Oral Answers to Questions Debate

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Department: HM Treasury

Oral Answers to Questions

Sir Edward Leigh Excerpts
Tuesday 7th July 2020

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
John Glen Portrait John Glen - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. Of course we recognise the importance of SMEs—there are 5.6 million businesses across the country with fewer than 10 employees, and we need their dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit as the economy starts to recover. The Government have said from the start that they will do whatever it takes to support business. The Chancellor has introduced a significant package of measures, which will be under review, and there will be further announcements in due course.

Sir Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con) - Hansard

Whether he plans to (a) reform and (b) simplify inheritance tax. [904350]

Jesse Norman Portrait The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jesse Norman) - Hansard

Inheritance tax makes an important contribution to the Exchequer. The current threshold of up to £1 million for a qualifying married couple or civil partnership means that 96% of all estates in 2020-21 are forecast to be able to pass on their assets without any inheritance tax liability. Any reform or simplification of inheritance tax would be considered as part of the usual Budget process.

Sir Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh - Hansard

When are we going to fulfil numerous promises made as long ago as before the 2010 election, by George Osborne, to help middle-class people pass on more of their property to the young? After all, that is a priority for the young. While we are about it, can we hear from the Chancellor and the Prime Minister less about high-spending lefties like President Roosevelt and more about good Conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher—less about subsidies and more about tax cuts and tax simplification?

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman - Hansard

I hesitate to give my right hon. Friend a history lesson, but he will recall that Ronald Reagan was a deep admirer of FDR and quite a heavy spender in his own right. Inheritance tax is paid on only one in 25 estates, and therefore it is not quite as large an issue in terms of the number of people affected as my right hon. Friend suggests. We take these issues very seriously and return to them recurrently at fiscal events.