HMRC Estate

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 26th January 2006.

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Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Opposition Whip (Commons) 10:30 am, 26th January 2006

When he next expects to meet senior representatives of HM Revenue and Customs to discuss the outsourcing of their buildings and other assets.

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I meet with senior HMRC officials regularly on a range of issues. There are no meetings planned to discuss the matter to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham Opposition Whip (Commons)

Is it true that as part of an outsourcing deal in 2001, 600 HMRC buildings were sold to Mapeley, an offshore Guernsey company, for £220 million? Is it also true that Savills recently valued those buildings at £566.6 million, a staggering 150 per cent. increase? Is not that a rotten deal for taxpayers? Does the Paymaster General agree that if she and the Chancellor were investment bankers and made such a duff deal, they would not just be in line to lose their bonuses, but would be facing the sack?

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

No, that is not true. Let me give the hon. Gentleman the facts. The HMRC estate was independently valued prior to the Mapeley contract at £370 million. That money was paid to the Department: £220 million first, then £150 million in facility payments. The National Audit Office looked at the report, published a report on 7 May 2004, and found that the deal had delivered benefits, that more was expected over the duration of the contract, and that therefore it represented value for money for the taxpayer. Those are the facts. The speculation is incorrect.

Photo of Bob Blizzard Bob Blizzard PPS (Mr Douglas Alexander, Minister of State), Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Will my right hon. Friend assure me that in future the buildings and assets of the HMRC will not be used to collect the flat tax, which has been continually advocated by the Conservative party this morning?

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I have been the Minister responsible for the two departments for rather a long time now. I do not know how much longer that will last, but may I say on behalf of the Government that we intend to make absolutely sure that there is not an introduction of a flat tax, which would be unfair and significantly reduce resources into the Exchequer. It does not operate in any of the substantial industrial economies. It would be a disaster for us and take us away from what is a fair and proportionate tax system that ensures that public funds are invested in line with the requirements and aspirations of our electorate.