Start-up Companies: Tax Incentives

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Monday 29th April 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper and draw your Lordships’ attention to my entry in the register of interests.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait The Parliamentary Secretary, HM Treasury (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) (Con)
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My Lords, HMRC is currently exceeding its published customer services aim to process R&D claims and EIS applications within 40 working days. In some cases, this will involve contact with a company to undertake further checks, rather than immediate approval or payment. This is necessary to ensure that relief is claimed only by those who are eligible.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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My Lords, I understand the need to check claims in certain areas. I am chair of the Finance Bill Sub-Committee of the Economic Affairs Committee, and we have reported on extensive R&D fraud, but there is no history or evidence of fraud in respect of EIS. However, there is evidence of heavy-handedness by HMRC in restricting claims, so will my noble friend agree to set up a working party that includes EIS fund managers to consider best practice and to reduce costs and unnecessary delay in granting EIS relief?

UK Economy

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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Obviously, I cannot comment on any potential tax cuts. I am sure the noble Baroness will agree that the US has a very different economic structure from the UK and tends to offer slightly less support to those at the bottom end of the ladder. She mentioned those who are the most vulnerable. Personal allowances have gone up by 30% in real terms than in 2010. That means that 30% of people now pay no tax. We are focusing our interventions on people at the lower end of the income scale, but we are also focusing them on growing business.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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Would my noble friend agree that comparisons with the United States are not really appropriate, particularly given cheap energy costs in the States due to fracking, which we do not have? It might be better to compare us with European countries. Since 2010, the UK has had the fastest growth of any European G7 country—faster than Italy, Spain, Germany and France. Will she welcome today’s news that the budget surplus for net borrowing, excluding banks, shows a surplus for January of £16.76 billion, and today’s announcement that the UK purchasing managers index rose in January to 52.9? Rather than knocking the economy, let us celebrate the good news.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I agree with my noble friend—let us celebrate good news, and I believe there will be more good news to come. He mentioned debt. It is fair to reassure noble Lords that we are on track for debt to fall as a share of the economy. Public sector net debt as a percentage of GDP is expected to fall next year to the end of the forecast. If one were to exclude Bank of England debt, it will fall in the final year, and public sector net borrowing as a percentage of GDP is forecast to fall every single year. We also have the second-lowest debt as a share of GDP in the G7.

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I will take that idea back to the Bank of England.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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Does my noble friend agree that it is highly complimentary to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng to suggest that their actions are responsible for interest rates in every country around the world, which are broadly comparable to ours?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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As I think I said earlier on in answering this question, all sorts of countries have faced the challenges that the UK has. There have been a number of countries, over the second half of 2023—either in Q3 or Q4—that saw a small technical contraction in their economy. Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, believes that the technical recession may already be over. I expect us to return to growth very soon.

Pension Investments

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Tuesday 23rd January 2024

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I am grateful to the noble Baroness for raising this issue, about which I had a meeting last week with a number of fund managers. Some felt that the fiduciary duty needs to be changed, while others were content with it. The Government remain committed to considering how the fiduciary duty can be clarified. The financial markets group that she referenced is independent of government and includes various law firms and pension schemes. We look forward to the publication of its final report, but, as I say, it is independent of government and it will publish its report when it is ready.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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Does my noble friend not agree that this issue needs not just a meeting with the noble Baroness, Lady Altmann, but wider discussion in this House? It is incredibly important to facilitate investment in UK plc. The issue is not unlisted investment; it is investing in the UK market, and it is not just about defined contributions. What progress has been made in respect of direct benefit in encouraging local government pension schemes to invest in UK plc?

Financial Stability: Private Equity Firms

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(6 months ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I am afraid I do not recognise the picture the noble Baroness paints, nor do I agree that private equity needs to be closed down. The Bank of England monitors the situation across the entire market-based financial system. The noble Baroness may be interested to know that the Bank of England is conducting a system-wide exploratory scenario, which will be a world first and will look at all the elements of the financial system and stress-test them in quite severe circumstances to ensure that there is no contagion. The noble Baroness is not right to say that there is a massive risk of contagion. The private equity sector is a very small part of our financial system.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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I agree with my noble friend’s comments in respect of the private equity industry. I am sure she is aware that the private equity industry raised £70 billion last year but has £145 billion in dry-powder capacity in case of financial instability. Is not the real possible instability for companies in the UK the threatened changes to employment laws, which currently allow firms to respond to market conditions? I refer your Lordships to my registered interests.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My noble friend is absolutely right. We need the right flexible employment laws to ensure that private equity can continue to steward companies that employ millions of people. Indeed, the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association estimates that private equity-related companies employ 2.2 million workers.

Vehicles: Purchase Price and Running Costs

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Monday 24th October 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I will have to refer to the relevant department, but it is of course the case that the UK Government also provide support to various companies to invest in the UK and to create jobs here. All countries will have their own strategies, but I will write to the noble Baroness with more information.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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Will my noble friend agree to speak to her colleagues at Defra about the huge shortage of electric charging points on our inland waterways? There is a disproportionate amount of diesel and petrol boats, particularly on the Thames, which are heavily polluting—I declare an interest as an owner of an electric boat—but the reason that there are not more electric boats is simply the paucity of charging stations.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My noble friend raises a very important point. The Government are very focused on the decarbonisation of the maritime sector, whether that be inland or on sea, so I will certainly speak to Defra, but I will also write to my noble friend, because I think that there is more that I can say on inland waterways.

Electric Vehicles: Charging Points

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Monday 14th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My Lords, we recognise that there will be an increased demand on energy infrastructure, both overall and particularly during peak periods. We are confident that the existing operators will be able to meet that demand, but of course we are working with the sector to ensure that it is efficient and sustainable. One of the things we are doing, for example, is looking at V2X technology, which is when you export energy from a vehicle back into the grid when it is not being used. Indeed, we have invested £30 million of funding in V2G projects—from the vehicle to the grid—and that is one of the ways in which we will ensure that our energy networks can cope.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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My Lords, the aforementioned electricity lamp post system is of course excellent when there is not another car parked there that is not charging. The reason it is excellent is that every model of car can use the lamp post. Are the Government considering legislation such that there is complete compatibility in the charging stations, so that every model of car can use every charging station, which is not the case at the moment?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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The Government take the issue of interoperability of charging points very seriously. We are seeing the market moving towards a smaller number of varying charges, and we will consider how we take that forward.

Cycling: Bells

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Tuesday 27th April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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My Lords, the Government looked very closely at the issue of safety. In the cycling and walking safety review of 2018 we looked at licensing, but we concluded that the costs would outweigh the benefits of getting more people on to a bike. However, I am sure the noble Baroness is aware that it is an offence to cycle on the pavements, under Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835. Enforcement is an operational matter for local police forces.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I declare an interest as a runner clocking up 20 miles a week. I can testify that cyclists can be a real danger to stand-up sportsmen, and very few of the MAMILs have bells. They claim that they interfere with the aerodynamics, which is really just vanity. Outside England, bells are required under the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968, so why do we not have that requirement in England as well? Also, will my noble friend the Minister look at supporting a Bill to regulate pedicabs, which is going to fail in this Session?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for his questions and congratulate him on his running. The Government take an interest in how pedicabs will be regulated, and we will look favourably on any Bills that might come forward. I think I have answered the question about mandating cycle bells, but we have just closed a consultation on the Highway Code. We want to ensure that those who can cause the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce danger or threat. In those circumstances, a cyclist would have the responsibility to a pedestrian or a runner to ensure that they were safe and did not feel intimidated.

Electric Vehicles

Debate between Lord Leigh of Hurley and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Thursday 10th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for pointing me in the direction of that report; I had not seen it. I certainly have now, but I shall study it in more detail. She is right that one of the key action areas that comes out of that report is charging infrastructure. I think that all noble Lords will recognise that as absolutely critical. The Government and industry have already supported the installation of more than 18,000 public chargers, including 3,200 rapid devices. The Government have also made available £20 million to local authorities under the on-street residential charge point scheme. So far, 60 local authorities have taken advantage of that, and 2,000 chargers have been put in place. I recognise that there is more to be done: we need to get more chargers on the streets, and that is what we intend to do.

Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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My Lords, I declare an interest in that I own a Tesla all-electric motor car, and I support the request of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, to encourage the Government to do more for owners of electric vehicles. The Minister mentioned 18,000 charge points. Does she not agree that we should be leading by example? I have written twice to the House authorities to ask them to put charge points for electric vehicles in the House of Lords car park, and have twice been rejected. Would she be so kind as to join my mini-campaign to show the country how we are leading by example? As I am allowed to make two points, may I also, on behalf of all vehicle drivers trying to carry out their business in London, ask the Minister to contact the Mayor of London to reduce the lane reductions that he has put in place—for example, on Park Lane northbound and Euston Road underpass eastbound—which are bringing London literally to a standstill?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I am grateful to my noble friend for raising two important issues, over both of which I have very limited power. Obviously, London roads come under the remit of TfL and the Mayor of London. However, as my noble friend will know, we are in deep discussions with TfL and the Mayor of London, given their financial situation at the moment, and I am sure the conversation will at some stage turn to roads and their closure. As for my noble friend’s first point, about installing a charging point in the House of Lords car park, I will indeed join his mini-campaign.