HMRC: Tax Returns

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Wednesday 10th January 2024

(5 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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Without further information about that case, it would obviously be very difficult for me to comment. If the noble and learned Baroness would like me to pass her friend’s information to HMRC, I would be very happy to do so.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, when my noble friend telephoned, as she said in answer to my noble friend Lord Forsyth, how long did she have to wait before she had a proper answer?

Destitution: Low Median Wage

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Thursday 23rd November 2023

(7 months ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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It is the case that of course those are assessments made by people far cleverer than me, within the OBR and the Treasury, but that is the analysis. Of course, people will be able to choose whether they work longer hours, but the simple point is that if somebody does work longer hours, they get more pounds in their pocket, so it is not beyond the wit of man to understand that they might want to do more hours.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, as we advance into winter, will everything possible be done to assist those charities who are doing everything they can to get people off the streets and into proper accommodation? Can my noble friend give the House an absolute assurance that those who provide tents will not be fined for doing so?

Bank Accounts

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Wednesday 19th July 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I absolutely agree about the importance of financial inclusion, and we have seen significant progress on that issue in recent years, including through establishing provision of basic bank accounts. That means that anyone in society, whatever their means, has the right to access banking, and we will continue to promote access through our work on financial inclusion.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, in answer to my noble friend Lord Forsyth, my noble friend the Minister said that the Government had their shareholding handled at arm’s length, or words to that effect. I completely accept that, but the moral fact is that the Government are the largest shareholder, so should they not take a particular interest in this political issue?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, the Government have taken an interest in this issue, which is why we issued a call for evidence earlier this year that covered freedom of speech and bank account closure. That is the right avenue through which the Government should seek to address this issue, rather than through their shareholding in a particular bank.

Banks: Closures and Shared Banking Hubs

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Thursday 27th April 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, in taking forward this work, I am sure that that is a consideration the banks have in mind. The banking hubs came out of a pilot programme that allowed banks to test out this model to ensure that it was accessible to all their customers. Of course, they are subject to the equality duty, which also means that they need to make proper provision for those with protected characteristics.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, legal tender is legal tender. I urge my noble friend to bear in mind that the Government have the opportunity, if they wish, to mandate the use of cash—people can use it when they want. Will she also bear in mind that a lot of people now are being discouraged from writing cheques? Many people like to pay their bills with cheques. All these facilities should remain, certainly for the next two decades.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, the Government acknowledge the important role that cash still plays in many of our lives, which is why we are taking unprecedented action on protecting access to cash. As I said, ensuring that businesses have access to deposit facilities will also promote ongoing cash acceptance by businesses.

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Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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What about cheques?

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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I do not think my children know what a cheque is, actually. The Social Market Foundation and the Treasury Select Committee in the other place have expressed some concern about the overreliance on post offices as a stopgap. Postal staff are wonderful, but they are not trained banking specialists. Does the Minister agree that we need that trusted expertise to be available on our high streets? Does she also agree that some post offices just are not suitable for many of the requirements of face-to-face banking, especially for more vulnerable customers, as they do not provide the privacy and dignity that many bank customers need?

VAT: Building Repairs and Maintenance

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Wednesday 19th April 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, it is not a tiny measure; it is a measure that has costs in the billions. There may be several different ways to achieve the point that the noble Baroness is making, which is more energy-efficient construction to create new dwellings. That is the point that I was making to the House.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, the All-Party Arts and Heritage Group, which I helped to found 49 years ago and of which I have the honour to be president, has lobbied consistently on this. There is no single measure that would do more to help conserve our wonderful historic buildings, and our large historic houses in particular, than this move. Will my noble friend please receive a small deputation, which I hope will be accompanied by my noble friend Lord Swire, to talk about this, because the Government’s answers are totally unsatisfactory and frankly wrong?

Defence Spending

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Thursday 16th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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We welcome the contribution from all our allies and partners. I think I have been clear that nearly £5 billion of the £11 billion of additional funding is over the next two years. We have provided clarity beyond the existing scorecard period to help facilitate long-term investment in our future defence.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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Can my noble friend clarify a statement she made in answering the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem? Did she really say that none of this money is going to be needed to replenish the armaments we have sent to Ukraine? A simple yes or no will do.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I believe I said earlier that one of the things we will be able to do with our funding is bolster our conventional stockpiles. But I want to be clear with noble Lords that the £2.3 billion commitment we made to Ukraine in 2022-23, which we are also matching going into next year, is over and above the money I have set out today.

Wagner Group: Sanctions Regime

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Thursday 26th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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I join the noble and gallant Lord in completely condemning the actions of this group. I know we have had the basis to sanction the group under the Russian sanction regime. I am sure we are looking at all the tools we have available to us to take further action. Proscription was one avenue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, and I will write to noble Lords to set out the Government’s position on that.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, having heard these powerful pleas from our two colleagues, proscription is the only answer. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, pointed out that he raised this subject for the first time months ago. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, has given a graphic brief description of the evil that is being perpetrated. We should not be dilly-dallying. We should get on with it and proscribe the wretched organisation.

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I am not sure I can add to that at this time. What I would say to my noble friend is that when it comes to the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the steps that this Government have taken are unprecedented in terms of sanctioning individuals and entities. Nothing is off the table when it comes to further action we are looking to take. For example, we introduced the oil price cap at the end of last year as a new way to try to squeeze the revenues Russia can get from oil to fund this illegal war.

Spending Review and Autumn Statement

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Wednesday 25th November 2015

(8 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord O'Neill of Gatley Portrait Lord O'Neill of Gatley
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My Lords, the noble Baroness has slightly caught me off guard with that point. Certainly, the additional money announced today for the NHS does not mean that it is not expected to deliver the efficiencies that had previously been announced. It is still expected to deliver those efficiencies.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords, I declare an interest as president of the All-Party Arts and Heritage Group, which many noble Lords in all parts of the House support on a regular basis. I express my appreciation for the fact that the Chancellor has recognised that a cut in the very small budget of the DCMS would be a false economy. Will my noble friend assure me that English Heritage and Historic England will be similarly treated?

Lord O'Neill of Gatley Portrait Lord O'Neill of Gatley
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My Lords, the Chancellor’s Statement was very clear on this issue. He will welcome the noble Lord’s appreciative comments.

Medical Innovation Bill [HL]

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Friday 12th December 2014

(9 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Winston Portrait Lord Winston
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I am sorry. At the moment, I am speaking to Amendment 2 on the question of endangering patient safety, but of course the injection of stem cells is also relevant to patient safety, for the reasons that I stated. Let me continue with patient safety—or am I out of order?

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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May I try to help the noble Lord? He did refer to Amendment 13, because it had been suggested earlier that it would fall more happily into this group—so it seems to me that he is conforming to that suggestion.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Portrait Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton
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My Lords, if it may help my noble friend, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, referred to the fact that my noble friend could speak to Amendment 13 in its place on the Marshalled List. Therefore we cannot reach Amendment 13 until we have gone through the others.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes Portrait Baroness Gardner of Parkes
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My Lords, I was particularly keen to hear the explanation of this amendment because the more I read it, the less I understood it. I would appreciate clarification from the noble Lord because I did not, and still do not, understand whether by putting this clause in on this sort of thing, we might be preventing treatment for that man who has just walked in Poland and the people who can suddenly see again because of the treatments for their eyes. If we tend to bottle this up completely, it would mean that all the marvellous advances which have changed people’s lives completely might be slowed down by this amendment. Now, if I am wrong in that, that is a different matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Winston, spoke very movingly about his own personal circumstances. However, where I disagree with him is when he talks about these desperate people who will try anything. That is one of the issues that the Bill is designed to help with. It covers only the cases of people who are already in a terminal condition. The one thing that many of these people do not have is any hope of progress, and in most cases they are willing—certainly in the cases requesting this sort of innovative treatment—to take the risk with what is only a very short piece of life remaining, in the hope that either the treatment might cure them or it might do something to advance research at a faster rate and therefore help other people in the future.

Reading this amendment, I was not clear whether it was pro-advance or anti-advance. As I say, I am still not clear. As it stands, I have grave doubts about supporting it; I think it would take away hope, which is about the last thing that remains for a lot of people.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack
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My Lords, I intervene very briefly. In Committee, we heard a very moving speech from my noble friend Lord Blencathra, who is not here this morning. He made it quite plain why he was supporting the Bill. As I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Winston, for whom we all have enormous respect in every possible way, I could not help but think that there really is not much difference between his aims and objectives and those of my noble friend Lord Saatchi. They are far closer together than his moving speech gave credit for.

In response to the earlier amendments that the noble Lord moved, my noble friend Lord Saatchi indicated that he was more than happy to accept the suggestion of a meeting before Third Reading. That is essential, and the points to which the noble Lord, Lord Winston, has alluded in addressing his Amendments 2 and 13 could clearly be on the agenda for such a meeting. If we can move forward in that way and not seek to divide the House this morning, we will be serving a very noble purpose.

Lord Turnberg Portrait Lord Turnberg
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My Lords, it is hard not to be moved by my noble friend Lord Winston’s personal experiences and indeed those of the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi; we all have those. However, if I am correct in raising Amendment 3 in this group—I am never quite sure now—my amendment is designed specifically to improve safety. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Gardner of Parkes, that the whole purpose of these amendments is to improve safety, not to avoid innovation. There is a distinction; you have to be safe if you are going to innovate.

My Amendment 3 is designed to ensure that a doctor who wishes to use an innovative treatment under the Bill will have not only to obtain the views of one or more appropriately qualified doctors but also to obtain their support or agreement. Otherwise, if the doctor got the view of another doctor who was not involved in innovation but who disagreed with him, he would not have to take that view into account. So he should get the support of that other expert in the field. That is an important distinction and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, and the Government will accept it.

On Amendment 7 in this group, I am pleased to see that everything should be recorded in the patient’s record. That is something that we were very keen on in Committee and it is now in the Bill. I think that I understand the sensitivity and reluctance about getting the written consent of the other doctor or doctors to the innovation. It is said that it might leave that doctor liable in case of legal proceedings. I had thought that the whole purpose of the Bill was to avoid legal proceedings, but there you are. It is not entirely clear whether there is a big difference between a signed agreement and the name of the doctor appearing in the notes as someone who has supported or agreed, but I think that I can safely leave that to the judges to work out.

I am very drawn to Amendment 13—if indeed it is in this group—about the use of stem cells. That is undoubtedly an expanding field in medicine and I can see there being a problem in deciding who should get these cells, which will be very innovative, and how they will be controlled. It is important that we have clear regulations regarding the use of stem cells. I fear that allowing it to appear that they are covered in the Bill would be a mistake, so I support Amendment 13.

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Portrait Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
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My Lords, before speaking expressly to the terms of the amendment, perhaps I may ask a question of the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi. He knows that we have enormous sympathy for the intent behind his Bill and have put forward what I regard as constructive amendments. He has been gracious and constructive in his response.

However, I am still left uneasy that a substantial body of medical opinion—noble Lords have read out the list of organisations—is concerned about the impact of the Bill. The noble Lord may well decide just to plough on. Clearly, we will have a Third Reading, which, I assume, will be in the new year because we could hardly have a Third Reading, say, next Wednesday because it would not give enough time for noble Lords to table amendments properly. That must at least put some doubt as to whether the Bill can get through the other place, particularly in view of the intervention of the chair of the Health Select Committee, although I may be wrong about that. However, even more importantly, what has become clear, in the light of the arguments that have come from medical bodies and clinicians at the forefront of innovation, is that we know that before the Bill comes into effect, various guidance will be issued by the Minister’s department and the General Medical Council—and probably by the defence organisations to their members. My assessment at the moment is that the Bill is unlikely to be used by doctors because of the advice that will come from these different bodies.

The point I wish to put to the noble Lord is this: the arguments that we have heard have been between lawyers and doctors. The lawyers—two distinguished noble and learned Lords have spoken—are saying that, by and large, the law is okay in relation to the Bill, and I fully accept that. However, doctors are saying that there will be greater confusion as a result of the Bill and, therefore, they will not use it in the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, wants it to be used. There is no meeting of minds. The noble Lord has said that he will talk to my noble friend Lord Winston between now and Third Reading, which I very much welcome, but he surely has to engage again with the bodies he met with the Secretary of State to try to find a way through. We support what the noble Lord wants to do and the need for innovation, but my judgment at the moment is that even if he gets his Bill it will not be used, except by the kind of doctors my noble friend Lord Winston referred to—the kind we do not want to use the provisions.

As far as my amendment is concerned, I will say just this: a number of noble Lords felt that it would be a good idea if there were a register on the use of the Act—if it is used—which could then be followed up by research and regulatory agencies. There was general sympathy for that. I thought the noble Earl, Lord Howe, was, up to a point, sympathetic and said:

“The Government’s view is that it is not necessary in this Bill to require doctors to record their innovation in medical records … The General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice guidance already sets out requirements on doctors to record their work clearly in clinical records”.

However, the noble Earl then said that he had,

“heard the legitimate concerns of noble Lords today, and I commit on behalf of the Government to explore this issue further”.—[Official Report, 24/10/14; col. 887.]

My amendment essentially seeks to embrace that, to ascertain from the noble Baroness where those discussions have got to, and embrace the requirements likely to come from the GMC over the Bill. That would provide considerable reassurance to noble Lords who raised this matter in Committee. I beg to move.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, as he so often does, put his case succinctly and elegantly in what is essentially a probing amendment. It is important that we reflect on the points he made because the whole purpose is to get something on the statute book that will be accepted and used. Two things are essential if that is to happen. First, the notes for guidance on and interpretation of the Bill must be written in the clearest possible English. Sir Ernest Gowers’s Plain Words comes to mind. Also, there must be a version that is designed specifically for patients. In all our discussions this morning—we have heard some fascinating speeches—the word “patient” has not occurred often as it should have done. The Bill is designed, above all—as I understand my noble friend’s intentions—to help patients and their loved ones who are concerned, and who do not wish to fall into the clutches of the quacks but to be treated by sympathetic, empathetic, well trained and qualified medical practitioners.

If the Bill goes on the statute book—I hope it will—I should also like there to be a major conference on the Bill. That must be not only in London, which will of course be necessary, but around the country, in all the great regional capitals of the kingdom, so that doctors and patients will have the opportunity—I am delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, nodding assent—to have the Bill explained to them. The Bill does not really pose a threat to any doctor or patient. If it did, it would completely negate its own purpose. Clear explanations are essential. When my noble friends the Minister and Lord Saatchi comment, I hope that they will recognise that there is some validity in the points I seek to make.

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Baroness Jolly Portrait Baroness Jolly
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At the moment, it is not the intention that it should be compulsory, but it should be such that doctors would not dream of not recording on the register. In that way innovation is spread but failures are disseminated, if that makes sense.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack
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The noble Lord has made a very important point. My noble friend clearly is very sympathetic. At Third Reading there will be an opportunity for a suitable amendment. It would reassure people throughout the House and, more important, throughout the country if there were such an amendment.

EU Budget Surcharge

Lord Cormack Excerpts
Monday 10th November 2014

(9 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Deighton Portrait Lord Deighton
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I can assure the noble Lord that the rebate that we are discussing with respect to halving this payment is applied specifically to this payment. It is independent of other arrangements for the rebate.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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My Lords—

Lord Stoddart of Swindon Portrait Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Ind Lab)
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My Lords, is the Minister aware—it was these Benches’ turn.

Lord Ashton of Hyde Portrait Lord Ashton of Hyde (Con)
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Actually, my Lords, we have had one question from each.

Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack
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My Lords, I was saying to my noble friend: is this not the most skilful manoeuvre we have seen since Disraeli caught the Whigs bathing and ran away with their clothes?