can see that practical skills are vital and that university is not always a wise aspiration. However, from day one, the apprenticeship levy scheme has been complex and unimaginative. I know from direct experience that some businesses and organisations are not even spending their levy pot, because of these complexities.

I am glad to see the attention that the Chancellor gives to vocational skills, with well-publicised visits to talk to apprentices and online seminars. Could my noble friend, who I know is expert and sympathetic to this issue of skills, explain how the Government will improve outcomes in this vital area?

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, I rise with the unusual luxury of 10 minutes’ speaking time, given because we have only a dozen Back-Bench speeches on this crucial taxation issue. I hope that some Peers in your Lordships’ House who specialise on issues of poverty and inequality—indeed, on any issues at all—will join these debates in future. Taxation, or the lack of it, shapes our societies. As the richly informative and powerful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, outlined, decades of decisions about taxation have helped to give us our deeply unequal, poverty-stricken society. We have been taxing the poor and allowing large companies and rich individuals to get away without paying.

The noble Lord, Lord Leigh, suggested that your Lordships’ House may need more experts in tax, finance and business, but this is a far broader issue that needs a far broader input. I quote the American historian Albert Bushnell Hart:

“Taxation is the price which civilized communities pay for the opportunity of remaining civilized.”

It is clear now, on the streets of London, that there are strong and rich debates about how the people who benefit from the investments of this and previous generations—in roads, public buildings, electricity supplies, and the services that we all pay for such as schools, hospitals and policing—make a fair contribution to the maintenance and restoration of our degraded physical and social infrastructure, and the impacts of austerity that we see in potholed roads, closed libraries and inadequate social care provision. These are not technical issues, but are at the very foundation of our society.

Noble Lords might worry about where they get sources of information. I thank Tax Justice UK for an excellent briefing and for drawing attention to the work of the Women’s Budget Group, which has identified how women, people on low incomes and BAME communities will benefit least from the tax breaks in the Bill and bear the chief brunt of the scheduled spending cuts.

It is interesting that, in the debates so far, the failures of regulation and of culture in our financial sector have come up again and again. Noble Lords who took part on the then Financial Services Bill might reflect on this. The noble Lord, Lord Bridges of Headley, talked about umbrella companies, which is an area where the UK is world-leading in entirely the wrong direction. The noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, talked about the “many-headed Hydra” of tax-dodging schemes, as did the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, in great detail. The fact is that we have too large a financial sector, which is milking not just the UK but the entire world and particularly the global south. The centre of global corruption is on our doorstep.

It has been suggested that we all live in social media bubbles these days, but in your Lordships’ House I feel like I am in the vigorous Atlantic surf of strong disagreement on economic issues. I particularly disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, and the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, about their entire economic commentary. The ways and means mechanism and its implementation have existed for many years and show how the rules of the game have changed and that the old economic approaches failed disastrously and gave us the global financial crash. We are finally looking differently at how the economy works and what it is for. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, and many others said that we need to get the economy going again and focusing on growth. I remind your Lordships’ House, in the country that is the chair of COP 26, that we cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. That is not politics; it is physics.

The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, recommended some reading to us. I have some alternative reading to suggest, a book I reviewed this week in the House magazine by Professor Tim Jackson. He is quite a mainstream economist and his book Post Growth is well worth a read. I also pick up on the points of the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, which focused on the importance, as he sees it, of giant multinational companies. I stress that 61% of employment in the UK is in small and medium enterprises. The Government talk of levelling up, but I would rather talk about spreading out prosperity. The foundation of prosperity for every community in this land needs to be built on strong local economies of small independent enterprises and co-operatives—a different and stable kind of economic model.

Having set the scene, I turn to some details in the Bill. I take the point made by several noble Lords about the thickness of the paperwork but, when you look at the measures, you see that it is actually a modest Bill. It talks about tidying up some Northern Ireland and VAT Brexit issues—another reminder that Brexit is by no means done. There are some modest measures that noble Lords have referred to about plastics, red diesel and cycling—very modest again for the chair of COP 26, when you think about the need to act on the climate emergency. We also have an increase in stamp duty land tax for overseas purchases of residential property in England and Northern Ireland which, should your Lordships take an imaginary scan of the boroughs around where we sit today, might be best described as shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

The headline measure is a super deduction for the largest companies, many of which have done very well out of the great tragedy and suffering of the global pandemic. This is estimated to be going to cost the Treasury £25 billion. That would be a lot of social care or a large injection that our education sector so desperately needs. The Office for Budget Responsibility said that £5 billion of the spending that would be covered by this will be spent on previously planned investments. The Times reported that tax advisers specialising in capital allowances have pointed out that jacuzzies are listed as one investment that could receive a 130% rebate.

Perhaps we also need to think about what is not in this Bill. It is interesting that, despite widespread debate in society now, both in the Bill and in the debate around it in the other place, no amendment was put down about a wealth tax. There was no real discussion of it in the other place despite that now being a major topic of discussion among even some quite mainstream economists and certainly among the public.

Of course, there is a lot of discussion about the levels of corporate taxation, led not by the UK but by Joe Biden’s America. When I asked the Minister on 14 April about the US President’s plans, he effectively gave me a “no comment” response when I asked what the UK stance would be. I am pleased to see that we have now signed up to the US initiative. The noble Lord in his answer to my supplementary question then said something very interesting. He said the Government had always been one that wanted to reduce taxation wherever possible. Perhaps he might like to consider the words of the Chancellor in deciding to end the race to the bottom in corporation tax by increasing the headline rate to 25% in 2023 after Her Majesty’s Treasury found that the cut in the headline rate since 2010 did not drive inward investment. To quote the Chancellor, it

“might not be the most effective way to drive capital investment up”.

I also refer to the comments from the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, about those statistics. He referred to inward investment. I would say that that inward investment very often has been the selling off of the family silver, whether that is our water companies, publicly held land or, indeed, the family beds when it comes to selling off our care homes to the hedge fund industry.

If we did have, let us say, a wealth tax, where might it go? Despite the Government’s talk of an end to austerity, a £15 billion cut in annual government departmental spending is planned. These budgets are already cut to the bone and, of course, are being hit by the huge and continuing impacts of the pandemic.

There is some very useful information about who is paying and who is not. I have referred noble Lords to a report from the CAGE institute at the University of Warwick. In 2015-16, a quarter of people who had more than £1 million in taxable income paid less than 30% tax, while one in 10 paid just 11%—the same as a person earning £15,000 a year. This is a key issue.

I come back to the inequality and the poverty in our society, issues so well covered by the noble Lord, Lord Sikka. We are talking about capital gains tax and inequality in the way income is taxed. These issues are all missing from this Bill. They will need to be confronted soon.

Baroness Pitkeathley Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Pitkeathley) (Lab)
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My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Wheatcroft, and the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, have withdrawn, so I call the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer.

Baroness Kramer Portrait Baroness Kramer (LD)
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My Lords, I pick up the point made earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Leigh, that there has been a relatively small number of speakers in this debate but my goodness they have been powerful speeches, and across a very wide range of issues. I hope the Government will take notice of the quality of this debate and the range of points made.

I start with a couple of general comments. I want to pick up the point made just now by the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, that this Finance Bill is a very modest Bill. I think that we all know that, but it leads into the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and others that we are in a very precarious economic period. I suspect that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, or the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, in fact many people, including the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, would not agree on the same solutions to the problem, but we can at least agree that there really is a problem and bottom out the extent of it and look for the Government to come forward with a strategy. Can I impress upon the Minister the importance of a government strategy that is realistic and faces up to the grim realities—to use the phrase from the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe? We have to have that to be able to go forward effectively and successfully. I do not think that we should pretend that that role is picked up in this Bill. Please can the Minister make sure that it is picked up—and soon, quite frankly?

I want also to pick up the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Butler, on the G7 and the global tax and to echo something that the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, said. I am glad to see that the G7 is coming together to tackle this issue. To me, it is a real illustration of the might of the United States and the flexing of its muscles. Almost every country will take some benefit from the changes in the way that a global corporate tax will be raised as a consequence but, in fact, it will be quite modest for most countries. The United States Treasury is the very big winner, and it is a reminder that when you delve into the world of economics and power politics you have to recognise size and power. I continue to be worried that for the UK this means being essentially a stone that is grated between big regional economies and power bases. If ever it needed to be illustrated, I think it has been the quick acceptance of the US proposals by the British Government because, frankly, they absolutely had no choice.

We have discussed a lot of the Bill in various Budget speeches so I am not going to labour those points, but I have some real pleas to put before the Minister. I am very concerned that the VAT relief rate should not rise to 12.5% in September. When we look at the hospitality industry and the pressures that it is facing, we now recognise that there may even be delays to full opening on 21 June. We know that new variants can come through. Keeping this at 5% to the end of the fiscal year surely would be sensible and would reassure the industry at this moment in time.

The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, raised the issue of individuals facing rent arrears, which will now come tumbling in on them. So many of our small business, again probably especially in the hospitality industry, are facing in excess of £3 billion in unsettled rent levies. I think the Government are going to have to step in on this and I hope they will look at providing some support specifically on rent issues. Small businesses and self-employed people are very far from being out of the woods. Again, that argues for flexibility on the furlough scheme. The noble Lord, Lord Empey, talked about it in the context of aerospace but, really, so many industries are going to need some ongoing support, or they will end up in a dire crisis. Looking at continuing furlough into the future, for at least some period, may be essential.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, about 40% of small businesses are finding their debt levels completely unmanageable. We do not have a mechanism at the moment to convert that into a capital base. We need to be able to enable them and support them in converting debt. I think the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, has talked in previous speeches about a sort of variation on 3i, but there has to be some mechanism or else many of our small businesses are never going to be in a position to begin to grow; they will be overwhelmed by a debt burden that continues to drain them for a series of years to come.

I make one final plea again on behalf of the 3 million excluded, mainly contractors and freelancers. The Government could, at this very last minute, step in to support that group, and I ask them once again to do so. The noble Lords, Lord Bridges and Lord Forsyth, talked about wrapping this in with following through on the recommendations of the Taylor report. The environment for those businesses—and they are our future—has to be shaped by recognising the risks they face, looking at the rights and the benefits that they do without, and helping to structure the tax environment that they sit in within that overall context. The Taylor report should not be left on the shelf any longer.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sikka, that we have a problem with freezes on income tax thresholds. It really is a mechanism to raise income tax, which is slightly ironic when the Government have basically decided not to raise capital gains tax. Some of the poorest people will now be stepping in to fill that gap. It is also ironic given that the increases in corporation tax are delayed to 2023, so income tax rises will, in effect, hit first.

While I tend not to spend a lot of my time thinking about the best paid, can I get some assurance from the Minister on the freezing of the pensions lifetime allowance? Last time, this created a real crisis for us in the NHS, with consultants realising that one hour of additional work meant that they would get a tax bill that was larger than the associated income. In fact, they could not even ask not to be paid and do the work voluntarily because of the way the system works. A large number of our senior military just got up and left because they were caught in the same conundrum—people who did additional hours on the battlefield were whacked then by the tax system. Can the Minister give me assurances that the way this is designed now will not repeat that particular set of problems? Again, with the super-deduction, I have never understood why it is analogue and not digital. Surely we want people to be investing in the technologies of the future and not just in plant and machinery. That one is completely beyond me.

I was privileged to be a member of the Finance Bill Sub-Committee, chaired brilliantly by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, and with the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, also there. I am quite humble when I speak about this report, because it was driven by people of extraordinary capability—it was a very powerful sub-committee. I just want to make some quick remarks, and I will try not to be repetitive, on the three key sections that the report addressed.

I am very worried that powers are being extended before a proper evaluation of how HMRC uses its existing powers. The noble Lord, Lord Bridges, made most of the comments that are relevant in this area, but it struck me—and I am making a personal comment here—that when we heard the Treasury, whether it was officials or the Minister, talk about the review of powers, it seemed more about identifying where powers could be increased and not about looking at how existing powers could be used far more effectively. We seem to have complete miscommunication around that issue.

As I remember it, that recommendation was embedded in real concerns about the loan charge and IR35—others have mentioned this—particularly because of the focus on the little people who got caught up in all kinds of schemes that they were completely unaware of and suffered very significantly as a consequence. Like others, I am delighted if HMRC is now determined to use powers, and extended powers are fine, to deal with promoters. But I am very frustrated that the retro-effective philosophy which is being used against individuals caught up in the loan charge, going back as far as 2010, is not being applied to the promoters who have accumulated huge profits in giving advice which, frankly, was from day one exceedingly questionable.

I join others in being worried about HMRC’s increasing instinct to outsource its compliance responsibilities. We are not talking about IR35 today, but the extension of the use of private companies to make the call on whether contractors they hire are caught by IR35 or not struck me as an overreach. We know that those companies, anxious not to have a fight with the tax authorities, are using quasi blanket determinations. Although an individual company can challenge a determination, it knows that at that point it gets labelled as a troublemaker and probably blacklisted for any future business. These are real problems we have with outsourcing, and they carry on into the issue of licensing taxi drivers and scrap metal dealers. At the moment, it is just an information exchange, but we can all be concerned that it is potentially the thin end of the wedge.

I join the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, in being very afraid—I think the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, said the same thing—that individuals will simply disappear from the system altogether. That could mean unsafe vehicles on the road because we have lost people from the licensing system, or real abuse of scrap metal arrangements, which can descend into the criminal underworld. I do not want to put a bad label on scrap metal merchants, who are decent, honourable people, but we can see where the pressures will come. I am desperately concerned about the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, on the use of digital platforms as essentially HMRC’s information-gathering mechanism, because it takes us even further into that area, which is one we absolutely must examine.

I shall make just one last remark—I realise the time is going fast and I should stop, but this is something we should draw to the attention of the House. The third area of concern that the report raises is the oversight and scrutiny of HMRC and the powers to circumvent the safeguards of the tax tribunal. The noble Lord, Lord Bridges, discussed that in some detail. The House may not recognise how necessary it is always to have such outside scrutiny.

Many of us received a copy of an email that the Loan Charge Action Group accessed through a freedom of information request. It dates to 31 January 2019, and is from Jim Harra, who is chief executive of HMRC, to a staff member. It follows a witness evidence session to a Treasury Select Committee, and refers to those to the House of Lords. It is about the loan charge. One must understand that the treatment of loan contractors depends entirely on a case brought before the tax tribunal called the Rangers case, which concerns Rangers Football Club. A decision came in 2017 which, I think, everybody who read it thought would be the weapon to use to go after companies that hire contractors and use disguised remuneration, but nobody was under the impression this could be used as the legal basis to go after individual contractors. The chief executive of HMRC wrote:

“In recent months I have repeatedly tried to obtain legal analysis to understand the strength of our claim”—

that is, the claim that there is a legal basis for going after individual contractors—“with very little success.”

I challenge anyone to show me where, in any of its evidence given to the Treasury Select Committee or the Finance Bill Sub-Committee, HMRC reflected that level of uncertainty. It demonstrates that the temptation to be parsimonious with the truth, to press on to achieve the target of maximum revenue-gathering, means that HMRC, like every other organisation, needs outside scrutiny. The importance of tax tribunals is paramount, and we must stop the constant whittling away of that power.

Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab)
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It is nice to rise to a few cheers. I am almost the penultimate speaker and there must be a sense of relief.

Let me begin by thanking the sub-committee of the Economic Affairs Committee on its report on new powers for HMRC. I must say that there was little surprise when the committee identified a number of shortcomings in how the Government had gone about their work in recent years. The report raises concerns that will sound familiar to many: the questionable timing of announcements, somewhat odd prioritisation of workloads and the often relaxed attitude towards best practice and evidenced-based policy-making. Given both the economic and moral case for cracking down on tax avoidance and other forms of non-compliance, the findings of the report are of concern.

We have taken note of the Government’s response and acknowledge that some of the recommendations expressed in the report are being or have been enacted. However, it is clear that there is more for both HMRC and Ministers to do if we are to close the loopholes and promote better behaviour. As always, we are confident that officials are doing everything they can to meet the targets set for them from above. It is a case of ensuring that departments are properly resourced and appropriately directed. When the Financial Secretary introduced the Bill in the House of Commons, he paid tribute to the work of officials in the Treasury and HMRC throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. He was right to praise them for the dedication and creativity that they have shown by turning new concepts into reality and putting money into people’s pockets in record time.

As the Opposition, we have not shied away from challenging the shortcomings of the various coronavirus support schemes or the Government’s wider handling of different aspects of the pandemic. However, as with the report on the powers of HMRC, any shortcomings rest ultimately with the politicians in charge. With a certain amount of bullying from within and without, some of the issues of Covid-19 support were addressed, but sadly some problems have still not been acknowledged and the patchwork of support has left many people in similar situations facing very different financial circumstances.

As we progress along the Covid road map, the Government will need to think carefully about when and how support is withdrawn from businesses and workers. It is also vital that lessons are learned to start closing the gaping holes that have been exposed in this country’s social security safety net.

The Financial Secretary referred to what he identified as three objectives underlying the Budget in March, all of which focused on defeating Covid-19 and rebuilding after it. We disagree fundamentally with his claim that his Bill will enact changes in taxation that will support all those objectives. Neither the Budget nor this Bill is sufficient to address the long-standing challenges to the British economy and to put us on a path to sustainable growth that would benefit all communities across the UK. Such challenges contributed to the UK having the worst downturn of any major economy at the height of the pandemic.

Despite our recent return to growth, which we welcome, and the continuing hard work of the British people, I worry that the Government’s lack of ambition on economic reform will hold us back vis-à-vis our international friends and competitors. The Chancellor’s last-minute decision to sign up to President Biden’s corporate tax proposals through the G7 communiqué is a clear example of his lack of ambition. The UK initially resisted the proposal, the only G7 member to do so, and while we witnessed a U-turn over the weekend, experts in the field have already identified potential loopholes.

Returning to the Budget and the Finance Bill, it is a shame that, rather than supporting front-line workers, the Government have essentially snubbed their heroic efforts in the past year and a half. We are all familiar with the paltry pay rise for NHS nurses, but other public sector workers have received poor pay settlements too. Rather than embracing opportunities around corporate tax, such as levelling the playing field for online and so-called bricks and mortar businesses, this Finance Bill enables a corporate super-deduction while freezing the income tax allowance. The latter will hit low-paid households that have been lifted out of income tax only in recent years. Rather than present proposals for welfare reform to put more money into government to ensure adequate funding for pupils to catch up with the education they lost during the multiple lockdowns, the Budget instead laid out plans to cut certain welfare benefits and slash departmental budgets. In sum, rather than delivering on warm words and promises on job creation, addressing the climate crisis or levelling up, the Finance Bill is merely a continuation of the political decision-making that has left so many feeling that the Government are not on their side.

The past year and a half has been tough for us all. We have had to make sacrifices and do things differently but Covid-19 has also exposed the very best of many: NHS staff, other key workers and those who played an active role in their local communities. However, there is also a need to help the unemployed back into work, address the ever-growing debt burden faced by many businesses and provide meaningful investments to put our economy and public services on a surer footing. This Bill and the Government’s broader economic policy do not meet those tests.

In the House of Commons, the Labour Party proposed several sensible amendments to make the legislation fairer. Rather than engage, the Government opposed measures to ensure that large multinationals pay their fair share, to increase transparency around the actual economic impacts of free ports, and to review the effectiveness of plans to prevent overseas entities funnelling dirty money through UK property. Think tanks and commentators of all political persuasions have been unimpressed by the lack of urgency on important issues such as these.

All that said, any noble Lord who has had the pleasure of participating in debates on Treasury statutory instruments will know that I am no fan of constitutional crises. It is not for the House of Lords to oppose the Finance Bill, and we have no intention of breaking that convention today. However, I was seized by the debate that broke out earlier about what we cover and the extent to which the Finance Bill creates cover for issues that arguably should be properly debated in legislation.

It is very interesting to sit back and see what the House of Lords does best. I think that the House of Lords, in a sense, divides its attention between the political and better legislation. I have been involved, over the past 11 years, with every bit of finance legislation that has gone through this House, usually at the junior level with stars helping me. What has emerged from that is the improvement that legislation has enjoyed in this House. It has been a really powerful step forward. It happens because thoughtful people bring up poor areas of legislation and, combined with the fact that the Opposition takes a political interest in it, focus is brought to bear on those areas and small changes and nuances are achieved. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, was in a sense referring to that, that the noble Lord, Lord Butler, was particularly referring to it, and that the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, indicated some sympathy with it. I hope he and his committee might consider the extent to which the Government are starting to smuggle legislation that really should come to this House through the political process by hiding it in money Bills.

I also thought there were some interesting concerns about HMRC and the level of scrutiny. I headed a pretty large organisation; one of the problems with large organisations is the attractiveness of using your power to do things to people who are less powerful. Of course, you do it because it is good for you, but we need processes that test whether it really is. One of the worst problems in any complex society is that large organisations emerge because they are efficient but, because they are large, they have unreasonable power. We need proper, better processes—there was reasonable consensus on this during the Financial Services Bill we have just done—in the FCA, for political scrutiny, and better processes in the PRA.

On a more political point, I also felt that the concept from the noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, of the need for a more strategic approach from the Government was important. There have been lots of initiatives from this Government; we have disagreed with some and have supported others, but at no time have they seemed strategic. Two particular areas interested me. First, there is the failure to pick out sectoral initiatives; there are areas—I think the noble Lord, Lord Leigh, brought this out—in aerospace, for instance, where if we lose where we are now, no amount of money will get us back to the same place. There should be a stronger strategy for looking at where the weaknesses are. Secondly, there is this whole problem of debt; if debt is to be repaid—will it be?—it could become a millstone on the companies that should be bounding ahead. We need the best minds thinking about whether there is some way of turning that into equity, and so on.

There is much more to ponder. I hope that processes can be found for that pondering to be done in this House, and that we can be part of the legislative process. If anything makes the Government think, it is the fear of a vote going against them. I do not know whether anyone records this, but we do not actually like winning votes; we like persuading the Government to do good things because they are frightened of us winning votes. That is what happens—but anyway, I have something else to say.

It seems the Economic Affairs Committee’s conclusion that Ministers must do better applies more broadly than to tax avoidance policy. This Bill is yet another missed opportunity to grapple with the challenges our economy faces. Sadly, as is so often the case under this Administration, working families will pay the price for the Government’s lack of ambition.

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton (Con)
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My Lords, this has been an excellent debate, and I thank noble Lords for their contributions. I will round up by addressing some of the issues raised by your Lordships, starting with comments on the Economic Affairs Committee and HMRC’s powers.

I take this opportunity to thank noble Lords for their contributions on the new report from the Economic Affairs Committee, which focused on HMRC powers to combat tax avoidance and promote compliance. The Government have carefully examined the issues raised by the committee and given it a comprehensive response. I am pleased to say that nine of the committee’s recommendations were accepted and six were partially accepted.

Since the publication of the committee’s report, HMRC has published its evaluation of the implementation of powers, obligations and safeguards introduced since 2012. Working closely with representatives of taxpayers and agents, the evaluation has highlighted a number of new opportunities for HMRC to improve public trust in the tax system. It is crucial that HMRC has the powers necessary to identify the minority of people and businesses who seek to avoid or evade tax, while ensuring an appropriate balance of safeguards for taxpayers.

My noble friends Lord Bridges and Lady Neville-Rolfe raised the loss of safeguards, but this new measure does have important safeguards. For example, the notice may be issued only where the information is “reasonably required” to check a known person’s tax position or in connection with the recovery of a tax debt. An authorised officer must approve all notices and must pass a test every three years to retain their status. The financial institution can appeal against any penalties charged for failure to comply with the notice, and HMRC is required to make an annual report to Parliament on the use of the financial institution notice.

My noble friend Lord Bridges asked about umbrella companies and mini umbrella companies. The Government agree on the importance of regulating umbrella companies properly and have already committed to regulating them by extending the remit of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to include these. An employment Bill will be brought forward as parliamentary time allows. The mini umbrella company model is fraudulent and presents an organised crime threat to the UK Exchequer. HMRC works closely with trade bodies and other government departments to raise awareness of the mini umbrella company fraud.

My noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lord Bridges asked about Clause 125 on licensing authorities. The check has been designed to be minimal in scope and will only test compliance with the most basic obligation to be appropriately registered for tax. It does not create new tax obligations but simply ensures that these existing rules are complied with, promoting fairness for everyone in the sector. For most users it will take minutes to do and is needed only when licences are renewed—typically every three years.

My noble friend Lord Forsyth asked about corporation tax rates. At 25%, the rate is still highly competitive relative to our international peers, with the lowest headline rate in the G7. Alongside this tax increase, the Chancellor announced in the Budget a super-deduction, as we referred to earlier, from April of this year until April 2023. My noble friend is particularly concerned about the loan charge. I am sure that there is nothing I can say today that will completely allay his concerns, but I want to try because I appreciate his passion on this subject.

Promoters of tax avoidance schemes are already subject to significant penalties if they fail to meet their obligations. Since its formation in 2016, HMRC’s fraud investigation service has regularly secured convictions relating to arrangements that have been promoted and marketed as tax avoidance. Most of these people were involved in promoting tax avoidance schemes. However, we know that more can be done, and we are committed to ensuring that they face significant financial consequences for promoting these schemes.

My noble friend Lord Forsyth asked about the impact of IR35 on the self-employed. It is important to note that the reform does not apply to those who are self-employed according to the existing employment status tests. A worker’s employment status for tax purposes is not a matter of choice but is determined by the terms and conditions under which they work. This is determined by a number of factors which are set out in case law, such as whether they can send a substitute to do the work on their behalf, and the control that the client has over the work that that person does.

In terms of reforms to employment status, as laid out in our manifesto, the Government will bring forward measures to establish an employment framework which is fit for purpose and keeps pace with the needs of modern workplaces. These include measures that will encourage flexible working, protect vulnerable workers, take a smarter approach to enforcement of employment law, and build on the strengths of our flexible labour market to support jobs. The Government recognise concerns about employment status and are considering options to improve clarity in the system, making it easier for individuals and businesses to understand which rights and obligations apply to them.

The noble Lords, Lord Dodds and Lord Empey, are concerned about the red diesel issue for power generation in Northern Ireland. In response to concerns raised by red diesel users in this context during last year’s consultation about their ability to run down fuel stocks, the Government have decided to give HMRC officers the ability to disapply the liability to seizure where the user can provide evidence to satisfy officers that they have not built up their stocks or taken red diesel into the fuel system after the rules change. The Government recognise that for some users, such as those who need red diesel for back-up power generation in case of emergencies but may use it only for a few hours a year, their last purchase of red diesel may be some time before the tax change.

The noble Lord, Lord Dodds, asked about air passenger duty. We are currently consulting on the Government’s initial policy position, but the effective rate of air passenger duty on domestic flights should be reduced to support the union and regional connectivity. The consultation closes in a few days, on 15 June.

My noble friend Lord Leigh asked about capital gains tax reform. The Government are committed to a fair and simple CGT system which strikes the right balance between raising revenue and supporting the UK’s economic recovery and long-term growth. Last year, the Chancellor commissioned the Office of Tax Simplification to examine areas where the present rules on CGT can distort behaviour or do not meet their policy intent. The OTS provides independent advice. It is the role of the Government to make tax policy decisions. The Government keep all taxes under review and will respond to the OTS in due course.

My noble friend also asked about the digital services tax and pillar 1. The UK digital services tax is an interim solution to the widely held concerns with international corporate tax, and the Government’s strong preference is to secure a comprehensive global solution on digital tax and remove the DST once this is in place. We are pleased at the progress that has been made in recent days towards securing that solution but recognise that there is still work to do in reaching wider agreement among the OECD key 20 countries ahead of July. The Government’s efforts will be focused on that objective.

It is premature to set out revenue estimates—the final design details and parameters of the rules will need to be worked though—but a key condition for the UK is that pillar 1 appropriately addresses our concern and ensures that the amount of tax that multinational groups pay in the UK is commensurate with their economic activities here. My noble friend also asked whether we are no longer committed to a competitive tax regime. We are absolutely committed to one, and as I mentioned, our headline corporate tax rate of 25% is competitive among our international peers.

The noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, made important points. I passionately agree with his point about leading the recovery from this crisis through job creation. Employment gives people dignity and a sense of purpose. We are pleased with the results so far. The OBR now expects unemployment to peak at 6.5% in the fourth quarter of this year, as the CJRS is scheduled to end, falling gradually to 4.4% by the end of 2025. The estimated unemployment rate is 1% lower than its November forecast. This is equivalent to 340,000 fewer people in unemployment, partly thanks to the extension of the furlough scheme. The noble Lord will, be aware of other initiatives, such as our dramatic increase in the number of jobcentres.

The noble Lord, Lord Sikka, asks about tax avoidance, particularly of the large accountancy firms. Rigorous anti-avoidance activity by HMRC has seen a significant proportion of those promoting schemes, including the large accountancy firms, being driven out of this market. It is now only a hard core of unscrupulous promoters, largely based offshore, who continue to promote tax avoidance schemes. The Government recognise that more could be done to raise standards more widely across the market for tax advice and ran a call for evidence on this last summer. The summary of responses and next steps was published in November. As part of this, the Government are consulting on introducing a potential requirement for tax advisers to hold professional indemnity insurance.

The noble Lord, Lord Sikka, and the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked about the IT and PA threshold, the freeze depressing people’s purchasing power. This policy will not come into effect until April 2022, when the economy will be on a stronger footing. We are asking people to make only a relatively modest contribution, to help fund good public services and to rebuild public finances. This is a universal and progressive policy, with those more able to pay contributing more. An average basic taxpayer will be only about £40 per year worse off in 2022-23. These are responsible decisions that will help to ensure the post-crisis task of putting the public finances back on a sustainable path.

My noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe asked about Clauses 112 and 113 on the penalty systems that are being introduced. The current penalties and interest levied on taxpayers when they miss a submission deadline or pay their tax late are inconsistent across different taxes. The changes in this Bill bring consistency. The new approach to late submissions means that an automatic financial penalty will no longer be applied. Instead, the taxpayer will accrue points, much like driving licence points, with a financial penalty being applied only after repeated non-compliance. This means that taxpayers will incur penalties proportionate to the amount of tax they owe and how long payment is outstanding.

The noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, is concerned that we cannot aim for continuous growth because of its damage to the environment. I would respectfully disagree with her and refer her to a book called More from Less by Andrew McAfee. A couple of simple statistics on the US Geological Survey, which has been running for over 100 years, has tracked 72 resources from A, aluminium, to Z, zinc, and only six are not yet past their peak. Energy use in the UK in 2017 was 2% below what it was in 2008, even though GDP had increased by 15%. An aluminium can built in 1959 weighed 85 grams, whereas one built in 2011 only weighs 13 grams. It is extraordinary the innovation that is occurring in our society.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, asked about a pre-emptive rise in VAT rates. The Government appreciate that the expiry of any temporary cut will need to be carefully timed so that it does not impede progress as the economy recovers. That is why we are announcing this six-month extension followed by six months of the 12.5% rate, which will help businesses to manage the return to a standard rate. As the Chancellor made clear in his Budget speech, it is important for the Government to be honest about the need to keep the public finances on a sustainable footing. The Government will of course keep the situation under review. The reduced rate is expensive and is expected to cost over £7 billion in tax forgone. Applying a permanently reduced rate would further increase the cost to taxpayers.

The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked about the G7 agreement on tax reform. We are delighted that the G7 has come together to back these proposals. It represents a major reform to the international tax framework. The UK has been at the forefront of OECD discussions to address tax challenges of digitisation. The Chancellor has made it a priority of the UK’s G7 presidency to support progress towards an agreement. Our consistent position has been that it matters where tax is paid, as well as the rate at which it is paid. So we are delighted that we have G7 backing for both pillars of the OECD proposals on reallocating taxing rights as well as the global minimum taxation.

On the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, about multinationals, the Government have taken significant steps, both domestically and internationally, to ensure that companies pay the right amount. The corporate interest restriction rules prevent multinationals from avoiding tax using funding arrangements. This has raised £1 billion a year since its introduction in 2017. The diverted profit tax has led to £5 billion in additional revenue by countering aggressive tax planning techniques used by multinationals to divert profits away from the UK. The tax charge on offshore receipts, in respect of intangible property, is forecast to raise £1.1 billion from companies that put valuable intangible assets in low-tax jurisdictions. The UK has also been at the forefront of the OECD discussions on this, and the Chancellor has made it a priority of the G7 presidency to support progress towards an agreement.

The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, asked about freeports and economic transparency. We have a firm commitment to ensure that the transparency extends to the freeports programme. That is why we published a decision-making note that clearly sets out how sustainable economic growth and regeneration were prioritised in the assessment process. This built on a robust bid assessment, where the eight successful English freeports demonstrated a strong economic rationale for their proposed tax sites. The Government have already taken action to address the concerns that any additional reporting requirements are seeking to resolve. We will be publishing costings of the freeports programme at the next fiscal event, in line with conventional practice.

Let me wind up by saying that I hope I have succeeded in addressing noble Lords’ questions. I will of course review the record of this debate and follow up in the usual way, and write where I have not been able to provide detailed answers.

Bill read a second time. Committee negatived. Standing Order 44 having been dispensed with, the Bill was read a third time and passed.

Finance Bill

(1st reading)
Tuesday 25th May 2021

(5 months ago)

Lords Chamber

Read Hansard Text

First Reading

The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

House adjourned at 6.21 pm.

Finance Bill

(Report stage)
Monday 24th May 2021

(5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
HM Treasury

Consideration of Bill, as amended in Committee and in the Public Bill Committee

New Clause 23

Review of impact of a global minimum rate of corporation tax

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, within six months of the passing of this Act, publish a review of the impact on corporation tax revenues for the financial years 2022 and 2023 of a global minimum rate of corporation tax set at—

(a) 21 per cent in both years, and

(b) 21 per cent in 2022 and 25 per cent in 2023.

(2) Any review under this section must include an assessment of the impact of a global minimum rate of corporation tax on—

(a) levels of tax avoidance and evasion, and

(b) the size of the tax gap in financial years 2022 and 2023.’

Brought up, and read the First time.

James Murray Portrait James Murray (Ealing North) (Lab/Co-op)
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I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 6—Review of impact on corporation tax revenues of global minimum rate of corporation tax—

‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer must within six months of Royal Assent lay before the House of Commons an assessment of the effect on corporation tax revenues in 2022 and 2023 of a global minimum corporation tax rate set at 21%.’

This new clause would require the Government to publish an assessment of the revenue effect of a global minimum corporation tax rate of 21%.

New clause 12—Review of impact of Act on investment—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact on investment in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made by this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the effects of the changes on—

(a) business investment,

(b) employment,

(c) productivity,

(d) GDP growth, and

(e) poverty.

(3) A review under this section must consider the following scenarios—

(a) the United Kingdom reaches an agreement with OECD countries on a minimum international level of corporation tax, and

(b) the United Kingdom does not reach an agreement with OECD countries on a minimum international level of corporation tax.

(4) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

and “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’

This new clause would require a report on the effect of the changes in the Act on investment, comparing scenarios in which (a) the United Kingdom reaches an agreement with OECD countries on a minimum international level of corporation tax and (b) the United Kingdom does not reach an agreement with OECD countries on a minimum international level of corporation tax on various economic indicators.

New clause 22—Eligibility for tax reliefs—

‘(1) For the purposes of Clauses 9 to 14 and 109 to 111 no tax reliefs shall apply to companies registered or with subsidiary companies registered in countries or jurisdictions listed in the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.

(2) The Secretary of State shall also have the power to list additional jurisdictions or countries as non-cooperative jurisdictions for the purposes of subsection (1) that he/she perceives to be non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.’

This new clause would stop companies registered, or with subsidiary companies registered, in tax havens from benefiting from the UK Government tax reliefs in this Bill.

Amendment 1, in clause 9, page 4, line 2, at end insert

“provided that any such company which has more than £1 million in qualifying expenditure must also make a climate-related financial disclosure in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures within the 2021/22 tax year.”

This amendment would, in respect of companies with qualifying expenditure of over £1 million, add a condition relating to climate-related financial disclosure to the conditions that must be met in order for expenditure to qualify for super-deductions.

Amendment 29, page 4, line 2, at end insert

“provided that any such company must also not be liable to the digital services tax”.

Amendment 30, page 4, line 2, at end insert

“provided that any such company which has more than £1 million in qualifying expenditure must also—

(i) adhere to International Labour Organisation convention 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining, and

(ii) be certified or be in the process of being certified by the Living Wage Foundation as a living wage employer.”

Government amendment 2.

Amendment 31, page 5, line 15, at end insert—

“(11) Expenditure shall not be qualifying expenditure under this section if it is incurred by a company which has at any time been involved in arrangements giving rise to a liability for diverted profits tax, or which would give rise to such a liability but for the effect of section 83 of Finance Act 2015.

(12) For the purposes of subsection (11), involvement in arrangements shall include being connected within the meaning of section 1122 Corporation Tax Act 2010 to any company involved in such arrangements.”

This amendment would bar multinationals with a history of corporate tax avoidance from accessing super-deductions.

James Murray Portrait James Murray
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The vaccine has given us all hope, but we know that the health crisis from covid is far from over, and the impact on jobs, businesses and the economy resulting from the pandemic will be with us for a long time to come. People across our country and British businesses that have been struggling want to be able to get back on their feet. This Bill should have offered them the support they need to do so, but instead the Government chose to make half of all people in the UK pay more income tax, and its headline measure for businesses, quickly and with good reason, earned the nickname, “the Amazon tax cut”. This Amazon tax cut was proudly announced by the Chancellor as the new super deduction—a £25 billion tax cut that he has said represents the biggest two-year business tax cut in modern British history. What he was less keen to make clear is that this tax cut is not targeted at British businesses that have been struggling in the outbreak, but stands to benefit some of the biggest multinational tech firms that have done very well indeed over the past year or so.

As we have heard during previous debates on the Bill, small and medium-sized businesses can already benefit from the annual investment allowance. That allowance, extended by clause 15, offers a 100% tax break on investment up to £1 million, and we know that it will benefit almost all businesses already. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury has said exactly that. He stated very clearly in a written ministerial statement on 12 November last year that the annual investment allowance:

“Simplifies taxes for the 99% of businesses investing up to £1 million on plant and machinery assets each year.”

We pushed the Government on this matter in Committee of the Whole House, when the Financial Secretary claimed:

“The super deduction benefits all businesses that are in a position to take advantage of the eligible deduction it provides”.—[Official Report, 19 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 764.]

He will know, however, that the 99% of businesses already benefiting from the annual investment allowance will benefit only marginally from the new super deduction.

The real winners of the super deduction were identified in Committee of the Whole House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge), who made the powerful argument that it will most benefit

“the companies with oven-ready capital investment plans, benefiting from the increased demand that they have enjoyed over the last torrid year—companies such as…the notorious tax avoider Amazon.”—[Official Report, 19 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 751.]

As that phrase reminds us, Amazon already avoids paying much corporation tax in the UK at all by shifting profits to low-tax countries overseas—I will return to that point shortly—but it is depressing that, through his super deduction, the Chancellor is finishing the job Amazon started and wiping out the last little bit of tax it pays in this country.

As the House may remember, we asked the Government to look again at this matter in Committee of the whole House. Our amendment at that stage would have explicitly prevented the biggest tech firms from taking advantage of the Chancellor’s tax break, as well as other big firms that do not support workers’ rights and the living wage. At the time, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury objected to our amendment on the basis that it sought to

“restrict the relief only to certain companies”—[Official Report, 19 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 742]

and that it imposed “burdensome conditions” on companies that want to benefit from it. That latter phrase told us plenty about the Government’s views on people’s rights at work. The conditions the Minister saw as “burdensome” are the rights to organise and to be paid a living wage. When even basic rights at work and a living wage are seen as burdensome, it is perhaps no wonder that this Government broke their promise to include an employment Bill in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month.

It is clear that we will need to push Ministers over workers’ rights on future days—from banning the shameful practice of fire and rehire to ending exploitation by rogue umbrella companies—as cross-party amendments tabled to this Bill by right hon. and right hon. Members seek to achieve. Today, we have made it very straightforward for the Government, through amendment 29, to focus specifically on preventing the very biggest tech firms—those companies liable to pay the digital services tax—from benefiting from the super deduction. This should be easy. Only a very small number of very large multinational firms that have done very well over the past year are liable for the digital services tax. The detail of that tax means that businesses are liable only when a group’s worldwide revenues from digital activities—such as providing social media platforms, search engines or online marketplaces—are more than £500 million, and when more than £25 million of these revenues are derived from UK users.

The vote on this amendment will come down to the very simple question of how Members of this House believe public money should be spent. As the Bill stands, the Government’s biggest business tax cut in modern British history will finish the job Amazon started, wiping out the last bit of tax it had to pay on the few parts of its business the profits of which it has been unable to shift overseas. A vote in favour of our amendment 29 would stop Amazon and a small number of similar firms benefiting from a giveaway of public money—public money that could be better spent for so many purposes, including to support British businesses that have been struggling throughout the past year. I urge Conservative Members to consider how they vote on amendment 29.

Before we come to that vote, I will turn to our new clause 23, through which we seek to push the Government finally to back President Biden’s plans for a global minimum corporation tax rate. I have explained how the Government’s super deduction will wipe out Amazon’s remaining tax bill in the UK, and how the amount it was due to pay in the first place was paltry compared with what it should be paying. Despite its business success in the UK, profit shifting to Luxembourg meant Amazon’s corporation tax contribution in the UK in 2019 was less than 0.1% of its turnover. People are fed up with large multinational companies avoiding their tax. It goes against the fairness that must be at the heart of our tax system, and in this year of all years, when so many British businesses are struggling to get back on their feet while Amazon’s business booms, it is clearer than ever that change is long overdue.

We have heard brazen claims from the Government about their work to combat international tax avoidance. In the debate in Committee of the whole House on this Bill, the Minister went so far as to claim that the Government have “led the international charge” in a number of ways, yet since the Biden Administration announced their proposals for a global minimum corporate tax rate, we have seen that, not for the first time, actions from the Government fail to match their words, with the UK now the only G7 country not to back the US plan. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to grasp the international agreement on the global taxation of large multinationals that has evaded our country and others for so long, yet rather than stepping up, our Government are stepping away.

Jesse Norman Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jesse Norman)
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The hon. Gentleman advances the extraordinary claim that the UK is the only country among the G7 not to have backed the Biden plan. Will he put in the Library the evidence for that claim?

James Murray Portrait James Murray
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I am very happy to put in the Library references to comments from the other G7 countries indicating their support, but what I ask the Financial Secretary to do is put in writing the support from the UK Government for the plans proposed by President Biden, which he should be able to do today. He should act, because the British people want the Government to act. He need only look at polling carried out at the end of April by Yonder, formerly Populus, which showed overwhelming public support for action to tackle global corporate tax avoidance: three quarters of respondents thought that

“The UK should play a leading role.”

The polling also showed that less than a third of people

“trust Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson to tackle global tax avoidance”.

The public are right to be sceptical, because the Government have shunned ample opportunities to come out in favour of President Biden’s plans; indeed, since we began debating the Bill, I have put them to the Financial Secretary and his colleagues three times. On Second Reading, I urged the Exchequer Secretary

“to confirm to the House that she and the Chancellor back plans for a global minimum corporate tax rate and that they will do all they can to make this a reality.”—[Official Report, 13 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 197.]

She did not respond. In case his colleague’s lack of response was simply an oversight, I asked the Financial Secretary in Committee of the whole House

“to confirm whether the Chancellor backs plans for a global minimum corporate tax rate”—[Official Report, 20 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 897.]

He refused to do so, saying only that the Government

“welcome the renewed commitment that the US Administration have made in this area”.—[Official Report, 20 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 914.]

In a debate the following week, I put the question to him again, as simply and directly as possible:

“does the Chancellor back the plans proposed by the US President?”—[Official Report, 28 April 2021; Vol. 693, c. 415.]

The Financial Secretary replied:

“I do not think it is appropriate for Ministers to comment on tax policy in flight”.—[Official Report, 28 April 2021; Vol. 693, c. 418.]

It is very hard to conclude anything from that pattern of responses other than that the Government are not backing these proposals to succeed.

We know that much of the discussion around President Biden’s plans and the proposals formulated in recent years by the OECD and G20, with which his plans largely align, has centred on the so-called pillars 1 and 2 of any agreement. In broad terms, pillar 1 relates to where profits are taxed, while pillar 2 relates to a global minimum corporate tax rate. Both are important to developing a fairer tax system, both feature in President Biden’s proposals, and the Opposition want to see progress on each.

We have been trying to understand why the Government are so reluctant to get behind President Biden’s plans. There was a suggestion in the Financial Times last week that what the UK wants is more movement on where large multinationals pay taxes—pillar 1—before it will agree to support the President’s global minimum corporate tax rate, pillar 2. The paper quoted a UK Treasury official:

“The core UK proposition is that we’ve got to solve the digital tax issue…It’s not primarily about a minimum tax”.

To quote the chief executive of Tax Justice Network, that argument is “absolute nonsense”. Many commentators have joined him in taking a very sceptical view of what the UK claims its position to be; they point out that President Biden’s plans include steps to make progress on pillar 1, and that although any estimates are necessarily rough, pillar 1 would bring in only a few per cent. of the estimated £14 billion that a global minimum corporate tax rate at 21% under pillar 2 would raise.

A report by Bloomberg, however, implied that the real reason behind the Government’s position may be cynically to disguise their real agenda: a desire to keep alive the possibility of a race to the bottom in the future. That would be such a damaging and short-sighted approach. People are fed up with the race to the bottom. We thought that even the Chancellor had had a conversion when he admitted to the BBC’s “Today” programme around the time of the Budget that years of Conservative economic policy had failed, telling the BBC that

“there was an idea”

that corporation tax cuts

“could help spur investment, and what we’ve seen over the past few years is that we haven’t seen a step change in the level of capital investment that our businesses are doing as a result of those corporation tax decreases.”

After years of people being frustrated with tax avoidance by the biggest multinational companies, the new global deal finally within reach would be a game changer. It would raise billions of pounds a year for investment in our British public services and industry, it would stop British businesses being undercut by large multinational firms that shift their profits overseas, and it would change the behaviour of Governments around the world by calling time on the race to the bottom with tax rates. That is why a global minimum corporate tax rate is so important.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It would be a shameful failure for our Government, at the G7 meeting that we are hosting in Cornwall next month, to fail to lead on securing a global deal. It is crucial that we show support and help to build momentum behind the Biden Administration’s ambitious plans.

Already, we have seen the US waver on the initial rate of 21% that it floated in April, with the US Treasury now speaking of 15%. It has been reported that that change came following meetings last week that the US had with negotiators from other countries. Crucially, its Treasury underscored that 15% is a floor, and that discussions should continue to be ambitious and push that rate higher. That makes absolutely clear that what other countries say and do matters. It would be unforgiveable if the UK’s reticence so far to back President Biden’s plans had already played a part in allowing the starting point for negotiations to slip to 15%, rather than a rate of 21% as initially suggested. The latest turn makes it even more urgent than before for the UK to step up and back US plans for an ambitious global deal.

As new clause 23 sets out, the Government should look at the impact of a global minimum corporate tax rate of no lower than 21%. Since the Bill raises UK corporation tax to 25% in 2023, we ask the Government to consider the impact of a global minimum rate following that set in the UK. A global deal is vital to stop our country’s corporate tax policy being set—as it is effectively set today—by tax havens and others competing in a worldwide race to the bottom. When others cut their rates of corporate tax, we are hit by a pressure to the UK rate, by a loss of vital revenue, and by our businesses who pay their fair share being further undercut.

As a country, we should never reward those who do not play fair. We need a Government who will do whatever they can to end the race to the bottom that currently allows a few large multinationals and tech giants to avoid paying their fair share of tax. The race to the bottom by tax havens and others means that British people miss out on the benefit of tax that should be paid here, and British businesses are undercut by a few large multinational firms that are able to dodge their responsibilities. By ensuring that the 100 or so large multinationals on which this tax impacts pay their fair share in Britain, we can build an economy fit for the future, with thriving industries and good, secure jobs for all.

With a level playing field that is fair, our British businesses will succeed, thanks to the great quality of the goods they produce and the services they provide. The Government should be taking a lead on this once-in-a-generation opportunity. Our challenge to them is for them to seize this chance at a global deal that would bring billions of pounds into our country, stop British businesses that pay their fair share being undercut, and instead support them to thrive. That would be the fair approach that the British people expect their Government to follow.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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The House has become familiar with having a time limit for every item of business, but I hope that we can manage to consider this stage of the Bill without a time limit. I appeal to Members who are taking part to have consideration for other Members, and not to speak for too long. How long is too long? More than five minutes is too long, but if somebody takes five and a half minutes because they are making some important points, that would be fine. If the occasional person take interventions and it comes to six and a half minutes, that would be fine. But if people take longer than is necessary, I will have to impose a time limit, which makes for a less good debate. Let us try to behave like parliamentarians and not take too long. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Stephen Hammond.

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con)
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Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am sure the House will benefit from your strictures towards my speech, and I welcome the opportunity to make a short contribution on the amendments. As the hon. Member for Ealing North (James Murray) rightly says, the OECD-Biden proposals are an attempt to ensure a multinational, legal framework to ensure that multinational countries pay tax in the countries from which they derive that revenue. Unlike him, I think any sensible look at history will show that this Government have led the way on this since 2010. There can be no suggestion that they have not led the way on ensuring that multinationals should not be able to shift profits to avoid taxation. They have tried to lead the arguments on securing, over many years, a multinational, multilateral agreement on where revenues and profits are derived and how those are taxed. Across the House, we ought to recognise that the Government have been trying to achieve that and that they support it. It has been true since 2010. One of the former Chancellors, George Osborne, led the way on the matter.

The OECD proposals, as the hon. Gentleman put it, are in two pillars, as we all recognise. Pillar one rightly seeks to address the matter of base erosion, as the UK Government have done historically and continue to do. Pillar two, however—I think he failed to recognise this point—would go well beyond what is normally considered to be within the ability of national states, in terms of using the flexibility of fiscal policy to ensure that investment and incentives are properly rewarded within their economies, and may well have some perverse effects on a number of multinational industries, such as the insurance industry. Given your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker, I shall not give my long peroration on that matter.

However, the key point is that there is a difference between what the Government have been trying to achieve—a multilateral, multinational agreement on the need for a combined approach, which I have no doubt that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor will wish to speak about at the G7—and a legal, minimum international tax rate. It is right that Governments still retain the ability to set fiscal measures according to their economic circumstances. Therefore, I wholeheartedly support—as the Government do—the international agreed approach to ensure that we tax multinational companies on where they derive their revenues and profits.

The problem with new clause 23 is that it talks about a review of the impact of the global minimum tax, but in reality, it is superfluous, because many of the consequences of setting a tax rate of 21% can easily and readily be calculated. The OECD discussions on the precise nature of the agreement are still under review. Therefore, speculating about how that might assess and impact on different economies could hinder the global efforts to achieve that aim.

Finally, as I am sure the Financial Secretary will wish to assure the House, the Government have already agreed that as, when and if there is a global agreement on minimum taxation, they will—when they are a party to that—ensure that the Office for Budget Responsibility assesses the impact for the UK economy and globally. So while this new clause is an interesting amusement for the House tonight, it is superfluous and I wholeheartedly encourage the Government not to accept it.

The hon. Gentleman spoke a bit about the need for investment and for addressing the historical UK underperformance in that area. We all agree with that. As we seek economic recovery post-pandemic and, in the longer term, as we build a cleaner, greener and stronger economy, clearly, the problem of underinvestment has to be addressed on a long-term, sustainable basis. However, it is clear that what the Chancellor has done, with what is popularly known as a super deduction, is likely to bring forward investment in the economy at just the time it is needed. There is an element of saying that, of course, we want to concentrate that on any number of small businesses that may not benefit from investment relief and this may or may not be at the margin, but it may or may not be at the margin that it has the greatest impact. I think the super deduction, which the Opposition seek to criticise, will do exactly that. They want the OBR to assess the impact in other areas of the Finance Bill, but the OBR has already made an assessment of this particular measure in the Bill, which is that it will derive at least 10% extra investment in the UK economy. At this stage of our economic recovery, that seems to me to be fundamentally important, so I hope that the Government will push ahead with the super deduction, as they are doing in this Finance Bill, and even consider it on a longer-term basis as well, because it is hugely important that we address the under-investment in both physical and human capital. Therefore, Government amendment 2 to clause 9, which will allow leased buildings to qualify for that super deduction, seems to be eminently sensible.

Given your stricture, Madam Deputy Speaker, although I could share with the House another 15 minutes of brilliance, I shall now sit down.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP)
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I will also bear in mind what you have said, Madam Deputy Speaker, and keep my comments fairly brief.

I wish to start with the words of the US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen. She said:

“Competitiveness is about more than how US-headquartered companies fare against other companies in global merger and acquisition bids…It is about making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government.”

That is something that this Government ought to be getting behind, as it makes absolute sense. It is exciting to see that the Biden plan for a global minimum corporation tax rate is gathering pace. It is reported that the G7 is close to a deal, perhaps paving the way for an OECD deal later on in the year. The action is described in the Financial Times as

“the largest shake-up in corporate taxation for a century.”

As the shadow Minister set out, the Government have been ducking questions on this and ducking responsibility. It feels to me at the moment that an agreement will take place in spite of the UK Government’s hesitancy—less global leadership, more like pulling teeth. Why would the UK Government be in favour of the types of profit shifting that this international co-operation is trying to stamp out? Why would they let our businesses be undercut? Why would they forgo valuable tax revenues?

Our new clause 12 is asking the UK Government to prepare a report on an OECD agreement, which seems very much like the direction of travel, as it would cover 135 countries and the largest corporations in the world. It is important that the UK Government fully understand the impact of such an agreement on each and every part of these islands: on business investment, employment productivity, GDP growth and poverty. The impact of not reaching a deal has been included in new clause 12, too, as it is important that we can fully understand the impact should the UK pursue some kind of crazy isolationist stance against this global growing consensus.

The SNP has great sympathy with new clause 22 and amendment 31. Those using tax havens and with a history of corporate tax avoidance should not seek to obtain benefit from schemes intended to support businesses that already pay their fair share. I ask Treasury Ministers what safeguards they intend to put in place if they do not accept these sensible and logical amendments.

I am glad that, in Government amendment 2, there is some recognition of the issues facing those who have background plant and machinery in leased properties, allowing them to qualify for the super deduction. I remain hugely frustrated that there is yet to be any wider support and any wider recognition of the many businesses both involved in leasing and those that lease machinery themselves. I seek assurances from Ministers that they will continue to hold the door open on this issue and to look at it, because there are so many companies that would benefit from the super deduction if it were not for the fact that they have always leased machinery. They contribute hugely to the productivity of this country and there should be some recognition of that within the Government’s proposals.

Margaret Hodge Portrait Dame Margaret Hodge (Barking) (Lab) [V]
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I wish to speak to amendment 31, which stands in my name and in the names of hon. and right hon. Members from across the House. I shall try to keep my comments brief, too. I will go back to first principles and try to convince Ministers that what we propose is simply fair, just and practical.

Eighty-five per cent. of the British public pay their tax without question through the pay-as-you-earn system. For many of those hard-working taxpayers really struggling to keep their families going, particularly after the pandemic, it is simply unconscionable to watch the big corporations that have made so much money during the pandemic—the Googles and the Amazons—continue to create financial structures that have no other purpose than to help them avoid paying corporation tax. Shifting their profits simply to avoid tax is not only unfair but utterly immoral.

I recognise that the Government have been trying to close the loopholes. That is why they introduced the diverted profits tax in 2015, which attempted to catch and tax the profits that global corporations make from the economic activity that they conduct here in the UK before those profits are shifted out of Britain to tax havens or low-tax jurisdictions. The tax, by definition, applies only to those multinationals that deliberately engage in artificial financial arrangements to avoid tax, so why on earth are we about to reward those very companies with what the Chancellor described as

“the biggest two-year business tax cut in modern British history”?

Our amendment would simply make the culprits of aggressive tax avoidance ineligible for the super deduction. How can Ministers object to this proposal? These companies refuse to contribute to the common pot, yet they are about to be gifted—by us, from that very same pot—a hugely generous tax relief. These companies need the public services that taxes buy, from improved connectivity to transport infrastructure; from the education of their workforce to investment in the NHS to keep their workers healthy. However, they persist in deliberately not paying their fair share of corporation tax. These companies can undercut and destroy our high streets and community businesses. They exploit the price advantage that they gain from avoiding the corporation tax that they should be paying, yet the Government are about to bestow on them the largest bonanza for big business in modern times.

We know that the diverted profits tax has not been a great success. Indeed, in this year’s Budget, the Chancellor sought to hide its failure by bucketing receipts from the tax together with the money received from betting and gaming and duties—evidence of the failure to secure moneys from these companies and ensure a level playing field between large and small businesses. Deliberately allowing tax-avoiding multinational corporations to benefit from this new £25 billion cash injection is unbelievably foolish. Not one of my constituents will understand why this Government are using their taxes to subsidise those who pay a pittance in corporation tax on the profits they earn here in the UK.

However, the lessons of the diverted profits tax go wider. They show that trying to solve an international problem through national action is hugely challenging. Time and again I have taken part in debates in which Ministers have responded to our calls for unilateral action by stating that the problem of taxing multinationals will only be properly addressed through international agreements. I have agreed with Ministers when they have argued that the best way of responding to the reality of global businesses whose business models are based on digital technologies is through new international tax treaties. I have urged our Ministers to demonstrate global leadership in this space through the G7, the G20 and the OECD, but it took one Joe Biden to provide the leadership, the courage and the imagination that we have all been crying out for. His proposed reforms would enable us to have an internationally agreed basis for reallocating global profits to national jurisdictions for the biggest companies, and would set a minimum global rate of corporation tax.

The UK should be a prominent voice, promoting this historic and game-changing set of proposals. We should be there welcoming these moves, which would at last deal with an injustice that offends us all. We should be leading the charge to ensure international support for the Biden proposals, and not be the ones who seem to be dragged kicking and screaming to the negotiating tables. Yes, the proposals need further thought. In particular, we should not agree a new set of international rules that benefit only the richer nations and leave developing countries disadvantaged and still unable to tax the profits earned in their jurisdictions. However, to find Britain plastered across the international press as the country that is preventing progress and thwarting agreement is truly shocking. Are the Government really pursuing the national interest, or are they simply defending the individual interests of a few giant global corporations and their immensely wealthy owners?

New clause 23, tabled by my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench, provides a timely opportunity for the Government to assert publicly that they are backing Biden. I am afraid that opposing the new clause provides clear evidence that they do not want this new deal and actually prefer to put the interests of the powerful multinationals above the interests of ordinary taxpayers. In practice, the slogan of building back better merely means building a tax system that rewards the rich and punishes the poor, that joins the race to the bottom on tax and that, in the end, will leave a legacy of a more divided and unequal society.

Tonight, I urge Ministers to back both amendment 31, tabled by the all-party parliamentary group on anti-corruption and responsible tax, which is pragmatic and would send out the right signals during these important international negotiations, and new clause 23, proposed by those on the Labour Front Bench, which place on the record in this House Britain’s support for groundbreaking new proposals that would herald an end to the outrageous tax behaviour of the biggest and most powerful global companies.

John McDonnell Portrait John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab) [V]
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I have to say that my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) has eloquently put forward the case for these proposals, both those from the Opposition Front Bench, which I fully support, and her own, but I think she has been too kind to the Government. Like her, I have sat for over two decades listening to the sophistry from Conservative Ministers explaining the various complications of doing anything to tackle tax avoidance, and they have been dragged kicking and screaming to take what little action there has been. I have also sat here year on year while they argued that cuts in corporation tax were the way to increase investment. Now, at least, they have admitted that they were wrong on that.

However, instead of cutting corporations’ taxes by cutting corporation tax, they are now simply doing it through the super deductions. These are super tax deductions to super tax avoiders. We can name them: Amazon, Vodafone, Virgin, Starbucks and many others. I sat in the Chamber when the global crash happened over a decade ago, and we discovered the intricate corporate structures that the banks used to avoid their taxes—the shell companies based in tax havens from the Channel Islands to the Caribbean. Barclays bank had more than 100 subsidiary companies located in the Cayman Islands alone. As these corporations became increasingly financialised, they became increasingly unprincipled about paying their dues to society.

I have tabled a simple amendment saying that super deductions should not go to companies that are failing to fulfil their duty as taxpayers in our country and that are using tax havens. The reason is simple: these corporations benefit from the workers they employ, and the taxes are needed to pay for their education and training. It is ironic that we are also often using our tax system to subsidise the low pay that these corporations pay their employees. They also benefit from the infrastructure. That is why they should be paying their way within our country itself.

In this struggle over the last 20 years or so, it is worth paying tribute to those who have campaigned so hard: my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking and all those activists, academics and journalists. I pay tribute to groups in the UK such as: Tax Justice Network; UK Uncut, which took direct action; Tax Justice UK; and those journalists and researchers who helped to expose the Panama papers and the Paradise papers. One of those journalists was the Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was assassinated in 2017 for the work she did to expose tax avoidance and money laundering.

My new clause 22 is very straightforward: no company should be eligible for the tax reliefs in the Bill if they are located, or have subsidiary companies located, in tax haven jurisdictions. The most authoritative list of tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions is the European Union’s blacklist of non-co-operative jurisdictions for tax purposes. That should be the basis of our approach. We are outside the EU now, so we must go further. Subsection (2) gives the Secretary of State powers to list additional jurisdictions that do not co-operate in disclosing information to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. In this way at least we can ensure that we are not, in effect, acting as subsidisers for tax avoiders or laundering tax reliefs into their coffers. It is a simple amendment.

I support the Labour Front Bench amendments and the other amendments that would have a similar effect, but I have had enough. I am sick to death of sitting here listening to excuses from Ministers about failing to act when so much needs to be paid through a fair taxation system. So many of our constituents are having to endure continuing austerity because of the lack of tax revenues. They are living in poverty, unfortunately, as a result of the failure to have a fair taxation system that redistributes wealth in our country.

Danny Kruger Portrait Danny Kruger (Devizes) (Con)
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I rise with great enthusiasm for the proposals set out by the Government, in particular on the super deduction. We heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond) about the benefits that super deduction will bring to tax receipts eventually and to growth in the immediate term for our national finances.

I want to talk quickly about a benefit that will be felt locally in Devizes. I spoke today to the boss of Wadworth brewers, the brewers behind the legendary 6X and Bishop’s Tipple, with which you will be familiar, Madam Deputy Speaker. They are not tax avoiders, as the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) just described them; they are local employers who drive growth and employment in my constituency. They will use the super deduction to invest in more buildings, more jobs, more brewing and more beer in Wiltshire, and I am absolutely delighted to welcome the proposal on their behalf.

There is a real problem that the super deduction proposal seeks to address, which is that, sadly, low corporation tax has not driven the sort of private sector investment we need. I therefore support the rise in corporation tax, which will be imposed on profits on the biggest firms. We live in a topsy-turvy world where we see Joe Biden proposing 15% corporation tax, the Labour party proposing 21%, and my Conservative Government proposing 25%. I recognise the value of that, however: we have to pay the bills of the pandemic somehow and I appreciate that this is the right way. We will still have the lowest corporation tax in the G7. That will make us, with the super deduction and the other measures that have been set out, the best country in the world in which to invest and to bring a business.

Let me finish by stating my support for the world-leading efforts the Government are making to ensure that big tech pays its fair share of tax. We have just heard from the right hon. Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) that she thinks we should back Biden. I think we should back Britain. We should back what this country and this Government are doing to lead the debate on fair taxation. The key challenge for us is to ensure that the tax that is gathered through whatever global agreement we can make is paid in the right places; it would be a bit of a shame if we achieve a global minimum tax that was all paid in California. I welcome what the Government are doing, and I look forward to the Minister’s response and to the announcements that I hope will be forthcoming ahead of the Cornwall summit. I absolutely back everything the Government are doing through this Bill.

Christine Jardine Portrait Christine Jardine (Edinburgh West) (LD)
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Again in this place, we are talking about the challenges that have been created by the coronavirus—the challenges to our businesses, to individuals and to those who have been excluded from Government support—and the taxation that will have to be used to try to rebuild. In the Finance Bill that the Government have laid before us, I believe that they have missed important opportunities to do that for the benefit of all our constituents. I would echo what the hon. Member for Ealing North (James Murray) said when laying out new clause 23 and when speaking about Biden’s proposals. We have to look at this crisis in a way that we have never approached any crisis before, and on a scale that we have never done with any crisis before. We have to look for measures that will be enacted on a scale that we have never seen before.

I would also like to express my support for the amendments tabled to address and, indeed, stop the malpractice that is rife. These include an amendment tabled following the inquiry by the all-party parliamentary loan charge group into how contracting should work, to stamp out the malpractice and mis-selling to public and private sector freelance and locum workers by unregulated umbrella companies. Those practices have created a climate where tax avoidance schemes are rife and are being mis-sold.

These amendments follow the powerful report by the loan charge APPG, as I have said. BBC Radio 4 has estimated the cost to the Treasury—£1 billion a year in lost tax revenue—and The Guardian has reported that the hidden cost of umbrella companies in the UK may actually be more than £4.5 billion a year. These are some of the opportunities that I believe the Government are missing.

There are also specific amendments before us tonight about measures that would require the Chancellor to review separately the effectiveness of furlough and the self-employment income support scheme, the impact of the Finance Bill on small businesses and the impact of the Bill on transitioning to zero-carbon domestic flights by 2030. All of these, I believe, are opportunities that the Government are failing to take.

The coronavirus has caused the worst economic crisis in three centuries and brought real hardship to our constituents up and down the country in all lines of work. The furlough scheme and SEISS have helped countless people so far, and millions continue to depend on them, but the Government need to think again and review their decision to end the schemes in September. They need to think about extending them into next year. We have all been glad to see cases dropping and restrictions being eased thanks to the vaccine and the NHS, but unfortunately this does not mean that the crisis is behind us.

Covid has left businesses saddled with debt and more vulnerable than ever, especially small businesses, and many are worried that they will not make it through the year. Their employees are rightly worried about their future. As experts warn us about the potential dangers of the new Indian variant, there are worries that the final step of the reopening road map might need to be delayed, or that we might not have seen the last of social distancing.

For all those reasons, it is essential to give workers, self-employed people and small businesses certainty about the future and keep job support in place at least until the end of the year. Even at this late stage, the Chancellor must correct the injustice against the 3 million excluded, who have spent more than a year with no help at all, by finally bringing them under the umbrella of Government support.

I would also like the Chancellor to review the impact of the Bill specifically on small businesses and whether it will offer them adequate help with their debt, rent arrears, solvency and ability to employ people. Small businesses are, as countless Prime Ministers have said, the backbone of our economy and the heart of our local communities. They create the jobs that we all rely on, with 16.8 million people working in small businesses and accounting for six out of 10 private sector jobs. Local shops, cafés, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and florists all serve our communities and bring life to our town centres and high streets. If allowed not just to survive but to thrive, they can be the engines for growth and jobs in the months and years to come. At the moment, they are struggling under record amounts of debt and months of rent arrears; the collective debt burden is more than £100 billion. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, something like a quarter of a million of its members could close by the end of this year. On top of that, they have been badly hit by the terrible EU trade deal. That is why the Chancellor must adopt a revenue compensation scheme that could help those struggling with their finances and fixed expenses to stay afloat. At the very least, the Government should be undertaking a review to assess the state of UK small businesses and offer the necessary support off the back of that.

Opportunities are also being lost to transition to a zero-carbon economy by 2030. These are all opportunities with which this challenge of many lifetimes has presented us, and which we should seize in order to help individuals, businesses, families and communities up and down the country to recover. The opportunity was there with this Finance Bill, but I do not believe that the Government have grasped it in the way that they should. I ask them to reconsider and accept the amendments.

Anthony Browne Portrait Anthony Browne (South Cambridgeshire) (Con)
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I, too, will abide by your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker, to keep my speech as short as possible.

When I was an economics correspondent a very, very long time ago, tax competition between countries was all the rage. There was a sort of mainstream consensus that it was a good thing because it helped give countries an incentive to be an attractive place to do business, but in the last couple of decades it has become clear how easy it is for international companies to run circles around national rules and reduce their tax bills by shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions, and we end up with this outrageous, unconscionable position of some of the world’s largest companies paying some of the smallest corporation tax rates. That causes anger across the UK and on both sides of this House; we are all aligned in the objective of ensuring that big companies pay a fair share of tax.

This Government have been doing an awful lot, as the hon. Member for Ealing North (James Murray) recognised, to try to tackle this issue both within the UK and internationally, including through measures such as the diverted profits tax, the digital services tax and changes on tax to subsidiaries. When I was chief executive of the British Bankers Association, I was involved with a lot of the implementation of those rules.

We need to take measures internationally as well; this is an international problem, so ideally we need an international solution. The difficulty, though, is getting an agreement between a large number of different countries. Normally these sorts of discussions go through the OECD, which is so big that it is difficult to get agreement and progress is absolutely glacial. That is why, on things such as the digital services tax, the UK has opted to act unilaterally before an international agreement can be agreed. I very much welcome the fact that the initiative is now being led by the G7, because we are far more likely to get agreement from seven major countries, and then to expand that out to the G20 and then to the OECD.

As we have heard tonight, particularly from my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), these are complex negotiations. There are two interlinked pillars at the OECD: the scope of the tax and the level of the tax if there is a global minimum rate of corporation tax. As my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Danny Kruger) said, there is no point in agreeing a global level of corporation tax if all we are doing is taxing companies in California; the two parts of the negotiations are intertwined. I very much welcome the fact that Government are involved in these negotiations. I completely respect that they may wish to negotiate more in private than in public, as that is often the best way; I know that their intentions are absolutely right.

That brings me to new clause 23. It is the wrong review at the wrong time. The new clause asks the Government to review the corporation tax set at 21%, but, as the hon. Member for Ealing North said, it actually looks like Joe Biden and the US are now looking at 15%, so this proposal is already out of date and it has not even been voted on yet. It is also at the wrong time because what we do not want to do in the middle of an international negotiation is tie our hands, display all our cards and show what we are doing. It could create a dynamic in the negotiations that would actually set back the UK’s ambition to ensure that companies pay a fair rate of tax. I therefore fully support the Government in rejecting the new clause. I also fully support them on reaching a strong global agreement to ensure that the world’s biggest companies pay their fair share of tax.

I hope that that was less than five minutes.

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Definite brownie points for the hon. Gentleman.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab)
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It is great to follow so many passionate and powerful speeches from my own side of the House in this debate. I am perplexed at the situation Ministers have got themselves into, seemingly exposed by the US President on their real agenda on taxation. In the last year, the pandemic has not just shone a light on the deep inequalities in our society; it has driven and deepened those inequalities like never before. Millions of people have been plunged into insecurity while a small number of the very richest have seen their fortunes surge, with 24 new billionaires in the last year, despite everything else that has been going on. Key workers have put their health and lives on the line for the benefit of others to ensure that their neighbours were fed, people were treated when they were sick and society kept moving, while some bosses at companies such as British Gas and British Airways used the pandemic cynically to drive down pay and terms and conditions through shameful fire and rehire tactics, and all the while the Government have stood by and done nothing. While millions were excluded from Government support and then ignored, if you knew Ministers or had donated to the Tory party, there were billions of pounds of public money in lucrative contracts, handed out without competition or transparency.

So if the Finance Bill was an opportunity to fix a rigged system that was failing communities up and down the country, the track record of this Government tells you that they are incapable of taking that opportunity. The decades-long race to the bottom on corporation tax may finally be coming to an end with the proposal to raise the headline rate in 2023, but alongside it measures in this Bill will do more harm than good when it comes to fair taxation and plugging the hole in the nation’s finances. As we have heard, the super deduction is a £25 billion giveaway to big business. TaxWatch calls it “The Amazon Tax-Cut” because it could entirely wipe out the UK corporate tax bill of Amazon UK Services Ltd. The Times reports that it will allow companies to write off investments in swimming pools, interior decoration and Jacuzzis against their tax bills.

Ministers just are not serious about making tech giants pay their fair share of tax. In fact, Ministers are now rowing back on key commitments they made to tax transparency. Since 2016, the UK has had the power to lift the lid on multinational company accounts through country-by-country reporting, but it is clear that the Government have reversed their original commitment to do so. Instead Ministers are now actively blocking the OECD from publishing the data at an international level, signalling what the Tax Justice Network called a dangerous “regression into tax havenry”.

The UK has been moving in the wrong direction, backing secrecy over transparency, tax havens over progressive taxation and multinational corporations over small and medium-sized UK businesses. That is an agenda that no doubt delighted President Trump, but the election of President Biden now means that the US has done an about turn, and it is time Ministers caught up.

The US is now leading on international tax reforms that the UK has been sabotaging for years—tax reforms that would stop multinationals hiding profits overseas and establish a global minimum tax rate of up to 21%. These are reforms that would raise billions from tech giants and stop Amazon, Apple, Google, Alphabet and Facebook from shifting their profits from the country they were made in to tax havens. While every other G7 country has responded positively to President Biden’s plan, the UK Government continue to block the best opportunity in a generation to curb corporate tax abuse.

The Government, no doubt emboldened by the Trump regime, have been on the wrong side of tax transparency and tax reform for a number of years, but the pandemic has exposed the grave cost of an economic system that prioritises the interests of corporate giants over people and local communities, because wealth does not trickle down—it never has. Rather, it is sucked up, away from those who do the work and who contribute to society, and towards those who set the rules, reap the rewards and, all too often, avoid paying their fair share. That should change now.

Miriam Cates Portrait Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Con) [V]
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It is a pleasure to speak on Report of the Finance Bill. Over the past 14 months, the Government’s main concern has been to protect the UK from the worst impacts of the global pandemic. We have seen a comprehensive public health response to slow the spread of coronavirus, and more recently to deliver mass vaccinations on an unprecedented scale, but the Government have also delivered a comprehensive financial response to secure jobs and livelihoods, and to protect the economy. This response has been hugely successful and the most recent Office for Budget Responsibility forecast suggests that the UK economy will recover six months earlier than previously thought. However, essential though this financial response has been, it has cost the taxpayer £407 billion, the majority of which has been debt. This year, we have borrowed a staggering 17% of GDP.

As we emerge from the pandemic, it is imperative that we begin to plan how that debt will be repaid and the deficit reduced. One of the tools at our disposal is to raise levels of taxation, and it is right that any increases should fall on the broadest shoulders. While many small and medium-sized enterprises in my constituency have struggled this year, some of the UK’s biggest businesses have made significant profits. It is only large, often international, companies with profits of over a quarter of a million pounds a year that will be required to pay the highest rate of corporation tax, as stipulated by clause 6.

It is not only the UK that is reconsidering business taxation. Current global efforts to update corporation tax frameworks in response to modern challenges are ongoing, and we have seen reports today of those international negotiations and the positive steps that are being taken to address the current practice by some multinational companies of shifting profits to low-tax jurisdictions. I absolutely support the efforts to end that practice, but I oppose new clause 23, which would compel the Government to publish, within six months of enactment, a review of the impact on corporation taxation revenues of a global minimum rate. Since those matters are still subject to international negotiation, any assessments mandated by the new clause would be purely speculative and a complete waste of resources.

Taxation is not a penalty and should not be an ideology. It is a tool—a mechanism that we can use to ensure that the state can afford to pay for the infrastructure and services that citizens expect. Taxation levels must balance the requirements of those services with the rights of individuals and businesses to have as much agency as possible over their own financial resources. There is no absolute right or wrong level of taxation. Tax rates should change with the times and challenges we face.

The Opposition have spent the past year calling for more taxpayers’ money to be spent on supporting businesses, welfare and health, and they have often rightly framed that demand in moral terms, highlighting the impact of the pandemic on those who have been hardest hit. But all resources are limited, even the state’s. Just as public spending has a moral dimension, so does public debt. It is morally wrong to leave difficult decisions for future generations, rack up eye-watering interest payments for our children and grandchildren, and risk the security of our economy. That is why we must have a plan for reducing our debts. Increasing corporation tax for the largest businesses is an important part of that.

I said that taxation policy is a tool—a mechanism for raising money—but it can also be a catalyst for growth and investment. With the introduction of the super deduction and freeports, which will be discussed when we debate the next group of amendments, I am confident that, unamended, this Finance Bill will kick-start our recovery and help businesses across the country to build back better.

Zarah Sultana Portrait Zarah Sultana (Coventry South) (Lab)
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I remember when the pandemic first hit and the Chancellor said that we would all be in it together. Well, the reality has not turned out that way. It has been the story of the many and the few. For the many, it has meant food bank use rocketing—it is up 33% on a year ago. Universal credit claimants have doubled in my constituency and child poverty now affects more than one in three children in Coventry South—nearly 7,000 kids in my constituency alone—and nearly 4.5 million across the country.

While the majority have struggled with falling wages, unemployment and rents that they cannot afford, for a wealthy few it has been a bonanza. Last week The Sunday Times rich list revealed a record growth in UK billionaires, of whom there are now 171 in total. Their wealth stands at £600 billion—up nearly 25%. Amazon, which this year has raked in record revenues of £38 billion across Europe, paid nothing in corporation tax. This is not just a broken economic model—it is not just unfair and unequal—it is rigged. It is redistribution, but not in the way that we might traditionally understand: it is taking from the many and giving it to the few. That is what is happening when we see that food bank use is up 35% and billionaire wealth is up 25%. This Conservative Government not only refuse to tackle that but aid and abet it.

There is nothing in the Bill to tackle the tax loophole that means that income earned through wealth, owned overwhelmingly by the rich, is taxed at a lower rate than income earned through work. There is nothing in the Bill to fairly tax the obscene profit that companies such as Amazon have made during the pandemic, with the Government refusing to embrace a windfall tax. There is nothing in the Bill to provide the necessary investment in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to tackle tax avoidance and evasion by the super-rich and big businesses. Instead, the Government are standing by as the tax gap stands in excess of £35 billion.

What is in the Bill is £15 billion more in annual cuts to Government Departments and a super deduction tax cut in capital spending that the rich are already reported to be using to purchase jacuzzis. To top it all off, there is the Tory Government’s refusal to embrace plans to tackle global tax avoidance. The plans put forward by the US could prevent the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook from dodging tax and refusing to pay their fair share, and end the race to the bottom on corporate tax rates. Even at a moderate rate of 21%, such a measure could raise £13.5 billion for the UK Treasury, according to Tax Justice UK.

We should not really be surprised by the Government as they are on the side of big business and the super-rich. For a decade they have been cutting taxes while cutting the budgets of schools and hospitals throughout the country. They are also funded by a third of UK billionaires and, of course, they are led by the super-rich, too—not just an old Etonian Prime Minister who complains that his £150,000 salary is not enough, but a Chancellor who went from an elite private school to Oxford to investment banking, before becoming the wealthiest Member of Parliament in this House and using his power to cut the services of the working class.

Instead of this rigged and rotten system, we could make the super-rich pay their fair share to fund our public services and end poverty for all. That is the least the Government should be doing, so they should back the plan for a global minimum corporation tax. They should also back my proposed new clause, which would shine a light on the scandal of tax dodging. Instead of entrenching inequality, the Government could be building an economy for all.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson (Gordon) (SNP)
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I rise to speak in favour of new clause 12, which was tabled in my name and those of my Scottish National party colleagues.

We have previously welcomed the planned future increase to the corporation tax rate and we also very much welcome, as have other speakers in the debate, the news reported today in the Financial Times that the G7 nations, or at least some of them, seem to be close to an agreement on minimum rates of corporate taxation. Like other speakers, I take this opportunity to praise and put on the record my admiration for the Biden Administration for having brought the situation about. It is imperative that the UK Government rise to the moment and seize the opportunity to embrace the emerging consensus on global taxation and ending the race to the bottom on corporate tax rates. For a global minimum tax rate for companies will reduce the opportunities for companies to minimise their tax liabilities by funnelling revenues through other jurisdictions. That will help to ensure that more tax gets paid in the jurisdictions where those revenues have been earned. In the process, that helps to uphold living standards and ensure that a fair contribution is paid to the common good by our corporate citizens for the public goods they consume.

New clause 12 follows our efforts at previous stages of the Bill’s progress in trying to oblige the Government to review the impact of the proposed corporation tax changes on all parts of the UK in respect of investment, employment, productivity, GDP growth and poverty, and to compare the difference between actual and forecast outcomes in the event of a deal with other OECD countries on a minimum level of corporation tax, such as I have mentioned, and in the event that such a deal cannot be reached. I also find much to support in new clause 22, as well as amendments 30 and 31.

Frankly, it should be taken as a given that any company qualifying for tax reliefs should be domiciled in the tax jurisdiction offering those reliefs. It should have an exemplary history when it comes to paying taxes that are due on its activities in that jurisdiction and an exemplary record of behaviour towards its employees, in terms of recognising the right to organise their labour and paying a living wage for that labour.

To conclude, in difficult times or in better times, there is nothing that sticks in the collective craw more than large corporate entities that seek to take almost as much from society as they give in return, and which pay much less than they are able and often end up paying proportionately far less than many of their smaller competitors. I am very happy to support these amendments.

Kate Osborne Portrait Kate Osborne (Jarrow) (Lab)
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In March, the Government had the opportunity to set out a plan to build a fairer, healthier, greener Britain. Instead, the Chancellor has chosen to continue down the path of further inequality and insecurity by writing off the tax liabilities of huge multinationals such as Amazon and Google. These big tech firms have made huge profits during the pandemic, and now the Government are enabling them to hide their money from the very people who have sustained them.

The Chancellor’s super deduction incentive is not the innovative idea that he might like to portray it as. The Government’s plan to rapidly increase corporation tax after many years of cutting it means that the super deduction is an incentive to prevent businesses from pushing investment to the end of the period. It will make no difference to investment in the long run. All it does is change when businesses will decide to invest, rather than encouraging them to invest more. The super deduction is not targeted at British businesses that have been struggling. It is targeted at multinationals such as Amazon and Google, which will be able to use it to write off their entire remaining UK tax bill.

The Treasury will lose tens of billions through this tax cut, which makes even more confusing its argument that it has not been possible to find the smaller sums required to give our NHS workers a well-deserved pay rise. It is essential that the income from wealth is taxed at the same level as income from work, and that multinationals such as Amazon are forced to redistribute their huge profits into our communities by paying their fair share of tax. Multinationals paying their tax does not just result in more spending on our public services; it also means that British firms that pay tax here will not be undercut by companies such as Amazon, which can shift profits overseas to take advantage of very low rates of corporation tax elsewhere.

The online shopping boom that sprung from the covid lockdowns has led to Amazon creating more than 1,300 jobs in Gateshead. While job creation in my constituency is welcome, shocking employment practices have been reported at Amazon fulfilment centres in the UK and across the globe. Do the Government really believe that all large corporations should be entitled to tax breaks, regardless of how well or how badly they treat their employees? I join Unite the union in demanding that workers at Amazon have the right to join a trade union without fear of reprisal.

Nothing angers the British public more than multinationals such as Amazon and Google and others paying ultra-low levels of tax. If the Government were serious about their levelling-up agenda, I am sure they would be happy to support new clause 22, which would prevent subsidiary companies registered in tax havens from benefiting from UK tax relief, and new clause 31, which would prevent multinational corporations with a history of corporate tax avoidance from benefiting from the super deductions in the Bill.

After a year in which many big tech firms have done well, we need to do better and move beyond our outdated global tax system. That is why I state my support for new clause 23 and new clause 6, which follow the Biden Administration’s call for the introduction of a global minimum rate of corporation tax. The new clauses specify a minimum rate of 21% over the next two years, rising to 25% in 2023. Tax Justice UK estimates that if the rate was set at 21%, approximately £13.5 billion each year would come back to Britain. A globally set minimum rate of corporation tax would not just mean more money being made available to fund our public services; it would also prevent countries from undercutting each other and depriving themselves of tax revenues at a time when every country needs to repair its economy. A universal minimum rate of corporation tax would also bring an end to tax havens and avoidance more widely.

The UK is hosting the G7 meeting in June. As it stands, the UK Government are the only one among the G7 who are unwilling to challenge global corporation tax avoidance. How can they justify that when our country needs all the money it can get right now and when decent British businesses are being undercut by competitors paying 0% in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands? Now is the time when our Government should be taking the lead in supporting the plans for a global minimum corporation tax so that we can build an economy fit for the future, with thriving industries and good, secure jobs for all.

Claudia Webbe Portrait Claudia Webbe (Leicester East) (Ind) [V]
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When we look at our world today—a world in which half of global wealth belongs to the richest 1%, a world in which large corporations possess more financial power than many post-colonial countries, and a world in which British Amazon warehouse workers earn in eight weeks what the company’s chief executive makes in one second—it is clear that we need to radically reassess how we tax large corporations.

It is therefore shameful, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing North (James Murray) made clear, that the British Government are the only G7 Government not to support US President Biden’s plans to halt the race to the bottom on corporation tax. However, I do not believe that even these plans for a global minimum rate of corporation tax for large multinationals go nearly far enough. We should be much, much bolder than the 15% or 20% threshold that is being discussed. After all, we are talking about corporations that have made super profits out of this pandemic and are paying low wages to our workers. The fact that our Government are not even willing to engage with this most basic of proposals reveals how unserious they are about reining in the rampantly unequal power of large corporations.

We know that tech giants currently pay a negligible amount of tax. A report by Fair Tax Mark found that for the Silicon six of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft, the gap between the expected headline rates of tax and the actual tax paid between 2010 and 2019 was $123 billion. This is as unsustainable as it is unjust.

It is important to bear in mind that billionaires exist when and where workers are exploited, as has been cruelly demonstrated by the testimony of Amazon workers who have bravely and painfully disclosed the conditions under which they are forced to work. Rather than blocking international efforts to address this crisis, the Government must properly tax large corporations and invest to build a radically fairer country. That means not only rejoining the international plan led by President Biden but making the case that the minimum threshold be increased. It is important to remember that in the period post world war two, the top rate of corporation tax was actually as high as 52% for large companies—this, after all, was introduced by a Conservative Chancellor—but in the 1980s it was reduced to 30%. Since 2010, the Conservatives have cut corporation tax from 28% to 19%—by more than most among relatively rich countries. This shows that they would rather raise funds by squeezing the British people than reduce the corporate profits of wealthy shareholders.

The super deduction is wasteful and open to abuse. Are we going to see, as has been reported by The Times and others, tax breaks handed out for investing in swimming pools and jacuzzis as opposed to targeting support at British businesses that have been struggling during the pandemic, or even as opposed to targeting investment to end child poverty? Currently one in two children in my constituency are living in poverty—that is 42% of children who could be saved. Child poverty is a political choice, and this Bill is the proof of that. Are we going to see this measure as opposed to targeting investment to end the starvation wage that workers in Leicester’s garment industry receive while making clothes to fund the super-bonuses of retail brands such as Boohoo and others? Quite simply, the super deduction will allow multinationals such as Amazon to write off their tax liabilities.

As we recover from the coronavirus, we must learn the lessons from the 2008 financial crash. The 99%—the many—must never again be forced to bail out the super-rich. The Government must recognise that in our country of deep and unequal wealth, the ultra-rich and large corporations should be asked to contribute their fair share. Corporation tax is a tax on profits, not people. Cutting it means more profits in the pockets of wealthy shareholders and less in those of nurses and other essential frontline workers. To enable much-needed investment, an increased tax on company profits is necessary and long overdue, and it should be raised above the Government’s 25% limit, which is still the lowest of the G7 countries. Above all, it is vital that we enter the debate around taxing the super, ultra-rich and large corporations with much more ambition, as it is one of the most powerful weapons in the Government’s arsenal to combat the rampant inequality that defines our era.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) [V]
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I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight a number of issues during the Report stage of the Finance Bill. I am always pleased to see the Minister in his place and I hope that I can put forward some points to which he will be able to reply.

I want to refer to clause 6, in part 1. I have spoken on this issue on numerous occasions, and I am thankful for the clarification the Government have sought to provide. However, I am still left disappointed at the rationale as regards corporation tax. The hon. Member for Leicester East (Claudia Webbe) referred to this as well. The measure sets the charge for the main rate of corporation tax at 19% for the financial years beginning 1 April 2022 and 1 April 2023. These changes mean that from 1 April 2023 the main rate of corporation tax for non-ring-fenced profits will be increased to 25%, applying to profits over £250,000. A small profits rate will also be introduced for companies with profits of £50,000 or less, so they will continue to pay corporation tax at 19%. Companies with profits between £50,000 and £350,000 will pay tax at the main rate, reduced by a marginal relief providing a gradual increase in the effective corporation tax rate.

The impact assessment that the Government have produced highlights the issue that I want to speak about. It states that there is no impact on families, but goes on to say:

“However, if businesses struggle or are unable to pay increased Corporation Tax, this could impact on their family formation, stability or breakdown. To support, HMRC can provide a Time To Pay arrangement.”

The issue is clear, at least in my mind and, I suspect, in the mind of many others: businesses have already struggled. While rates and wages may have been paid, and we are grateful for those schemes, the fact is that many small businesses have still had to pay out rent for equipment that they were precluded from using to make a profit, so their income was massively affected and many people’s personal savings were totally wiped out. They then took out a coronavirus business interruption loan to help them to make it through. We are beginning to come to the other side—thank the Lord for that—where they are seeking to rebuild, but instead of a meaningful reduction, there is merely a stay of execution with corporation tax.

That will affect many businesses and, by extension, many homes and families. It seems that it could well mean the end of many of our small businesses; while that is sad on a personal level, it is devastating on an economic level. We must remember that small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy. The Financial Secretary and his Conservative Government have been committed to helping small businesses. All those small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the whole United Kingdom—they certainly are in my constituency of Strangford.

I repeat what I have said before in this Chamber: there is no point in carrying businesses thus far, only to allow them to flounder now before any repayment is made. The Government have admitted that there will be a reduced incentive to incorporate businesses that would usually seek to take this step. All this has an effect on the long-term income to our economy. I know that the Government want a stronger economy; we all do, and I believe that we need some help.

Northern Ireland is well placed to be a central hub for business. We have much to offer, yet people can go south of the border to lower corporation tax and greater incentives. Along with my colleagues in the Democratic Unionist party, I have often argued for a reduction in corporation tax to attract businesses to Northern Ireland. I believe that the corporation tax rate repels investors, so I urge the Financial Secretary to look at the issue again. I understand that historically he has wanted a UK-wide rate of corporation tax. However, I want a UK-wide customs market, and that is not the case—ask the local small grocer who cannot even get in dog treats to sell because of the Northern Ireland protocol. There are differences made by this insidious protocol that affect our corporations and small businesses alike. It is clear that if the Financial Secretary insists on one size fits all, it must be applied in every aspect of manufacture, delivery and retail.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is establishing a working group on the consequences of creating our own corporation tax band and its effect on our block grant; maybe the Financial Secretary could highlight where those discussions have taken us so far. I believe that there is an opportunity for him to step in and do the right thing for the UK with a view to the long term. That is what I am requesting, even at this very late stage.

The UK is stronger together. I believe that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will always be stronger together. That has become the mantra of our Government, and I agree with it, but it needs to be more than words: action must follow the words and show our strengths. I believe that a reasonable rate of corporation tax across the board is a step to strengthen the Union, not cause more division.

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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I am grateful to all Members who have taken part in this debate. Let me pick up on several issues that have been raised, starting with the super deduction. You will be aware, Madam Deputy Speaker, as I think some Opposition Members are not, that it has been described by the CBI as

“a real catalyst for firms”,

while the British Chambers of Commerce said:

“We particularly welcome the massive ‘super deduction’ investment incentive.”

They are absolutely right. It is a terrible shame that the Labour party has decided to try to tarnish the super deduction, a measure from which many capital-intensive businesses around this country will benefit, especially in the north, the north-west, the north-east and the midlands. As my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Danny Kruger) rightly picked up, it is a measure that benefits local businesses up and down the UK. He picked Wadworth, a well-known brewer, and rightly so, but there are many, many other businesses for which that is also true. He was absolutely right to highlight that.

Let me come on to questions of wider taxation, if I may. There seems to be an astonishing level of ignorance among Members on the Opposition Benches. They seemed to be unaware that the tax gap—the difference between the amount of tax actually collected and the amount of tax that could potentially be collected—is at its lowest rate in our recorded history, at 4.7%. It may be of some interest if I point out to them—they can reflect on this—that in 2005-06 under the Labour Government it was 7.5%, so it has fallen dramatically, I am pleased to say. Tax that was not being collected by the Labour Government at that time is now being collected by the Conservative Government of the present day, and a very good thing that is too. That is a record on which they should spend some time pondering. The fact of the matter is that this Government have always made it plain that they will be very tough—as tough as they can be—in order to collect the tax that is due and to make sure that corporations and individuals pay it wherever they are due to.

Let me come on to the question of the G7, which was raised by the hon. Member for Ealing North (James Murray) and others. We have always made it plain, and we have stated in public, in this Chamber and in public communications, that this Government support both parts of the OECD proposals—the proposals for pillar 1 and pillar 2—and it is important to be clear about that.

Opposition Members quoted the recent Financial Times article. I remind them that it says that

“the US proposals have now opened up room for a compromise...This is a good start.

I also pick up the point mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Anthony Browne), who said that we do not always discuss everything we want to when negotiations are under way, which they presently are. As the FT says, this

“is a good start. It is essential now to reach a satisfactory agreement.”

When the hon. Member for Ealing North speaks, he might care to tell us whether, if a deal is agreed with the US according to the proposals that have been put forward and that are being shared and discussed at the moment, the Labour party will welcome what could be one of the landmark moments in global corporate taxation.

That is what we are doing, and in doing it we are merely following a tradition and a pattern of leadership that this Government have exercised over many years, so let me just pick up some examples. We have seen leadership on base erosion and profit shifting; leadership in the G20 on a comprehensive global solution based on the two pillars we have described; leadership, now, in our presidency of the G7; before that, the diverted profits tax, the corporate interest tax restrictions and the requirements for large businesses to publish their tax strategy; even last year, the digital services tax; and, in the present Bill, a plastic packaging tax. We are constantly innovating to seek to improve the quality and payment of taxation and to ensure that tax is paid in the due amounts by those who are due to do so. That is what this Bill does, and that is why I commend these measures to the House.

James Murray Portrait James Murray
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I thank so many Members for their contributions to this debate, which has focused on the importance of fairness in the tax system, supporting British businesses and the need for the Government to step up and help to strike a global deal to stop tax avoidance.

We heard from my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge), who spoke with great experience about how the UK should be a prominent voice leading the charge to support President Biden’s proposals. She said that deliberately allowing tax-avoiding large multinationals to benefit from the super deductions is unbelievably foolish. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) spoke about the unfairness of certain firms getting a super deduction. We also heard passionate contributions from my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden), for Coventry South (Zarah Sultana), for Jarrow (Kate Osborne) and for Leicester East (Claudia Webbe) about their and the public’s disbelief that the UK appears to be blocking the best opportunity in a generation to strike a deal on global tax avoidance, especially with the UK hosting the G7 summit in June.

We also heard from Conservative Members. The hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Anthony Browne) seemed rather eager to welcome the fall from 21% to 15% as a minimum, rather than wanting to help the US Treasury, which has publicly said that “15% is a floor” and that we

“should continue to be ambitious and push that rate higher.”

The hon. Member for Devizes (Danny Kruger) spoke about backing Biden and backing Britain. That is what our approach seeks to do. His Ministers are backing Bermuda.

Unfortunately, the Minister gave no reassurance in his speech that the Government are committed to taking a lead on this once-in-a-generation opportunity for a global deal on tax avoidance by a few large multinational firms that undermine British businesses and fail to pay their fair share. We were hoping that, today, the Government might finally indicate their support for President Biden’s plans, but instead we heard more of the same nonsensical justification for inaction. Through the vote on our new clause, we will push them to review and be transparent about the impact that a global minimum corporate tax rate no lower than 21% would have.

We were also hoping that the Minister might have indicated his support for our very simple amendment that would stop Amazon and a few other tech giants from benefiting from the tax break that the Chancellor announced at the Budget. He and his colleagues failed to address that point, so we will seek a vote on that amendment to see if any Conservative Back Benchers feel uneasy at their Ministers effectively finishing the job that Amazon started, wiping out the last bit of tax that Amazon would have to pay on the few parts of their business whose profits they have been unable to shift overseas.

This debate has exposed the failure of this Bill and this Government to be on the side of the British people and of British businesses trying to get back on their feet. Ministers have resisted stepping up to the challenge of stopping a few large multinational firms that are not paying their fair share of tax. We urge any Government Members who are uncomfortable with the position that their Government are taking to join us in voting for new clause 23 and amendment 29.

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

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

Clause 9

Super-deductions and other temporary first-year allowances

Amendment proposed: 29, page 4, line 2, at end insert

“provided that any such company must also not be liable to the digital services tax”.—(James Murray.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

Amendment made: 2, page 5, line 9, at end insert—

“(8A) General exclusion 6 in section 46(2) of CAA 2001 (expenditure on provision of plant or machinery for leasing) does not prevent expenditure being super-deduction expenditure or SR allowance expenditure if the plant or machinery is provided for leasing under an excluded lease of background plant or machinery for a building (as defined by section 70R of that Act).”—(Scott Mann.)

This amendment will enable background plant and machinery in leased property to qualify for a super-deduction or an SR allowance.

New Clause 25

Reporting on the impact of new arrangements on each freeport

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must separately review the impact of sections 109 to 111 and schedules 21 and 22 of this Act on each of the eight freeports in England, and on each of any further freeports that may be established anywhere in the United Kingdom, and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons annually for each designated freeport.

(2) Each review for each freeport under this section must estimate the expected impact of sections 109 to 111 and schedules 21 and 22 on—

(a) job creation within the site(s) and relative to the wider subregion and region within which the freeport is located; and for freeports in Scotland and Wales, relative to the economy of that country as a whole;

(b) revenue from corporation tax and stamp duty land tax within the site(s) designated as the freeport relative to the wider subregion and region within which the freeport is located; and for freeports in Scotland and Wales, relative to the economy of that country as a whole;

(c) levels of criminal activity in respect of fraud, corruption, taxation, customs, duty and excise within the site(s) designated as the freeport relative to the wider subregion and region within which the freeport is located; and for freeports in Scotland and Wales, relative to the economy of that country as a whole;

(d) the extent to which the mix of industries operating in that freeport reflects the aspirations in that respect set out by the freeport bid as approved by the Government;

(e) an assessment of the change in skills and productivity of the workforce in the subregion and region in which the freeport is located relative to the wider subregion and region within which the freeport is located; and for freeports in Scotland and Wales, relative to the economy of that country as a whole;

(f) the level of staffing for HMRC and the UK Border Force in respect of that freeport; and

(g) departmental spending by HMRC and other departments on enforcement in respect of that freeport.’

Brought up, and read the First time.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare (Erith and Thamesmead) (Lab)
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I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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With this it will be convenient to consider the following:

Amendment 24, page 63, line 9, leave out clause 109.

This and the other amendments relating to clauses 109 to 111 would prevent the creation of freeport tax sites in the UK.

Amendment 25, page 63, line 31, leave out clause 110.

This and the other amendments relating to clauses 109 to 111 would prevent the creation of freeport tax sites in the UK.

Amendment 26, page 64, line 1, leave out clause 111.

This and the other amendments relating to clauses 109 to 111 would prevent the creation of freeport tax sites in the UK.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
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I rise to speak to new clause 25, tabled in my name, and those of the Leader of the Opposition and my hon. Friends. The new clause sets out a number of tests that we believe the Government must apply to each and every freeport created in the UK. Before I come to the detail of those tests, I will make a couple of brief points about the Government’s intentions behind freeports. As I said in Committee, Labour wants every area to succeed, whether or not it has a freeport. We want good new jobs to be created right across the country, and our great British industries to be protected and supported. We want to see the UK at the forefront of new green manufacturing and technology, and we want a genuine re-distribution of power and opportunity to places that have been denied that for so long.

The Government clearly believe that freeports are a silver bullet for solving regional inequalities, and I simply remind them that they have been in power for 11 years now. Let me repeat that: 11 years. They must own the choices they have made, such as abolishing regional development agencies, cutting local authority funding, and pulling opportunities away from young people in some of the most deprived regions of the UK. Just recently, they scrapped the industrial strategy altogether. We need a proper plan that creates jobs and opportunities for everyone, regardless of where they live.

I will now turn to the new clause, and to the tests against which we believe our freeports should be judged if they are to succeed. First, freeports must create jobs, not simply move them from elsewhere. Too often, attempts at regional rebalancing have simply shuffled jobs around rather than creating them in the places that need them. We must end the scandal of people being forced to move to the other end of the country to find a decent job. Our test will be this: if someone lives near a freeport, will new opportunities be opened to them that did not exist before? Conversely, if an area does not have a freeport, can we be confident that it will not lose jobs as a result of this policy? Of course, any new jobs must be secure and well paid, with trade union rights—the kind of jobs we have not seen anywhere near enough of over the last decade.

Secondly, freeports must deliver improvements in training and skills for local residents. As we begin to recover from the pandemic, the need for re-training will become even more acute. We need a genuine skills guarantee for everyone, and freeports must play their part in that. Labour will be looking to see how companies operating in freeports work with their local communities to provide skills and training opportunities. Rather than a race to the bottom, freeports should be helping to boost skills and open opportunities.

Thirdly, freeports must produce tangible transport and infrastructure improvements beyond the port itself. Too many places still lack basic transport infrastructure, and too many people still find it difficult to get around. The investment that the Government are making in freeports must go towards boosting connectivity for everyone in those areas. We want every community to benefit from affordable and reliable public transport.

Finally, we need a cast-iron guarantee that freeports will be free from tax evasion, smuggling and criminal activity. The OECD, the Royal United Services Institute and the Financial Action Task Force have all warned of the risks. It is not just Labour saying this. The public deserve to know that the Government’s money is not being used to give tax breaks to criminals or dodgy companies. We need to see the highest possible standards upheld within freeports. This means transparency, and stringent regulation and enforcement of all activity within freeports, and we need reassurances that HMRC will not be overstretched as it seeks to manage these risks.

The Government’s handling of the covid crisis has shaken public confidence in the way that taxpayers’ money has been spent. Crony contracts have been handed to Tory party donors, public money has been put at risk during the Greensill scandal and there is no sign that Ministers understand the importance of managing public money carefully. Freeports must not be the repeat of this. We need reassurance that every pound of Government spending on freeports will be used carefully and will not be wasted.

These tests set out ambitions for freeports and for the future of our economy more broadly. We believe that people who work in freeports and those who live near them deserve nothing less. If the Government share our ambition, they should commit to meeting these tests and should support our new clause 25 today.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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We were having a little difficulty getting hold of the speaker at No. 2 on the list, so I will call Richard Thomson and then come back to David Simmonds.

Richard Thomson Portrait Richard Thomson
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I rise to support new clause 25. It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) and I would like to echo much of what she said.

We have had freeports before in the UK, as recently as 2012, and our EU partners still have them, with 72 free zones across the EU territory. Some contributors in these debates have taken an excessively, I think, dim view of freeports. I would like to take a more balanced view, but I still think we are absolutely right to proceed cautiously, and that is why I am happy to support new clause 25. Given the incentives on business rates that are on offer, the potential national insurance exemptions and the exemptions on customs duties, it is absolutely vital to make sure that the economic activity attracted to freeports is not simply being displaced from elsewhere, and that the activity is new, adding value and resulting in economic output that is greater than would otherwise have been the case.

Therefore, when we are measuring that impact, it is important to make sure that the Government do not get to mark their own exam paper by choosing their measures of success after the fact. That is why it is important to be able to report back on job creation, skills and productivity, the impact on tax revenues, the levels of financial criminal activity that have resulted around a development and the details of the resourcing needed to ensure compliance with the law, and also to understand the extent to which the mix of industries that will have grown up around a freeport development match those sought in the original bids.

The Scottish Government have sought to build on the freeport model with a green port version of it that embraces all the potential benefits of freeports, while ensuring that the principles of fair work are enshrined at their heart—the principles of fair work and fair pay through a real living wage—and putting environmental concerns to the fore, through placing carbon reduction at the heart of these developments. These proposals for green ports from the Scottish Government already have widespread buy-in from business, industry and investors in Scotland. The Scottish Government stand ready, armed with the fresh mandate they received from the Scottish people earlier this month, to press ahead as soon as the UK Government are willing to do so.

At the conclusion of the Committee stage, the Minister gave—I hope he will not mind me describing it in this way—a somewhat editorialised account of the development of freeports and green ports in Scotland. We could back and forth roundabout that, but I would much rather move forward, just as the Scottish Government would. I hope the Minister would like to do that, too, and will commit to working as quickly as possible with the Scottish Government to bring green ports to fruition in Scotland.

David Simmonds Portrait David Simmonds (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) (Con) [V]
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My constituency is not one of those that has the prospect of playing host to a freeport, or indeed being very close to one, but it is a subject of interest to my constituents for a number of reasons. I want to set out briefly what those are and why it is so important that the Government are pressing ahead in this direction.

My constituents are part of outer London, a part of the country which for many years and many generations has had an enormous economic pull factor, including for people like me. I grew up in the south Wales valleys. Following the disappearance of a lot of the heavy industry that was there, and despite a huge amount of effort by the Westminster Government and significant investment by what was then the European Economic Community to develop things such as roads, it is a place that has taken a very long time to see a significant financial and economic regeneration. While I remain sceptical, as many in the House are, about the tax situation of freeports in general, it seems very clear that they are a fantastic opportunity to play a big part in the economic regeneration and levelling up of parts of our country that have really struggled.

As a Conservative politician, it seems to me clear that a policy that is about ensuring people have access to work, a policy that is part of a wider agenda of raising people’s earnings and addressing things from child poverty to health inequalities, which still blight some parts of our country, and a policy that is very much about setting the principles of what we want to see as our economy develops, rather than taking a laissez-faire approach—we want to see the wealth not simply created, but spread and shared—is absolutely the right way forward. Freeports can be a significant part of achieving that.

It is absolutely right, as we have heard from a number of Members, that we have a balanced approach to the use of freeports. I think the port of Tilbury was the last of the UK freeports, but they are in common use around the world, The feedback is clearly very mixed about their economic impact. However, it is very consistent that they act as a draw, as a focus for a local economy, that helps to contribute to creating jobs and opportunities. As a country, we need to do that in places that have simply not had the opportunity for that in the recent past.

My constituents, who have significant concerns, for example, about the pressure on land to be released for housing to provide homes for the people who are currently being drawn in large numbers into our capital—contributing to significant housing waiting lists and significantly rising house prices, sometimes meaning that the children of people who have grown up and live locally are simply not able to settle in that area—see a direct benefit, too, to the whole country having the opportunity of economic levelling up. I therefore see this as a direct benefit to my constituents. It is important to the medium to long-term future of our country, and it is absolutely an inherent and appropriate part of the regeneration and levelling up strategy that we have for the whole of the United Kingdom. I absolutely 100% support this direction of travel and I commend it to the House.

Jamie Wallis Portrait Dr Jamie Wallis (Bridgend) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to contribute to today’s debate on freeports, to voice my continued support for this commitment and to speak against the adoption of new clause 25. For me, new clause 25 typifies the stark contrast that exists between the sides of this House when it comes to delivering for the British people, with the Conservative side supporting a Government focused on delivery and the other side persistent in pursuing yet more division and delay.

As colleagues have already said, freeports will be central to the levelling-up agenda, attracting new businesses and jobs, creating opportunity and investment across areas of Britain. This policy is key to regenerating communities across the UK and I hope that may include my own constituency of Bridgend. Following the closure of the Ford factory in Bridgend, the establishment of a freeport in the Port Talbot and Bridgend area could mean a great deal to my constituents and the whole of south Wales, with the creation of up to 15,000 jobs. It is for those reasons that my constituents would expect me to back the Government tonight.

I am sure Opposition Members do not want to delay the investment associated with the measures in clauses 109 to 111. By implementing them, we will help to unlock employment in areas previously left behind and allow them the opportunity to prosper. The additional reporting requirements for freeports outlined in new clause 25 would impose unnecessary onerous processes, with little to no benefit over and above what has already been put in place; they would just cause further delay.

In Wales, as we know from oral questions to the Secretary of State for Wales in this House last week, the Welsh Labour Government have dragged their feet time and again and have refused to collaborate on this issue with Ministers here. The result is that, although bids have been received and locations have been identified in England, we still do not know what support, if any, a freeport in Wales will get from the Welsh Government.

We were elected to deliver and to get on with the job of making a success of post-Brexit Britain. Clauses 109 to 111 achieve just that. I will therefore be supporting the Government this evening.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
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Speaker no. 5 has withdrawn, so we go straight to Andrew Jones.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) (Con)
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That was slightly unexpected, Madam Deputy Speaker. Thank you very much indeed.

The competition for having a freeport from colleagues around the House before the decisions showed how widely welcomed this policy was. We saw colleagues’ delight when their areas were successful. It is clear that freeports are part of a broader levelling-up agenda, which is at the heart of the Government’s policy and has significant public approval. When knocking on the doors of Hartlepool, I found support for initiatives to boost the economy of that area. I do not represent a freeport area in Harrogate and Knaresborough, but there is clear support, and it is therefore surprising that the Labour party is not more aligned behind it.

A well-designed freeport policy can boost trade. The key to that is the alignment of local bodies, whether the ports or the businesses, with local authorities to grow opportunity. Of course, all that is underpinned by tax reliefs and tax incentives. It is most important that we get tax reliefs on buildings and plant purchase right. If the policy does not deliver, we will have wasted public money and we will have seen the displacement of economic activity, rather than incremental economic activity. Even more significant, of course, would be the missed opportunity. The areas that are receiving freeports are those that have not had the chance that other parts of the country have had over the past decades. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister knows that.

The Labour party has said measures are necessary before it can even consider supporting the policy, but there are already measures in place to monitor, collect and review data. The Treasury always monitors and reviews its policies. I have seen that from my own experience, but it is a truth that we all know. Therefore, new clause 25 addresses a concern that is, frankly, already solved; it is not necessary. On transparency, costings will be published at the next fiscal event—in other words, in the usual way. On data collection for freeports, we will be collecting data on reliefs, monitoring effectiveness and so on. The main question now is not about monitoring; it is about how those running the freeports can make them bigger, seize the opportunities and maximise the chances available.

As this health crisis morphs into an economic one, the focus is moving to recovering livelihoods as well as saving lives. All the levers that can drive growth must be pulled and freeports are clearly a part of that. It was very good to see the proposals in the Finance Bill. I will be supporting them strongly this evening.

John McDonnell Portrait John McDonnell [V]
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I am glad you are sitting down, Madam Deputy Speaker, because I do not want to shock you. I want to see if we can try something different tonight. Let us try and undertake some rational policy making. Let us try and base policy on evidence, shall we?

I have tabled a number of amendments—Nos. 24, 25 and 26—as a humble seeker after truth, basically, because I do not think the Government have made the case for freeports. I also think that the risks of this policy are huge. It could accelerate tax avoidance in this country on a massive scale and cause economic damage to the neighbouring areas of freeports. We are shovelling huge tax giveaways to corporations and developers for, as far as I can see, literally no return to society.

In its analysis of the Chancellor’s Budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility said of freeports:

“Further details have been announced in the Budget but came too late to be incorporated into our forecast.”

The OBR have therefore not made a comment—we await it. Freeports were not assessed by the OBR. However, it is not just the OBR that does not know the answer about the effects of freeports; neither do the Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford East (Anneliese Dodds) asked the Treasury on 16 March what estimates it had made of the total annual cost of tax reliefs granted to the freeports. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury replied on 22 March to say—rarely have I seen this from a ministerial response—that

“it is not appropriate to comment on estimates at this stage.”

This is in the middle of policy making! He continued:

“they will therefore be scored at a future fiscal event.”

Therefore, what we are being asked to do tonight is sign off a blank cheque that will be filled in at a later date.

This is just irrational. Shoddy policy making on this scale is becoming all too familiar with this Government, but this is a bit of a shocker. It is just not good enough, so it would be really useful if tonight the Minister took us through the answers to a few simple questions. What are the annual costs of the proposed tax reliefs when the freeports are set up? What is the estimate of increased economic growth that will come from them? What is the estimate of increased job creation stimulated by the freeports? What is the estimate of increased tax revenues to the Exchequer as a result of this policy? And, to reinforce that, where is the evidence? If there are answers to those questions, where have they come from? Have they been independently assessed?

We are asking questions about the future, but we should look back, because this is not a new policy. Those of us who have been in the House a while—and that does not take long—can recognise this as a rebranding of the enterprise zones policy that the Conservative party wheeled out in the 1980s under Michael Heseltine and also in the last decade, when George Osborne fronted it up. Let me remind the House what the Public Accounts Committee said in May 2014. Its report was pretty damning about George Osborne’s enterprise zones, describing them as “particularly underwhelming”. The Committee criticised the Government for over-optimistic claims about job creation. The job numbers did not materialise—it is as simple as that. The Centre for Cities think-tank found that the jobs that were created were “overwhelmingly low skilled” and therefore low paid.

Enterprise zones were not just a disaster; they raised people’s hopes and shattered them in many areas around the country, and in many ways led to some of the disillusionment with politics and Government overall. Tax breaks for corporations in underinvested areas just does not make an industrial strategy. My view is that the Government should be investing, but in a planned upgrading of the infrastructure of this country, not making areas fight for scraps in this form of pork barrel politics.

The Conservatives’ strategy of tax breaks for developers and big business as a way of stimulating growth failed in the 1980s and again in the 2010s, and it risks failing again in the 2020s. The Government are asking us all to take a leap in the dark, and having twice before witnessed that leap in the dark, I think the result will be the same—it will be failure. I know that a number of Members, including some Ministers, have said it will be different because of Brexit and claim that being outside the EU gives greater freedoms than were available to enterprise zones, but if that is the case, why can they not quantify them and put that evidence in front of the House, in some form of rational policy making? The UK Trade Policy Observatory, based at the University of Sussex, has pointed out that as UK import tariffs are already low, any further tariff reduction would

“have next to no benefits”.

I am pleased that Labour’s Front-Bench team is behind new clause 25, which my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) moved eloquently, as it is welcome. If passed, it would at least have the effect of creating a robust framework for the House to assess the success or failure of freeports policy, but surely no Members of this House who consider themselves to be serious, rational policy makers can vote for something like this proposal, which is so lacking in any evidential base.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young (Redcar) (Con)
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It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), although he will forgive me for not taking any economic advice from him. He talks about economic assessment with no sense of self-awareness that he was the man responsible for the 2019 Labour party manifesto. I believe I am the first Member to speak who shall represent a freeport area, so, on behalf of the people of Teesside, may I say thank you to the Government for designating us a freeport zone?

I wish to speak against new clause 25, which would only delay the implementation of our new freeport policy. I direct Members to my recently updated entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, as a member of the new—currently shadow—Teesside freeport board. If we consider the intentions behind new clause 25, we will see that they are ones that Teessiders know all too well. Labour never wanted our new freeports, despite them being in places such as Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, places that Labour used to say it cared about. True to form, new clause 25 is the Labour party in desperation to see our freeport policy fail, so that it can simply say, “I told you so.”

The same attitudes were shown in Labour’s position on the EU referendum, and the people of Teesside have already shown them how they feel about that. Our new freeport in Teesside will create 18,000 jobs over the next five years, and since the freeport designation in the Chancellor’s Budget, we have already seen the announcement of more than 2,000 jobs coming to Teesside, with GE picking Teesside as the destination for its new wind turbine blade manufacturing, supporting the Government’s plan for a green industrial revolution. Adding more bureaucracy, form filling and complications through new clause 25 would only delay those new jobs and prevent us from getting on with the task at hand, which is the transformation of Teesside.

In Redcar and Cleveland we are proud of our area’s industrial heritage and the vital role the steelworks and foundries have played in the past, providing those raw materials to build the railways, ships and bridges that were once the envy of the world, and in many cases still are. The fires in our furnaces were the beating heart of the industrial revolution, and now with hydrogen, wind power and carbon capture all promised and planned within our freeport zone, it will be Teesside’s innovation and technology that leads our green industrial revolution.

When Labour lost Hartlepool, the front page of The Northern Echo held a column from a former Labour MP saying that Labour needs to listen. Well, now would be a good time to start, but instead, here we are again, with the public supporting our freeport policy and Labour voting against it. Labour Members may not want any election advice from me, but I have some for them anyway: stop dwelling on problems and start looking to the potential and to solutions. Stop standing in the way of our freeport policy and work with us to make it a success. Stop talking Teesside down and start helping us to turn it around, and vote against new clause 25 tonight.

Robin Millar Portrait Robin Millar (Aberconwy) (Con)
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It is a privilege to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Jacob Young). Like him, I shall take this opportunity to make a few brief remarks in support of freeports, although, as hon. Members would expect, they will be in support of a freeport in Wales, and north Wales in particular. In doing so, I shall speak against new clause 25.

Freeports and free economic zones are a common feature of international trade, with dozens utilised by our closest allies. Not only have they propelled many of the world’s previously impoverished nations to prosperity, but there are well-established international frameworks for their operation. Indeed, the OECD code of conduct for clean free trade zones is an example, to which this Government have already pledged compliance.

The measures set out in new clause 25 are simply unnecessary, and the additional costs, such as the paperwork proposed, will only reduce the attractiveness of Britain’s ports. Let us make no mistake: the ultimate bearer of extra costs will be not multinational business, but the workers of this country who will miss out on prosperity from export-driven work.

Wales occupies a vital position in UK trade. If we consider just the Republic of Ireland, we will see that in 2019, two thirds of goods carried from the Republic of Ireland came via Wales, and four fifths of goods carried to the Republic of Ireland went via Wales. I also note that Holyhead is on the international trade routes that link Dublin to Moscow, such is the strategic importance of the location and role of Wales—particularly of north Wales. It is essential, therefore, that we create an environment there that is attractive to investment and private finance. According to the British Venture Capital Association, Wales has one of the lowest average investments from venture capital in the UK, accounting for just 3.3% of all funding over the period 2016 to 2018.

A freeport offers a structured environment for investment. Whether linked with the advanced manufacturing cluster of north-east Wales—Wales’s hottest economic growth spot—or the green energy projects and innovation found on Ynys Môn, or the leading telecoms research at the University College of North Wales, the structured reliefs and incentives of a freeport offer businesses and investors a clear and attractive proposition and are a clear demonstration of the Government’s commitment to the area.

This Finance Bill makes clear the Government’s aim of growth, development and levelling up for Wales. It also presents an exciting opportunity for co-operation and collaboration with the Welsh Government. With their assistance on, for example, the additional reliefs possible for the planning laws within their control, there is an opportunity not only to deliver a freeport in Wales, but to create one of the most attractive freeport models for investment in the UK.

In conclusion, our United Kingdom is an island nation and a trading nation, and our prosperity has always come from across the seas. Freeports are an essential step towards stronger trade and exports in a global Britain, and this Finance Bill will deliver that. In Wales, we know that, although we are outward-looking, our strength comes from within. For centuries, we have exported our goods and resources around the globe. North Wales slate has roofed the world, and copper from the Great Orme in Aberconwy was used to forge bronze-age implements used in areas ranging from Brittany to the Baltic.

A freeport in Wales—in north Wales—is an opportunity to ensure our connection to a global economy, to bring investment and growth that will bring jobs, and to secure our tradition of global export for another generation. I shall be voting against new clause 25.

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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I thank all Members who have commented or spoken in this debate on freeports. As the House will know, freeports are a very important part of the Government’s policy to level up the British economy and to bring investment, trade and jobs to parts of the country that in many cases have not had the economic vibrancy that we as a nation would have wished. They symbolise and reinforce the opportunities provided by this country’s status as an outward-looking trading nation, open to the world.

As colleagues have already made clear, the excitement about freeports is tangible. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones) was absolutely right to highlight the excitement and energy that the process of competition has developed. That is itself an important sign of the Government’s intent in areas that have been, I am afraid, in far too many cases ignored and patronised by the Labour party. My hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Jacob Young) was also absolutely right. What was the headline—Labour needs to listen? He said that now would be a good time to start, and how right he was.

If I may, I shall go on briefly to talk about the Finance Bill in relation to freeports. The Bill will enable the creation of freeport tax sites in the early stages of the measure, where businesses can benefit from tax reliefs including a stamp duty land tax relief, an enhanced structures and buildings allowance, and an enhanced capital allowance for plant and machinery. But it is important to see that these measures are, in turn, being combined with simpler import procedures, duty benefits in customs sites to help businesses to trade, planning changes to accelerate much-needed development, additional spending on infrastructure and a freeport regulatory engagement network to try to bring the regulators and firms together to test new technology safely and effectively. That makes up a comprehensive package designed to boost trade, to attract inward investment and to drive productive activity, and thereby to level up communities. As the House will know, the Government have engaged extensively with ports, local authorities and industry experts, including through a consultation on the wider programme, to ensure that the whole policy is maximally effective.

It is astonishing that the Labour party should oppose this policy. I cannot believe that Opposition Members really want to deprive successful freeports such as those that have been announced at East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Humber, Liverpool city region, Plymouth, Solent, Thames and Teesside of having tax sites. That could ultimately harm their ability to attract inward investment and create jobs. How are they going to explain to the voters of Teesside, Liverpool city region and the Humber, let alone the voters of those other places, that that is the decision they have taken? But then I reflect on Labour’s attitude towards the super deduction, which is a deduction specifically focused on capital-intensive businesses. Many of those that will benefit are in the north and the midlands. That is a crucial part, in and of itself, of levelling up, and I think those two joint failures on the part of the Labour party should be linked together to understand their full import.

Of course, the Government have sought to build in protections wherever possible, including transparency in decision making and in how the sustainable economic growth and regeneration that we are seeking are being prioritised, as well as a robust bid assessment process and the like. It is important to say that, before funding is allocated and tax sites are designated, each freeport will need to pass a specific business case process that includes assessing how effectively those tax sites can be monitored for compliance with the tax rules. Legislation will contain mechanisms to prevent or combat illegitimate claims for those reliefs, so those protections are in place.

Let me say one other thing, which is that the Government remain committed to establishing freeports in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as soon as possible. I was sorry to hear what my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Dr Wallis) said about the experience highlighted the other day. We of course want to work as quickly as possible with the devolved Administrations—I say the same thing to the hon. Member for Gordon (Richard Thomson)—to accelerate the policy and bring freeports to all parts of the country. As the House will know, we are working with the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure that a Northern Irish freeport will both meet our international obligations and be attractive to businesses wishing to invest in Northern Ireland.

I am confident that Opposition Members do not want to delay the investment associated with the relevant clauses. The implementation of that investment will help to unlock employment and stimulate growth in areas that have too often been left behind, so I urge the House to reject amendments 24 to 26 and new clause 25.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
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I thank all Members who have spoken for their contributions. In particular, I thank my right hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who raised a number of concerns—including on tax avoidance and the potential damage to nearby areas—about how freeports will operate.

The Government Members who spoke in the debate are obviously more optimistic about the potential impacts of freeports on the communities that they represent. In respect of the comment made by the hon. Member for Redcar (Jacob Young), let me say that no one is talking Teesside down. I am very clear that we want to make sure that everyone will succeed, whether or not they have a freeport in their area. Why is that a bad thing?

We believe that our new clause and the tests it contains set out a reasonable way to assess the impact of freeports on their local areas and the country as a whole. We on the Opposition Benches are ambitious for our country, but we need to see clear evidence that freeports are going to be effective in meeting the challenges that we face. I therefore call on Members to support our new clause, because it is the right thing to do.

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

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

New Clause 2

Fiscal and economic impact of 2% non-resident surcharge

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact of section 88 and schedule 16 and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act and once a year thereafter.

(2) A review under this section must estimate the expected impact of section 88 and schedule 16 on—

(a) Stamp Duty Land Tax revenue at the increased rates of 2%, and what the revenue impact would have been if the rates had been 3%,

(b) residential property prices, and

(c) affordability of residential property.’—(Abena Oppong-Asare.)

This new clause would require the Government to report on the effect of the 2% stamp duty land tax non-resident surcharge on tax revenues and on the price and affordability of property.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
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I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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With this it will be convenient to consider the following:

New clause 1—Equality impact analysis—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the equality impact of sections 87 to 89 and schedule 16 and 17 of this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the impact of those sections on—

(a) households at different levels of income,

(b) people with protected characteristics (within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010),

(c) the Treasury’s compliance with the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, and

(d) equality in England, Northern Ireland and in different regions of England.

(3) A review under this section must provide a separate analysis in relation to each of the following matters—

(a) the temporary period for reduced rates on residential property,

(b) increased rates for non-resident transactions, and

(c) relief from higher rate charge for certain housing co-operatives etc.

(4) In this section “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’

This new clause requires the Chancellor of the Exchequer to carry out and publish a review of the effects of sections 87 to 89 and schedules 16 and 17 of the Bill on equality in relation to households with different levels of income, people with protected characteristics, the Treasury’s public sector equality duty and on a geographical basis.

New clause 24—Review of impact of 2% non-resident surcharge—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact of section 88 and schedule 16 of this Act on tax revenues, residential property prices, affordability of residential property, and the volume of property purchases by non-residents, and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act and once a year thereafter.

(2) The review under this section must include an assessment of what those impacts would have been if the provisions in the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill had been in force.’

This new clause would require the Government to report on the effect of the 2% stamp duty land tax non-resident surcharge on tax revenues, property prices and affordability, and the volume of property purchases by non-residents, and also to assess what the impacts would have been if the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill were in force.

Government amendments 4 to 6.

Government new clauses 17 to 20.

New clause 3—Review into the effects of replacement of LIBOR—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must undertake a review within six months of the passing of this Act of the effects of sections 128 and 129.

(2) This review must consider—

(a) the implications for tax revenue,

(b) effects on financial stability, and

(c) effects on businesses that use LIBOR as a benchmark, including businesses offering supply chain finance.’

This new clause would require a review into the effects of the provisions of the Bill about replacing LIBOR.

New clause 4—Assessment of environmental impact of Act—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the effectiveness of the provisions of this Act in accordance with this section and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must assess the effects of the provisions on—

(a) the achievement of the Government’s targets to reduce carbon emissions, and

(b) the United Kingdom’s progress towards net-zero emissions.’

New clause 5—Equality impact analyses of provisions of this Act—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the equality impact of the provisions of this Act in accordance with this section and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the impact of those provisions on—

(a) households at different levels of income,

(b) people with protected characteristics (within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010),

(c) the Government’s compliance with the public sector equality duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, and

(d) equality in different parts of the United Kingdom and different regions of England.

(3) A review under this section must include a separate analysis of each section of the Act, and must also consider the cumulative impact of the Act as a whole.’

New clause 7—Analysis of effectiveness of provisions of this Act on tax avoidance and evasion—

(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the effectiveness of the provisions of this Act in accordance with this section and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must—

(a) assess the effects of the provisions in reducing levels of artificial tax avoidance,

(b) assess the effects of the provisions in combating tax evasion and money laundering, and

(c) estimate the role of the provisions of this Act in reducing the tax gap in each tax year from 2021 to 2024.’

New clause 8—Review of public health and poverty effects—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the public health and poverty effects of the provisions of this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider—

(a) the effects of the provisions of this Act on the levels of relative and absolute poverty in the UK,

(b) the effects of the provisions of this Act on socioeconomic inequalities and on population groups with protected characteristics as defined by the 2010 Equality Act,

(c) the effects of the provisions of this Act on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy in the UK, and

(d) the implications for the public finances of the public health effects of the provisions of this Act.’

New clause 9—Review of changes to coronavirus support payments etc—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact on investment in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made to coronavirus support payments etc by this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the effects of the provisions on—

(a) business investment,

(b) employment,

(c) productivity,

(d) GDP growth, and

(e) poverty.

(3) A review under this section must consider the following scenarios—

(a) the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme are continued until 30th September 2021, and

(b) the coronavirus job retention scheme and self- employment income support scheme are continued until 31st December 2021.

(4) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

and “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’

This new clause would require a report comparing the effect of (a) the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme being continued until 30 September 2021 and (b) the coronavirus job retention scheme and self-employment income support scheme being continued until 31 December 2021 on various economic indicators.

New clause 10—Review of changes to VAT—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact on investment in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made to VAT by this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the effects of the provisions on—

(a) business investment,

(b) employment,

(c) productivity,

(d) GDP growth, and

(e) poverty.

(3) A review under this section must consider the following scenarios—

(a) the extension of temporary 5% reduced rate for hospitality and tourism sectors is continued until 30th September 2021, and

(b) the extension of temporary 5% reduced rate for hospitality and tourism sectors is continued until 31st December 2021.

(4) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

and “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’

This new clause would require a review comparing (a) the extension of temporary 5% reduced rate for hospitality and tourism sectors being continued until 30 September 2021 and (b) the extension of temporary 5% reduced rate for hospitality and tourism sectors being continued until 31 December on various economic indicators.

New clause 11—Review of effect on tax revenues—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the effects on tax revenues of the provisions of this Act, and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must—

(a) consider the expected change in corporation and income tax paid attributable to the provisions, and

(b) make an estimate of any change attributable to the provisions in the difference between the amount of tax required to be paid to the Commissioners and the amount paid.

(3) The reference to tax required to be paid in subsection 2(b) includes taxes payable by the owners and employees of Scottish limited partnerships.’

This new clause would require a report on the impact of the provisions of the Bill on narrowing the tax gap, assessing the impact of: (a) the expected change in corporation and income tax paid attributable to the provisions and (b) any change, attributable to the provisions, in the difference between the amount of tax required to be paid to the Commissioners and the amount paid. In particular, this includes taxes payable by the owners and employees of Scottish limited partnerships.

New clause 13—Review of impact on GDP—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made by this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must compare estimated GDP in each of the next five years under the following scenarios—

(a) these provisions are enacted,

(b) these provisions are not enacted, and

(c) the UK fiscal stimulus package, as a percentage of GDP, mirrors that of the United States.

(3) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

and “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’

This new clause would require a report on the impact on GDP of the provisions in the Bill, comparing them with the impact of copying the level of fiscal intervention in the US.

New clause 14—Report on Part 2—

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall, before 1 April 2023, publish a report on the impact of the provisions in Part 2 of this Act.

(2) The report in subsection (1) shall include consideration of the impact on—

(a) the rate of plastic recycling in the UK generally,

(b) the rate of PET plastic recycling in the UK,

(c) the rate of Polypropylene plastic recycling in the UK, and

(d) the rate of HDPE plastic recycling in the UK.

(3) The report in subsection (1) shall include consideration of the impact on—

(a) the volume of plastic used in the UK,

(b) the volume of PET plastic used in the UK,

(c) the volume of Polypropylene plastic used in the UK, and

(d) the volume of HDPE plastic used in the UK.

(4) The report in subsection (1) shall include consideration of the impact on—

(a) the volume of plastic stockpiling in the UK,

(b) the volume of PET plastic stockpiling in the UK,

(c) the volume of Polypropylene plastic stockpiling in the UK, and

(d) the volume of HDPE plastic stockpiling in the UK.

(5) The report in subsection (1) shall consider whether—

(a) £200/tonne provides an economic incentive to change the content of packaging for those types of plastic specified in subsection (2),

(b) the economic incentive in subsection (5)(a) remains in the event of lower than average oil prices, and

(c) a tax escalator might be more efficacious.’

This new clause would require a review of the efficacy of the proposed plastic packaging tax, with respect to whether the proposals will (a) increase use of certain plastics and (b) provide an incentive to recycle in the event of lower than average oil prices.

New clause 15—Review of impact on climate emissions—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact on climate emissions in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made by this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the effects of the provisions of the Act on progress towards the Government’s climate emissions targets.

(3) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

and “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’

This new clause would require a report on the effects of the Bill on progress towards the UK Government’s climate emissions targets.

New clause 16—Review of impact of section 104—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact on investment in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made by section 104 and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the effects of the provisions on the volume of gambling, including—

(a) the number of people who take part in gambling,

(b) the amount of money spent on gambling, and

(c) the gross gaming yield.

(3) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

and “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.’

This new clause would require a report on the effects of section 104 on the volume of gambling.

New clause 21—Impact of Act on human and ecological health and wellbeing—

‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact of the provisions of this Act on human and ecological health and wellbeing, including the wellbeing of future generations, and lay a report of that review before both Houses of Parliament within six months of the passing of this Act.’

This new clause would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to review the impact of the Finance Bill on human and ecological health and wellbeing, including the wellbeing of future generations.

New clause 26—Review of coronavirus job support schemes—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before Parliament within three months of the passing of this Act a report on the impact of sections 31 to 33 of this Act.

(2) The report must consider the effects of the following two scenarios—

(a) the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme are continued until 30th September 2021, and

(b) the coronavirus job retention scheme and self- employment income support scheme are continued until 31st December 2021, and the following categories of workers are made eligible for the schemes—

(i) limited company directors,

(ii) self-employed workers earning more than 50% of their income from employment, and

(iii) self-employed workers with profits over £50,000.

(3) A review under this section must consider the effects of the provisions on—

(a) employment,

(b) GDP growth,

(c) personal debt, and

(d) poverty.’

New clause 27—Review of effect on small businesses—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before Parliament within six months of the passing of this Act a review considering the effects of this Act on small businesses that have been subject to restrictions on trading as a result of the pandemic.

(2) The review must consider the following issues—

(a) debt,

(b) rent arrears,

(c) solvency, and

(d) the ability of small businesses to employ individuals.’

New clause 28—Review of effect on carbon emissions—

‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before Parliament within six months of the passing of this Act a review on the effect of the provisions of the Act on—

(a) a transition towards zero-carbon domestic flights by 2030,

(b) any reduction in the share of the UK’s carbon emissions coming from international flight travel, and

(c) the number of individuals booking more than three international flights a year.’

New clause 29—Review of effect on supply chain and other workers—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must lay before Parliament within six months of the passing of this Act a review considering the effects of the provisions of this Act on the following categories of—

(a) workers, employees and self-employed individuals in the supply chain sector,

(b) employees on zero-hours contracts and agency workers, and

(c) office workers in different income deciles that have worked remotely since March 2020.

(2) The review must include an assessment with regard to—

(a) employment income, and

(b) socioeconomic inequalities.’

New clause 31—Review of section 21—

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact of section 21 of this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider—

(a) the impact of section 21 on levels of tax avoidance,

(b) the impact of section 21 on levels of tax avoidance if section 61O of ITEPA 2003 were amended to prohibit the operation of umbrella companies, and

(c) the impact of section 21 on levels of tax avoidance if section 61O of ITEPA 2003 were amended to mean that an umbrella company would not be an intermediary but would still be able to operate, provided that the following conditions were met—

(i) the worker had no material interest in the umbrella company;

(ii) the umbrella company received the monies from the agency and used the entire amount to process as earnings, including the total cost of employment, less a transparent intermediary margin;

(iii) at the end of the engagement, any outstanding holiday pay was paid;

(iv) all employment rights, including agency workers’ rights, were maintained; and

(v) no payment was given to any other party.’

Amendment 23, page 2, line 15, leave out clause 5.

This amendment would ensure that the thresholds for the personal allowance and for the higher rate of income tax rise in line with inflation as per the Income Tax Act 2007.

Amendment 27, in clause 15, page 9, line 16, at end insert—

“(3) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than 5 April 2022, lay before the House of Commons a report—

(a) analysing the fiscal and economic effects of Government relief under the annual investment allowance scheme and the changes in those effects which it estimates will occur as a result of the provisions of this section, in respect of—

(i) each NUTS 1 statistical region of England and England as a whole,

(ii) Scotland,

(iii) Wales, and

(iv) Northern Ireland, and

(b) assessing how the annual investment allowance scheme is furthering efforts to mitigate climate change, and any differences in the benefit of this funding in respect of—

(i) each NUTS 1 statistical region of England and England as a whole,

(ii) Scotland,

(iii) Wales, and

(iv) Northern Ireland.”

This amendment would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to analyse the impact of changes proposed in Clause 15 in terms of impact on the economy and geographical reach and to assess the impact of the investment allowance scheme on efforts to mitigate climate change.

Amendment 28, in clause 19, page 13, line 12, at end insert—

“(3) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must, no later than 5 April 2022, lay before the House of Commons a report—

(a) analysing the fiscal and economic effects of Government relief in relation to R&D tax credits for SMEs and the changes in those effects which it estimates will occur as a result of the provisions of this section and schedules 3 and 4, in respect of—

(i) each NUTS 1 statistical region of England and England as a whole,

(ii) Scotland,

(iii) Wales, and

(iv) Northern Ireland, and

(b) assessing how R&D tax credits for SMEs are furthering efforts to mitigate climate change, and any differences in the benefit of this funding in respect of—

(i) each NUTS 1 statistical region of England and England as a whole,

(ii) Scotland,

(iii) Wales, and

(iv) Northern Ireland.”

This amendment would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to analyse the impact of changes proposed in Clause 19 in terms of impact on the economy and geographical reach and to assess the impact of R&D tax credits on efforts to mitigate climate change.

Amendment 32, in clause 21, page 13, line 33, after “(1B)” insert “or (1C)”.

Amendment 33, page 14, line 9, at end insert—

“(1C) This subsection is satisfied where—

(a) the worker has no material interest in the intermediary,

(b) the worker—

(i) has received,

(ii) has rights which entitle, or which in any circumstances would entitle, the worker to receive, or

(iii) expects to receive,

a chain payment from the intermediary.

(c) If any of the conditions A, B or C in this subsection apply, then this exempts the person within the chain from being an intermediary.

(d) Condition A is that the services are supplied by or through a third person (“the agency”) where all income received and receivable for those services wholly constitutes employment income subject to Chapter 7 of Part 2 of ITEPA 2003.

(e) Condition B is that the worker is employed under a contract of employment within the meaning of section 230(2) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and is ordinarily or habitually employed by the intermediary prior to being engaged by the Client, either directly or via an agency, and has been engaged by the Client on a secondment basis.

(f) Condition C is that all of the following apply—

(i) the worker is employed by the intermediary under a contract of employment within the meaning of section 230(2) of the Employment Rights Act 1996,

(ii) the worker, if engaged via an agency, has not given notice of an agreement with the intermediary that paragraphs (1) to (8) of regulation 32(9) of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 shall not apply,

(iii) all income received and receivable by the worker wholly constitutes employment income from the intermediary,

(iv) the total of the payment elements paid to the worker during the entire engagement are equal to or greater than the sums of chain payments made to the intermediary during the engagement,

(v) the intermediary is not in breach of Section 54 of the Pensions Act 2008, and

(vi) the intermediary is not in breach of Paragraph 3A of Schedule 1 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.

(g) A “payment element” means any of the following—

(i) secondary Class 1 National Insurance Contributions, as defined by section 6 of the Contributions and Benefits Act,

(ii) apprenticeship Levy as defined by Part 6, section 98, of the Finance Act 2016,

(iii) pension contributions, which shall mean contributions paid into registered pension schemes by their employers that are subject to the exemption provided by Section 308 of ITEPA 2003,

(iv) intermediary margin, which shall mean a fixed fee deducted from the chain payment, the amount of which has been declared to the contractor prior to becoming an employee,

(v) holiday pay, which means any amounts paid to the worker under the Working Time Regulations 1998 either during or upon termination of the engagement,

(vi) net employment income, which shall mean employment income paid to the worker after deduction of Income Tax under PAYE, Class 1 primary National Insurance Contributions, and Student Loans deductions,

(vii) allowable expenses, which shall mean any reimbursement of expenses to the worker by the intermediary permitted as per Chapter 2 of Part 5 of ITEPA 2003.

(h) In (1C)(g) “secondment” shall mean the provision of any worker by means of a resource augmentation service or temporary transfer of an official or worker to another position or employment away from their primary job with the Intermediary.

(i) Where the fee-payer, defined in 61N(2), has been provided with information from the intermediary that gives them reasonable belief that any of the Conditions A to C are met, then section 61N(5) does not apply, and the client cannot become the fee-payer under 61NA subsections (3) and (4).

(j) The amendments made by this subsection (1C) have effect in relation to deemed direct payments treated as made on or after 6 April 2022.”

Amendment 34, page 14, line 9, at end insert—

“(1C) This subsection is satisfied where—

(a) the worker has no material interest in the intermediary,

(b) the worker—

(i) has received,

(ii) has rights which entitle, or which in any circumstances would entitle, the worker to receive, or

(iii) expects to receive,

a chain payment from the intermediary.

(c) If any of the conditions A, B or C in this subsection apply, then this exempts the person within the chain from being an intermediary.

(d) Condition A is that the services are supplied by or through a third person (“the agency”) where all income received and receivable for those services wholly constitutes employment income subject to Chapter 7 of Part 2 of ITEPA 2003.

(e) Condition B is that the worker is employed under a contract of employment within the meaning of section 230(2) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and is ordinarily or habitually employed by the intermediary prior to being engaged by the Client, either directly or via an agency, and has been engaged by the Client on a secondment basis.

(f) In (1C)(e) “secondment” shall mean the provision of any worker by means of a resource augmentation service or temporary transfer of an official or worker to another position or employment away from their primary job with the Intermediary.

(g) Where the fee-payer, defined in 61N(2), has been provided with information from the intermediary that gives them reasonable belief that either of the Conditions A to B are met, then section 61N(5) does not apply, and the client cannot become the fee-payer under 61NA subsections (3) and (4).

(h) The amendments made by this subsection (1C) have effect in relation to deemed direct payments treated as made on or after 6 April 2022.”

Government new schedule 1.

Government amendment 3.

Government amendments 7 to 22.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
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I rise to speak to new clauses 2 and 24, tabled by the Leader of the Opposition, other hon. and right hon. Friends and myself.

New clause 2 draws attention to the announcement made by the Chancellor in 2019, when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on implementing a non-resident stamp duty surcharge at 3%. As hon. Members will have noted, the Finance Bill introduces a non-resident surcharge at 2% rather than 3%. In Committee, I asked the Minister why the Government had watered down that commitment; I do not believe I have received an answer. We believe that this means that the Government will lose out on about £52 million a year in revenue, which they said they would have spent on tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. Perhaps the Minister could use his closing speech to clear up any confusion. Why have the Government moved from a 3% to 2% non-resident surcharge, and what assessment has been made of the impact on tax revenues and the housing market?

I turn to new clause 24. In Committee of the whole House, my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing North (James Murray) asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to explain whether the Government will meet their own deadline of introducing legislation to set up a register of overseas entities by 2021. The Minister’s response was that

“the Government plan to introduce the Bill in due course.”—[Official Report, 20 April 2021; Vol. 692, c. 914.]

Since that debate in Committee of the whole House, we have had the Queen’s Speech—the Government’s opportunity to lay out their legislative plans for the year ahead. I listened carefully to that speech and read the accompanying notes, but I heard no mention of the registration of overseas entities Bill.

It is now more than five years since David Cameron first announced proposals to introduce a beneficial ownership register for UK property owned by overseas companies and legal entities. Since then, we have had more announcements, consultations and draft Bills, but still no indication from the Government of when they intend to introduce this vital piece of legislation. The failure to include it in this year’s Queen’s Speech means that it is now beyond doubt that the Government will miss their 2021 deadline.

It is worth considering what that means more broadly. First, let us look at the scale of the problem. In 2014, the National Crime Agency received around 14,000 reports of transactions that were believed to involve illicit activity. By 2020, that had risen to over 62,000 reports. Of course, the true scale of the problem is extremely hard to quantify, given the lengths that individuals and organisations go to hide their illegal activities.

In 2019, Transparency International UK said:

“The London property market is highly vulnerable to corrupt wealth flowing into it.”

Its analysis found that since 2008, £100 billion of properties have been bought in London alone by overseas companies in secrecy jurisdictions and high-risk corruption countries—both indicators for illicit wealth. In 2017, it identified that 160 properties worth over £4 billion were purchased by high-corruption risk individuals. The tidal wave of dirty money is poisoning the housing market for ordinary people. There is growing evidence that the purchase of UK property to launder illicit finance from abroad has a direct impact on housing prices. As Transparency International UK—among others—has shown, attempts to clamp down on corruption around the world have led to a rise in property prices here as illicit finance flows into the UK market to avoid detection in its home country.

This is not just about luxury properties. There is a ripple effect, where activity at the top causes a rise in prices throughout the market. As demand outstrips supply in high-value areas, buyers look out to more affordable places. This leads to a cycle of rising housing prices—my hon. Friends know this story very well. Illicit finance also distorts the supply of housing as developers increasingly focus on luxury property targeted at international investors, who have no intention of living in the properties. So dirty money, from crime and corruption abroad, is pricing people out of their local communities in cities across the country.

This has a direct effect on the housing crisis. The Government know this, of course. They have committed to act and set up a register of beneficial ownership for UK property owned by overseas entities. This would let the disinfectant of sunlight into the murky world of high-end property bought by shell companies and overseas bodies. As the Government stated:

“It is intended to act as a deterrent to those who would seek to hide and launder the proceeds of bribery, corruption and organised crime in land in the UK.”

The fact the Government are aware of the problem but are still failing to act is inexplicable.

Our new clause 24 requires the Government to review how the Registration of Overseas Entities Bill could work alongside the non-resident surcharge to mitigate the housing crisis. But what we really need is for the Government to introduce this Bill as soon as possible and begin the process of implementing this important legislation. I will end by paying tribute to the Members from across the House who have campaigned on this issue relentlessly. I know they will share our disappointment that the Government are still not taking the action that we all agree is needed. I urge the Government to correct this wrong and get on with doing what they have committed to do.

David Davis Portrait Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con)
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I rise to speak to amendments 32 to 34 and new clause 31 tabled in my name and those of other right hon. and hon. Members. The Government’s historic IR35 policy has dated from long before this Minister was in his office. Far from rationalising the collection of tax from contractors, it has created and has now unwittingly extended a wild west of umbrella companies that operate without regulation and where malpractice is rife. This malpractice has seen contractors forced to operate through non-compliant umbrella companies that maximise their profits by using sleight-of-hand tactics. This includes: misrepresenting tax thresholds; skimming off pension contributions and other payments such as the apprenticeship levy; forcing contractors to opt out of their rights as agency workers; and withholding billions in holiday pay that is legally due.

The Government policy to date has triggered the increased proliferation of mini umbrella companies. BBC Radio 4’s “File on 4” found that 48,000 of these companies had been created in the past five years. The fact that policies in this area are flawed is proven beyond doubt by the fact that HMRC is having to de-register 22,000 of these umbrella companies. The frauds involved here cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds every year in lost tax, but as well as that, the boom of these non-compliant companies means that legitimate umbrella firms are being run out of business by them. The illegitimate umbrella companies making most of their profits through appropriating funds through tax scams, withholding holiday pay, skimming from the apprenticeship levy and the like are driving those honest firms out of business. There exist comparison websites for contractors to see which umbrella company they can do best with, and of course the ones that look best to them are the ones that make them money through illegitimate mechanisms.

Catherine West Portrait Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab)
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Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that some well overdue changes to Companies House’s approach would be very welcome, and that the Government are taking an awful long time to get round to it?

David Davis Portrait Mr Davis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have a lot of sympathy with what the hon. Lady says. There are many ways to attack the issue; I will mention one or two, including my proposals to build in some changes to that effect. There are many ways to make sure that these scams cannot happen, but we need to undertake some of them. To pick an example that I was not going to cite, we understand that something like 40,000 Filipino employees have been taken on as cheap frontmen for these companies as directors. Those sorts of things do not serve our economy or the contractors well.

John Spellar Portrait John Spellar (Warley) (Lab)
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Is there not also a responsibility on the Government as a client to insert in the contracts with their main contractors a clause stating that if such practices are found within their supply chain, they will not be considered for future contracts? The Government could do that quite rapidly, quite apart from HMRC catching up with what is going on.

David Davis Portrait Mr Davis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman is right. The first phase of IR35 was about contractors for Government, so the whole wild west that I have described was actually created for public services.

To come back to my point about illegitimate contractors forcing the legitimate ones out of business, it is quite understandable that ordinary contractors will be attracted to a scheme that seems to offer them the best terms, yet they will be unaware that in doing so they risk unwittingly entering unintentional tax avoidance schemes. That is one of the problems that troubles me most.

These contractors, remember, are not fat cats, big bankers or city slickers. They are hard-working, decent people such as locum nurses and supply teachers—contractors whose work is vital. To take up the right hon. Gentleman’s point, the FT reported that NHS locum workers returning during the height of the pandemic were targeted by firms mis-selling these schemes. Ordinary and comparatively low-paid workers do not have the advantage of expensive tax advisers. They cannot be expected to navigate the minefield of extremely complex tax law if we allow these predators to play unfettered within it.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP)
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Does not the situation get even worse once these tax avoidance schemes have been identified and shown to be illegal? It is very often the people who were conned into operating with umbrella companies who are penalised, while the umbrella companies walk away with no investigation and there is no means of holding them to account.

David Davis Portrait Mr Davis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is entirely right. Indeed, one of the flaws that HMRC exhibits is that although it very often has real-time information on the issues, it acts only much later. That doubles or quadruples the problem for the ordinary person who is effectively a victim of these schemes, who suddenly finds years later that they have vast sums to meet—and, indeed, the shame of being held up as a tax avoider, if not evader.

The Government should take action to clean up this wild west, for example by providing guidance and templates for the preferred model of working. This is not so difficult. Why cannot we lay out a template for ordinary contractors and legitimate umbrella companies that says, “This is how you should do it, and this is what we expect”? Failing that, my amendments give the Government and Parliament three clear and simple options.

Ideally, the Government will take note and enact new clause 31. It would review—it does not require law to do this—the whole operation of umbrella companies and off-payroll working. For me, that is the de minimis position. My preferred option is that the Government should introduce regulation into this problematic sector to clear up some of the most egregious aspects, including mis-selling and malpractice. They should require—this deals with the Companies Act point to some extent, but it is the simplest way of doing it—umbrella companies to meet five strict requirements: they should pay all holiday pay due; maintain all employment rights; ban kickbacks to third parties; end the skimming off of excess profits through sleight-of-hand tactics; and, finally, ensure that the worker himself has no material interest in the umbrella company. That would not deal with the propriety issues of the Companies Act, but it would deal with the main, most socially damaging aspects of the wild west we have now.

If properly enacted, any company operating in contravention of those strict conditions would be liable for the unpaid tax, so it would not be left solely to the contractor who had become the victim of these schemes. Finally, and this is not my favoured option, if that cannot be made to work, amendment 34 would ban—simply outlaw—the umbrella companies. It is an imperfect solution, because some umbrella companies do a decent and proper job, but if we cannot clean up the wild west, we should eradicate the wild west. It is as simple as that.

What is clear above all is that while that option is not a great outcome, it is much better than the existing outcome. We cannot keep this failed status quo. The Treasury and HMRC’s confused approach to the whole sector enabled the shameful loan charge scandal with thousands of people in financial ruin, families torn apart and seven people so trapped that they tragically ended their own lives. Failure to act on the mis-selling and illegitimate operation of umbrella schemes risks another scandal on a similar scale. That cannot be allowed to happen. We have a duty to act. Just as our key workers have protected us over the past year, it is time we started protecting them.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss [V]
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I rise to speak to new clauses 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16, which are in my name and those of my colleagues. It is certainly a very large grouping of amendments, and I will not speak to all of them, you will be glad to hear, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I will highlight a couple of them.

First, I want to speak about the very large amendments and new schedules concerning Northern Ireland and VAT. It concerns me greatly that we are looking at this huge new swathe within the Finance Bill that has not been considered at any other point in the Bill’s passage and that we have been given very limited time to delve into it at very short notice. That speaks to some of the complexity that Brexit has imposed on Northern Ireland. There needed to be a great deal more scrutiny of the measures prior to now, and the Government should not be bringing forward huge swathes of new schedules at this very late stage of the Bill.

I am very keen on new clauses 4, 5, 8 and 21, because Finance Bill scrutiny is limited after we have passed the Bill. We do not really think very much about the environmental impact, the equalities impact, the public health impact or the impact on poverty, and we do not think very much about the significant impact on the environment of the measures in the Bill. We do not do enough within Finance Bills to understand the full impact of the measures we have, and I would support a full range of other mechanisms to do so, which I will come back to on Third Reading.

I want to touch on the worthy amendments that those on the Labour Front Bench have tabled. The hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) talked knowledgably about the issues around financial crime. Some of the evidence we heard in the Treasury Committee during our inquiry highlighted the fact that that is a hugely under-investigated and under-prosecuted crime. There is still very little progress by the Government in closing loopholes in Scottish limited partnerships or in other areas. As she pointed out, we had pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill in the Joint Committee with the Lords. Now the Bill has disappeared, but the problem has not. There are still huge numbers of people using the UK, within the property sector in particular, to launder dirty money. The Government are not acting on it. The longer it goes on without action, the more we have to ask who is benefiting if the Government are choosing not to act.

On our new clause 9, I was in a meeting earlier with representatives of Lloyds Banking Group where Philip Grant, one of its representatives, made an excellent point about the asymmetric economy that we are currently in. There are some who can restart their businesses and some who cannot yet get restarted. Some of those will not be restarted for quite some time yet to the point where they do not know if they will be able to break even. The economy has not restarted and opened up for everybody. Many sectors of the economy will not be back to normal for quite some time.

Our new clause 9 calls for a report on the extension of the self-employment income support scheme and the coronavirus job retention scheme until September and until the end of the year respectively. For those who are watching and are unfamiliar with Finance Bills, if they are wondering why we keep talking about reports and reviews, the rules of Finance Bills are such that we cannot just ask for the extension in a simple way. We are not allowed to do that—it is part of the restrictions that these Bills have—so we ask for reports. However, we do very much see merit in asking for action rather than just reports.

Some sectors have been able to modify and their staff are working as they were before the coronavirus pandemic, while some are working partly or entirely from home. Yet, as we all know, there are other sectors that are still waiting—culture, hospitality, conferences, events, weddings, tourism and travel. Employers who may already be carrying a significant burden of debt and arrears without having their cashflow back to normal still have to pay more of their employees’ wages, eventually tapering off to nothing at all coming from a Government contribution. Many businesses may decide that it is just too much of a cost and that they cannot continue to employ those people or cannot continue with their business. We know that the scheduled end of the schemes last year caused job losses. The Treasury must not make the same mistakes again, and at least carrying out such a report would help us to understand the consequences of the UK Government’s actions in this area.

We are not out of the woods yet with this pandemic, and it is vital that the UK Government take all the steps they can to strengthen support rather than pulling it. We in the SNP cannot forget, although the UK Government clearly have, about the millions of people excluded from support schemes altogether. It is unjustifiable that the year has come and gone with so many people left without a single penny piece in Government support, many in sectors that have not yet come back and may not for some time.

Further to this, we call again in our new clause 10 for a review of the extension of the 5% reduced rate for hospitality and tourism. This was a call that we made before the Chancellor announced it last year. The VAT rate for tourism has been too high for too long, and this year, when we are being strongly encouraged to holiday at home, it makes absolute sense to extend this provision, which many people have not had sufficient opportunity to benefit from. The provision would also cover events, including funfairs, which have had a very tough year, with many traditional fairs up and down the country being cancelled. Maintaining the VAT reduction could help to provide a much-needed stimulus to an events, tourism and hospitality sector that is crying out for such a boost. I am sure that if we had this power in the Scottish Parliament we would be using it, so I encourage the Minister to act or to devolve the power and let us get on with the job.

On our new clause 13 on stimulus, we agree with the principle of boosting it like Biden. One of the mistakes of the crash is that it was used to set us on a course of austerity. This has had a huge and devastating impact on all our constituents. We need to know from the UK Government what will be the impact of future austerity plans they might have compared with investment. While this Government have the levers in their hands, they should be clear about the impact that their action or inaction will have.

Our new clause 14 returns to some of the issues that we have with the technicalities of the plastic packaging tax. We are trying to be helpful to the UK Government in this regard. I genuinely hope, against previous experience, that they will at least listen to these concerns and make provisions that will maximise both the recyclate and the tax take. Not all plastics are equal, and the Government should recognise that in the provisions they put forward. Some lend themselves more to being recycled and can be brought to 100% reusable content, and some are very far away from that. We should not treat them all the same.

On our new clause 16, we have been concerned for some time about problem gambling, and my hon. Friend the Member for Inverclyde (Ronnie Cowan) has campaigned doggedly on the issue, along with the all-party parliamentary group for gambling related harm. It would therefore be useful to understand the impact of clause 104 on the volume of gambling and whether further fiscal measures are required to tackle the harm that is done to people.

I would like to touch on some of the amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) on the loan charge and related issues. The loan charge continues to be a running sore for many, and I ask the UK Government to consider the merits of the amendments and what more can be done to support people. Stopping the malpractice of umbrella companies would be another step forward in closing loopholes and protecting those who may be tempted to sign up to, or coerced into signing up to, such schemes in the future. Those promoting such schemes always seem to be a step ahead, and the Government should not let them get further steps ahead and become a dot on the horizon.

There are many amendments in the group that I would like to speak to, and many have significant merit and should be considered by the Government. The flaws in this process mean that many of them will not even be considered or voted on tonight, but I urge the Government to take up those that they can.

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)
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I rise to support the amendments standing in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), myself and my colleagues.

Let me start by making it very clear, as my right hon. Friend—wherever he is—did so well earlier, that we have a problem here, and I am surprised that the Government do not really want to recognise it and are avoiding it. The unacceptable practices of umbrella companies have now become very clear. Contractors are being forced into schemes and are being forced by recruitment agencies to use umbrella companies, which they may not wish to do and may be concerned about. Opting out of the conduct of employment regulations is often mandatory, which removes the rights contractors had as agency workers. We are seeing kickbacks, problems over holiday pay and the skimming of the assignment rate. We are also seeing mini umbrella companies, which some contractors sign up to, believing them to be compliant, only to then discover that they are employed by a company with a different name and owned by a director in, say, the Philippines—my right hon. Friend mentioned “File on 4”, which has raised this issue.

The problem is that the worse the level of malpractice, the greater the rewards and kickbacks for the agencies, reducing the revenue for the Treasury. I have huge respect for my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary, who is on the Treasury Bench and who will respond to all of this, and I am sure he and his colleagues in the Treasury are alert to this issue and understand that it is a major problem, but I cannot quite understand why we are not using this Finance Bill to start putting some of this right.

John Spellar Portrait John Spellar
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Has it not been a systemic problem with the Inland Revenue that these schemes have been cropping up for decades, and that it takes years to deal with them? They are spreading like wildfire, and they are spreading even faster now with social media—it used to be through the pubs and clubs. Ministers need to be on the Inland Revenue’s back saying, “Why are you not dealing with these problems?” There is a timing issue in this.

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. The point I am trying to make to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary and others on the Treasury Bench is a fairly gentle one: this is something that we can rectify, and we have the capacity to rectify it. We should think of what will happen if it goes much further. We should think of the loan charge and the huge human problems that were caused by that and the attempt by the Treasury to use retrospective legislation to grab money back. Who got hammered in all that? Not the organisations that were doing these things, but the individuals who were led to believe they were in the right set-up. It is always going to be them who get hammered. I thought the purpose of Government was to protect the vulnerable and deal with those who are abusing them.

Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con)
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It really is enormously frustrating for those of us who, time and again, have made representations to Treasury Ministers on behalf of victims of the loan charge, only to be knocked back by ripostes relating to tax avoidance schemes, that now, when people who have suffered from the loan charge are urging colleagues on this side of the House and no doubt on the other side as well to take steps to ensure that people are not trapped in these schemes in the future, the Government do not want to give them that added layer of protection, so they seem to be wanting to hit them in both directions.

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I will not risk repeating what he has said, but it is the reality. I was one of those who gave evidence to the review of the loan charge set-up because it was quite clear that it was causing huge problems for many decent people in my constituency. I am sure it was the same for Members on all sides of the House; I do not for one moment pretend that it was a problem for my constituents alone.

I recommend to my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary some of the amendments and new clauses that we have been speaking about. I will not go through all of them, but I do want to make this point. Amendment 33, which allows an umbrella not to be an intermediary and still operate, provides strict conditions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden laid out those five conditions, which are critical. I recommend those to the Financial Secretary; I am not going to repeat them, because we would just go on doing that all night.

I want to deal with amendment 34 in a bit more detail. The important thing about amendment 34 is that, in reality, all inside-IR35 workers could easily be paid via a recruitment agency payroll—that is the key bit here—and umbrella companies are of benefit to recruiters, not to workers. Under the original drafting of the off-payroll rules, an umbrella company could classify as a payment intermediary, so payment would have to be made to the umbrella net of tax, reducing an incentive to exist. The behavioural effect will mean agencies will put workers on payroll if they are not outside IR35. The key thing is that this would give the sector a year to re-gear and provide its service as agencies in a payroll payment bureau-type manner, instead of the Government taking other decisive action, including banning certain practices and statutory regulation.

I am trying to be reasonable about this to the Government. I do think that this is really important. I am going to conclude on this. Overall, if we look at the purpose of the amendments and new clauses in this area, I think they set out what the problem is. The people who will get hurt by all of this in the end, when the Treasury finally decides to do something about it, will be the people who were the victims of this, not those who set these schemes up.

There are five points here that are critical: the whole purpose is to stop overnight aggressive tax avoidance schemes introduced and encouraged by some unscrupulous agencies; stop overnight the exploitation of contractors, forced into schemes that adopt malpractice to skim moneys from contractors; stop overnight the kickbacks being used that encourage malpractice; provide sunset clauses to ensure that the sector has until 6 April 2022 to prepare for the changes; and make agencies and clients liable for any malpractice, thereby removing the incentives to encourage it.

These are very simple, basic points. We are not asking for a revolution; we are asking for sense. I know exactly where this is going because in 29 years I have seen this time and again—do not move; later on, blame somebody else; and back comes the Treasury to say, “We’ll now get that money back”. I think the loan charge—I come back to this—is the biggest example of where, when things goes wrong, it is those who have suffered who end up paying the penalty, not those who skimmed off the top and are now living somewhere outside the reach of Her Majesty’s Treasury. I simply say to the Financial Secretary, with all due deference: please, please give consideration to this and at least have a proper review so that we may engage with this in due course and settle it.

Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) (Lab/Co-op)
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First, I draw Members’ attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I rise to support my colleagues on the Front Bench and new clause 24 about the surcharge on overseas buyers: the extra stamp duty that is charged. Although we are seeing a 2% uplift, it is not what was originally promised, and even that, I would say, is still not enough to prevent people from speculating, particularly in my constituency and elsewhere in London, on the expensive London housing market and overheating that housing market.

I came across this level of investment in my early days in this place—I have now been here for 16 years—when I discovered that whole blocks of new developments were being bought up overnight. I could not work out who was doing it. I then managed to inveigle my way on to the distribution lists of some of the estate agents, which were advertising the properties in Hong Kong and Dubai, and they sold over a weekend.

These were not homes for local people. They were often bought up by finance companies overseas and sold on. The original reason for the extra stamp duty surcharge was to try to curtail that to some extent, but I do not think it is enough. Foreign investors are buying homes, which are becoming commodities; they are advertised with yield—it is simply about increasing the rent. As the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare), highlighted, at least £53 million and counting in revenue has been lost from the Exchequer at a time when we need it more than ever. The excuse is often that developers need the money because they cannot operate without that cash-flow model. I think they would adapt pretty quickly. In my constituency, there are blocks that local people have kept their eye on, wanting to try to buy, only to find they have already been sold en masse overseas. A stamp duty increase would help a little bit.

The stamp duty holiday has been helpful to many people, but all that contributes to fuelling demand for housing while the Government are not increasing supply. Those rising house prices put homeownership out of reach of so many of my constituents and people up and down the country. It is having a major dampening impact on people’s lives and livelihoods and on the economy in the long term. It does nothing for private renters and nothing for those in desperate need of affordable housing.

We are now able to go out and do our normal roving surgeries on doorsteps, and I will give some examples of people I have met in the last week alone. Faisal works in the NHS. He has three children in a two-bedroom council flat, and he has been bidding to move to a bigger property for 10 years, but such is the demand in my constituency that someone in housing need does not get to move. If they are homeless, they now get stuck in a hostel room for years, whereas only five or so years ago it was for about six months. Jane—not her real name—and her husband live with two large teenage boys in a two-bedroom flat. I have known her for some years, having seen her at surgeries. I happened to be on her doorstep the other day, and she made sure that I saw how big her boys have become. She has been coming to see me since they were toddlers, yet she still cannot get rehoused. This is no criticism of Hackney Council, which is doing a fantastic job of trying to build, and is building, affordable social housing, but it cannot keep pace with the demand. In the last week alone, two women I knocked on the doors of were sharing beds with their 12 and 13-year-old sons respectively.

One of the saddest cases is an NHS porter I met less than 10 days ago who shares a room in a private rented home with his 16-year-old daughter. He works. He could not qualify for affordable housing even if he wanted to, because he has no recourse to public funds, despite propping up our NHS in one of the most challenging years in its history. He is doing all the right things—working, trying to be a good father—but he cannot afford private rents. That is not surprising: it is at least £1,500 a month to rent a two-bedroom flat in my constituency; £750,000 to buy a two-bedroom flat; and rent for a three-bedroom house is not much shy of £3,500 a month.

We need to increase stamp duty immediately, while monitoring its effect, and we should increase it further for overseas purchasers. We should not have a housing market that has led to homes being owned by finance vehicles or absentee landlords who have no interest in it being a home but simply see it as an investment. Homes should be homes. Investment is all very well, but this is really damaging the future prospects of children in my constituency, some of whom will never have not only their own bedroom but maybe even their own bed between now and when they hopefully earn enough money to leave home, although frankly we are a long way off their earning enough money to buy a £750,000 flat. The Government really need to step up. They talk about levelling up, but that is certainly not happening for many people in my constituency.

Caroline Lucas Portrait Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green) [V]
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I am grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to speak in this debate. There are many amendments in this group to commend, and they have been powerfully set out by colleagues who have spoken before me, most recently the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), but I want focus on new clause 21, which would require the Chancellor of the Exchequer to review the impact of the Finance Bill on human and ecological health and wellbeing, including the wellbeing of future generations. I am very grateful to colleagues for their support.

New clause 21 reflects the urgency of shifting to an economic system fit for the 21st century—a modern economic system, designed to serve people and planet for the long term, rather than one that prioritises economic growth at all costs and short-term profit. We have seen where that has got us. In the words of a report by leading economists for the OECD,

“the dominant patterns of economic growth…have generated ‘significant harms’ over recent decades—including rising inequality and catastrophic environmental degradation.”

This new clause is about how we tell whether the provisions in the Finance Bill are genuinely building back better. It is about what the most important measures of economic success are for making such judgments. It makes the case that the health and wellbeing of people and nature should be our top priority. At the very least, the Treasury should be assessing all its policies against those benchmarks.

New clause 21 also highlights the need for the Treasury to fully consider the impacts of fiscal measures on future generations. It thereby complements the aims of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill, which the noble Lord Bird introduced last week as a private Member’s Bill in the other place. At the moment, the Treasury continues to put short-term economic and political gain ahead of the long-term health of our biosphere. That is an utter betrayal of future generations and is unforgivably wasteful from a public spending point of view.

If we are serious about levelling up, building back better or indeed about climate leadership, we have to switch to long-term preventive spending, and we need to do it fast. I want briefly to offer some further evidence of why we should be assessing each and every provision of the Finance Bill for their impact on human and ecological health and wellbeing. The case for new clause 21 is made splendidly by the Treasury’s own Dasgupta review of the economics of biodiversity, which calls for

“an urgent and transformative change in how we think, act and measure economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world.”

Then there is Public Health England’s recent programme of work, called “Inclusive and sustainable economies: leaving no one behind”, which states:

“Never has the interdependence between health and the economy been closer, or the need for a fairer and more inclusive economic system been clearer.”

It explains how poor areas and populations are at risk of becoming still poorer, and how that will hold them back. Therefore, as we aim to build back better, we also need to build back fairer and more sustainably. Crucially,

“This means addressing the most fundamental of determinants—the economy which creates jobs and wealth—and protecting the environmental sustainability of future generations by doing this within the means of our planet.”

A new report, “Rebuilding prosperity” from the University College London Institute for Global Prosperity sets out proposals for a new way of thinking about what the economy does for people, and a new way of collaborative decision making to secure livelihoods and shared prosperity for people everywhere. Zara Mohammed, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, has recently written about the lessons from the pandemic and the importance of not going back to so-called normal. She says:

“We must build a society based on the principles of social justice; reduce inequalities of income and wealth; and build a wellbeing economy that puts achievement of health and wellbeing at the centre of its strategy.”

The OECD report that I mentioned echoes that approach and makes an unequivocal call for Governments to change the way the economy works in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. It says that we need a paradigm shift in the way developed countries approach economic policy, so that instead of focusing on gross domestic product, we prioritise environmental sustainability, improving wellbeing, reducing inequality and strengthening economic resilience.

Finally, the UN climate science report from earlier this year, “Ten new insights in climate science 2020”, very clearly sets out the stakes:

“A COVID-19 recovery strategy based on growth first and sustainability second is likely to fail the Paris Agreement.”

We cannot judge whether this Finance Bill puts us on course for a fair and green recovery if our main measures of success are things such as GDP growth and labour productivity. There are plenty of alternatives that recognise the priority that should be given to human and ecological health and wellbeing as the goal of economic policy. The Dasgupta report, for example, proposes inclusive wealth instead of GDP. The New Zealand Treasury, famous for the world’s first wellbeing budget, uses a living standards framework, operationalised for budgetary and spending decisions across Government. Other countries in the Wellbeing Economy Governments alliance are embracing similar alternatives, and the Carnegie UK Trust proposes what its call GWE: gross domestic wellbeing.

Robust alternatives do exist. None of them is perfect, but none is anywhere near as flawed as using GDP growth as our main measure of economic success. The time for the Treasury to change is now. The UK, through the G7 and COP26, should be leading the world towards a wellbeing economy. One modest step should be adopting new clause 21, which recognises, as the Treasury’s Dasgupta review states:

“The solution starts with understanding and accepting a simple truth: our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it.”

To conclude, we must, in Professor Dasgupta’s words:

“Change our measures of economic success to guide us on a more sustainable path”.

Andrew Jones Portrait Andrew Jones
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It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), who brings a different perspective—or, as she might word it, a paradigm shift—to some of our debates, which is a positive thing. However, it is quite clear from all that the Government have said that improving our environment for future generations is at the heart of Government policy.

However, I am not going to comment on that. I am going to comment on the Finance Bill measures on which I have, I think, received more correspondence than on any other—namely, the stamp duty measures. In advance of the Budget, the correspondence was to ask for an extension to the stamp duty cut, and after the Budget it was to welcome it. If we pass the stamp duty measures—which obviously we are going to—we will have had a stamp duty cut in place for over a year, and we have definitely seen a boost in housing transactions. In March, there were over 173,000 transactions. I have taken that number from the non-adjusted monthly data published by HMRC, and it is the highest monthly total in its report, which details monthly levels right back to 2005. The £500,000 nil rate band until the end of June has therefore proved effective. My concern is that it has perhaps proved so effective that the market is in danger of overheating. We are seeing quite a bit of inflation, which obviously would need monitoring.

The introduction of a 2% non-resident surcharge will potentially have a positive impact on house price inflation. It would obviously not apply to those who come here to live and work, but would have a slight revenue-raising implication. The Opposition’s new clause 2 calls for the policy to be evaluated at different levels of surcharge. As I said earlier, all Treasury policies are evaluated regularly—I know that from my time there—and we also have the general commitment to transparency. I therefore do not believe that the new clause is necessary.

To focus on housing, it is simply too hard for people in many parts of our country to get on to the property ladder. I welcome the 95% mortgage guarantee scheme, which came into effect last month. However, we need to remember that it is not just one side of the argument that will move things forward, and we are obviously also seeing significant house building. It is the combination of boosting supply and facilitating demand that makes it easier for people to start on home ownership. Judging by my inbox, that remains what people want, although I recognise the point made by the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) about the need for a greater supply of social housing as well. She made her points very powerfully.

I would like to make a couple of comments about the speeches from my right hon. Friends the Members for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) on umbrella companies and IR35. It has been right to address off-payroll employment, which is not good for either the employee, when that is what they truly are, or the employer. It is also worth remembering that we should separate disguised employment from when contractors are truly adding value. They provide flexibility in our workforce for many companies and they bring expertise when it is needed and experience from solving problems in other businesses. That flexibility has been an ingredient in our economic growth.

Nevertheless, the points that my right hon. Friends made about umbrella companies were important. There are problems to solve, particularly in respect of the difference between the originators of the schemes and those who sign up to them in good faith. Although I have no doubt that we have problems to solve, I am not sure that the issue of umbrella companies should be dealt with in a Finance Bill—it is perhaps more of an unemployment issue than a finance one—but I look forward to hearing more on that from the Government in due course and, as my right hon. Friends said, that “in due course” should be sooner rather than later.

There are, of course, lots of other matters in the Bill, as we should expect, but I wish to comment on the issue of housing. I support the measures to promote home ownership, which has been falling for the past few years yet is an aspiration for so many. I am pleased to see that efforts are being made to turn that trend around.

Debbie Abrahams Portrait Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab) [V]
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I wish to speak to new clause 8, which was tabled in my name and the names of my colleagues. The new clause seeks to compel the Chancellor to assess the impact of this legislation on poverty, inequalities and, subsequently, our health.

Under the new clause, the Chancellor would be required to

“review the public health and poverty effects of the provisions of this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.”

The review would have to consider:

“(a) the effects of the provisions of this Act on the levels of relative and absolute poverty in the UK;

(b) the effects of the provisions of this Act on socioeconomic inequalities and on population groups with protected characteristics as defined by the 2010 Equality Act;

(c) the effects of the provisions of this Act on life expectancy and healthy life expectancy in the UK;

(d) the implications for the public finances of the public health effects of the provisions of this Act.”

You will recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, that in February last year Professor Sir Michael Marmot published his review of health equity in England 10 years on from his initial study. His review revealed that instead of narrowing, health inequalities—including how long we are going to live and how long we are going to live in good health—have got worse. Most significantly, his analysis showed that unlike the majority of other high-income countries, our life expectancy was flatlining. For the poorest 10% of the country it was actually declining, and women were particularly badly affected. He showed that place matters: health-wise, living in a deprived area in the north-east was worse than living in an equivalently deprived area in London.

Sir Michael also emphasised that it is predominantly the socioeconomic conditions to which people are exposed that determine their health status and how long they will live. By analysing the abundant evidence available, he attributed the shorter lives of people who live in poorer areas such as my Oldham constituency here in the north-west to the disproportionate Government cuts to their local public services, support and income since 2010.

Shortly after Sir Michael published the report, covid hit. As the recent National Audit Office report outlined, it was always a question of when, not if, there was going to be a pandemic. Like many of us, Sir Michael has tried to point out the Government’s hubris not only in their pandemic management but in understanding why we have such a high and unequal covid death toll—the highest death toll in Europe and the fifth highest in the world.

In his covid review last December, Sir Michael summarised the four key pre-pandemic factors that have driven the high and unequal covid death toll. First, there were pre-existing and widening inequalities in social and economic conditions, particularly in power, money and resources. These inequalities in life have led to inequalities in health. Secondly, our governance and political culture was divisive, not just before but during the pandemic. Thirdly, there has been Government austerity over the past 10 plus years, including cuts in social security and local authority budgets. Finally, we had pre-existing and declining poor health.

Sir Michael has made a number of recommendations to build back fairer, including the need to recognise that our economy and health are linked. The improvement of our health and wellbeing must be a priority for the Government and an outcome of our economic policy, as others have said. New clause 8 is a practical means to ensure that that happens.

Ben Lake Portrait Ben Lake (Ceredigion) (PC)
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It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams), with whom I agree on the importance of the Government ascertaining how measures in this Bill may have a differential impact on different areas of the country, depending on different socioeconomic and health conditions.

I rise to speak to probing amendments 27 and 28, which stand in my name. They would encourage the Government to bring much-needed transparency and strategic thinking to the reliefs proposed by clauses 15 and 19. The amendments reflect Plaid Cymru’s constructive approach to this Bill and our priorities of building Wales’s economy and delivering on our net zero commitments.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you will be pleased to hear that I have no intention of detaining the House for very long this evening and so simply wish to reiterate some of the points I made in Committee. Before doing so, I wish to commend the amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and the speech by the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) on IR35 and umbrella companies. I very much hope that the Government will take them into consideration with some urgency.

Amendments 27 and 28 would require the Government to analyse the impact of changes to the annual investment allowance and research and development tax credits on the UK economy, their geographical reach and their impact on efforts to mitigate climate change. The amendments reflect a concern not only that existing tax reliefs are being used wastefully, but that we need to better support the levelling-up agenda and the decarbonisation of our economy so that we can achieve our legally binding net zero targets. I say that in the full knowledge that many other hon. Members have made these points far more eloquently than I could this evening. I particularly wish to commend the amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), which would go some way to ensuring that any measures in this Bill would have decarbonisation and our net zero commitments very much at the heart of their endeavours.

More generally, the UK Government have a lacklustre record on the use of reliefs. Both the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have raised serious concerns in that regard, with the latter concluding that the Government do not fully know their cost and have failed to conduct due diligence to establish value for money, with some 204 reliefs currently uncosted. When we consider that estimates for the 158 reliefs that have been costed suggest that they could cost the taxpayer as much as £159 billion a year, we as parliamentarians are not only justified but duty bound to establish precisely how those reliefs will contribute to levelling up and decarbonisation efforts. I commend the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) and the work of her Committee, which greatly enhances the quality of our scrutiny in this place.

With those words, I hope that the Government will urgently take on board our amendments, and those tabled by the Members to whom I have referred, to improve the transparency and effectiveness of tax reliefs to furthering what I think are common goals of levelling up and tackling the net zero agenda.

Sarah Olney Portrait Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) (LD) [V]
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I wish to speak to new clause 29, which stands in my name. The pandemic has introduced new ways of working right across our economy and we may need some time before we understand the full impact of these changes and the extent to which they represent permanent changes to how we work. Many of us, MPs included, have been fortunate enough to be able to utilise technology to continue our usual work and receive our full salary for it. Estimates put about 25% of the workforce in this category. I am one of many who hope that some of the changes we have been forced to adopt will be embedded in our normal ways of working as we move out of lockdown. On a national basis, it is possible that the use of digital meeting software may reduce the need for travel, both commuting and longer distance. It will also help workplaces become more accessible for those who have experienced obstacles, such as those with disabilities or those with caring responsibilities. But embedding emergency responses into everyday practice represents threats as well as opportunities, especially to workers. This new clause would require the Government to review the effects of this Finance Bill on certain categories of workers and to report to Parliament.

The workers I am particularly concerned about are those employed on precarious contracts, particularly in the distribution sector. One of the impacts of the stay-at-home order has been an enormous increase in online shopping and home delivery, with a corresponding increase in delivery vans on our roads. The impact that that is having on local congestion is a debate for another day, but tonight I want to draw attention to the contracts under which many of the drivers are working.

A recent survey of 700 drivers working for Amazon showed that many of these workers are forced to drive dangerously to meet their targets, often forgoing mandatory breaks and even toilet stops to meet delivery requirements. The survey showed that the targets that drivers have been given are considerably greater than they were before the pandemic. If we assume, as seems likely, that a greater proportion of our shopping will continue to be done online even after restrictions lift, it is essential that we put in place robust legislation to protect the rights of those who carry out delivery and supply chain work to ensure that we protect not only their rights to safe and healthy work, but the safety of the communities that they serve.

My new clause calls on the Government to report on the effects of the Bill on workers in this sector. We cannot continue to allow critical supply chains to depend on exhausted and overworked drivers. My concern extends to those on zero-hours and agency worker contracts, because the demands of the post-covid economy will fall most heavily on the most vulnerable. Many of these workers will be unprotected by standard terms and conditions and may find themselves pressured into working longer hours in unsafe conditions. We cannot build our recovery from this pandemic on such unsustainable foundations. Economic growth needs to include everyone, and the Government have a responsibility to ensure that every worker is protected.

I also call on the Government to review the wider implications of home working on different groups of home workers, so that we have the best possible understanding of the economic impact of this shift in working practices. Will home working become another mechanism for embedding inequality in our workplaces? Will enforced home working present a barrier to career progression? Will young people miss out on the mentoring and networking that is so crucial at the start of their working lives? It is really important that we measure the impact of this shift in working patterns so that we can consider the appropriate policy response.

I also speak in support of amendment 33, tabled by the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), on clarifying the identity of intermediaries for the purpose of IR35 and loan charge calculations. The loan charge continues to cause many of my constituents a great deal of distress and the proposals contained within the amendment go a long way to assisting with the legal clarification. It is a disgrace the extent to which HMRC takes up cases against individuals, at great expense and stress to those individuals, in order for the law to be clarified. Greater detail in legislation would reduce the need for case law to provide clarification, which would assist individuals who sincerely wish to submit a correct tax return.

I echo the right hon. Gentleman in calling for greater regulation of umbrella companies and the way that they offer their services. All the loan charge casework I have taken up in my constituency relates to people who, in good faith, took professional advice in the organisation of their tax affairs and the submission of their tax returns. It is entirely reasonable that people should instruct professionals and take their advice. It is up to the Government to regulate and legislate to ensure that professionals are clear about the legality of that advice and that innocent people are not held accountable for advice they took in good faith. It cannot be right that companies exist that offer services that have been proven in a court of law to be illegal.

Catherine West Portrait Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab)
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I rise to speak briefly in support of Labour’s new clause 24. We are often told, are we not, that the boldest measures are the safest. Unfortunately, the Government seem to have done a bit of a U-turn, or failed to be bold, going from a promised 3% to 2% on their non-residence surcharge. That is a hugely missed opportunity. It could really have helped the London property market, holding to account the wealthy as opposed to so many of those who struggle to get on to the property ladder.

I also want to talk about the register of overseas entities. First, I echo the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), who talked so movingly about those in housing need in her constituency. That is something that many of us in London see, day in, day out, in our surgeries. In my case, I think of particular companies that, after properties are built, purchase a number of different apartments, selling them, for example, to the far east. Even people who have saved and saved cannot afford to purchase an apartment in that block, as opposed to those who buy an apartment to hold as an investment, even keeping it empty at a time when we have such desperate housing need. The Treasury should consider clamping down on this practice.

On the wider point that this measure could address if it were not so shy, consideration should be made of the cost of assets and the fact that the huge inflation of assets does not help savers or the young. There are so many young people in desperately insecure employment who will never get on to the housing ladder unless we start to address this terrible situation. We also know that with low interest rates it is almost impossible to save the amount of deposit that is needed. The Help to Buy scheme, which in some parts of the country has worked quite well, has not worked particularly well in many of our neighbourhoods. It simply has not been able to touch the sides of what is needed.

The second point I want to make on the amendment on the register of overseas entities is, once again, how disappointing it has been that we have failed to hold to account those abroad who seek, for various reasons, to hide their financial interests in the UK. We look at this in the context of the Sunday Times rich list from last Sunday, where we see 24 new billionaires in the UK while 4.3 million children in the UK are living in poverty. That desperately needs to be addressed, yet it is five years since David Cameron first promised, when he appointed his anti-corruption tsar, to actually do something about corruption and overseas finance. Instead we have this go-slow, whether on having proper credentials for registering businesses at Companies House, on some of the measures in the Bill or on going from 3% to 2%. Who stands to benefit from that? It is not our constituents; it is people abroad who clearly have some kind ear of the Government. That desperately needs to be addressed.

Having read Catherine Belton’s book “Putin’s People”, I hope the Minister is able dispel my fear regarding its allegation that £1 million has gone to the Tory party from Mr Temerko, who is a very wealthy Ukrainian businessman. That money is tied to a corrupt regime where the courts will do the bidding of the Government in Russia. That money is tied up. We should not be beholden to these people; we should be standing up to them.

I also want, while I am talking about the register of overseas entities, to comment briefly on the terrible situation with Belarus in the last 24 hours. The Treasury needs to be much more campaigning. I know that working for the Treasury is all dry facts and figures, but look at how important its work has been in saving our economy and saving our workers. Well, let us now look at how revolutionary it could be in holding to account some of the corrupt regimes that have their money tied up in London’s economy. Will the Minister look at whether he can work with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to bring forward sanctions against state-owned enterprises—some of which continue to have UK subsidiaries, such as BNK UK, which is the UK arm of the Belarusian state oil company—and outline how the Government can plan to stop the Belarusian Government from using the London stock exchange to raise money and sustain Mr Lukashenko’s grip on power? Furthermore, how can the Treasury, working together with the Foreign Office, examine the evidence for further sanctions against individuals who support and help to sustain the regime, such as Mr Mikhail Gutseriyev, who was mentioned today in the urgent question? I hope that the Treasury will work together with the FCDO to right this wrong.

Finally, a statistic to finish these few words. Despite the sanctions imposed last year by the Foreign Secretary, with which I agree, there are fewer Belarusian entities sanctioned now than in 2012. Only seven entities are currently designated, compared with 32 under EU sanctions in 2012. In the space of 12 months, this dangerous regime has stolen an election, employed brutal repression against its own people and hijacked a civilian airliner. I feel as though our economy is facilitating that, and we simply cannot let that pass. I beg that with the mention of the overseas register, the Treasury will work hand in glove with the FCDO to bring these people to book, and to establish a genuine and committed economy that, at its heart, cares about human rights.

John McDonnell Portrait John McDonnell [V]
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We are at a stage in the Bill’s progress that is almost like a wash-up. We are trying to make last-minute appeals to the Government for action on a number of key issues, and all the appeals to the Government so far by the right hon. Members for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith), my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier), the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) and for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney) and others are on worthy causes that should be addressed, as are the amendments from the Labour Front Benchers.

We must remember the context of the Government’s surcharge policy. It was to spike the approach that the Labour party was making about a levy on overseas ownership, on exactly the grounds laid out by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch about the desperate need for housing and to prevent housing from being used continuously as an investment asset for profit, rather than to put roofs over the heads of our families. I wholeheartedly support and welcome all those appeals, but even if with my Catholic upbringing I believe in the powers of conversion, I somehow doubt we have been able to convert the Minister to a sufficient level for him to accept the amendments. I hope to be surprised, but I doubt it.

I tabled amendment 23 not in the hope of converting the Conservative Government, but to enable me to express justifiable anger about the Government’s approach. The Government are attempting to legislate for a real-terms pay cut that will affect millions of low-paid workers through the freeze in the tax threshold. Those include many of my constituents who have had to make ends meet on 80% of their wages for much of last year. Yesterday—this has already been referred to—it was galling to see the other side of the coin. The Sunday Times rich list showed that during the pandemic more billionaires have been created in the UK than at any time in the past 33 years. The levelling-up policy that appeared last year was the levelling up of millionaires into billionaires.

The Chancellor should have used the occasion of the Budget and this Bill to level up capital gains tax to income tax rates, for example. It cannot be right that we tax work more than we tax income from wealth. Ahead of the Budget it was rumoured that the Chancellor was considering equalising capital gains tax and income tax. That would have been a much fairer way of raising revenue than increasing taxes for people on low and average wages, which the Government’s proposals on tax thresholds will do.

Child poverty has been mentioned, and in my constituency 42% of children are growing up in poverty—a figure that has sadly increased each year since 2015. Child poverty is often a consequence of low pay. The majority of children living in poverty in my constituency live in working households. We should be doing everything we can not just to protect but to boost the incomes of the low paid, not drag them into taxation or increase the taxes on them. The Bill will cut the income of someone working full time on the minimum wage. We know that 2 million workers rely on universal credit to top up their low pay, yet in a few months, the Government are going to cut universal credit by £20 a week.

Poverty has been rising in this country, and whether it is the £20 cut to universal credit, the stealth tax in the Bill, or this year’s paltry increase in the minimum wage, the Government’s actions will increase poverty still further, and increase suffering as a result. My amendment would ensure that the tax thresholds for the personal allowance and the higher rate were kept in line with inflation, as per the Income Tax Act 2007. I tabled it because I wanted to draw attention not to Labour party policy but to Conservative party policy, because in the last general election the Conservative manifesto pledged:

“We promise not to raise the rates of income tax”.

The manifesto continued:

“This is a tax guarantee that will protect the incomes of hard-working families across the next Parliament.”

I just hope that Conservative Members will have the good grace at least to acknowledge that clause 5 of the Bill breaches that pledge, and that incomes are not protected. More of people’s incomes will be hit by income tax, and that is especially harsh on the millions of public sector workers who now face from this Government a pay freeze, a 5% rise in council tax and now this stealth tax rise on their income tax.

We know that low earners are struggling to make ends meet as it is. They are heavily indebted, some have been furloughed, losing 20% of their income for a year, and now they are being hit by what by any fair reading is a stealth tax on their income that they thought had been ruled out by the Conservatives’ manifesto in the last election. My worry is that low pay is endemic in our society now. I just want to remind Conservative Members of another pledge that many of them stood on in 2015 when the then Chancellor, George Osborne, promised a £9 minimum wage by 2020. It is now 2021, and the minimum wage is still below that level.

What infuriates me, particularly given the experience of the past year, is that half of all care workers earn less than the real living wage and that the majority of children in poverty are living in working households. The last thing any Government should be doing now is raising taxes on low-paid workers, especially when the Government have broken their promises on raising wages. With many low-paid workers not getting a pay rise and facing household debts they have amassed during lockdown, we should not be taking more out of their income. With high street retail needing an urgent stimulus, there cannot be a worse policy at a worse time than removing demand from the economy. So at this late stage, I, like others, am appealing to the Government to change clause 5. I doubt that they will change their mind, but let me at least place on record my disgust at the Government and at the way this Bill is forcing more very low-paid people already living in poverty into further poverty and suffering.

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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I am grateful to all of those who have spoken in this debate. As the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) has just said, this has been something of a wash-up debate. It is fair to say that it is a bit of an omnibus group of measures pulled together, with many different clauses and issues on which colleagues have wanted to speak. That has made it wide-ranging, but if I may, I am going to focus on some of the key themes from across the various discussions we have had.

Let me start with the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare) and the question of the non-resident surcharge, which was also highlighted by the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier). They may or may not be aware that in 2019 the Government carried out a public consultation on whether there should be a 1% non-resident surcharge, and decided on the basis of that consultation that the surcharge should be levied at 2%. That is twice as high as was originally contemplated in the consultation. That also should be seen in the context of the additional tax that people pay on second and third properties, many of which will fall into the scope of this measure. That is an important factor to bear in mind.

The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) revisited some of her key themes as regards the climate and environmental policy. I think that there is a misunderstanding at some very deep level of what the Government are doing, which includes: the Environment Bill; the 10-point plan that the Prime Minister has laid out; the net zero work that the hon. Lady highlighted, which was commissioned within and by the Treasury from a very eminent independent economist; and our work through the new UK Infrastructure Bank, which focuses on green policies and levelling up and for which I was pleased to visit new potential office sites in Leeds only on Thursday. It all amounts to a tremendous emphasis, particularly in the net zero review, on the long-term future of creating a sustainable and productive green economy in this country. It is very important to focus on that.

The hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) talked about health inequalities. I remind her that the Government have made an enormous investment in the NHS, over and above the extraordinary interventions supporting the fabric of our society over the past 12 months. We will also have in place a new office for health promotion, designed to support better health and wellbeing across the country.

The hon. Member for Ceredigion (Ben Lake) called for greater transparency in relation to reliefs. I have a great deal of personal sympathy with his position; he is absolutely right about the importance of focusing on reliefs. To take a particular example that I know is of great interest to him, he will be aware that we have under way a review of R&D tax reliefs, an important part of policy.

The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West) highlighted the situation in Belarus, which is not directly a matter for the Treasury or the Bill, but is obviously a topic of great importance and interest for all Members of this House, as today’s urgent question highlighted.

All those points are important to put on the record. I also want to pick up on the important speeches made by my right hon. Friends the Members for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith).

My right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden focused on the prevalence of umbrella companies. It is important to say that there are legitimate reasons why an agency or an individual might wish to use an umbrella company. To contemplate a series of measures that might include a ban on umbrella companies would be a tremendous burden on the legitimate umbrella companies; my right hon. Friend mentioned that that was not his preferred option. It is important to point out that such companies can perform useful payroll functions for agencies, provide choice for individuals and have multiple engagements. Notably, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group pointed out recently:

“For freelance contractors who cannot work for their clients on a sole trader or limited company basis…the option to be able to work through an umbrella can be very valuable.”

There is value to umbrella companies, but that is not to say that there is not also abuse. The Government are very focused on that: my right hon. Friend mentioned some of the measures that HMRC is taking to combat umbrella companies that are disobeying the rules or trading fraudulently, and we are committed to extending the remit of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate to support best practice in the area.

John Spellar Portrait John Spellar
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I think the Financial Secretary ought to face up to the reality, which is that many of the people under these companies are not what we would describe in any normal parlance as contractors: they are people working on Test and Trace in their thousands, for example, who should be employed directly either by Serco or by the agency that they work for. There are also great numbers of people in the health service under these companies; they should be employed either by an agency or by the health service. That is where the scandal is, and that is what he really ought to be dealing with—and very promptly.

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
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It is a very dynamic marketplace, as the right hon. Gentleman will be aware. There are many different aspects to it with which the Government are seeking to engage. One thing that is quite important that I do not think he or others have noticed is that the changes to IR35 that the Government have made have in some quarters been widely welcomed. Let me give an example—it may not be the widest possible welcome, but it is quite noticeable—from the off-payroll advisory firm Qdos, which said:

“In recent months the tide has turned, with thousands of businesses now aware of the fact that IR35 reform is manageable”,

as it was manageable in the public sector some years before. It is important to recognise that that is also the case.

Meg Hillier Portrait Meg Hillier
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have to challenge the Minister on IR35. He is speaking as though it is somehow all fine. It has decimated sections of the tech and IT industry in my constituency, where groups of people came together to deliver short contracts and were actually paying as much tax as the Exchequer was getting from them. I can provide figures if he would like to take this up further, but let us not pretend that it is all fine.

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is no suggestion on my part that it is all fine. One cannot make meaningful change to a market that is not performing as one would like and expect everything to be perfectly fine within weeks of the implementation of the measure. The point that I am making is that there are important players in the industry that recognise that—in the quote that I have given—“thousands of businesses” are

“now aware… that IR35 reform is manageable”,

and so it is.

As the hon. Lady will well know, under the previous arrangements there were people who were performing like employees—often working side by side with them—but not paying that tax, and it was important that they did so. If she doubts that, she might want to reflect on the question of what the tax revenue raised from those organisations is used for. The answer is that it is used to support the NHS, our public services and all the other things that the Government are trying to do to get this country through a difficult moment in our history.

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Sir Iain Duncan Smith
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The Minister accepts that there are now some significant abuses in the way that many—not all—umbrella companies operate. Do we need action by the Treasury to deal with this issue, or is he content that it will just resolve itself as things stand?

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, the Government have been clear that there needs to be an extension of the employment agency standards inspectorate in this area, and there may well be operational measures that HMRC needs to continue to undertake. My right hon. Friend will be aware that the Bill contains very considerable additional measures designed elsewhere in the tax system to curb the promotion of tax avoidance schemes, to improve the disclosure of those schemes and to combat organisations that would attempt to derive an unfair advantage of the kind that he has described, so we are absolutely not unaware of the importance of ensuring that people across the board pay appropriate levels of tax.

It is also worth saying that none of this really falls within the context of a Finance Bill, let alone the one that we have laid out in front of us. It is also worth saying that HMRC has used real time information in ways that were contemplated and discussed earlier in the debate in order to try to be more forward-leaning in this area. We recognise the concern and HMRC is highly active in it, but in many cases these umbrella companies do have a legitimate function, and it is important to recognise that.

I think that is it—thank you very much.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
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Once again, I thank all Members who have spoken. This has been a varied and wide-ranging debate, with Members focusing on different aspects of the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) spoke about the impact of overseas buyers buying properties in her community in bulk. My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Catherine West) spoke about the impact that dirty money is having on her local area and how other countries, such as the USA, are using sanctions to target corrupt individuals. Both are excellent champions for their constituents, who are too often at the sharp end of the housing crisis.

Abena Oppong-Asare Portrait Abena Oppong-Asare
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am afraid that we have to make haste.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) spoke passionately about the impact of the Bill on poverty and public health. She is absolutely right to draw attention to the Government’s failure in this area. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) spoke about the measures in the Bill that are hurting the lowest earners in our society. He has always been a champion for the lowest paid.

Other hon. Members, including the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), spoke about the exploitation of workers through umbrella companies. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing North (James Murray) said earlier, we are extremely concerned about the Government’s approach to workers’ rights, including their broken promise to include an employment Bill in the Queen’s Speech. We also share Members’ concerns about people being forced into umbrella companies and losing rights as a result. I urge the Government to look carefully at this issue.

I thank the Minister for his answer to my question on the non-resident stamp duty surcharge. I am aware of the consultation in 2019 to seek views on the decision on 1%, which led to the 2% stamp duty surcharge. I also point out that the Chancellor made an announcement in that same year, when he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in relation to implementing a non-resident stamp duty surcharge at 3%, so this commitment has been watered down.

I am sure that we will return to this issue during future debates and I thank Members for the points they have raised today. I will end by returning to the issue of the register of overseas ownership. As I said earlier, the Government’s failure to introduce this legislation is extremely disappointing. We will push new clause 24 on this issue to a vote, but I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 24

Review of impact of 2% non-resident surcharge

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact of section 88 and schedule 16 of this Act on tax revenues, residential property prices, affordability of residential property, and the volume of property purchases by non-residents, and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act and once a year thereafter.

(2) The review under this section must include an assessment of what those impacts would have been if the provisions in the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill had been in force.’—(Abena Oppong-Asare.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

Schedule 16

SDLT: increased rates for non-resident transactions

Amendments made: 4, page 196, line 4, after “A’s” insert “or B’s”.

This amendment ensures that the de minimis rule in paragraph 10(4) of the new Schedule 9A to the Finance Act 2003 (inserted by paragraph 5 of Schedule 16 to the Bill) not only operates to prevent rights and powers being attributed from A to B where A’s rights and powers are de minimis, but also operates to prevent an attribution from A to B where B’s rights and powers are de minimis.

Amendment 5, page 196, leave out lines 7 to 21 and insert—

“(5) For this purpose, a person’s interest in a company is “de minimis” if—

(a) the proportion of the share capital or issued share capital in the company that the person possesses or is entitled to acquire is less than 5%,

(b) the proportion of the voting rights in the company that the person possesses or is entitled to acquire is less than 5%,

(c) the issued share capital in the company that the person possesses or is entitled to acquire would, on the assumption that the whole of the income of the company were distributed among the participators, entitle the person to receive less than 5% of the income so distributed, and

(d) the person’s rights in the company entitle the person, in the event of the winding up of the company or in any other circumstances, to less than 5% of the assets of the company which would then be available for distribution among the participators.” —(Jesse Norman.)

This amendment is consequential on the amendment to paragraph 10(4) of the new Schedule 9A to the Finance Act 2003 (inserted by paragraph 5 of Schedule 16 to the Bill).

Amendment 6, page 196, line 33, at end insert—

“(e) a company acting as a trustee of a settlement.”—(Jesse Norman.)

This amendment ensures that a corporate trustee which is UK resident for the purposes of the Corporation Tax Acts cannot be “non-resident” for the purposes of the new Schedule 9A to the Finance Act 2003 (inserted by paragraph 5 of Schedule 16 to the Bill.

New Clause 17

VAT AND DISTANCE SELLING: NORTHERN IRELAND

‘(1) In Schedule (VAT and distance selling: Northern Ireland), which makes provision in relation to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU withdrawal agreement about value added tax and distance selling—

(a) Part 1 makes provision amending—

(i) the criteria for registration under Part 9 of Schedule 9ZA to VATA 1994 (value added tax on acquisitions in Northern Ireland from member States: registration in respect of distance sales), and

(ii) the application of the place of supply rules in Part 5 of Schedule 9ZB to VATA 1994 (goods removed to or from Northern Ireland: rules relating to particular supplies);

(b) Part 2 makes provision implementing the European Union schemes known as the One Stop Shop (“OSS”) and the Import One Stop Shop (“IOSS”);

(c) Part 3 makes provision amending Schedule 9ZC to VATA 1994 (online sales by overseas persons and low value importations: modifications relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol) to omit Part 2 of that Schedule (modifications of the Value Added Tax (Imported Goods) Relief Order 1984);

(d) Part 4 makes provision about supplies of goods by persons established outside the United Kingdom that are facilitated by online marketplaces.

(2) The Treasury may by regulations made by statutory instrument make such provision as they consider appropriate in consequence of this section or Schedule (VAT and distance selling: Northern Ireland), including provision amending, repealing or revoking any provision of an Act whenever passed or made (including this Act and any Act amended by it).

(3) The Treasury may by regulations made by statutory instrument make such transitional, transitory, saving, supplementary or incidental provision as they consider appropriate in connection with the coming into force of this section or Schedule (VAT and distance selling: Northern Ireland).

(4) Regulations under subsections (1) and (2) may (among other things)—

(a) confer on a person specified in the regulations a discretion to do anything under, or for the purposes of, the regulations;

(b) make provision by reference to things specified in a notice published in accordance with the regulations;

(c) make different provision for different purposes or areas.

(5) A statutory instrument that—

(a) contains (whether alone or with other provision) regulations under subsection (1), and

(b) is not subject to any requirement under section (VAT and distance selling: power to make further provision) that the instrument be laid before, and approved by a resolution of, the House of Commons after being made,

is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the House of Commons.

(6) This subsection and the following provisions come into force on the day on which this Act is passed—

(a) subsection (1) and Schedule (VAT and distance selling: Northern Ireland) so far as making provision for anything to be done by regulations, directions or public notice, and

(b) subsections (1) to (4), (6) and (7).

(7) Subsection (1) and Schedule (VAT and distance selling: Northern Ireland) come into force for all remaining purposes on such day as the Treasury may by regulations made by statutory instrument appoint.

(8) Regulations under subsection (6) may appoint different days for different purposes.’—(Jesse Norman.)

This new clause makes provision in relation to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU withdrawal agreement about value added tax and distance selling for the purpose of giving effect to Council Directive (EU) 2017/2455 of 5 December 2017 amending Directive 2006/112/EC and Directive 2009/132/EC as regards certain value added tax obligations for supplies of services and distance sales of goods.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 18

VAT and distance selling: power to make further provision

‘(1) The Treasury may by regulations made by statutory instrument make such provision relating to value added tax as they consider appropriate in relation to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU withdrawal agreement—

(a) for the purposes of, or in connection with, giving effect to Council Directive (EU) 2017/2455 of 5 December 2017 amending Directive 2006/112/EC and Directive 2009/132/EC as regards certain value added tax obligations for supplies of services and distance sales of goods, or

(b) otherwise for the purposes of dealing with matters arising out of, or related to, that Directive.

(2) No regulations may be made under this section on or after 1 April 2024.

(3) Regulations under this section—

(a) may make any such provision as might be made by an Act of Parliament, including provision amending or repealing this Act, but

(b) may not make provision taking effect from a date earlier than that of the making of the regulations.

(4) A statutory instrument containing (whether alone or with other provision) regulations under this section that amend or repeal any Act of Parliament must be laid before the House of Commons after being made.

(5) Regulations contained in a statutory instrument laid before the House of Commons under subsection (4) cease to have effect at the end of the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the instrument is made unless, during that period, the instrument is approved by a resolution of the House of Commons.

(6) In calculating the period of 28 days, no account is to be taken of any whole days that fall within a period during which—

(a) Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or

(b) the House of Commons is adjourned for more than four days.

(7) If regulations cease to have effect as a result of subsection (5), that does not—

(a) affect the validity of anything previously done under or by virtue of the instrument, or

(b) prevent the making of new regulations.

(8) A statutory instrument containing (whether alone or with other provision) regulations under this section to which subsection (4) does not apply is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the House of Commons.

(9) This section comes into force on the day on which this Act is passed.’—(Jesse Norman.)

This new clause provides the Treasury with a power to make such provision relating to value added tax as they consider appropriate in relation to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU withdrawal agreement for the purposes of, or in connection with, giving effect to Council Directive (EU) 2017/2455 of 5 December 2017 or otherwise for the purposes of dealing with matters arising out of, or related to, that Directive.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 19

Continuing effect of principle preventing the abuse of the VAT system

‘(1) In section 42 of TCTA 2018 (EU law relating to VAT), after subsection (4) insert—

“(4A) Accordingly, that principle may continue to be relied upon in determining any matter relating to value added tax (including in determining the effect of any provision made by or under an enactment).”

(2)That section has effect, and is to be deemed always to have had effect, with the amendment made by subsection (1).’—(Jesse Norman.)

This new clause clarifies the effect of the continuing application of the principle of EU law preventing the abuse of the VAT system as set out in section 42(4) of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 20

VAT on supply of imported works of Art etc

‘(1) In Schedule 6 to VATA 1994 (valuation: special cases), after paragraph 11 insert—

“11A(1) Sub-paragraph (2) applies to goods that—

(a) fall within subsection (5) of section 21 (works of art etc), and

(b) are treated as supplied in the United Kingdom as a result of section 7(5B) (importation of consignments with an intrinsic value not exceeding £135).

(2) The value of a supply of goods to which this sub-paragraph applies is to be taken to be an amount equal to 25% of the amount that, apart from this sub-paragraph, would be its value for the purposes of this Act.

(3) An order under section 2(2) may contain provision making such alteration of the percentage for the time being specified in sub-paragraph (2) as the Treasury consider appropriate in consequence of any increase or decrease by that order of the rate of VAT.’

(2) The amendment made by subsection (1) has effect in relation to supplies made on or after IP completion day.’—(Jesse Norman.)

This new clause ensures that the correct amount of VAT is charged on works of art, antiques etc when they are imported in a low value consignment.

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 9

Review of changes to coronavirus support payments etc

‘(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer must review the impact on investment in parts of the United Kingdom and regions of England of the changes made to coronavirus support payments etc by this Act and lay a report of that review before the House of Commons within six months of the passing of this Act.

(2) A review under this section must consider the effects of the provisions on—

(a) business investment,

(b) employment,

(c) productivity,

(d) GDP growth, and

(e) poverty.

(3) A review under this section must consider the following scenarios—

(a) the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme are continued until 30th September 2021, and

(b) the coronavirus job retention scheme and self-employment income support scheme are continued until 31st December 2021.

(4) In this section—

“parts of the United Kingdom” means—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland;

and “regions of England” has the same meaning as that used by the Office for National Statistics.”—(Richard Thomson.)

This new clause would require a report comparing the effect of (a) the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme being continued until 30 September 2021 and (b) the coronavirus job retention scheme and self-employment income support scheme being continued until 31 December 2021 on various economic indicators.

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.

New Schedule 1

VAT and distance selling: Northern Ireland

PART 1

AMENDMENTS TO SCHEDULES 9ZA AND 9ZB TO THE VALUE ADDED TAX ACT 1994

Amendments to Part 9 of Schedule 9ZA to the Value Added Tax Act 1994

1 Part 9 of Schedule 9ZA to VATA 1994 (value added tax on acquisitions in Northern Ireland from Member States: registration in respect of distance sales) is amended as follows.

2 (1) Paragraph 48 (liability to be registered) is amended as follows.

(2) In sub-paragraph (1), in the words after paragraph (b), for “on any day” to the end substitute “—

(i) in a case where sub-paragraph (1A) applies, on any day determined in accordance with sub-paragraph (1B), or

(ii) in a case where sub-paragraph (1A) does not apply, on a day when the person makes a relevant supply.”

(3) After that sub-paragraph insert—

“(1A) This sub-paragraph applies where —

(a) the person has a single place of establishment, or (where the person does not have a place of establishment) a single place where the person has a permanent address or where the person usually resides, and

(b) that place is in a member State or Northern Ireland.

(1B) The person becomes liable to be registered on any day in a given year if—

(a) in the period beginning with 1 January of that year and ending with that day, the person makes a relevant supply, and

(b) in that period, or in the period beginning with 1 January and ending with 31 December of the year before the year in which that day falls, the person makes European supplies whose value exceeds £8,818.”

(4) Omit sub-paragraphs (6) and (7).

(5) At the end insert—

“(8) For the purposes of this paragraph, a supply of goods or services is a “European supply” if it is—

(a) a supply of services listed in Article 58(1) of the VAT Directive to a person who is not a taxable person and who is established, or (where the person does not have a place of establishment) who has a permanent address or who usually resides, in a member State or Northern Ireland and that is not the place mentioned in sub-paragraph (1A)(a) (that is, the place in which the person supplying the services is established etc), or

(b) a supply of goods that would be an “intra-Community distance sale of goods” within the meaning given by Article 14(4) of the VAT Directive if references in that Article to a “Member State” were read as if they included a reference to Northern Ireland (and references to a “third country” and “third territory” were read accordingly as including Great Britain) involving the removal of goods to a member State or Northern Ireland and that is not the place mentioned in sub-paragraph (1A)(a) (that is, the place in which the person supplying the goods is established etc).

(9) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (8)(a), a person is not a taxable person if they are not liable or entitled to register for VAT in accordance with the law of the place where the person to whom the services are supplied is established, has their permanent address or usually resides.

(10) In sub-paragraph (8), “the VAT Directive” means Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax.”

3 (1) Paragraph 49 (ceasing to be liable to be registered) is amended as follows.

(2) In sub-paragraph (1)—

(a) in the words before paragraph (a), after “this Schedule” insert “by virtue of paragraph 48(1)(i)”;

(b) in paragraph (a), for “the relevant supplies” substitute “European supplies”;

(c) in paragraph (b), for “relevant supplies” substitute “European supplies”;

(d) in paragraphs (a) and (b), for “£70,000” in both places it occurs substitute “£8,818”.

(3) After that sub-paragraph insert—

“(1A) A person who has become liable to be registered under this Part of this Schedule by virtue of paragraph 48(1)(ii) ceases to be so liable by virtue of that paragraph if at any time paragraph 48(1A) applies in relation to that person.

(1B) A person who has become liable to be registered under this Part of this Schedule by virtue of paragraph 48(3) ceases to be so liable by virtue of that paragraph if at any time the Commissioners are satisfied that the person—

(a) has ceased to make supplies as mentioned in that paragraph, and

(b) will not make such supplies within the period of one year beginning with the day on which the Commissioners are notified or otherwise become aware that the person has ceased to make them.”

(4) In sub-paragraph (2) after “But” insert “—

(a) the fact that a person ceases to be liable to be registered under this Part of this Schedule by virtue of one provision does not prevent the person being liable to be registered under this Part of this Schedule by virtue of another provision, and

(b) “.

(5) After sub-paragraph (2) insert—

“(3) Sub-paragraphs (8) to (10) of paragraph 48 apply for the purposes of this paragraph as they apply for the purposes of that paragraph.”

Amendments to Part 5 of Schedule 9ZB to the Value Added Tax Act 1994

4 In Part 5 of Schedule 9ZB to VATA 1994 (goods removed to or from Northern Ireland: rules relating to particular supplies), in paragraph 29 (distance selling between EU and Northern Ireland: place of supply)—

(a) in sub-paragraph (1)(c)—

(i) omit the “or” at the end of paragraph (i);

(ii) for the “and” at the end of paragraph (ii) substitute “or”;

(iii) after that paragraph insert—

“(iii) is registered under the OSS scheme or a non-UK scheme (within the meaning of Schedule 9ZD), and”;

(b) in sub-paragraph (3), after “paragraph 48(2)” insert “of Schedule 9ZA”.

PART 2

AMENDMENTS RELATING TO THE ONE STOP SHOP AND IMPORT ONE STOP SHOP SCHEMES

5 In section 40A of VATA 1994 (Northern Ireland Protocol) after subsection (3) insert—

“(4) Schedule 9ZD—

(a) establishes a special accounting scheme (“the OSS scheme”) for use by persons making intra-Community distance sales of goods from Northern Ireland to member States, and

(b) makes provision about corresponding schemes in member States.

(5) Schedule 9ZE—

(a) establishes a special accounting scheme (“the IOSS scheme”) for use by persons supplying imported goods to Northern Ireland or into the European Union, and

(b) makes provision about corresponding schemes in member States.

(6) Schedule 9ZF makes provision modifying other provisions of this Act and other enactments in connection with the provision made in Schedules 9ZD and 9ZE.

(7) The Treasury may by regulations—

(a) amend Schedules 9ZD and 9ZE, and

(b) amend Parts 1 and 2 of Schedule 9ZF, (including by inserting provision modifying any provision of an Act whenever passed or made).

(8) The Commissioners may by regulations—

(a) amend Part 3 of Schedule 9ZF (including by inserting provision modifying any provision of an Act whenever passed or made), and

(b) make such further provision as they consider appropriate about the administration, collection or enforcement of value added tax due under Schedules 9ZD and 9ZE.

(9) Regulations under subsections (7) and (8) may—

(a) confer on a person specified in the regulations a discretion to do anything under, or for the purposes of, the regulations;

(b) make provision by reference to things specified in a notice published in accordance with the regulations;

(c) make consequential, transitional, transitory, saving, supplementary or incidental provision.”

6 After Schedule 9ZC to VATA 1994 insert—

“SCHEDULE 9ZD

DISTANCE SELLING OF GOODS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND: SPECIAL ACCOUNTING SCHEME

PART 1

INTRODUCTION

Overview

1 In this Schedule—

(a) Parts 2 and 3 establish a special accounting scheme (the One Stop Shop scheme, referred to in this Schedule as the “OSS scheme”) which may be used by persons making intra-Community distance sales of goods from Northern Ireland to member States;

(b) Part 4 is about persons participating in schemes in member States that correspond to the OSS scheme;

(c) Part 5 is about the collection of non-UK VAT in relation to such corresponding schemes;

(d) Part 6 is about appeals;

(e) Part 7 contains definitions.

“Scheme supply”

2 For the purposes of this Schedule, “scheme supply” means a supply of goods that would be an “intra-Community distance sale of goods” within the meaning given by Article 14(4) of the VAT Directive if references in that Article to a “Member State” were read as if they included a reference to Northern Ireland (and references to a “third country” and “third territory” were read accordingly as including Great Britain).

PART 2

REGISTRATION

The register

3 Persons registered under the OSS scheme are to be registered in a single register kept by the Commissioners for the purposes of the scheme.

Persons who may be registered

4 A person (“P”) may register under the OSS scheme if—

(1) (a) P makes or intends to make one or more scheme supplies in the course of a business that P carries on,

(b) one of the following applies—

(i) P’s business is established in Northern Ireland,

(ii) P’s business is not established in Northern Ireland or a member State but P has a fixed establishment in Northern Ireland, or

(iii) P’s business is not established in Northern Ireland or a member State and P does not have a fixed establishment in Northern Ireland, but P makes or intends to make scheme supplies from Northern Ireland to a member State and does not have a fixed establishment in a member State, and

(c) P is not barred from registering by—

(i) sub-paragraph (2),

(ii) the second or third paragraph of Article 369a(2) of the VAT Directive, or

(iii) any provision of the Implementing Regulation.

(2) P may not be registered under the OSS scheme if they are a participant in a non-UK scheme (see para 38(1)).

(3) P must register under the OSS scheme if P intends to account for VAT on scheme supplies even if P is otherwise registered under this Act.

Becoming registered

5 The Commissioners must register a person (“P”) under the OSS scheme if P—

(1) (a) satisfies them that the requirements for registration are met (see paragraph 4), and

(b) makes a request in accordance with this paragraph (a “registration request”).

(2) A registration request must state—

(a) P’s name and postal and electronic addresses (including any websites),

(b) whether or not P has begun to make scheme supplies and (if so) the date on which P began to do so, and

(c) whether or not P has previously been identified under a non-UK scheme and (if so) the date on which P was first identified under the scheme concerned.

(3) A registration request must—

(a) contain any further information, and any declaration about its contents, that the Commissioners may by regulations require, and

(b) be made by such electronic means, and in such manner, as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) a or may by regulations require.

Date on which registration takes effect

6 Where a person (“P”) is registered under this Schedule, P’s registration takes effect on the date determined in accordance with Article 57d of the Implementing Regulation.

Further provision about registration

7 The Commissioners may, by means of a notice published by them, make further provision about registration under this Schedule.

Notification of changes etc

8 A person (“P”) registered under the OSS scheme must inform the Commissioners of the date when P first makes scheme

(1) supplies (unless P has already given the Commissioners that information under paragraph 5(2)(b)).

(2) That information, and any information P is required to give under Article 57h of the Implementing Regulation (notification of certain changes), must be communicated by such electronic means, and in such manner, as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) or may by regulations require.

Cancellation of registration

9 The Commissioners must cancel the registration of a person (“P”) under the OSS scheme if—

(a) P has ceased to make, or no longer intends to make, scheme supplies and has notified the Commissioners of that fact;

(b) the Commissioners otherwise determine that P has ceased to make, or no longer intends to make, such supplies;

(c) P has ceased to satisfy any of the other requirements for registration in paragraph 4(1) and has notified the Commissioners of that fact,

(d) the Commissioners otherwise determine that P has ceased to satisfy any of those conditions, or

(e) the Commissioners determine that P has persistently failed to comply with P’s obligations in or under this Schedule or the Implementing Regulation.

PART 3

LIABILITY, RETURNS, PAYMENT ETC

Liability to pay non-UK VAT to Commissioners

10 This paragraph applies where a person (“P”)—

(1) (a) makes a scheme supply, and

(b) is registered under the OSS scheme when the supply is made.

(2) P is liable to pay to the Commissioners the gross amount of VAT on the supply.

(3) The reference in sub-paragraph (2) to the gross amount of VAT on the supply is to the amount of VAT charged on the supply in accordance with the law of the member State in which the supply is treated as made, without any deduction of VAT pursuant to Article 168 of the VAT Directive.

OSS scheme returns

11(1) A person (“P”) who is or has been registered under the OSS scheme must submit a return (an “OSS scheme return”) to the Commissioners for each reporting period.

(2) Each quarter for the whole or part of which P is registered under the OSS scheme is a “reporting period” for P.

OSS scheme returns: further requirements

12 (1) An OSS scheme return is to be made out in sterling.

(2) Any conversion from one currency into another for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) is to be made using the exchange rates published by the European Central Bank—

(a) for the last day of the reporting period to which the OSS scheme return relates, or

(b) if no such rate is published for that day, for the next day for which such a rate is published.

(3) An OSS scheme return—

(a) must be submitted to the Commissioners before the end of the month following the month in which the last day of the reporting period to which it relates falls;

(b) must be submitted by such electronic means, and in such form and manner, as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) or may by regulations require.

Payment

13 (1) A person who is required to submit an OSS scheme return must pay, by the deadline for submitting the return, the amounts required in accordance with paragraph 10 in respect of scheme supplies made in the reporting period to which the return relates.

(2) A payment under this paragraph must be made in such manner as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) or may by regulations require.

Availability of records

14 (1) A person (“P”) who is registered under the OSS scheme must make available to the Commissioners, on request, any obligatory records P is keeping of transactions entered into by P while registered under the scheme.

(2) The records must be made available by electronic means.

(3) In sub-paragraph (1) “obligatory records” means records kept in accordance with an obligation imposed in accordance with Article 369k of the VAT Directive.

Amounts required to be paid to member States

15 Section 44 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (requirement to pay receipts into the Consolidated Fund) does not apply to any money received for or on account of VAT that is required to be paid to a member State under Article 46 of Council Regulation (EU) No 904/2010.

PART 4

PERSONS REGISTERED UNDER NON-UK SPECIAL ACCOUNTING SCHEMES

Meaning of “a non-UK scheme”

16 (1) In this Schedule “a non-UK scheme” means any provision of the law of a member State which implements Section 3 of Chapter 6 of Title XII of the VAT Directive.

(2) In relation to a non-UK scheme, references to the “administering member State” are to the member State under whose law the scheme is established.

Exemption from requirement to register under this Act

17 (1) A participant in a non-UK scheme is not required to be registered under this Act by virtue of making scheme supplies in respect of which the participant is required to make returns under that other scheme.

(2) Sub-paragraph (1) overrides any contrary provision in this Act.

(3) Where a participant in a non-UK scheme who is not registered under this Act (“the unregistered person”) makes relevant supplies, it is to be assumed for all purposes of this Act relating to the determination of—

(a) whether or not VAT is chargeable under this Act on those supplies,

(b) how much VAT is chargeable under this Act on those supplies,

(c) the time at which those supplies are treated as taking place, and

(d) any other matter that the Commissioners may specify by regulations, that the unregistered person is registered under this Act.

(4) Scheme supplies made by the unregistered person are “relevant supplies” if—

(a) the value of the supplies must be accounted for in a return required to be made by the unregistered person under a non-UK scheme, and

(b) the supplies are treated as made in the United Kingdom.

De-registration

18 (1) Sub-paragraph (2) applies where a person (“P”) who is registered under Schedule 1A or Part 9 of Schedule 9ZA—

(a) satisfies the Commissioners that P intends to apply for identification under a non-UK scheme, and

(b) asks the Commissioners to cancel P’s registration under Schedule 1A or Part 9 of Schedule 9ZA (as the case may be).

(2) The Commissioners may cancel P’s registration under Schedule 1A or Part 9 of Schedule 9ZA (as the case may be) with effect from—

(a) the day on which the request is made, or

(b) a later date agreed between P and the Commissioners.

Scheme participants who are also registered under this Act

19 (1) A person (“P”) who—

(a) is a participant in a non-UK scheme, and

(b) is also registered, or required to be registered, under this Act, is not required to discharge any obligation placed on them as a taxable person, to the extent that the obligation relates to relevant supplies.

(2) the reference in sub-paragraph (1) to an obligation placed on P as a taxable person is to an obligation—

(a) to which P is subject under or by virtue of this Act, and

(b) to which P would not be subject if P was neither registered nor required to be registered under this Act.

(3) A supply made by a participant in a non-UK scheme is a “relevant supply” if—

(a) the value of the supply must be accounted for in a return required to be made by the participant under that scheme, and

(b) the supply is treated as made in the United Kingdom.

(4) The Commissioners may by regulations specify cases in relation to which sub-paragraph (1) is not to apply.

(5) In section 25(2) (deduction of input tax from output tax by a taxable person) the reference to output tax that is due from the taxable person does not include any VAT that the taxable person is liable under a non-UK scheme to pay to the tax authorities for the administering member State.

Value of supplies to connected persons

20 In paragraph 1 of Schedule 6 (valuation: supply to connected person at less than market value) the reference to a supply made by a taxable person is to be read as including a scheme supply that is made by a participant in a non-UK scheme (and is treated as made in the United Kingdom).

Refund of VAT on supplies of goods and services supplied to scheme participant

21 The power of the Commissioners to make regulations under section 39 (repayment of VAT to those in business overseas) includes power to make provision for giving effect to the second sentence of Article 369j of the VAT Directive (which provides for VAT on certain supplies to participants in special accounting schemes to be refunded in accordance with Directive 2008/9/EC).

PART 5

COLLECTION OF NON-UK VAT

Assessments: general modifications of section 73

22 For the purposes of this Schedule, section 73 (failure to make returns etc) is to be read as if—

(1) (a) the reference in subsection (1) of that section to returns required under this Act included relevant non-UK returns, and

(b) references in that section to a prescribed accounting period included a tax period.

(2) See also the modifications in paragraph 23.

(3) In this Schedule “relevant non-UK return” means a non-UK return (see paragraph 38(1)) that is required to be made (wholly or partly) in respect of scheme supplies that are treated as made in the United Kingdom.

Assessments in connection with increase in consideration: modifications

23 Sub-paragraphs (2) to (4) make modifications of sections 73 and 76 which—

(1) (a) have effect for the purposes of this Schedule, and

(b) are in addition to any other modifications of those sections made by this Schedule.

(2) Section 73 has effect as if, after subsection (3), there were inserted—

“(3A) Where a person has failed to make an amendment or notification that the person is required to make under paragraph 33 of Schedule 9ZD in respect of an increase in the consideration for a UK supply (as defined in paragraph 33(7)), the Commissioners may assess the amount of VAT due from the person as a result of the increase to the best of their judgement and notify it to the person.

(3B) An assessment under subsection (3A)—

(a) is of VAT due for the tax period mentioned in paragraph 33(1)(a) of Schedule 9ZD;

(b) must be made within the time limits provided for in section 77, and must not be made after the end of the period of—

(i) 2 years after the end of the tax period referred to in paragraph 33(1)(a) of Schedule 9ZD, or if later,

(ii) one year after evidence of facts sufficient in the opinion of the Commissioners to justify making the assessment comes to their knowledge.

(3C) Subject to section 77, where further evidence such as is mentioned in subsection (3B)(b)(ii) comes to the Commissioners’ knowledge after they have made an assessment under subsection (3A), another assessment may be made under that subsection, in addition to any earlier assessment.”

(3) The reference in section 73(9) to subsection (1) of that section is taken to include a reference to section 73(3A) (treated as inserted by sub-paragraph (2)).

(4) Section 76 (assessment of amounts due by way of penalty, interest or surcharge) is to be read as if the reference in subsection (5) of that section to section 73(1) included a reference to section 73(3A) (treated as inserted by sub-paragraph (2)).

Assessments: consequential modifications

24 References to prescribed accounting periods in the following provisions are to be read in accordance with the modifications made by paragraphs 22 and 23—

(a) section 74 (interest on VAT recovered or recoverable by assessment);

(b) section 76 (assessment of amounts due by way of penalty, interest or surcharge);

(c) section 77 (assessments: time limits etc).

Deemed amendments of relevant non-UK returns

25 (1) Where a person who has made a relevant non-UK return makes a claim under paragraph 31(7)(b) (overpayments) in relation to an error in the return, the relevant non-UK return is taken for the purposes of this Act to have been amended by the information in the claim.

(2) Where a person who has made a relevant non-UK return gives the Commissioners a notice relating to the return under paragraph 33(2)(b) (increase or decrease in consideration), the relevant non- UK return is taken for the purposes of this Act to have been amended by that information.

(3) Where (in a case not falling within sub-paragraph (1) or (2)) a person who has made a relevant non-UK return notifies the Commissioners (after the expiry of the period during which the non-UK return may be amended under Article 61 of the Implementing Regulation) of a change that needs to be made to the return to correct an error, or rectify an omission, in it, the relevant non-UK return is taken for the purposes of this Act to have been amended by that information.

Interest on VAT: “reckonable date”

26 (1) Sub-paragraph (2) states the “reckonable date” for the purposes of section 74(1) and (2) for any case where an amount carrying interest under that section—

(1) (a) is an amount assessed under section 73(2) (refunds etc) in reliance on paragraph 22, or that could have been so assessed, and

(b) was correctly paid or credited to the person, but would not have been paid or credited to the person had the facts been as they later turn out to be.

(2) The “reckonable date” is the first day after the end of the tax period in which the events occurred as a result of which the Commissioners were authorised to make the assessment (that was or could have been made) under section 73(2).

(3) Sub-paragraph (4) states the “reckonable date” for any other case where an amount carrying interest under section 74 is assessed under section 74(1) or (2) in reliance on paragraph 22, or could have been so assessed.

(4) The “reckonable date” is taken to be the latest date by which a non-UK return was required to be made for the tax period to which the amount assessed relates.

(5) Where section 74(1) or (2) (interest on VAT recovered or recoverable by assessment) applies in relation to an amount assessed under section 73(3A) (treated as inserted by paragraph 23(2)), the “reckonable date” for the purposes of section 74(1) or (2) is taken to be the day after the end of the tax period referred to in paragraph 33(2).

Default surcharge: notice of special surcharge period

27 (1) A person who is required to make a relevant non-UK return for a tax period is regarded for the purposes of this paragraph and paragraph 28 as being in default in respect of that period if either—

(a) conditions 1A and 2A are met, or

(b) conditions 1B and 2B are met.

(but see also paragraph 29).

(2) The conditions are as follows—

(a) condition 1A is that the tax authorities for the administering member State have not received the return by the deadline for submitting it;

(b) condition 2A is that those tax authorities have, in accordance with Article 60a of the Implementing Regulation, issued a reminder of the obligation to submit the return;

(c) condition 1B is that, by the deadline for submitting the return, those tax authorities have received the return but have not received the amount of VAT shown on the return as payable by the person in respect of the tax period;

(d) condition 2B is that those tax authorities have, in accordance with Article 60a of the Implementing Regulation, issued a reminder of the VAT outstanding.

(3) The Commissioners may serve on a person who is in default in respect of a tax period a notice (a “special surcharge liability notice”) specifying a period—

(a) ending on the first anniversary of the last day of that tax period, and

(b) beginning on the date of the notice.

(4) A period specified under sub-paragraph (3) is a “special surcharge period”.

(5) If a special surcharge liability notice is served in respect of a tax period which ends on or before the day on which an existing special surcharge period ends, the special surcharge period specified in that notice must be expressed as a continuation of the existing special surcharge period (so that the existing period and its extension are regarded as a single special surcharge period).

Further default after service of notice

28 (1) If a person on whom a special surcharge liability notice has been served—

(a) is in default in respect of a tax period ending within the special surcharge period specified in (or extended by) that notice, and

(b) has outstanding special scheme VAT for that tax period, the person is to be liable to a surcharge of the amount given by sub-paragraph (2).

(2) The surcharge is equal to whichever is the greater of—

(a) £30, and

(b) the specified percentage of the person’s outstanding special scheme VAT for the tax period.

(3) The specified percentage depends on whether the tax period is the first, second or third etc period in respect of which the person is in default and has outstanding special scheme VAT, and is—

(a) for the first such tax period, 2%;

(b) for the second such tax period, 5%;

(c) for the third such tax period, 10%;

(d) for each such tax period after the third, 15%.

(4) “Special scheme VAT”, in relation to a person, means VAT that the person is liable to pay to the tax authorities for the administering member State under a non-UK scheme in respect of scheme supplies treated as made in the United Kingdom.

(5) A person has “outstanding special scheme VAT” for a tax period if some or all of the special scheme VAT for which the person is liable in respect of that period has not been paid by the deadline for the person to submit a non-UK return for that period (and the amount unpaid is referred to in sub-paragraph (2)(b) as “the person’s outstanding special scheme VAT” for the tax period).

Default surcharge: exceptions for reasonable excuse etc

29 (1) A person who would otherwise have been liable to a surcharge under paragraph 28(1) is not to be liable to the surcharge if the person satisfies the Commissioners or, on appeal, the tribunal that, in the case of a default which is material to the surcharge—

(a) the non-UK return or, as the case may be, the VAT shown on that return, was despatched at such a time and in such manner that it was reasonable to expect that it would be received by the tax authorities for the administering member State within the appropriate time limit, or

(b) there is a reasonable excuse for the return or the VAT not having been so despatched.

(2) Where sub-paragraph (1) applies to a person—

(a) the person is treated as not having been in default in respect of the tax period in question, and

(b) accordingly, any special surcharge liability notice the service of which depended on that default is regarded as not having been served.

(3) A default is “material” to a surcharge if—

(a) it is the default which gives rise to the surcharge, under paragraph 28(1), or

(b) it is a default which was taken into account in the service of the special surcharge liability notice on which the surcharge depends and the person concerned has not previously been liable to a surcharge in respect of a tax period ending within the special surcharge period specified in or extended by that notice.

(4) A default is left out of account for the purposes of paragraphs 27(3) and 28(1) if—

(a) the conduct by virtue of which the person is in default is also conduct falling within section 69(1) (breaches of regulatory provisions), and

(b) by reason of that conduct the person concerned is assessed to a penalty under that section.

(5) If the Commissioners, after consultation with the Treasury, so direct, a default in respect of a tax period specified in the direction is to be left out of account for the purposes of paragraphs 27(3) and 28(1).

(6) Section 71(1) (meaning of “reasonable excuse”) applies for the purposes of this paragraph as it applies for the purposes of sections 59 to 70.

Interest in certain cases of official error

30 (1) Section 78 (interest in certain cases of official error) applies as follows in relation to a case where, due to an error on the part of the Commissioners—

(a) a person has accounted under a non-UK scheme for an amount by way of UK VAT that was not UK VAT due from the person, and as a result the Commissioners are liable under paragraph 31 to pay (or repay) an amount to the person, or

(b) (in a case not falling within paragraph (a)), a person has paid, in accordance with an obligation under a non-UK scheme, an amount by way of UK VAT that was not UK VAT due from the person and which the Commissioners are in consequence liable to repay to the person.

(2) Section 78 has effect as if the condition in section 78(1)(a) were met in relation to that person.

(3) In the application of section 78 as a result of this paragraph, section 78(12)(b) is read as providing that any reference in that section to a return is to a return required to be made under a non-UK scheme.

(4) In section 78, as it applies as a result of this paragraph, “output tax” has the meaning that expression would have if the reference in section 24(2) to a “taxable person” were to a “person”.

Overpayments

31 (1) A person may make a claim if the person—

(a) has made a non-UK return for a tax period relating wholly or partly to scheme supplies treated as made in the United Kingdom,

(b) has accounted to the tax authorities for the administering member State for VAT in respect of those supplies, and

(c) in doing so has brought into account as UK VAT due to those authorities an amount (“the overpaid amount”) that was not UK VAT due to them.

(2) A person may make a claim if the person has, as a participant in a non-UK scheme, paid (to the tax authorities for the administering member State or to the Commissioners) an amount by way of UK VAT that was not UK VAT due (“the overpaid amount”), otherwise than in the circumstances mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(c).

(3) A person who is or has been a participant in a non-UK scheme may make a claim if the Commissioners—

(a) have assessed the person to VAT for a tax period, and

(b) in doing so, have brought into account as VAT an amount (“the amount not due”) that was not VAT due.

(4) Where a person makes a claim under sub-paragraph (1) or (2), the Commissioners must repay the overpaid amount to the person.

(5) Where a person makes a claim under sub-paragraph (3), the Commissioners must credit the person with the amount not due.

(6) Where—

(a) as a result of a claim under sub-paragraph (3) an amount is to be credited to a person, and

(b) after setting any sums against that amount under or by virtue of this Act, some or all of the amount remains to the person’s credit, the Commissioners must pay (or repay) to the person so much of the amount as remains to the person’s credit.

(7) The reference in sub-paragraph (1) to a claim is to a claim made—

(a) by correcting, in accordance with Article 61 of the Implementing Regulation, the error in the non-UK return mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(a), or

(b) (after the expiry of the period during which the non-UK return may be amended under Article 61) to the Commissioners.

(8) Sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) do not require any amount to be repaid except to the extent that is required by Article 63 of the Implementing Regulation.

Overpayments: supplementary

32 In section 80 (credit for, or repayment of, overstated or overpaid VAT), subsections (3) to (3C) (unjust enrichment) and (4A), (4C) (1) and (6) (recovery by assessment of amounts wrongly credited) have effect as if—

(a) a claim—

(i) under paragraph 31(1) were a claim under section 80(1),

(ii) under paragraph 31(2) were a claim under section 80(1B), and

(iii) under paragraph 31(3) were a claim under section 80(1A);

(b) references in that section to a prescribed accounting period included a tax period.

(2) In section 80(3) to (3C), (4A), (4C) and (6), as modified by sub-paragraph (1), references to the crediting of amounts are to be read as including the payment of amounts.

(3) The Commissioners are not liable to repay the overpaid amount on a claim made—

(a) under paragraph 31(2), or

(b) as mentioned in paragraph 31(7)(b), if the claim is made more than 4 years after the relevant date.

(4) On a claim made under paragraph 31(3), the Commissioners are not liable to credit the amount not due if the claim is made more than 4 years after the relevant date.

(5) The “relevant date” is—

(a) in the case of a claim under paragraph 31(1), the end of the tax period mentioned in paragraph 31(1)(a), except in the case of a claim resulting from an incorrect disclosure;

(b) in the case of a claim under paragraph 31(1) resulting from an incorrect disclosure, the end of the tax period in which the disclosure was made;

(c) in the case of a claim under paragraph 31(2), the date on which the payment was made;

(d) in the case of a claim under paragraph 31(3), the end of the quarter in which the assessment was made.

(6) A person makes an “incorrect disclosure” where—

(a) the person discloses to the tax authorities in question (whether the Commissioners or the tax authorities for the administering member State) that the person has not brought into account for a tax period an amount of UK VAT due for the period (“the disclosed amount”),

(b) the disclosure is made in a later tax period, and

(c) some or all of the disclosed amount is not in fact VAT due.

Increase or decrease in consideration for a supply

33 (1) This paragraph applies where—

(a) a person makes a non-UK return for a tax period (“the affected tax period”) relating (wholly or partly) to a UK supply, and

(b) after the return has been made the amount of the consideration for the UK supply increases or decreases.

(2) The person must, in the tax period in which the increase or decrease is accounted for in the person’s business accounts—

(a) amend the non-UK return to take account of the increase or decrease, or

(b) (if the period during which the person is entitled under Article 61 of the Implementing Regulation to amend the non-UK return has expired) notify the Commissioners of the adjustment needed to the figures in the non-UK return because of the increase or decrease.

(3) Where the change to which an amendment or notice under sub-paragraph (2) relates is an increase in the consideration for a UK supply, the person must pay to the tax authorities for the administering member State (in accordance with Article 62 of the Implementing Regulation) or, in a case falling within sub-paragraph (2)(b), the Commissioners, the difference between—

(a) the amount of VAT that was chargeable on the supply before the increase in consideration, and

(b) the amount of VAT that is chargeable in respect of the whole of the increased consideration for the supply.

(4) Where the change to which an amendment or notice under sub-paragraph (2) relates is a decrease in the consideration for a UK supply, the amendment or notice has effect as a claim; and where a claim is made the Commissioners must repay any VAT paid by the person that would not have been VAT due from the person had the consideration for the supply always been the decreased amount.

(5) The Commissioners may by regulations specify—

(a) the latest time by which, and the form and manner in which, a claim or other notice under sub-paragraph (2)(b) must be given;

(b) the latest time by which, and the form in which, a payment under sub-paragraph (3) must be made in a case within sub-paragraph (2)(b).

(6) A payment made under sub-paragraph (3) in a case within sub-paragraph (2)(a) must be made before the end of the tax period referred to in sub-paragraph (2).

(7) In this paragraph “UK supply” means a scheme supply that is treated as made in the United Kingdom.

Bad debts

34 Where a participant in a non-UK scheme—

(a) has submitted a non-UK return to the tax authorities for the administering member State, and

(b) amends the return to take account of the writing-off as a bad debt of the whole or part of the consideration for a scheme supply that is treated as made in the United Kingdom,

the amending of the return may be treated as the making of a claim to the Commissioners for the purposes of section 36(2) (bad debts: claim for refund of VAT).

Penalties for errors: disclosure

35 Where a person corrects a non-UK return in a way that constitutes telling the tax authorities for the administering member State about—

(a) an inaccuracy in the return,

(b) a supply of false information, or

(c) a withholding of information,

the person is regarded as telling HMRC about that for the purposes of paragraph 9 of Schedule 24 to the Finance Act 2007.

Set-offs

36 Where a participant in a non-UK scheme is liable to pay UK VAT to the tax authorities for the administering member State in accordance with the scheme, the UK VAT is regarded for the purposes of section 130(6) of the Finance Act 2008 (set-off) as payable to the Commissioners.

PART 6

APPEALS

37 (1) An appeal lies to the tribunal with respect to any of the following—

(a) a refusal to register a person under the OSS scheme;

(b) the cancellation of the registration of any person under the OSS scheme;

(c) a refusal to make a repayment under paragraph 31 (overpayments), or a decision by the Commissioners as to the amount of a repayment due under that provision;

(d) a refusal to make a repayment under paragraph 33(4) (decrease in consideration);

(e) any liability to a surcharge under paragraph 28 (default surcharge).

(2) Part 5 of this Act (reviews and appeals), and any order or regulations under that Part, have effect as if an appeal under this paragraph were an appeal which lies to the tribunal under section 83(1) (but not under any particular paragraph of that subsection).

(3) Where the Commissioners have made an assessment under section 73 in reliance on paragraph 22 or 23—

(a) section 83(1)(p)(i): (appeals against assessments under section 73(1) etc) applies as if the relevant non-UK return were a return under this Act, and

(b) the references in section 84(3) and (5) to the matters mentioned in section 83(1)(p) are to be read accordingly.

PART 7

INTERPRETATION

38 (1) In this Schedule—

“administering member State”, in relation to a non-UK scheme, has the meaning given by paragraph 16(2);

“the Implementing Regulation” means Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 282/2011;

“non-UK return” means a return required to be made, for a tax period, under a non-UK scheme;

“non-UK scheme” has the meaning given by paragraph 16(1);

“OSS scheme” has the meaning given by paragraph 1(a);

“OSS scheme return” has the meaning given by paragraph 11(1);

“participant”, in relation to a non-UK scheme, means a person who is identified under that scheme;

“relevant non-UK return” has the meaning given by paragraph 22(3);

“reporting period” is to be read in accordance with paragraph 11(2);

“scheme supply” has the meaning given by paragraph 2;

“tax period” means a period for which a person is required to make a return under a non-UK scheme;

“UK VAT” means VAT in respect of scheme supplies treated as made in the United Kingdom;

“the VAT Directive” means Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax.

(2) In relation to a non-UK scheme (or a non-UK return), references in this Schedule to “the tax authorities” are to the tax authorities for the member State under whose law the scheme is established.

(3) References in this Schedule to scheme supplies being “treated as made” in the United Kingdom are to their being treated as made in the United Kingdom by paragraph 29(1) of Schedule 9ZB.

SCHEDULE 9ZE

DISTANCE SELLING OF GOODS IMPORTED TO NORTHERN IRELAND: SPECIAL ACCOUNTING SCHEME

PART 1

INTRODUCTION

Overview

1 In this Schedule—

(a) Parts 2 and 3 establish a special accounting scheme (the Import One Stop Shop scheme, referred to in this Schedule as the “IOSS scheme”) which may be used by certain persons making supplies of goods to Northern Ireland or into the European Union from countries or territories other than Northern Ireland or member States;

(b) Part 4 makes provision about the collection of UK VAT on such supplies;

(c) Part 5 makes provision about IOSS representatives;

(d) Part 6 makes supplementary provision;

(e) Part 7 is about appeals;

(f) Part 8 contains definitions.

Qualifying supplies of goods

2 (1) For the purposes of this Schedule, a supply of goods is a “qualifying supply of goods” if—

(a) the supply is a distance sale of goods imported from third territories or third countries for the purposes of the second paragraph of Article 14(4) of the VAT Directive (as modified by sub-paragraph (2)),

(b) the intrinsic value of the consignment of which the goods are part is not more than £135, and

(c) the consignment of which the goods are part does not contain goods of a class or description subject to any duty of excise, whether or not those goods are in fact chargeable with that duty, and whether or not that duty has been paid on those goods.

(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)(a), the second paragraph of Article 14(4) of the VAT Directive is to be read as if after “Member State” there were inserted “or Northern Ireland”.

PART 2

REGISTRATION

The register

3 Persons registered under the IOSS scheme are to be registered in a single register kept by the Commissioners for the purposes of the scheme.

Persons who may be registered

4 A person (“P”) may register under the IOSS scheme if—

(a) P makes or intends to make one or more qualifying supplies of goods in the course of a business that P carries on,

(b) one of the following applies—

(i) P is established in Northern Ireland,

(ii) P is established in a country or territory with which the EU has concluded an agreement making provision corresponding or similar to that contained in Council Directive 2010/24/EU or Regulation (EU) No 904/2010, or

(iii) P is represented by an IOSS representative established in Northern Ireland (see Part 5),

(c) P is not identified under any provision of the law of a member State which implements Section 4 of Chapter 6 of Title XII of the VAT Directive, and

(d) P is not barred from registering by—

(i) the second paragraph of Article 369l(3) of the VAT Directive, or

(ii) any provision of the Implementing Regulation.

Becoming registered

5 The Commissioners must register a person (“P”) under the IOSS scheme if P—

(1) (a) satisfies them that the requirements for registration are met (see paragraph 4), and

(b) makes a request in accordance with this paragraph (a “registration request”).

(2) A registration request must state—

(a) P’s name and postal and electronic addresses (including any websites);

(b) the number (if any) P has been allocated by the tax authorities in the country in which P belongs;

(c) the date on which P began, or intends to begin, making qualifying supplies of goods.

(3) A registration request must include a statement—

(a) that P is not established in a member State, or

(b) that P is so established, but is represented by an IOSS representative established in Northern Ireland.

(4) A registration request must—

(a) contain any further information, and any declaration about its contents, that the Commissioners may by regulations require, and

(b) be made by such electronic means, and in such manner, as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) or may by regulations require.

Date on which registration takes effect

6 Where a person (“P”) is registered under this Schedule, P’s registration takes effect on the date determined in accordance with Article 57d of the Implementing Regulation.

Further provision about registration

7 Where the Commissioners register a person under the IOSS scheme who is an IOSS representative the Commissioners must

(1) also register under the IOSS scheme each person represented by the representative.

(2) The Commissioners may, by means of a notice published by them, make further provision about registration under this Schedule.

Notification of changes etc

8 A notification under Article 57h of the Implementing Regulation (notification of certain changes) must be given by such electronic means, and in such manner, as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) or may by regulations prescribe.

Cancellation of registration

9 The Commissioners must cancel the registration of a person (“P”) under the IOSS scheme if—

(a) P has ceased to make, or no longer intends to make, qualifying supplies of goods and has notified the Commissioners of that fact,

(b) the Commissioners otherwise determine that P has ceased to make, or no longer intends to make, such supplies,

(c) P has ceased to satisfy any of the other conditions for registration in paragraph 4 and has notified the Commissioners of that fact,

(d) the Commissioners otherwise determine that P has ceased to satisfy any of those conditions,

(e) the Commissioners determine that P has persistently failed to comply with P’s obligations in or under this Schedule or the Implementing Regulation, or

(f) any of the circumstances described in article 369r(3)(a) to (e) of the VAT Directive occur in relation to P.

PART 3

LIABILITY, RETURNS, PAYMENT ETC

Liability to pay VAT to Commissioners

10 This paragraph applies where a person (“P”)—

(1) (a) makes a qualifying supply of goods, and

(b) is registered under the IOSS scheme when the supply is made.

(2) P is liable to pay to the Commissioners the VAT on the supply under and in accordance with this Schedule.

(3) The amount of VAT which a person is liable to pay on the supply is to be determined in accordance with sub-paragraphs (4) to (6), without any deduction of VAT pursuant to Article 168 of the VAT Directive.

(4) If the supply is treated as made in the United Kingdom, the amount is the amount of VAT charged on the supply under this Act (see paragraph 34(2)) and that amount is to be regarded for the purposes of this Act as VAT charged in accordance with this Act.

(5) In a case where sub-paragraph (4) applies and—

(a) P has a business establishment, or some other fixed establishment, in the United Kingdom in relation to a business carried on by P, and

(b) P is not registered, or liable to be registered, under Schedule 1, no VAT is chargeable on the supply under this Act.

(6) If the supply is treated as made in a member State, the amount is the amount of VAT charged on the supply in accordance with the law of that member State.

IOSS scheme returns

11 (1) A person (“P”) who is, or has been, registered under this Schedule must submit a return (an “IOSS scheme return”) to the Commissioners for each reporting period.

(2) Each month for the whole or any part of which P is registered under this Schedule is a “reporting period” for P.

IOSS scheme returns: further requirements

12 (1) An IOSS scheme return is to be made out in sterling.

(2) Any conversion from one currency into another for the purposes of sub-paragraph (1) is to be made using the exchange rates published by the European Central Bank—

(a) for the last day of the reporting period to which the IOSS scheme return relates, or

(b) if no such rate is published for that day, for the next day for which such a rate is published.

(3) An IOSS scheme return—

(a) must be submitted to the Commissioners before the end of the calendar month following the month in which the last day of the reporting period to which it relates falls;

(b) must be submitted by such electronic means, and in such form and manner, as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) or may by regulations require.

Payment

13 (1) A person who is required to submit an IOSS scheme return must pay, by the deadline for submitting the return, the amounts required in accordance with paragraph 10 in respect of qualifying supplies of goods made in the reporting period to which the return relates.

(2) A payment under this paragraph must be made in such manner as the Commissioners may direct (by means of a notice published by them or otherwise) or may by regulations require.

Availability of records

14 (1) A person (“P”) who is registered under the IOSS scheme must make available to the Commissioners, on request, any obligatory records P is keeping of transactions entered into by P while registered under the scheme.

(2) The records must be made available by electronic means.

(3) In sub-paragraph (1) “obligatory records” means records kept in accordance with an obligation imposed in accordance with Article 369x of the VAT Directive.

Amounts required to be paid to member States

15 Section 44 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (requirement to pay receipts into the Consolidated Fund) does not apply to any money received for or on account of VAT that is required to be paid to a member State under Article 46 of Council Regulation (EU) No 904/2010.

PART 4

COLLECTION ETC OF UK VAT

Assessments: general modifications of section 73

16 (1) For the purposes of this Schedule, section 73 (failure to make returns etc) is to be read as if—

(a) the reference in subsection (1) of that section to returns required under this Act included relevant special scheme returns, and

(b) references in that section to a prescribed accounting period included a tax period.

(2) See also the modifications in paragraph 17.

(3) In this Schedule “relevant special scheme return” means a special scheme return (see paragraph 43(1)) that is required to be made (wholly or partly) in respect of qualifying supplies of goods that are treated as made in the United Kingdom.

Assessments in connection with increase in consideration: modifications

17 (1) Sub-paragraphs (2) to (4) make modifications of sections 73 and 76 which—

(a) have effect for the purposes of this Schedule, and

(b) are in addition to any other modifications of those sections made by this Schedule.

(2) Section 73 has effect as if, after subsection (3), there were inserted—

“(3A) Where a person has failed to make an amendment or notification that the person is required to make under paragraph 27 of Schedule 9ZE in respect of an increase in the consideration for a UK supply (as defined in paragraph 27(7)), the Commissioners may assess the amount of VAT due from the person as a result of the increase to the best of their judgement and notify it to the person.

(3B) An assessment under subsection (3A)—

(a) is of VAT due for the tax period mentioned in paragraph 27(1)(a) of Schedule 9ZE;

(b) must be made within the time limits provided for in section 77, and must not be made after the end of the period of—

(i) 2 years after the end of the tax period referred to in paragraph 27(1)(a), or if later,

(ii) one year after evidence of facts sufficient in the opinion of the Commissioners to justify making the assessment comes to their knowledge.

(3C) Subject to section 77, where further evidence such as is mentioned in subsection (3B)(b)(ii) comes to the Commissioners’ knowledge after they have made an assessment under subsection (3A), another assessment may be made under that subsection, in addition to any earlier assessment.”

(3) The reference in section 73(9) to subsection (1) of that section is taken to include a reference to section 73(3A) (treated as inserted by sub-paragraph (2)).

(4) Section 76 (assessment of amounts due by way of penalty, interest or surcharge is to be read as if the reference in subsection (5) of that section to section 73(1) included a reference to section 73(3A) (treated as inserted by sub-paragraph (2)).

Assessments: consequential modifications

18 References to prescribed accounting periods in the following provisions are to be read in accordance with the modifications made by paragraphs 16 and 17—

(a) section 74 (interest on VAT recovered or recoverable by assessment);

(b) section 76 (assessment of amounts due by way of penalty, interest or surcharge);

(c) section 77 (assessments: time limits etc).

Deemed amendments of relevant non-UK returns

19 (1) Where a person who has made a relevant special scheme return makes a claim under paragraph 25(7)(b) (overpayments) in relation to an error in the return, the relevant special scheme return is taken for the purposes of this Act to have been amended by the information in the claim.

(2) Where a person who has made a relevant special scheme return gives the Commissioners a notice relating to the return under paragraph 27(2)(b) (increase or decrease in consideration), the relevant special scheme return is taken for the purposes of this Act to have been amended by that information.

(3) Where (in a case not falling within sub-paragraph (1) or (2)) a person who has made a relevant special scheme return notifies the Commissioners (after the expiry of the period during which the special scheme return may be amended under Article 61 of the Implementing Regulation) of a change that needs to be made to the return to correct an error, or rectify an omission, in it, the relevant special scheme return is taken for the purposes of this Act to have been amended by that information.

Interest on VAT: “reckonable date”

20 (1) Sub-paragraph (2) states the “reckonable date” for the purposes of section 74(1) and (2) for any case where an amount carrying interest under that section—

(a) is an amount assessed under section 73(2) (refunds etc) in reliance on paragraph 16, or that could have been so assessed, and

(b) was correctly paid or credited to the person, but would not have been paid or credited to the person had the facts been as they later turn out to be.

(2) The “reckonable date” is the first day after the end of the tax period in which the events occurred as a result of which the Commissioners were authorised to make the assessment (that was or could have been made) under section 73(2).

(3) Sub-paragraph (4) states the “reckonable date” for any other case where an amount carrying interest under section 74 is assessed under section 74(1) or (2) in reliance on paragraph 16, or could have been so assessed.

(4) The “reckonable date” is taken to be the latest date by which a non- UK return was required to be made for the tax period to which the amount assessed relates.

(5) Where section 74(1) or (2) (interest on VAT recovered or recoverable by assessment) applies in relation to an amount assessed under section 73(3A) (treated as inserted by paragraph 17(2)), the “reckonable date” for the purposes of section 74(1) or (2) is taken to be the day after the end of the tax period referred to in paragraph 27(2).

Default surcharge: notice of special surcharge period

21 (1) A person who is required to make a relevant special scheme return for a tax period is regarded for the purposes of this paragraph and paragraph 22 as being in default in respect of that period if either—

(a) conditions 1A and 2A are met, or

(b) conditions 1B and 2B are met,

(but see also paragraph 23).

(2) The conditions are as follows—

(a) condition 1A is that the tax authorities for the administering member State have not received the return by the deadline for submitting it;

(b) condition 2A is that those tax authorities have, in accordance with Article 60a of the Implementing Regulation, issued a reminder of the obligation to submit the return;

(c) condition 1B is that, by the deadline for submitting the return, those tax authorities have received the return but have not received the amount of VAT shown on the return as payable by the person in respect of the tax period;

(d) condition 2B is that those tax authorities have, in accordance with Article 60a of the Implementing Regulation, issued a reminder of the VAT outstanding.

(3) The Commissioners may serve on a person who is in default in respect of a tax period a notice (a “special surcharge liability notice”) specifying a period—

(a) ending on the first anniversary of the last day of that tax period, and

(b) beginning on the date of the notice.

(4) A period specified under sub-paragraph (3) is a “special surcharge period”.

(5) If a special surcharge liability notice is served in respect of a tax period which ends on or before the day on which an existing special surcharge period ends, the special surcharge period specified in that notice must be expressed as a continuation of the existing special surcharge period (so that the existing period and its extension are regarded as a single special surcharge period).

Further default after service of notice

22 (1) If a person on whom a special surcharge liability notice has been served—

(a) is in default in respect of a tax period ending within the special surcharge period specified in (or extended by) that notice, and

(b) has outstanding special scheme VAT for that tax period, the person is to be liable to a surcharge of the amount given by sub-paragraph (2).

(2) The surcharge is equal to whichever is the greater of—

(a) £30, and

(b) the specified percentage of the person’s outstanding special scheme VAT for the tax period.

(3) The specified percentage depends on whether the tax period is the first, second or third etc period in respect of which the person is in default and has outstanding special scheme VAT, and is—

(a) for the first such tax period, 2%;

(b) for the second such tax period, 5%;

(c) for the third such tax period, 10%;

(d) for each such tax period after the third, 15%.subsequent

(4) “Special scheme VAT”, in relation to a person, means VAT that the person is liable to pay to the tax authorities for the administering member State under a special scheme in respect of qualifying supplies of goods treated as made in the United Kingdom.

(5) A person has “outstanding special scheme VAT” for a tax period if some or all of the special scheme VAT for which the person is liable in respect of that period has not been paid by the deadline for the person to submit a special scheme return for that period (and the amount unpaid is referred to in sub-paragraph (2)(b) as “the person’s outstanding special scheme VAT” for the tax period).

Default surcharge: exceptions for reasonable excuse etc

23 (1) A person who would otherwise have been liable to a surcharge under paragraph 22(1) is not to be liable to the surcharge if the person satisfies the Commissioners or, on appeal, the tribunal that, in the case of a default which is material to the surcharge—

(a) the special scheme return or, as the case may be, the VAT shown on that return, was despatched at such a time and in such manner that it was reasonable to expect that it would be received by the tax authorities for the administering member State within the appropriate time limit, or

(b) there is a reasonable excuse for the return or the VAT not having been so despatched.

(2) Where sub-paragraph (1) applies to a person—

(a) the person is treated as not having been in default in respect of the tax period in question, and

(b) accordingly, any special surcharge liability notice the service of which depended on that default is regarded as not having been served.

(3) A default is “material” to a surcharge if—

(a) it is the default which gives rise to the surcharge, under paragraph 22(1), or

(b) it is a default which was taken into account in the service of the special surcharge liability notice on which the surcharge depends and the person concerned has not previously been liable to a surcharge in respect of a tax period ending within the special surcharge period specified in or extended by that notice.

(4) A default is left out of account for the purposes of paragraphs 21(3) and 22(1) if—

(a) the conduct by virtue of which the person is in default is also conduct falling within section 69(1) (breaches of regulatory provisions), and

(b) by reason of that conduct the person concerned is assessed to a penalty under that section.

(5) If the Commissioners, after consultation with the Treasury, so direct, a default in respect of a tax period specified in the direction is to be left out of account for the purposes of paragraphs 21(3) and 22(1).

(6) Section 71(1) (meaning of “reasonable excuse”) applies for the purposes of this paragraph as it applies for the purposes of sections 59 to 70.

Interest in certain cases of official error

24 (1) Section 78 (interest in certain cases of official error) applies as follows in relation to a case where, due to an error on the part of the Commissioners—

(a) a person has accounted under a special scheme for an amount by way of UK VAT that was not UK VAT due from the person, and as a result the Commissioners are liable under paragraph 25 to pay (or repay) an amount to the person, or

(b) (in a case not falling within paragraph (a)), a person has paid, in accordance with an obligation under a special scheme, an amount by way of UK VAT that was not UK VAT due from the person and which the Commissioners are in consequence liable to repay to the person.

(2) Section 78 has effect as if the condition in section 78(1)(a) were met in relation to that person.

(3) In the application of section 78 as a result of this paragraph, section 78(12)(b) is read as providing that any reference in that section to a return is to a return required to be made under a non-UK special scheme.

(4) In section 78, as it applies as a result of this section, “output tax” has the meaning that expression would have if the reference in section 24(2) to a “taxable person” were to a “person”.

Overpayments

25 (1) A person may make a claim if the person—

(a) has made a special scheme return for a tax period relating wholly or partly to qualifying supplies of goods treated as made in the United Kingdom,

(b) has accounted to the tax authorities for the administering member State for VAT in respect of those supplies, and

(c) in doing so has brought into account as UK VAT due to those authorities an amount (“the overpaid amount”) that was not UK VAT due to them.

(2) A person may make a claim if the person has, as a participant in a special scheme, paid (to the tax authorities for the administering member State or to the Commissioners) an amount by way of UK VAT that was not UK VAT due (“the overpaid amount”), otherwise than in the circumstances mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(c).

(3) A person who is or has been a participant in a special scheme may make a claim if the Commissioners—

(a) have assessed the person to VAT for a tax period, and

(b) in doing so, have brought into account as VAT an amount (“the amount not due”) that was not VAT due.

(4) Where a person makes a claim under sub-paragraph (1) or (2), the Commissioners must repay the overpaid amount to the person.

(5) Where a person makes a claim under sub-paragraph (3), the Commissioners must credit the person with the amount not due.

(6) Where—

(a) as a result of a claim under sub-paragraph (3) an amount is to be credited to a person, and

(b) after setting any sums against that amount under or by virtue of this Act, some or all of the amount remains to the person’s credit, the Commissioners must pay (or repay) to the person so much of the amount as remains to the person’s credit.

(7) The reference in sub-paragraph (1) to a claim is to a claim made—

(a) by correcting, in accordance with Article 61 of the Implementing Regulation, the error in the special scheme return mentioned in sub-paragraph (1)(a), or

(b) (after the expiry of the period during which the special scheme return may be amended under Article 61) to the Commissioners.

(8) Sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) do not require any amount to be repaid except to the extent that is required by Article 63 of the Implementing Regulation.

Overpayments: supplementary

26 (1) In section 80 (credit for, or repayment of, overstated or overpaid VAT), subsections (3) to (3C) (unjust enrichment) and (4A), (4C) and (6) (recovery by assessment of amounts wrongly credited) have effect as if—

(a) a claim—

(i) under paragraph 25(1) were a claim under section 80(1),

(ii) under paragraph 25(2) were a claim under section 80(1B), and

(iii) under paragraph 25(3) were a claim under section 80(1A);

(b) references in that section to a prescribed accounting period included a tax period.

(2) In section 80(3) to (3C), (4A), (4C) and (6), as modified by sub-paragraph (1), references to the crediting of amounts are to be read as including the payment of amounts.

(3) The Commissioners are not liable to repay the overpaid amount on a claim made—

(a) under paragraph 25(2), or

(b) as mentioned in paragraph 25(7)(b), if the claim is made more than 4 years after the relevant date.

(4) On a claim made under paragraph 25(3), the Commissioners are not liable to credit the amount not due if the claim is made more than 4 years after the relevant date.

(5) The “relevant date” is—

(a) in the case of a claim under paragraph 25(1), the end of the tax period mentioned in paragraph 25(1)(a), except in the case of a claim resulting from an incorrect disclosure;

(b) in the case of a claim under paragraph 25(1) resulting from an incorrect disclosure, the end of the tax period in which the disclosure was made;

(c) in the case of a claim under paragraph 25(2), the date on which the payment was made;

(d) in the case of a claim under paragraph 25(3), the end of the quarter in which the assessment was made.

(6) A person makes an “incorrect disclosure” where—

(a) the person discloses to the tax authorities in question (whether the Commissioners or the tax authorities for the administering member State) that the person has not brought into account for a tax period an amount of UK VAT due for the period (“the disclosed amount”),

(b) the disclosure is made in a later tax period, and

(c) some or all of the disclosed amount is not in fact VAT due.

Increase or decrease in consideration for a supply

27 (1) This paragraph applies where—

(a) a person makes a special scheme return for a tax period (“the affected tax period”) relating (wholly or partly) to a UK supply, and

(b) after the return has been made the amount of the consideration for the UK supply increases or decreases.

(2) The person must, in the tax period in which the increase or decrease is accounted for in the person’s business accounts—

(a) amend the special scheme return to take account of the increase or decrease, or

(b) (if the period during which the person is entitled under Article 61 of the Implementing Regulation to amend the special scheme return has expired) notify the Commissioners of the adjustment needed to the figures in the special scheme return because of the increase or decrease.

(3) Where the change to which an amendment or notice under sub-paragraph (2) relates is an increase in the consideration for a UK supply, the person must pay to the tax authorities for the administering member State (in accordance with Article 62 of the Implementing Regulation) or, in a case falling within sub-paragraph (2)(b), the Commissioners, the difference between—

(a) the amount of VAT that was chargeable on the supply before the increase in consideration, and

(b) the amount of VAT that is chargeable in respect of the whole of the increased consideration for the supply.

(4) Where the change to which an amendment or notice under sub-paragraph (2) relates is a decrease in the consideration for a UK supply, the amendment or notice has effect as a claim; and where a claim is made the Commissioners must repay any VAT paid by the person that would not have been VAT due from the person had the consideration for the supply always been the decreased amount.

(5) The Commissioners may by regulations specify—

(a) the latest time by which, and the form and manner in which, a claim or other notice under sub-paragraph (2)(b) must be given;

(b) the latest time by which, and the form in which, a payment under sub-paragraph (3) must be made in a case within sub-paragraph (2)(b).

(6) A payment made under sub-paragraph (3) in a case within sub-paragraph (2)(a) must be made before the end of the tax period referred to in sub-paragraph (2).

(7) In this paragraph “UK supply” means a qualifying supply of goods that is treated as made in the United Kingdom.

Bad debts

28 Where a participant in a special scheme—

(a) has submitted a special scheme return to the tax authorities for the administering member State, and

(b) amends the return to take account of the writing-off as a bad debt of the whole or part of the consideration for a qualifying supply of goods that is treated as made in the United Kingdom, the amending of the return may be treated as the making of a claim to the Commissioners for the purposes of section 36(2) (bad debts: claim for refund of VAT).

Penalties for errors: disclosure

29 Where a person corrects a special scheme return in a way that constitutes telling the tax authorities for the administering member State about—

(a) an inaccuracy in the return,

(b) a supply of false information, or

(c) a withholding of information,

the person is regarded as telling HMRC about that for the purposes of paragraph 9 of Schedule 24 to the Finance Act 2007 (reductions for disclosure).

Set-offs

30 Where a participant in a special scheme is liable to pay UK VAT to the tax authorities for the administering member State in accordance with the scheme, the UK VAT is regarded for the purposes of section 130(6) of the Finance Act 2008 (set-off) as payable to the Commissioners.

PART 5

IOSS REPRESENTATIVES

Eligibility and representation

31 (1) A person may register as an IOSS representative for the purposes of the IOSS scheme if the person is established in Northern Ireland.

(2) A person may not be represented by more than one IOSS representative at a time.

Register

32 Before a person (“R”) can be registered as an IOSS representative, R must provide to the Commissioners the

(1) information required by Article 369p(2) and (3) of the VAT Directive.

(2) The Commissioners may by regulations or by means of a notice published by them make further provision about the registration of a person as an IOSS representative.

(3) The provision that may be made under sub-paragraph (2) includes provision—

(a) requiring the registration of the names of IOSS representatives against the names of the person (or persons) they represent in the register kept for the purposes of this Schedule;

(b) imposing requirements to be met before a person may be registered in that register as an IOSS representative or before such registration may be cancelled;

(c) making it the duty of an IOSS representative, for the purposes of registration, to notify the Commissioners, within such period as may be prescribed, that the representative’s appointment has taken effect or has ceased to have effect;

(d) allowing the Commissioners to refuse to register a person as an IOSS representative, or to cancel a person’s registration as an IOSS representative, in such circumstances as may be specified in the regulations;

(e) as to the manner and circumstances in which a person is to be appointed, or is to be treated as having ceased to be, an IOSS representative;

(f) about the making or deletion of entries relating to IOSS representatives in the register kept for the purposes of this Schedule.

Duties and obligations

33 Where a person registered under the IOSS scheme (“P”) is represented by an IOSS representative (“R”), R—

(a) may act on P’s behalf in relation to the IOSS scheme,

(b) must secure (where appropriate by acting on P’s behalf) P’s compliance with and discharge of the obligations and liabilities to which P is subject by virtue of or under this Schedule, and

(c) is personally liable in respect of—

(i) any failure to secure P’s compliance with or discharge of any such obligation or liability, and

(ii) anything done for purposes connected with acting on P’s behalf, as if the obligations and liabilities imposed on P were imposed jointly and severally on R and P.

PART 6

SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISION

Registration under this Act

34 (1) Notwithstanding any provision in this Act to the contrary (apart from paragraph 1(1A) of Schedule 1 as it has effect in accordance with paragraph 7 of Schedule 9ZF), a participant in the special scheme is not required to be registered under this Act by virtue of making qualifying supplies of goods.

(2) Where a participant in the special scheme (“the scheme participant”) makes relevant supplies, it is to be assumed for all purposes of this Act relating to the determination of—

(a) whether or not VAT is chargeable under this Act on those supplies,

(b) how much VAT is chargeable under this Act on those supplies, and

(c) any other matter that the Commissioners may specify by regulations, that the scheme participant is registered under this Act.

(3) Supplies of scheme services made by the scheme participant are “relevant supplies” if—

(a) the value of the supplies must be accounted for in a special scheme return, and

(b) the supplies are treated as made in the United Kingdom.

(4) References in this Schedule to a person being registered under this Act do not include a reference to that person being registered under the IOSS scheme.

De-registration

35 Where a person (“P”) who is registered under Schedule 1 or 1A solely by virtue of the fact that P makes or intends to make qualifying supplies of goods satisfies the Commissioners that P intends to apply for—

(a) registration under this Schedule, or

(b) identification under any provision of the law of another member State which implements Section 4 of Chapter 6 of Title XII of the VAT Directive, the Commissioners may, if P so requests, cancel P’s registration under Schedule 1 or, as the case may be, 1A with effect from the day on which the request is made or from such later date as may be agreed between P and the Commissioners.

Scheme participants who are also registered under this Act

36 (1) A person who—

(a) is a participant in a special scheme, and

(b) is also registered, or required to be registered, under this Act, is not required to discharge any obligation placed on the person as a taxable person, so far as the obligation relates to relevant supplies unless the obligation is an input tax obligation.

(2) The reference in sub-paragraph (1) to an obligation placed on the person as a taxable person is to an obligation—

(a) to which the person is subject under or by virtue of this Act, and

(b) to which the person would not be subject if the person were neither registered nor required to be registered under this Act.

(3) A supply made by a participant in a special scheme is a “relevant supply” if—

(a) the value of the supply must be accounted for in a return required to be made by the participant under the special scheme, and

(b) the supply is treated as made in the United Kingdom.

(4) In section 25(2) (deduction of input tax from output tax by a taxable person) the reference to output tax that is due from the taxable person does not include any VAT that the taxable person is liable under a special scheme to pay to the tax authorities for the administering member State.

(5) In this paragraph, “input tax obligation” means an obligation imposed on a taxable person relating to a claim to deduct under section 25(2) or to the payment of a VAT credit.

No import VAT chargeable on qualifying supplies of goods

37 No charge to VAT occurs on the importation of goods into the United Kingdom as a result of their entry into Northern Ireland, or their removal to Northern Ireland from Great Britain, where—

(a) that importation is in the course of a supply of those goods which is a qualifying supply of goods, and

(b) the person making the supply is registered under the IOSS scheme.

Time and place of supply of goods

38 (1) Sub-paragraphs (3) and (4) apply (instead of sections 6 and 7) for the purposes of determining when and where a supply of goods within sub-paragraph (2) takes place.

(2) A supply of goods is within this sub-paragraph where—

(a) the supply of those goods is a qualifying supply of goods,

(b) the supply is not facilitated by an online marketplace,

(c) the person making the supply is registered under the IOSS scheme, and

(d) the goods are supplied to a person in Northern Ireland or a member State.

(3) The supply of goods is to be treated as taking place at the time when payment for the goods has been accepted, within the meaning of Article 61b of the Implementing Regulation.

(4) The goods are to be treated as supplied—

(a) in the case of goods supplied to a person in Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom;

(b) in the case of goods supplied to a person in a member State, in that member State.

Place of supply of goods: supplies facilitated by online marketplaces

39 (1) Sub-paragraph (2) applies (instead of section 6) to a supply of goods deemed to have taken place by section 5B(2)(a) or (b) as it has effect in accordance with paragraph 1B of Schedule 9ZC.

(2) The supply of goods is to be treated as taking place at the time when payment for the goods has been accepted within the meaning of Article 41a of the Implementing Regulation.

(3) Sub-paragraph (4) applies (instead of section 7) to a supply of goods deemed to have taken place by section 5B(2)(a) where the operator of the online marketplace that facilitated the supply of goods from P to R (within the meaning of that section) is registered under the IOSS scheme.